In the 1920s, “flapper” was a slang term for a young woman who dressed provocatively, drank, smoked cigarettes, danced, listened to jazz, and otherwise behaved in a way that defied the traditional social norms of the time. Today, flapper costumes are a common choice for women in search of a glamorous outfit for Halloween costume party.
Flapper outfits are readily available from stores and online retailers specializing in Halloween costumes. However, you can create your own flapper costume by keeping in mind a few basic fashion tips and studying the look of actresses like Joan Crawford, Louise Brooks, and Clara Bow.
Flapper style was influenced by French fashion, especially the designs of Coco Chanel. Flappers wore shift dresses with dropped waist lines and short skirts. Black, red, silver, and gold were all popular flapper fashion colors and the dresses often featured lace, sequins, or fringe for added decoration. Silk, cotton, and jersey were the most common fabric choices.
Flapper dresses were designed to promote a “boyish” look and thus did little to enhance a woman’s natural curves. Being flat chested was actually considered very desirable during the 1920s. Women with larger busts would bandage their breasts in order to create the illusion of a flatter chest. While this isn't necessary today, a minimizing bra would be a good accessory for your flapper Halloween costume.
Hats and Headbands
A cloche hat is an important part of the flapper costume. This type of hat slightly resembles a helmet; it has a bell contour with a bulbous crown. The hat is very close fitting. Most cloche hats were made from felt, but some were made from sisal. They were often decorated with feathers or beaded brooches. Diamond clips were popular adornments for cloche hats worn by rich and fashionable women of the 1920s.
If you can’t find a cloche hat, look for a feathered headband to complete your 1920s flapper costume. You can easily make a headband yourself, if needed.
Flapper style often involved wearing lots of jewelry. Flappers wore many layers of beaded or pearl necklaces. Art Deco style pins and rings were popular as well. Long satin gloves can be worn to complete your flapper costume. Either black or white gloves are acceptable.
A feather boa makes for a fun flapper costume accessory, although you might not want to have to deal with carrying it around all night at a party.
Blood red lipstick is a key element of flapper style. Carry lipstick and a small compact with you so you can reapply as needed.
Dark, Kohl-rimmed eyes with false eyelashes are another important element in the flapper makeup look. This requires practice to perfect, however, so allow for a trial run if you normally don’t wear cosmetics.
Blush was still not considered proper during the 1920s, so this makeup should be applied sparingly.
Flappers wore their hair short to rebel against the expectation that a woman needed to have long hair to be attractive. If you don’t have short hair, you will want to pull your hair up and wear a wig for the occasion. Look for a wig with a sleek, smooth bob.