Reinterpreting vintage style for modern wear takes skill, but that skill is not hard to develop. The most fundamental rule to remember when building such an ensemble is to wear only one or two vintage or vintage-looking pieces at a time. A head-to-toe vintage outfit will look like a costume. This pitfall would be especially easy to step into with 1920s fashion, since the flapper look has inspired so many actual costumes. However, elements of the flapper aesthetic are popular and beloved for good reason, and there are many ways to modernize them for your contemporary style.
Things You'll Need
Bob your hair. It is arguably the most defining characteristics of the flapper girl image: the bobbed hairstyle. If you cannot part with your long locks or you do not want to commit to the look long-term, you can arrange your hair in a “faux-bob” by pinning it back so that it only looks bobbed. Whether you are styling long or short hair, it should appear to reach no further than ear-level or just a bit below.
Adorn your hair. Flappers wanted to accentuate their newly bobbed hair as often and elaborately as possible. Wear a headband around your forehead and over your hair, or wear an embellished headband that has a little jewelry or a small feather on it. Pin a brooch in your hair, or pin your hair to the side. Flappers typically wore cloche hats, which had little or no brim. The cloche style remains popular today; you should have no trouble tracking down a contemporary version.
Wear sleeveless shirts in luxe fabrics. Women’s fashion became sporty in the 1920s once women broke free from floor-length skirts for everyday wear. Though their daytime looks may have involved covering their arms more, the evening fashions featured sleeveless, tank-style dresses and blouses. To replicate the flapper aesthetic, draw from this aspect of 1920s party-wear. Choose sleeveless or tank blouses in silks, satins and lustrous knits.
Wear skirts and dresses that fall at knee level or just below. This hem length does not suit every woman, but for those who can pull it off, it will easily evoke the flapper look. Wear A-line or other narrow profile skirts. Avoid full skirts, except for those which are narrow with limited fullness at the hem. For eveningwear, choose embellished dresses that have sequins, beads, feathers or other luxe detailing.
Add jewelry to your ensemble. The 1920s were a time of excess, and women loved to translate theirs to jewelry. They wore their necklaces long, hanging well past the bust. Add an Art Deco-inspired piece of jewelry to finish an otherwise modern ensemble. While flappers often sported luxurious jewels, individual pieces were often small and fine. Avoid large, heavy jewelry; look for narrow bracelets or pendants on long, fine chains. The Art Deco aesthetic consists of strong geometrical influences, so look for jewelry with strong shapes, made of metal and gems.
References and ResourcesFashion 1920
Brown University: Triocchi: Fashion in the 1920s
WhoWhatWear: How to Wear: Vintage