Flapper
Overview
Flapper in the 1920s was a term applied to a "new breed" of young Western
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 women who wore short skirts, bobbed
Bob cut
A "bob cut" is a short haircut for women in which the hair is typically cut straight around the head at about jaw-level, often with a fringe at the front.-The beginning:...

 their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking
Distilled beverage
A distilled beverage, liquor, or spirit is an alcoholic beverage containing ethanol that is produced by distilling ethanol produced by means of fermenting grain, fruit, or vegetables...

, treating sex in a casual manner
Casual sex
Casual sex or hooking up refers to certain types of human sexual activity outside the context of a romantic relationship. The term is not always used consistently: some use it to refer to any extramarital sex, some use it to refer to sex in a casual relationship, whereas others reserve its use for...

, smoking
Smoking
Smoking is a practice in which a substance, most commonly tobacco or cannabis, is burned and the smoke is tasted or inhaled. This is primarily practised as a route of administration for recreational drug use, as combustion releases the active substances in drugs such as nicotine and makes them...

, driving automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

s and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms.

Flappers had their origins in the period of Liberalism
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

, social and political turbulence and increased transatlantic cultural exchange that followed the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, as well as the export of American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 jazz culture to Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

.
The slang word flapper, describing a young woman, is sometimes supposed to refer to a young bird flapping its wings while learning to fly.
Encyclopedia
Flapper in the 1920s was a term applied to a "new breed" of young Western
Western world
The Western world, also known as the West and the Occident , is a term referring to the countries of Western Europe , the countries of the Americas, as well all countries of Northern and Central Europe, Australia and New Zealand...

 women who wore short skirts, bobbed
Bob cut
A "bob cut" is a short haircut for women in which the hair is typically cut straight around the head at about jaw-level, often with a fringe at the front.-The beginning:...

 their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking
Distilled beverage
A distilled beverage, liquor, or spirit is an alcoholic beverage containing ethanol that is produced by distilling ethanol produced by means of fermenting grain, fruit, or vegetables...

, treating sex in a casual manner
Casual sex
Casual sex or hooking up refers to certain types of human sexual activity outside the context of a romantic relationship. The term is not always used consistently: some use it to refer to any extramarital sex, some use it to refer to sex in a casual relationship, whereas others reserve its use for...

, smoking
Smoking
Smoking is a practice in which a substance, most commonly tobacco or cannabis, is burned and the smoke is tasted or inhaled. This is primarily practised as a route of administration for recreational drug use, as combustion releases the active substances in drugs such as nicotine and makes them...

, driving automobile
Automobile
An automobile, autocar, motor car or car is a wheeled motor vehicle used for transporting passengers, which also carries its own engine or motor...

s and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms.

Flappers had their origins in the period of Liberalism
Liberalism
Liberalism is the belief in the importance of liberty and equal rights. Liberals espouse a wide array of views depending on their understanding of these principles, but generally, liberals support ideas such as constitutionalism, liberal democracy, free and fair elections, human rights,...

, social and political turbulence and increased transatlantic cultural exchange that followed the end of World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, as well as the export of American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 jazz culture to Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

.

Etymology

The slang word flapper, describing a young woman, is sometimes supposed to refer to a young bird flapping its wings while learning to fly. However, it may derive from an earlier use in northern England to mean teenage girl, referring to one whose hair is not yet put up and whose plaited pigtail flapped on her back; or from an older word meaning prostitute. The slang word flap was used for a young prostitute as far back as 1631. By the late 19th century the word flapper was emerging in England as popular slang both for a very young prostitute and in a more general--and less derogatory sense--of any lively mid-teenage girl.

The word appeared in print in the United Kingdom as early as 1903 and United States 1904, when novelist Desmond Coke used it in his college story of Oxford life, Sandford of Merton: "There's a stunning flapper". By 1908, newspapers as serious as The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

used it, although with careful explanation: "A 'flapper', we may explain, is a young lady who has not yet been promoted to long frocks and the wearing of her hair 'up'". By November 1910, the word was popular enough for the author A.E.James to begin a series of stories in the London Magazine featuring the misadventures of a pretty fifteen-year-old girl and titled 'Her Majesty the Flapper'. By 1911, a newspaper review indicates the mischievous and flirtatious ‘flapper’ was an established stage-type.
Some have suggested that the flapper concept as a stage of life particular to young women was imported to England from Germany, where it originated "as a sexual reaction against the over-fed, under-exercised monumental woman, and as a compromise between pederasty
Pederasty
Pederasty or paederasty is an intimate relationship between an adult and an adolescent boy outside his immediate family. The word pederasty derives from Greek "love of boys", a compound derived from "child, boy" and "lover".Historically, pederasty has existed as a variety of customs and...

 and normal sex". In Germany flappers were called "backfisch", which meant a young fish not yet big enough to be sold in the market. The concept of 'backfisch' was known in England by the late 1880s, though it seems to have been understood to mean a more demure social type compared with the English flapper, who was typically rebellious and defiant of convention.

