top of page
  • costumechronicle

"Flappers: Icons of the Jazz Age and Pioneers of Change"

In the vibrant world of the 1920s, one figure stands out as a symbol of rebellion, freedom, and change: THE FLAPPER. Often associated with the Jazz Age, flappers were a distinctive subset of women who defied societal norms through their bold fashion choices, liberated attitudes, and adventurous spirits. However, the term "flapper" was not a blanket label for all individuals of the era; rather, it referred specifically to a certain subset of young women who embodied the spirit of the time.


In the 1920s, a new archetype emerged among young women. These girls sported cropped hair, bold makeup, and daring attire, and they embraced activities traditionally associated with men, such as biking, driving, smoking, and drinking. They reveled in flirtation and threw themselves into lively jazz dances like the Charleston and the Black Bottom. Through their behavior and appearance, these young women challenged societal norms and blurred the lines between genders. Their actions represented a form of youthful rebellion and liberation, attracting widespread attention.

The term "Flapper" emerged from the image of a young bird learning to fly, symbolizing the unbridled spirit of these women. Flappers were frequently depicted in literature, including the works of author F. Scott Fitzgerald, as well as in Hollywood films, where they were portrayed as daring and mischievous characters.

Flappers marked a significant shift in societal norms during the 1920s, challenging traditional gender roles and redefining notions of femininity. With their bobbed hair, short skirts, and penchant for jazz music and dancing, flappers became emblematic of the modern woman—a departure from the prim and proper Victorian ideals of the past. Their influence extended beyond mere fashion; flappers represented a new breed of women who embraced independence, autonomy, and a rejection of outdated conventions.


The origins of flapper culture can be traced back to various factors, including the aftermath of World War I, which saw a shift in gender dynamics as women took on new roles in the workforce and society. Additionally, the advent of the "Roaring Twenties" brought about a cultural revolution characterized by economic prosperity, technological advancements, and a newfound sense of liberation.


While the term "flapper" is typically associated with women, it is important to note that men also played a role in shaping the era's culture. However, the term "flapper" specifically denotes a young woman of the 1920s who embodied the spirit of rebellion and freedom.


Flappers made their mark not only in society but also in the arts and entertainment industry. Iconic flapper artists of movies included actresses like Colleen Moore, Louise Brooks, and Clara Bow whose portrayals of independent and vivacious women captured the imagination of audiences worldwide.


In the realm of fashion, flapper style was characterized by its daring and unconventional nature. Flappers embraced a boyish silhouette (The French expression la garçonne was also used).  The essential characteristics of flapper dresses reflected a vibrant lifestyle: they were straight, sleeveless, and loosely fitted, often crafted from lightweight fabrics. Keeping away of the corsets, they embraced a simple yet elegant silhouette, consisting of a rectangular piece of fabric that draped gracefully over a slender frame without constriction. The wide array of embellishments, including sequins and beads in intricate designs, offered women unprecedented opportunities to express their individuality and flair. With their straightforward cut and construction, these garments were conducive to home sewing, with many magazines providing patterns to recreate the fashionable look. Moreover, flapper dresses allowed women to showcase previously unseen parts of their bodies; shorter skirts and increased mobility meant knees were now on display, sometimes accentuated with blush for added allure.

Complementing these daring ensembles were bold makeup choices and short hair in daring "bobs", often adorned with cloche hats during the day and embellished with trims and feathers for evening affairs.

French designer Jean Patou is credited as one of the pioneers in creating "flapper silhouettes," introducing them to Europe and gaining prominence in the United States. Other influential designers, such as Coco Chanel, also played a crucial role in popularizing the streamlined silhouette and androgynous approach to fashion.

Flappers are indelibly linked with the Jazz Age, as their liberated attitudes and love of music and dancing epitomized the spirit of the era. Jazz clubs and speakeasies became popular gathering spots for flappers, where they could express themselves freely and immerse themselves in the electrifying rhythms of the music.

Some modern films and TV shows, although their focus point was not specifically on flappers, offer glimpses into the culture and atmosphere of the Roaring Twenties, including the spirit of independence and rebellion embodied by flapper women:

  • "The Great Gatsby" - While this film is set in the 1920s and features lavish parties and extravagant lifestyles, it doesn't focus specifically on flappers. However, it provides a visually stunning portrayal of the era and includes characters who embody aspects of the flapper lifestyle.

  • "Midnight in Paris" - This film follows a modern-day writer who finds himself transported back to 1920s Paris, where he encounters iconic figures of the era, including flappers.

  • "The Chaperone" - Set in the early 1920s, this film follows a young woman from Kansas who travels to New York City to pursue a career in dance. While the main character isn't necessarily a flapper, the film explores themes of female independence and societal change that were central to flapper culture.

  • "Downton Abbey" - This British period drama follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in early 20th century England. While the series begins before the Roaring Twenties, it eventually progresses into the 1920s, featuring storylines that touch on the changing social dynamics of the era, including the emergence of flapper culture.

  • "Peaky Blinders" - Set in post-World War I Birmingham, England, this gritty crime drama follows the Shelby crime family as they navigate the criminal underworld. While the series primarily focuses on gang warfare and political intrigue, it offers a glimpse into the social upheaval and cultural changes of the 1920s, including the rise of flapper fashion and attitudes.

  • "Chicago" - While the movie primarily focuses on the themes of crime, celebrity, and corruption in the 1920s Chicago, it features characters and settings that reflect aspects of flapper culture. The film showcases the glitz and glamour of the Jazz Age, with its vibrant dance numbers, lavish costumes, and lively jazz music. Additionally, the character of Roxie Hart can be seen as embodying some traits of a flapper, such as her boldness, ambition, and desire for fame and independence.


Flappers were trailblazers of the 1920s, challenging societal norms and ushering in a new era of freedom and self-expression. Their influence extended far beyond fashion, shaping the cultural landscape of the Jazz Age and leaving an indelible mark on history. With their daring style, independent spirit, and zest for life, flappers embodied the essence of a generation that dared to defy convention and embrace change.

Style, boldness, and spirit,

In every twirl, every glint, every flapper's merit!

See you soon!



Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page