Planning a flapper dress up party with friends (photos will follow suit!) has evoked me with a renewed enthusiasm for the so called Roaring Twenties or Flapper Era! To really get in the mood of that era I’m watching lots of epsiodes of the fabulous BBC costume drama series such as ‘The House of Eliott’ and ‘Downton Abbey’ and that has certainly spiced up that enthousiasm even more (oh those lovely clothes!). And don’t forget Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris if you’re looking for more inspiration on the era! Allthough I realize the beautiful clothes and fabulous parties were only for the happy few to enjoy, it is so nice to watch and romanticize the times past, imagining yourself living in those pretty houses and standing in front of a burning hearthfire dressed in awesome frocks and being able to wear amazing hats.
But what exactly is a flapper?
The slang word flapper, describing a young woman, is sometimes supposed to refer to a young bird flapping its wings while learning to fly. However, it may derive from an earlier use in northern England to mean teenage girl, referring to one whose hair is not yet put up and whose plaited pigtail flapped on her back; or from an older word meaning prostitute. The slang word flap was used for a young prostitute as long ago as 1631. By the late 19th century the word flapper was emerging in England as popular slang both for a very young prostitute  and in a more general—and less derogatory sense—of any lively mid-teenage girl.
To understand the true spirit of the Roaring 20′s or flapper style, you need to first understand a bit about what was happening that influenced the behaviour (which was actually rebellion of every day people).
World War I had come to an end, and with it, the economy and people in general were beginning once again to thrive a little (but ofcourse there was still a lot of poverty which is reflected by the character Penelope in the House of Eliott who takes care of the poor and hates fuss about fashion). Young people had seen young men die in this war and now wanted to celebrate life becvause they realized it can be short! Then came prohibition. The government in many areas of the United States banned the sale and consumption of alcohol. Prohibition separated people into two classes – “dries” (those pro-prohibition) and “wets” – those against prohibition. The stage was set for a massive female rebellion. In 1920, Frances Marion put out a film called The Flapper, which, for most people, was the first look at the style and attitude that would soon identify an era. Since women were expected to be refined and well behaved at the time, Flappers were considered unruly and shameful. The Roaring 1920′s and the rise of the “Flapper” is arguably the beginning of the women’s movement, and progression from the traditional female role. Flapper women and fun-loving men flocked to secret clubs that served alcohol in spite of prohibition. They danced to Jazz, drank, smoked and wore some of the most iconic outfits in human history. Let’s take a look at the fashion.
Flapper dresses were straight and loose, leaving the arms bare (sometimes no straps at all) and dropping the waistline to the hips. Silk or rayon stockings were held up by garters. Skirts rose to just below the knee by 1927, allowing flashes of leg to be seen when a girl danced or walked through a breeze, and had dangling embellishments designed to shake when dancing.(Allthough the way they danced made any long loose skirt flap up to show their legs!).
Popular dress styles included the Robe de style.
Shimmery fabrics were popular.
Jewelry was long and large. Long beads were layered, and long earrings stuck out from the iconic bobbed haircut (among actresses closely identified with the style were Olive Borden, Olive Thomas, Dorothy Mackaill, Alice White, Bebe Daniels, Billie Dove, Helen Kane, Joan Crawford, Leatrice Joy, Norma Shearer, Laura La Plante, Norma Talmadge, Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, and Colleen Moore).