By 1912, the London theatrical impresario John Tiller
John Tiller
John Thomas Ibbotson Tiller was a musical theatre director who was credited with inventing precision dance and was the originator of the 'Tiller Girls'.-Biography:...

, defining the word in an interview he gave to the New York Times, described a 'flapper' as belonging to a slightly older age group, a girl who has "just come out". Although the word was still largely understood as referring to high-spirited teenagers gradually in Britain it was being extended to describe any impetuous immature woman. Usage increased during World War I, perhaps due to the visible emergence of young women into the workforce to supply the place of absent men: a Times article on the problem of finding jobs for women made unemployed by the return of the male workforce is headed "The Flapper's Future". By 1918, the word could also be used teasingly of a "pleasure-loving" older woman: a Dr. Whatley, accused of adultery with the wife of Major Sydney George Everitt of Knowle Hall, Knowle, was asked in court why he had begun a verse to her with the words "There once was a flapper named Mary".

By 1920, the term had taken on the full meaning of the flapper generation style and attitudes. In his lecture that year on Britain's surplus of young women caused by the loss of young men in war, Dr. R. Murray-Leslie criticized "the social butterfly type… the frivolous, scantily-clad, jazzing flapper, irresponsible and undisciplined, to whom a dance, a new hat, or a man with a car, were of more importance than the fate of nations."

Evolution of the image

The first appearance of the word and image in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 came from the popular 1920 Frances Marion
Frances Marion
Frances Marion was an American journalist, author, and screenwriter often cited as the most renowned female screenwriter of the twentieth century alongside June Mathis and Anita Loos.-Career:...

 film, The Flapper
The Flapper
The Flapper is a 1920 American silent comedy film starring Olive Thomas. It was the first movie in the United States to portray the "flapper" lifestyle which would soon become a 1920's fad.-Plot:...

, starring Olive Thomas
Olive Thomas
Olive Thomas was an American silent film actress and model. She is best remembered for her marriage to Jack Pickford and her death.-Early life:...

. Thomas starred in a similar role in 1917, though it was not until The Flapper that the term was used. In her final movies, she was seen as the flapper image. Other actresses, such as Clara Bow
Clara Bow
Clara Gordon Bow was an American actress who rose to stardom in the silent film era of the 1920s. It was her appearance as a spunky shopgirl in the film It that brought her global fame and the nickname "The It Girl." Bow came to personify the roaring twenties and is described as its leading sex...

, Louise Brooks
Louise Brooks
Mary Louise Brooks , generally known by her stage name Louise Brooks, was an American dancer, model, showgirl and silent film actress, noted for popularizing the bobbed haircut. Brooks is best known for her three feature roles including two G. W...

, Colleen Moore
Colleen Moore
Colleen Moore was an American film actress, and one of the most fashionable stars of the silent film era.-Early life:...

 and Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford , born Lucille Fay LeSueur, was an American actress in film, television and theatre....

 would soon build their careers on the same image, achieving great popularity.

In the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, popular contempt for Prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

 was a factor in the rise of the flapper. With legal saloons and cabarets closed, back alley speakeasies
Speakeasy
A speakeasy, also called a blind pig or blind tiger, is an establishment that illegally sells alcoholic beverages. Such establishments came into prominence in the United States during the period known as Prohibition...

 became prolific and popular. This discrepancy between the law-abiding, religion-based temperance movement
Temperance movement
A temperance movement is a social movement urging reduced use of alcoholic beverages. Temperance movements may criticize excessive alcohol use, promote complete abstinence , or pressure the government to enact anti-alcohol legislation or complete prohibition of alcohol.-Temperance movement by...

 and the actual ubiquitous consumption of alcohol led to widespread disdain for authority. Flapper independence may also have origins in the Gibson girl
Gibson Girl
The Gibson Girl was the personification of a feminine ideal as portrayed in the satirical pen-and-ink-illustrated stories created by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson during a 20-year period spanning the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the United States.Some people argue that the...

s of the 1890s. Although that pre-war look does not resemble the flapper style, their independence may have led to the flapper wise-cracking tenacity 30 years later.

