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Decadent '20's

Nothing screams Deco decadence and the world of Gatsby and the flapper girl more than the 1920s.

But for most people wealth and grand show was a thing of the past. World War I had been devastating and women had achieved more practicality in their dress with the decline of tight corsets and flowing skirts.  It took much longer for this glamour to reach England, but the Americans were the greatest possible party people.

Most people couldn’t afford diamonds, pearls and tiaras; it was no longer fashionable to show what you could afford and wear the full parure - now you could wear beads, early plastics and Bakelite, crystal, marcasite, jade.



The discovery of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 launched an obsession with all things Egyptian, Jazz eventually floated over the Atlantic and the boyish figure was the only one to carry off the straight short dresses of the quintessential flapper. For those of us blessed with more ample proportions special undergarments were created to squash everything down so your string of beads lay perfectly flat.


For a perfect example of this transformation watch the opening few scenes of Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Women could not only be graceful and elegant – they could be sexy. If you were young, beautiful and didn’t get killed by

the war or the Spanish flu, then you were owned a stonking good time.

  • Ordinary people, during the day, wore little or no jewellery. A simple graduated pearl necklace was pretty dressy.

  • Parasols to keep your fashionably white skin as white as possible. Printed fabrics and Japanese styles became de rigeur

  • Feather fans were the bee’s knees – but eventually fans in the evening became cumbersome with the birth of the cocktail party.  One can’t glide around a room carrying a pink gin, a cigarette and a fan…

  • Cloche hats and turbans to frame the face with those big smoky eyes

  • Elaborate hair clips with feathers, hair band threaded through or around the forehead

  • Peacock feathers!

  • Finger curls, marcel waves or short bobbed and perfectly shiny hair (Brylcream should do it)

  • Long drop earrings to show off your short hair style and graceful neck

  • Long necklaces, single strand or layered – pearls, beads, faceted crystal and glass and tasselled.

  • With a backless dress drape the pearls down the centre of your sexy bare back

  • Festoon necklaces

  • Stylised, non-realistic, angular shapes and motifs – leaping gazelles, sunbursts etc.    

  • Bright bold colours, jade, carnelian, enamel and brightly coloured beads

  • Bracelets and bangles on your bare arms – the more the better!

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