As a vintage shop owner, I get lots of requests for “flapper” dresses.  And when I show customers the flapper style dresses I have for sale, most customers are disappointed.  Why?  Because they dont fit into the stereotypical envision of what a flapper dress is.  Society has gotten one image into peoples head about what a flapper looks like, and that example is this:


The problem is, the chances of all flapper dresses looking like this, are few and far between.  As a vintage shop owner for the past four years, Ive come into one dress that incorporated fringe, and it was beaded fringe.  Not to mention, Ive never seen in books or any online references – a flapper dress that looked anything remotely close to this costume above.

Lets talk about what a flapper dress truly looks like, shall we?

The definition of a flapper: a (1920s) fashionable young woman intent on enjoying herself and flouting conventional standards of behavior.

{The style of the flapper started around WWI when corsets and longer ankle length dresses were considered conventional and the norm – women having the right to vote was a new wind of independence for most women, these were the flappers}


And how they looked:  Flappers cut their hair into bobs, they wore high heels and makeup was worn regularly.  They wore dresses and skirts that were at or just above the knee.  They partied hard, smoked, drank, drove cars (whoa!) and experimented sexually without fear of judgement.  And not all flappers wore fringe, rhinestones and feathers either.  Here are a few photos of actual flappers – and even a few dresses from the shops collection of “Flapper” style dresses.

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I hope this gives you a greater appreciation for the clothing of the 1920s – as well as a broader expectation of what flappers wore and looked like.

And here is a great read from the Smithsonian Museum, about flappers: