Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Flapper Face

Before the '20's, women wore cosmetics, but nice women hid their rouge pots and powder puffs away from fathers and husbands, who heartily disapproved. Discretion was imperative. But when the '20's hit, young women went for makeup in a big way: stars like Theda Bara and Clara Bow made paper-white skin, blood red lips and insanely made-up eyes into must-haves for every fashionable woman who ever rolled a stocking below the knee. Makeup was in its rawest form, because the market was just beginning to grow. Early mascara was a cake of wax that was melted and applied in a gluey mass to the lashes with an orange stick. The trend in lipstick was the reddest red—no other color options were available—and smudgeproof lipstick was mandatory for would-be vamps who wanted to neck without leaving a trail.Eyebrows were painfully thin; in a fad, women plucked out the entire eyebrow and penciled it back on higher than it had been in the first place. Eye makeup consisted of kohl, which might be made of ingredients as strange as soot, lead and goose grease. Kohl went all the way around the eyes, turning the whole orbital area into a deep-stained smudge reminiscent of vampires. For a dramatic touch, some 'vamps' drew a line of kohl from the corner of the eye outward, simulating a slightly Asiatic look that was deemed sexy and bad. (Even today, imported kohl may contain lead: substitute black eyeliner instead). Powder (usually rice powder) was vital to the Flapper look: skin looked white to the point of near-death; one author called it, "the pallor usually associated with innate vice".

Thursday, February 26, 2009



The 1920s was the Jazz Age and one of the most popular past-times for flappers was dancing. The Flapper or Jazz Baby started a new era for women. She took off her corset, rolled her stockings, shortened her skirt, cut her hair into a "Bob", wore make up, smoked, drank, cussed, and started what is now referred to as the "sexual revolution". Dances such as the Charleston, Black Bottom, and the Shimmy were considered "wild" by older generations. As described in the May 1920 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, flappers "trot like foxes, limp like lame ducks, one-step like cripples, and all to the barbaric yawp of strange instruments which transform the whole scene into a moving-picture of a fancy ball in bedlam." The Jazz Age continued into the 1930s and is enjoying a new appreciation today as we re-discover this fun and romantic era.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


The bobbed haircut made the nineteen twenties Flapper movement what it was, and sent many young women to their rooms in disgrace "until it grows back!". The Bob hairstyle was a blunt cut worn halfway between cheekbone and chin. Bangs could be worn cut straight across or swept to one side. Like the made up face, hair didn't look "natural"; it was slicked down, glistening with brilliantine. The Shingle, which followed the Bob, cut the hair at the nape in a V-shape, exposing the neck. Shingles were accompanied by marcelled finger waves or spit curls at the temples. The most drastic version of the Flapper hairdo was the Eton crop, cut very short and close to the head, with a curl plastered tightly above either ear.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


The costume history image in our minds of a woman of the 'Roaring Twenties' is actually likely to be the image of a flapper. Flappers did not truly emerge until 1926. Flapper fashion embraced all things and styles modern. A fashionable flapper had short sleek hair, a shorter than average shapeless shift dress, a chest as flat as a board, wore make up and applied it in public, smoked with a long cigarette holder, exposed her limbs and epitomised the spirit of a reckless rebel who danced the nights away in the Jazz Age.


The Mary Jane ankle strap button shoe was the style of the twenties.
Footwear was visible beneath short dresses and was selected with more care as a fashion accessory.
Once shoes began to be mass manufactured in the 1920s footwear became an essential fashion accessory. Now it was truly visible beneath shorter dresses it needed to be selected with more care. Heels were over 2 inches high and waisted until the 1930s when they were lower straighter Cuban shapes. Strapped shoes were called Mary Janes. T bar shoes or others with buckles and bows made interesting fashion statements. Sequin or diamante trims were quite usual.

Monday, February 16, 2009


The cloche hat was not confined to the 1920s as is often first thought.
It was fashionable from 1908 to 1933 was one of the most extreme forms of millinery ever, with an appearance that resembled a helmet. It was the iconic hat of the twenties decade and will ever be associated with the flappers of the era. It was responsible for the period stance we associate with the era. To wear one correctly the hat had to be all but pulled over the eyes, making the wearer have to lift up the head, whilst peering snootily down the nose.
Cloche hats had a basic bell contour with bulbous crowns which if correctly designed could add inches to the height of the wearer helping to foster the haughty look, so redolent of the cloche in our mind’s eye.
Art Deco influence can be seen in the zigzag seaming and construction lines of many cloche hats. Art Deco appliqué was a popular embellishment. Cloches existed in many forms including one with a beret like top.

Friday, February 13, 2009


One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside all people. He said, 'My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.'

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: 'Which wolf wins? 'The old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed".