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1920s Fancy Dress: What did they wear in the roaring 20s?

1920s Fancy Dress

Before you indulge in 1920s fancy dress it is important to remember that it was a dramatic transition in the fashion world, particularly in women's clothing. Ladies of the era shucked off  the more restrictive corsets and floor length skirts of the previous century and began to embrace looser-fitting clothing with dropped waits lines and shorter hemlines.

When you think of the 1920s these days the outfit which immediately springs to mind is the sexy, stream-lined 'flapper' dress, which came to prominence during that decade and was the staple evening wear for women attending parties and other society events.

1920s fancy dress movie inspiration

This style of dress has been showcased to great effect by films like The Great Gatsby and much-loved British television drama Downton Abbey. They can even be seen on popular dance shows like Strictly Come Dancing, usually adorned with bright sequins and worn by dancers doing the Charleston. The fringing looks great on the dance floor as it adds shimmer and movement.


But the 'flapper' look wasn't the only key fashion of the 20's. Skirt hemlines both rose and fell during that period, and many women favoured comfortable, conservative suits and ankle length skirts which either fell straight or were gently flared.

Chemises which fell to the knee were also very popular and were often topped with cloche hats - one of the signature looks of the 20s. Low waistlines or no waistlines at all were very much in vogue, and towards the end of the 20s dresses often featured collars, straight bodices with tucks at the bottom, and knife-pleated skirts.


1920s fancy dress: How to get the look

Fast forward to the 21st century and 1920s is always popular theme for parties and events. Wearing the clothing of that era can't help but make you feel some of the glitz, glamour and carefree attitude of the Roaring Twenties!

If you're considering wearing 1920s inspired dress for an upcoming party there are plenty of ways in which you can embody that comfortable but glamorous style, whether you're male or female.


Ladies, start off by finding a 20s style icon to emulate, such as the silent film star Clara Bow, who wore that decade'ssignature bobbed haircut and made it her style statement. Coco Chanel was another obvious 20s icon, with her drop-waisted dresses, comfortable jersey fabrics and womanly strings of pearls, while Mary Pickford pioneered a more wholesome girl-next-door style with her ruffles, lace and Mary Jane shoes.


To achieve the flapper girl effect for your 1920s fancy dress, the most obvious move is to invest in a flapper dress of your own. Team it with a Charleston feathered headband and a string of pearls or beads, opera gloves, feather boas, cigarette holders, fringed hand bags, fishnets and cloche hats (not to mention a shiny bobbed wig a la Louise Brooks) and you're hot to trot!

Men's fashion during the 1920s slots into two distinct periods: in the first part of the decade high-waisted jackets and military-inspired trousers, cut narrow and rather short, were in fashion - but in the second half of the decade men wore wider trousers known as Oxford Bags and often paired double-breasted vests with a single-breasted jacket.


Men considering the 1920s style should opt for smart styles such as tailcoats and bowties or pinstripe suits that reflect the era of prohibition and gangsters such as Al Capone in America.  Finish off with accessories like spats, cigars, white scarves, braces, guns, holsters and a Panama hat and you're sure to embody slick 20s style!

How will you be styling your 1920s inspired outfit?

Elliotts Fancy Dress