Monday, May 18, 2009

In a Flap

I have long been fascinated by the flapper era and the new breed of woman that emerged during the 1920’s. Contempt for Prohibition in the United States, and the stuffiness of the Victorian era in the UK, as well as the end of the First World War for all, led to teenage girls, and often women up to 30, flaunting their disapproval for what at the time was considered acceptable behaviour.
This new generation of women removed the corset from their wardrobe, wore shorter skirts, danced to jazz music, bobbed their hair, wore heavy make-up, and would smoke, drink and drive cars!
In many ways these more care-free women shaped what the modern woman has become today, by promoting their rights, and challenging women’s traditional roles by often working outside the home.

The scandalous flapper look became a fashion statement and was recognised by the boyish short hair, flattened chest and straight waist under loose fitting dresses. Hats included the Cloche and Newsboy cap.
Clara Bow was one of the actresses of the day adopting and popularising the look...
Along with Joan Crawford.
This typical French flapper postcard, depicting a young girl sat in her boudoir has several elements reminiscent of the era. Apart from the confident girl herself, there is the unmistakable wallpaper and fabrics, as well as the doll hanging to the left.
These dolls were often designed as storage bags for stockings or handkerchiefs.
I have this one, dated 1922 on the inside of the bag, made from typical deco floral fabric. The doll would have been part of a kit and is made of wood. She has hand painted google eyes, classic bob cut and a tiny cloche hat made from matching fabric.

I have a few deco fabrics, but rarely seem to come across them on my buying trips, compared to other vintage and antique textiles.

These two in my collection are French and both feature pretty roses printed on cotton.

Another 20's doll that I have is this papier-mâché girl with hand painted facial features and again the jet black bob.
My favourite plaster doll stands on my dressing table looking after some vintage diamante necklaces.

And regular readers of my blog will know I have a few hat stand dolls too!
Postcards from the flapper era are an easier piece of history to find...
I particularly like those featuring the beautiful Gladys Cooper.
Occasionally I come across paper scraps...Here, more google-eyed cuties so typical of the time.
I have a few photographs too. This one you may have seen before - I believe it dates from the early 20's, before skirts rose to just below the knee by 1927.
I actually found this portrait at the weekend - isn't she lovely? I couldn't help but notice the felt corsage pinned to her collar.
I keep a few of those in an old French fabric covered box.
And this hat band made from velvet flowers would have once graced a simple cloche.

Of course colourful ostrich feathers worn in a headband were another fashion accessory.
Heavy make up included dark eyes - kohl-rimmed of course...
'Kiss proof' lipstick and pale powdered skin. (Two tiny powder purses that I have collected, each with a teeny puff and original powder inside.)
And a compact mirror for checking those bee stung lips!

All carried around in a metal mesh purse!
Clara Bow summarising the classic look!
Finally satin and brocade slippers with a max 2" heel, perfect for dancing the Charleston, Shimmy, and Bunny Hug! I'm yet to find a beaded flapper dress within my budget, but it doesn't hurt to dream...

Do you have a favourite era that fascinates you?
Niki x


  1. Oh how I LOVE this post, Niki! My SIL would ADORE it! She and my brother had a flapper-style wedding... she wore a flapper dress, all the men had their tuxes and walking sticks, flapper hairstyles, the bridesmades wore flapper era clothing... it was such fun! Even the favours on the tables at the reception were items which were around in the deco age (ie packages of candy still being produced today). I have a photo of my grandmother and her sister at my great-aunt's flapper style wedding - it's one of my favorite family photos!

  2. Beautiful post, great pictures. Like you, I am fond of the 20's, but also love the deco period/1930's.... I have a beaded evening dress that I have worn on special occasions... usually loose a few beads each time, but vintage clothes should be worn & enjoyed!
    Lizzie x

  3. Thank you for a beautiful and informative blog. It reminds me of asking my grandma (in her late 60's) to do the charlston for me, she was born in 1910 and I wish she was still alive to talk to her about it more.

  4. What a gorgeous blog! There is soooo much information that I know I will have to read it several times. My favorite picture is the last one but the rest of them are a close second!!! Thank you for sharing such beauties with us...sharon

  5. What a lovely blog. I enjoyed reading the history of the flapper. That was a lovely era. I absolutely love the storage bag.

  6. What a lovely post!

    I love that era to be honest most days goneby interest me. I have a photograph of my great grandma with the very short bob. The weird thing is she is the spitting image of my mum. My daughters get confused and think that its their Nanna.

    The strange thing with that era the more you were describing the make up and particularly the hair and the pale powdered skin. Really reminds me of my youth and goth days. It was all about dramtic makeup with heavily koholed eyes. Jet black hair was prefered and lips pouty and bee stung. Even down to the pale powdering. The clothes although not recongnisable as flapper era still had the same dramtic impact. Although some of it was more borrowed from the victorian era.

    But it just goes to show that these styles come back in some way shape or form.

    Thanks for a great and thought provoking post.


  7. A great post. I love the 20's and take a great deal of inspiration from the fashion mags of the time for my millinery. The fabrics seem so difficult to track down but are truly beautiful...and those doll hat stands..where can I find one?!

  8. This is such a super post that I am lost for words, Niki! There is so much to read. I will ask my mum to check it out too...

    I had a 1920's going away outfit, 19 years ago! It wasn't flapper outerwear, but it may have been a flapper's underwear (very decent by 1990 standards). It was a flapper shape broderie anglaise shift in very fine white cotton, with a pink ribbon around the hips. I had a cloche-inspired straw hat to go with it. In fact, though, my ultimate fantasy period would probably be pre-Raphaelite...

  9. This has been such a wonderful and beautiful post.

    I am fascinated by the 2nd world war era and also the 1950s. I love learning about most aspects of womens lives back then.

    When I was younger I was obsessed with the 60s despite being born in 1982. I wore 60s clothes and listened to only 60s music for a good three years whilst I was a teenager.

  10. Wow! What a feast for the eyes. Great blog! My favourites are your dolls .. just wonderful. Thanks.
    Lesley X

  11. I love the 1920's flapper period too and had a real fascination for Louise Brookes. I even had her hair cut but I think I am too old for it now so have a longer bob.

  12. Anonymous9:16 pm

    this is beautiful.. I adore your wooden doll-bag, sent it to me please ! Well my mother in love( mother in law) who is still alive was born in 1913.........these girls did not marry young, most of them were about thirty when getting married..........many worked in the post-offices,,telephone companies or were just spoiled and rich...but many young women worked in the factories too....
    Anyway: what a period in Time.
    Thank you.

  13. Hello Niki

    Wonderful post! I love that era. Their style and look was do distinctive. The portrait is lovely, it makes you want to know more about the women in it. I have several postcards of Colleen Moore one of my favourites of that time. Beautiful photos, a very enjoyable post!
    Take care
    Isabelle x

  14. You are a one woman museum! Amazing collection as ever! I feel a bit sad about the 20's - all that hope and then wham! another war. I prefer the 50's. The Festival of Britain must have been such a proud time! Of course women weren't really free to misbehave until the pill in the 60's but I loved to dance the charleston with my great great aunt nell - she was a flapper and my goodness she had spirit!! t.x

  15. You have such a wonderful collection, I hope you find that flapper dress to complete it! You are obviously passionate about the era, I do love the look, and only wish we could get away with wearing the fashions today.

  16. Great post! Thanks for sharing.

  17. Oh I just LOVE the WHOLE flapper style too Niki. I always feel a sense of pride when I think about the women of that time. You are SO right when you say they have started the transformation of womens rights and I love their sassy~ness. lol!!!

    LOVE your gorgeous flapper dolls and photos. I have always been drawn to your blog because of our shared love of those flapper gals. xoxo Heather

  18. I love the 20's also. Don't you wish we still wore hats? :)

    You might be interested in
    "Gatsby Afternoon" It's held every year in CA, and you can only dress in 20's, 30's fashions. No cell phones etc. Find videos of it on You Tube. One day, I'm gonna attend. I already bought my dress and hat on Ebay. :)

  19. Oh what a wonderful post! I love the flapper era too, and the victorian and the gibson girl , I just love all the fashion eras! So fun to see all you beautiful treasures Pinkie

  20. I just loooove this post...I to love the flapper era..Love the dresses and I always think of womens right...You have such amazing photos...I just love your doll it's so darn cute..

  21. Such an elegant post Niki..
    I would love to have been part of that decadent and frivolous era.. not sure I have the figure for flapper dresses but I love the idea of shimmying in tassels!!!!
    I must say.. I like the idea of the WWII years.. despite the hardship.. community spirit was strong and people learned to appreciate less..
    Have a great week.. and now the countdown begins...!
    Michele xx

  22. Fabulous post, thanks for sharing....I think I NEED that pink rose hat. It's lovely.

    Warm blessings,


Thank you for finding the time to visit me...
Niki xx