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How To Style: The Flapper

Thanks to Leo DiCaprio and the reboot of the Great Gatsby, these days its all about the flapper.

Of course, there was far more to the 1920s than that, but these days you can get some fantastic flapper outfits from any fancy dress, costume hires, even on Amazon. Soft chiffon drop-waist dresses and cloche hats are out – the jazz age is in!

The flapper was the original “it” girl, she was shocking and provocative, free spirited and energetic. She was what everyone was horrified by but secretly wanted to be. And she showed far more skin that was considered quite appropriate.

Joan Crawford - the "quintessential flapper" who shot to fame with the fastest Charleston in Hollywood in the film Our Dancing Daughters

So, now you’ve found your perfect flapper dress, fringe flying, knees showing and possibly a deep vee, or even backless. How do you accessorise to show that true flapper fashion?

One of the most iconic flapper looks is the long bead necklace, the could be as long as 20 inches and often tied in a knot. If you are bigger in the bosom you might have an issue with them lying straight so a knot helps anchor them. You can also wind them once around your neck to give a collar. Or to mix it up, hang them down the back of a backless dress to look ultra sexy!

Advertising for the perfect long flapper beads!

Alternatively several strings of differing lengths can give a fantastic layered look.  Pearls, crystal, jet beads, or plastic beads in greens and reds are ideal.

The hairstyle a la mode was the bob. Short and incredibly freeing after years of big hair and bun shaped updos, this was perfect to display long Deco styles earrings in marcasite, with inlaid stones such as jade and carnelian. If you have longer hair then slick back your hair into a low bun will give a clean sharp look, which can also support a headband. You can even hook one side of your hair up and wear just one show-stopping earring!

Silent movie star Lucy Doraine with perfect pearls and one epic earring

If you can manage a Marcel or finger wave this instantly evokes the period.

There are many tutorial videos on YouTube to help you out and you can buy

special crimpers, almost exactly like the ones that were available in the 1920s and 30s.

And talking of which, headbands could be stunningly amplified with hanging droplets, chains and feathers. Ostrich feathers are hard to get hold of these days but can be hired from costume and theatrical hire outlets.

Peacock feathers are bang on trend for the flapper and you will see a lot of peacocks featuring in art and advertising from the period.

If you haven’t already, bangles are where you really can go to town!  Layer them up your arms and even cuffs on your upper arms. Remember Ancient Egypt was a big fashion influence after the discovering of King Tut’s tomb in 1922 so if in doubt, look to Cleopatra. Snake bangles and wide cuffs set with large stones work beautifully.

Fans were still used at this time, ideally in feather or something monochrome to keep things slick. Although they did get in the way while you’re holding a cocktail glass and cigarette holder.

Long satin evening gloves will add a touch more elegance, either in a matching shade to your dress or in black or white - but you might need to take them off if you Charleston too hard and get hot!

If you’re not lucky enough to own a 1920s velvet evening coat or cape, never fear – a light organza or chiffon shawl should keep the evening chill off as you stroll home, or on to the next steamy smoky jazz club to dance till dawn!

For jewellery ideas don't forget to visit the Shop!

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