Writers in the United States such as F. Scott Fitzgerald
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was an American author of novels and short stories, whose works are the paradigm writings of the Jazz Age, a term he coined himself. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century. Fitzgerald is considered a member of the "Lost...

 and Anita Loos
Anita Loos
Anita Loos was an American screenwriter, playwright and author.-Early life:Born Corinne Anita Loos in Sisson, California , where her father, R. Beers Loos, had opened a tabloid newspaper for which her mother, Minerva "Minnie" Smith did most of the work of a newspaper publisher...

 and illustrators such as Russell Patterson
Russell Patterson
Russell Patterson was a celebrated and prolific American cartoonist, illustrator and scenic designer. Patterson’s art deco magazine illustrations helped promote the idea of the 1920s and 1930s fashion style known as the flapper.Patterson was born in Omaha, Nebraska...

, John Held, Jr.
John Held, Jr.
John Held Jr. was an American cartoonist and illustrator. One of the best known magazine illustrators of the 1920s, Held created cheerful art showing his characters dancing, motoring and engaging in fun-filled activities...

, Ethel Hays
Ethel Hays
Ethel Hays was an American syndicated cartoonist specializing in flapper-themed comic strips in the 1920s and 1930s. She drew in an art deco style. In the later part of her career, during the 1940s and 1950s, she became one of the country's most accomplished children's book illustrators.-Early...

 and Faith Burrows
Faith Burrows
Faith Swank Burrows was a nationally syndicated cartoonist during the Jazz Age.In the late 1920s and early 1930s, Burrows drew a daily comic panel called Flapper Filosofy for King Features Syndicate. Each panel exhibited a flapper attired in the current fashions with a humorous caption at the...

 popularized the flapper look and lifestyle through their works, and flappers came to be seen as attractive, reckless, and independent. Among those who criticized the flapper craze was writer-critic Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker
Dorothy Parker was an American poet, short story writer, critic and satirist, best known for her wit, wisecracks, and eye for 20th century urban foibles....

, who penned "Flappers: A Hate Song" to poke fun at the fad
FAD
In biochemistry, flavin adenine dinucleotide is a redox cofactor involved in several important reactions in metabolism. FAD can exist in two different redox states, which it converts between by accepting or donating electrons. The molecule consists of a riboflavin moiety bound to the phosphate...

. The secretary of labor denounced the "flippancy of the cigarette smoking, cocktail-drinking flapper." A Harvard psychologist reported that flappers had "the lowest degree of intelligence" and constituted "a hopeless problem for educators."

A related but alternative use of the word "flapper" in the late 1920s was as a media catch word that referred to adult women voters and how they might vote differently than men their age. While the term "flapper" had multiple uses, flappers as a social group were distinct from other 1920s fads.

Behavior

Flappers' behavior was considered outlandish at the time and redefined women's roles. The image of flappers were young women who went by night to jazz club
Jazz club
A jazz club is a venue where the primary entertainment is the performance of live jazz music. Jazz clubs have been in large rooms in the eras of Orchestral jazz and big band jazz and when its popularity as a dance music was common...

s where they danced provocatively, smoked cigarette
Cigarette
A cigarette is a small roll of finely cut tobacco leaves wrapped in a cylinder of thin paper for smoking. The cigarette is ignited at one end and allowed to smoulder; its smoke is inhaled from the other end, which is held in or to the mouth and in some cases a cigarette holder may be used as well...

s through long holders, and dated
Dating (activity)
Dating is a form of courtship consisting of social activities done by two persons with the aim of each assessing the other's suitability as a partner in an intimate relationship or as a spouse...

 freely, perhaps indiscriminately. They rode bicycles, drove cars, and openly drank alcohol, a defiant act in the American period of Prohibition
Prohibition in the United States
Prohibition in the United States was a national ban on the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol, in place from 1920 to 1933. The ban was mandated by the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the Volstead Act set down the rules for enforcing the ban, as well as defining which...

.Petting
Foreplay
In human sexual behavior, foreplay is a set of intimate psychological and physically intimate acts between two or more people meant to create desire for sexual activity and sexual arousal. Either or any of the sexual partners may initiate the foreplay, and they may not be the active partner during...

 became more common than in the Victorian era
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

. Petting Parties
Making out
In human sexuality, making out is a sexual euphemism of American origin dating back to at least 1949, and is used synonymously with the terms necking, heavy petting, and hooking up to refer to non-penetrative sex, though "hooking up" is also used in some cultures to imply casual sex.-History:The...

, where petting ("making out" or foreplay) was the main attraction, became popular.

Flappers also began working outside the home and challenging women's traditional societal roles. They advocated voting and women's rights. With time, came the development of dance styles then considered shocking, such as the Charleston
Charleston (dance)
The Charleston is a dance named for the harbor city of Charleston, South Carolina. The rhythm was popularized in mainstream dance music in the United States by a 1923 tune called "The Charleston" by composer/pianist James P. Johnson which originated in the Broadway show Runnin' Wild and became one...

, the Shimmy
Shimmy
A shimmy is a dance move in which the body is held still, except for the shoulders, which are alternated back and forth. When the right shoulder goes back, the left one comes forward. It may help to hold the arms out slightly bent at the elbow, and when the shoulders are moved, keep the hands in...

, the Bunny Hug
Bunny hug
The Bunny hug was a dancing style performed by young people, in the early 20th century. It is thought to have originated in San Francisco, California in the Barbary Coast dance halls along with the Texas Tommy, Turkey Trot and Grizzly Bear....

, and the Black Bottom
Black Bottom (dance)
Black Bottom refers to a dance. which became popular in the 1920s, during the period known as the Flapper era.The dance originated in New Orleans in the 1900s. The theatrical show Dinah brought the Black Bottom dance to New York in 1924, and the George White's Scandals featured it at the Apollo...

.

They were also considered a significant challenge to traditional Victorian
Victorian era
The Victorian era of British history was the period of Queen Victoria's reign from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. It was a long period of peace, prosperity, refined sensibilities and national self-confidence...

 gender roles, devotion to plain-living and hard work, religion and more. Increasingly, women discarded old, rigid ideas about roles and embraced consumerism and personal choice, and were often described in terms of representing a "culture war" of old versus new. In this manner, flappers were an artifact of larger social changes — women were able to vote in the United States in 1920, and religious society had been rocked by the Scopes trial
Scopes Trial
The Scopes Trial—formally known as The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and informally known as the Scopes Monkey Trial—was a landmark American legal case in 1925 in which high school science teacher, John Scopes, was accused of violating Tennessee's Butler Act which made it unlawful to...

.

For all the concern about women stepping out of their traditional roles, however, some say many flappers weren't necessarily particularly engaged in politics. In fact, older suffragettes, who fought for the right for women to vote, viewed flappers as vapid and in some ways unworthy of the enfranchisement they had worked so hard to win. Others argued, though, that flappers' laissez-faire attitude was simply a natural progression of feminine liberation, the right having already been won. Dorothy Dunbar Bromley, a noted liberal writer at the time, summed up this dichotomy by describing flappers as "truly modern", "New Style" feminists who "admit that a full life calls for marriage and children" and also "are moved by an inescapable inner compulsion to be individuals in their own right."

Slang

Flappers had their own slang
Slang
Slang is the use of informal words and expressions that are not considered standard in the speaker's language or dialect but are considered more acceptable when used socially. Slang is often to be found in areas of the lexicon that refer to things considered taboo...

, using terms like "snuggle pup" (a man who frequents petting parties) and "barney-mugging" (sex). Their dialect sometimes reflected their feelings about marriage and drinking habits: "I have to see a man about a dog" often meant going to buy whiskey, and a "handcuff" or "manacle" was an engagement or wedding ring. Also reflective of their preoccupations were phrases to express approval, such as "That's so Jake", "That's the bee's knees," and the popular "the cat's meow" or "cat's pyjamas". A 1922 U.S. newspaper article lists the words "junk", "necker", "heavy necker" and "necking parties" as contemporary flapper slang.

Many terms still in use in modern American English
American English
American English is a set of dialects of the English language used mostly in the United States. Approximately two-thirds of the world's native speakers of English live in the United States....

 slang originated as flapper slang such as "big cheese", meaning an important person; "to bump off", meaning to murder; and "baloney", meaning nonsense. Other terms became definitive of the Prohibition era such as "speakeasy", meaning a place to purchase illegal alcohol and "hooch", meaning liquor.

Appearance

In addition to their irreverent behavior, flappers were known for their style, which largely emerged as a result of French fashions, especially those pioneered by Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel
Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel was a pioneering French fashion designer whose modernist thought, menswear-inspired fashions, and pursuit of expensive simplicity made her an important figure in 20th-century fashion. She was the founder of one of the most famous fashion brands, Chanel...

, the effect on dress of the rapid spread of American jazz
Jazz
Jazz is a musical style that originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States. It was born out of a mix of African and European music traditions. From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th...

, and the popularization of dancing that accompanied it. Called garçonne in French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

 ("boy" with a feminine suffix), flapper style made girls look young and boyish: short hair, flattened breasts, and straight waists accentuated it. By at least 1913, the association between slim adolescence and a certain characteristic look became fixed in the public's mind. Lilian Nordica, commenting on New York fashions that year, referred to

a thin little flapper of a girl donning a skirt in which she can hardly take a step, extinguishing all but her little white teeth with a dumpy bucket of a hat, and tripping down Fifth Avenue.


At this early date, it seems that the style associated with a flapper already included the boyish physique and close-fitting hat, but a hobble skirt
Hobble skirt
A hobble skirt is a skirt with a narrow enough hem to significantly impede the wearer's stride, thus earning its name. A knee-long corset is also used to achieve this effect...

 rather than one with a high hemline.

Although the appearance typically associated now with flappers (straight waists, short hair and a hemline above the knee) did not fully emerge until about
1926, there was an early association in the public mind between unconventional appearance, outrageous behaviour, and the word "flapper". A report in The Times of a 1915 Christmas entertainment for troops stationed in France described a soldier in drag burlesquing feminine flirtatiousness while wearing "short skirts, a hat of Parisian type and flapper-like hair".

Despite the scandal
Scandal
A scandal is a widely publicized allegation or set of allegations that damages the reputation of an institution, individual or creed...

 flappers generated, their look became fashionable in a toned-down form among respectable older women. Significantly, the flappers removed the corset
Corset
A corset is a garment worn to hold and shape the torso into a desired shape for aesthetic or medical purposes...

 from female fashion, raised skirt and gown hemlines, and popularized short hair for women. Among actresses closely identified with the style were Olive Borden
Olive Borden
Olive Borden was an American actress in silent and early talkies. Nicknamed "The Joy Girl", Borden was known for her jet-black hair and overall beauty.-Early life:Olive Borden was born in Richmond, Virginia in 1906...

, Olive Thomas
Olive Thomas
Olive Thomas was an American silent film actress and model. She is best remembered for her marriage to Jack Pickford and her death.-Early life:...

, Dorothy Mackaill
Dorothy Mackaill
Dorothy Mackaill was an English-born American actress, most notably of the silent film era and into the early 1930s.-Early life:...

, Alice White, Bebe Daniels
Bebe Daniels
Bebe Daniels was an American actress, singer, dancer, writer and producer. She began her career in Hollywood during the silent movie era as a child actress, became a star in musicals like 42nd Street, and later gained further fame on radio and television in Britain...

, Billie Dove
Billie Dove
Billie Dove was an American actress.-Early life and career:She was born as Bertha Bohny in New York City to Charles and Bertha Bohny who were Swiss immigrants. As a teen, she worked as a model to help support her family and was hired at the age of 15 by Florenz Ziegfeld to appear in his Ziegfeld...

, Helen Kane
Helen Kane
Helen Kane was an American popular singer; her signature song was "I Wanna Be Loved By You". Kane's voice and appearance were a likely source for Fleischer Studios animator Grim Natwick when creating Betty Boop, although It-girl Clara Bow is another possible influence.-Early life:Born as Helen...

, Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford
Joan Crawford , born Lucille Fay LeSueur, was an American actress in film, television and theatre....

, Leatrice Joy
Leatrice Joy
Leatrice Joy was an American actress most prolific during the early silent film era.-Early life and career:...

, Norma Shearer
Norma Shearer
Edith Norma Shearer was a Canadian-American actress. Shearer was one of the most popular actresses in North America from the mid-1920s through the 1930s...

, Laura La Plante
Laura La Plante
Laura La Plante was an American actress, best-known for her roles in silent films.-Early acting career:...

, Norma Talmadge
Norma Talmadge
Norma Talmadge was an American actress and film producer of the silent era. A major box office draw for more than a decade, her career reached a peak in the early 1920s, when she ranked among the most popular idols of the American screen.Her most famous film was Smilin’ Through , but she also...

, Clara Bow
Clara Bow
Clara Gordon Bow was an American actress who rose to stardom in the silent film era of the 1920s. It was her appearance as a spunky shopgirl in the film It that brought her global fame and the nickname "The It Girl." Bow came to personify the roaring twenties and is described as its leading sex...

, Louise Brooks
Louise Brooks
Mary Louise Brooks , generally known by her stage name Louise Brooks, was an American dancer, model, showgirl and silent film actress, noted for popularizing the bobbed haircut. Brooks is best known for her three feature roles including two G. W...

, and Colleen Moore
Colleen Moore
Colleen Moore was an American film actress, and one of the most fashionable stars of the silent film era.-Early life:...

.

Apparel

Flapper dresses were straight and loose, leaving the arms bare (sometimes no straps at all) and dropping the waistline to the hips. Silk or rayon stockings were held up by garters. Skirts rose to just below the knee by 1927, allowing flashes of leg to be seen when a girl danced or walked through a breeze, although the way they danced made any long loose skirt flap up to show their legs. It is a common misconception that flappers rouged their knees. Popular dress styles included the Robe de style
Robe de style
The Robe de style describes a style of dress popular in the 1920s as an alternative to the straight-cut chemise dress.The style was characterised by its full skirts. The bodice could be fitted, or straight-cut in the chemise manner, with a dropped waist, but it was the full skirt that denoted the...

. High heels also came into vogue at the time, reaching 2–3 inches (5–8 cm) high.

Lingerie

Flappers did away with corset
Corset
A corset is a garment worn to hold and shape the torso into a desired shape for aesthetic or medical purposes...

s and pantaloons
Undergarment
Undergarments or underwear are clothes worn under other clothes, often next to the skin. They keep outer garments from being soiled by bodily secretions and discharges, shape the body, and provide support for parts of it. In cold weather, long underwear is sometimes worn to provide additional...

 in favor of "step-in" panties
Undergarment
Undergarments or underwear are clothes worn under other clothes, often next to the skin. They keep outer garments from being soiled by bodily secretions and discharges, shape the body, and provide support for parts of it. In cold weather, long underwear is sometimes worn to provide additional...

. Without the old restrictive corsets, flappers wore simple bust bodices to make their chest hold still when dancing. They also wore new, softer and suppler corsets that reached to their hips, smoothing the whole frame, giving women a straight up and down appearance, as opposed to the old corsets which slenderized the waist and accented the hips and bust.

The lack of curves of a corset promoted a boyish look. Adding an even more boyish look, the Symington Side Lacer was invented and became a popular essential as an every-day bra. This type of bra was made to pull in the back to flatten the chest. Other women envied flappers for their flat chests and bought the Symington Side Lacer to enhance the same look; large breasts were commonly regarded as a trait of unsophistication. Hence, flat chests became appealing to women, although flappers were the most common to wear such bras.

Hair and accessories

Boy
Boy
A boy is a young male human , as contrasted to its female counterpart, girl, or an adult male, a man.The term "boy" is primarily used to indicate biological sex distinctions, cultural gender role distinctions or both...

ish cuts were in vogue, especially the Bob cut
Bob cut
A "bob cut" is a short haircut for women in which the hair is typically cut straight around the head at about jaw-level, often with a fringe at the front.-The beginning:...

, Eton crop
Eton crop
The Eton crop is a type of short, slicked-down crop hairstyle for women. It became popular during the 1920s because it was ideal to showcase the shape of cloche hats. It was worn by Josephine Baker, among others...

, and Shingle bob
Shingle bob
The shingle bob is a short hairstyle for women, introduced in 1924. Below a dome-shaped bob cut, the hair at the neck is razor cut very short in a v-shape. It is also commonly referred to as a "graduated bob."- External links :* - Hairarchives.com*...

. Finger Waving
Finger wave
A finger wave is a method of setting hair into waves that was popular in the 1920s and 1930s and in the late 1990s in North America and Europe. The process involves pinching the hair between the fingers and combing the hair in alternating directions to make a wave shape. A lotion was applied to...

 was used as a means of styling. Hat
Hat
A hat is a head covering. It can be worn for protection against the elements, for ceremonial or religious reasons, for safety, or as a fashion accessory. In the past, hats were an indicator of social status...

s were still required wear and popular styles included the Newsboy cap
Newsboy cap
The newsboy cap or newsy cap is a casual-wear cap similar in style to the flat cap. Sometimes also referred to as the: Baker Boy, Apple Cap, Eight Panel, Cabbie, Jay Gatsby , Fisherman's Cap, Pageboy and Lundberg Stetson.It has the same overall shape and stiff peak in front as a flat cap, but the...

 and Cloche hat
Cloche hat
The cloche hat is a fitted, bell-shaped hat for women that was invented by milliner Caroline Reboux in 1908, became especially popular during the 1920s, and continued to be commonly seen until about 1933. Cloche is the French word for "bell"....

.

Jewelry usually consisted of art deco
Art Deco
Art deco , or deco, is an eclectic artistic and design style that began in Paris in the 1920s and flourished internationally throughout the 1930s, into the World War II era. The style influenced all areas of design, including architecture and interior design, industrial design, fashion and...

 pieces, especially many layers of beaded necklaces. Pins, rings, and brooch
Brooch
A brooch ; also known in ancient times as a fibula; is a decorative jewelry item designed to be attached to garments. It is usually made of metal, often silver or gold but sometimes bronze or some other material...

es came into style. Horn-rimmed glasses
Horn-rimmed glasses
Horn-rimmed glasses are a type of eyeglasses. Originally made out of either horn or tortoise shell, for most of their history they have actually been constructed out of thick plastics designed to imitate those materials...

 were also popular.

Cosmetics

As far back as the 1890s, French actress Polaire
Polaire
Polaire was the stage name used by French singer and actress Émilie Marie Bouchaud .Born at Agha, Algiers, Algeria, according to her memoirs she was one of eleven children of whom only four - Emilie, her two brothers Edmond and Marcel, and a sister, Lucile - survived infancy...

 pioneered a look which included short, dishevelled hair, emphatic mouth and huge eyes heavily outlined in mascara. The evolving flapper look required 'heavy makeup' in comparison to what had previously been acceptable outside of professional usage in the theatre. With the invention of the metal lipstick container as well as compact mirror
Mirror
A mirror is an object that reflects light or sound in a way that preserves much of its original quality prior to its contact with the mirror. Some mirrors also filter out some wavelengths, while preserving other wavelengths in the reflection...

s bee stung lips came into vogue. Dark eyes, especially Kohl
Kohl (cosmetics)
Kohl is an ancient eye cosmetic. It was made by grinding galena and other ingredients. It is widely used in South Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, and parts of West Africa to darken the eyelids and as mascara for the eyelashes...

-rimmed, were the style. Blush
Rouge (cosmetics)
Rouge , also called blush or blusher , is a cosmetic typically used by women to redden the cheeks so as to provide a more youthful appearance, and to emphasize the cheekbones....

 came into vogue now that it was no longer a messy application process.

Originally, pale
Pale
-Color:*Pale, an adjective meaning of a light shade or hue; approaching white*Paleness , a relative lightness of color*Pale, a variance of human skin color, especially:**Pallor, a symptom of low oxygen content in blood or avoidance of sunlight...

 skin was considered most attractive. However, tanned skin
Sun tanning
Sun tanning or simply tanning is the process whereby skin color is darkened or tanned. The process is most often a result of exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or from artificial sources, such as a tanning bed, but can also be a result of windburn or reflected light...

 became increasingly popular after Coco Chanel
Coco Chanel
Gabrielle Bonheur "Coco" Chanel was a pioneering French fashion designer whose modernist thought, menswear-inspired fashions, and pursuit of expensive simplicity made her an important figure in 20th-century fashion. She was the founder of one of the most famous fashion brands, Chanel...

 donned a tan after spending too much time in the sun on holiday – it suggested a life of leisure, without the onerous need to work. Women wanted to look fit, sporty, and, above all, healthy.

Semiotics of the flapper

Liberated from restrictive dress, from laces that interfered with breathing, and from hoops that needed managing suggested liberation of another sort. The new found freedom to breathe and walk encouraged movement out of the house, and the flapper took full advantage. The flapper was an extreme manifestation of changes in the lifestyles of American women made visible through dress.

