Vintage flapper fashion made famous in 1920s America didn’t involve just drop-waist dresses and feathered headbands. Hair also played a major role. And when it came to flapper coiffures, less was definitely more. Flapper girl hairstyles centered on the famous bob. What flappers did with bobs depended on hair type and taste. Curly or straight? Finger waves or sleek? As songwriter Cole Porter would say, “Anything goes.”
The notorious “flapper girl” emerged after World War I and flouted convention with both behavior and looks. According to author Joshua Zeitz in his book “Flapper,” “The new woman of the 1920s boldly asserted her right to dance, drink, smoke and date.” And, of course, to cut her hair short.
There are several types of flapper girl hairstyles. Popular cuts include the bob, which is cut straight around the ear line or jawline, often with bangs; the Eton crop, a shorter, sleeker cut that hugs the head; and the shingle bob, in which the hair at the neck tapers into a V shape.
Vintage flapper styles can also work for women with longer hair. This usually involves pulling the hair back and pinning it under, while arranging hair to cover the ears in front.
Curly or Straight?
While flappers often wore their bobs sleek and straight, women with curly hair had their own options. They could either go the unruly route, allowing curls to fall naturally, or they could use the “finger wave” method. The “finger wave” involved dampening and combing hair straight while applying curling fluid or setting lotion. A stylist then took a lock of hair between two fingers and combed it to create a “ridge.” After ridges were set around the head, stylists covered the hair with a net and the woman sat under an electric dryer. Nowadays, stylists often use hot rollers for this style.
When it comes to flapper fashion, it’s not just the hair that makes a statement. It’s also the hair accessories. Headbands and clips are often worn with flapper styles. Beads, peacock feathers or sequins add additional flair to headpieces. Fitted, bell-shaped cloche hats can also be found topping a bob. They often sport the same feathers and beads as the bands and clips. Having the hair peek out from under the hat is a signature look among flapper aficionados.
References and ResourcesFlapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern; Joshua Zeitz; 2007