The roaring 20s were an exciting time in U.S. history, and this was the decade when the Charleston was first introduced (1924). The rhythm quickly became the most popular dance of the 1920s. The Charleston craze exploded nationwide after it was performed on the Broadway stage. Fashionable young women who danced the Charleston were known as “Flappers.”
Women had won the right to vote, World War 1 had ended and prosperity was booming. Times and attitudes were changing, and female independence was on the rise. This gave way to sassy bobbed hairstyles, more streamlined dresses with shorter hemlines (to the knees), bold makeup and a tiny bit of a naughty attitude.
1920s Flapper dresses were quite the head-turning frocks of the moment, and several key accessories pulled the look altogether. Designer Coco Chanel influenced the Flapper fashion phenomena with her miles of pearls and dresses made in neutral shades like cream, beige, sand, navy and black.
The typical 1920s Flapper dresses were admired and recognized for their simple construction, yet designed with ornate, decorative features. For example, a Flapper frock was loose-fitting for dance movement and made in the form of a sheath or slip dress. It often featured a sophisticated drop waist, coupled with a soft draping to the side. The dress also wowed with an uneven hemline to subtly expose the knee caps. The daring styling elements appeared in the exposure of a low neckline and open back.
Cheeky details amped up the glam effect of the simple style of the dress. The Flapper frock was all about the shimmer, shake and shine, and the look was achieved and celebrated through lots of sexy fringe, beads and sequins. When the woman walked or danced the Charleston in her signature Flapper dress, her entire silhouette moved. It was quite a sight to behold, because it was flirty, bold and playful.
The hats women put on to enhance the Flapper ensemble, included those with helmet-like designs and a pretty frame for the face and bangs (often styled with the trendy bob haircut).
The Flapper dress also featured stockings in nude or pastel shades with an alluring seam defining the back. Shoes completed the look, and they were super glamorous with a T-bar design and buckles, straps or bows, with not too high of a heel for hours of dancing.
The 1920s Flapper dresses remain an enduring fashion symbol.