Changes in fashion were signs of deeper changes in the American feminine ideal. The short skirt and bobbed hair were likely to be used as a symbol of emancipation
Emancipation
Emancipation means the act of setting an individual or social group free or making equal to citizens in a political society.Emancipation may also refer to:* Emancipation , a champion Australian thoroughbred racehorse foaled in 1979...

. Signs of the moral revolution consisted of: premarital sex
Premarital sex
Premarital sex is sexual activity, including vaginal intercourse, oral sex, and anal sex, practiced by persons who are unmarried. Although it has always been practiced, in the West it has increased in prevalence since the mid-1950s...

, birth control
Birth control
Birth control is an umbrella term for several techniques and methods used to prevent fertilization or to interrupt pregnancy at various stages. Birth control techniques and methods include contraception , contragestion and abortion...

, drinking, and contempt for older values. Before the war, a lady did not set foot in a saloon
Bar (establishment)
A bar is a business establishment that serves alcoholic drinks — beer, wine, liquor, and cocktails — for consumption on the premises.Bars provide stools or chairs that are placed at tables or counters for their patrons. Some bars have entertainment on a stage, such as a live band, comedians, go-go...

; after the war she entered a speakeasy
Speakeasy
A speakeasy, also called a blind pig or blind tiger, is an establishment that illegally sells alcoholic beverages. Such establishments came into prominence in the United States during the period known as Prohibition...

  as thoughtlessly as she would go into a railroad station. Women had taken to swearing and smoking, using contraceptives and raising their skirts above the knee and rolling her hose below it. Women were now competing with men in the business world and obtaining financial independence and, therefore, other kinds of independence from men.

The New Woman was pushing the boundaries of gender identity, representing sexual and economic freedom. She cut her hair short and took to loose-fitting clothing and low cut dresses. No longer restrained by a tight waist and long trailing skirts and the need for a man’s help at every turn, the modern woman of the 1920s was an independent thinker, who no longer followed the ordinances of those before her. The flapper epitomized the prevailing conceptions of women and her role during the Roaring 20s. The flappers' ideal was motion with characteristics being intensity, energy, and volatility. She refused the traditional moral code. Modesty, chastity, morality, and traditional concepts of male and female were seemingly becoming invisible. The flapper was making an appeal to authority and was being attached to the impending “demoralization” of the country.

The Victorian America
Victorian America
The Victorian Era is a name for the period from 1837 to 1901, the length of the rule of Britain's Queen Victoria. American Victorianism was an offshoot of this period and lifestyle that occurred in the United States, chiefly in heavily populated regions such as New England and the Deep South...

n conception of sexuality and other roles of men and women in society and to one another were being challenged. Modern clothing was lighter and more flexible, better suiting the modern woman. Rather than keeping herself busy with the need to appear decorous and reputable, the flapper wanted to be well suited to engage in active sport. Women were now becoming more assertive and less willing to keep the home fires burning. The flappers' costume was seen as sexual and arose deeper questions of the behavior and values it symbolized.

End of the flapper era

Despite its popularity, the flapper lifestyle and look could not survive the Wall Street Crash and the following Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

. The high-spirited attitude and hedonism simply could not find a place amid the economic hardships of the 1930s.

See also

  • Betty Boop
    Betty Boop
    Betty Boop is an animated cartoon character created by Max Fleischer, with help from animators including Grim Natwick. She originally appeared in the Talkartoon and Betty Boop film series, which were produced by Fleischer Studios and released by Paramount Pictures. She has also been featured in...

  • Modern girl
    Modern girl
    were Japanese women who followed Westernized fashions and lifestyles in the 1920s. These moga were Japan's equivalent of America's flappers, India's kallege ladki, Germany's neue Frauen, France's garçonnes, or China's modeng xiaojie...

  • New Woman
    New Woman
    The New Woman was a feminist ideal that emerged in the late 19th century. The New Woman pushed the limits set by male-dominated society, especially as modeled in the plays of Norwegian Henrik Ibsen . "The New Woman sprang fully armed from Ibsen's brain," according to a joke by Max Beerbohm...

  • United Kingdom general election, 1929
    United Kingdom general election, 1929
    -Seats summary:-References:*F. W. S. Craig, British Electoral Facts: 1832-1987*-External links:***...

    , "the flapper election"

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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