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1920s VINTAGE DRESSES The three outfits at the top left are modern-day “flapper� costumes, which is how we now tend to think of women dressing in the 1920s. The overall fringe style is derived from French beaded and silk fringe dresses, as with those seen on the upper right. These French dresses were quite expensive and also not the most popular evening dress that most women wore at the time. The more popular type of beaded dress were those with beaded patterns sewn right onto the dress, which was typically tubular in shape and with more coverage on the shoulders than the spagetti strap dresses above. There are some examples on the following pages. And even more common than that were dresses made from taffeta, satin, chiffon, brocade, velvet, etc., many with fabric flower corsages, sashes around the waist, lightly beaded patterns, a touch of fringe or maribou, etc. If you would like to buy or wear a fringed costume dress (which are obviously fun to dance in), here are some tips: the knee length versions are more like the original; the mini-skirt versions are more like Twenties Revival dresses from the 1960s. Also, the long-length pearls tended to be worn in the earlier 1920s with long hemlines that ended at mid calf to the ankle. Shorter necklaces were more often worn with the knee-length dresses of 1925 onward (as in the photo above of actress Thelma Todd). Likewise, feathered headbands, though still occasionally worn in the latter 1920s, were really an older style from the 1910s that women continued to wear in the early 1920s with the longer dresses. If you want to wear an evening headband, it was more common in the ‘20s to wear them back farther on the head (like a Grecian headband) rather than hippy style. See the section on headwear for photos. Gloves were worn to really formal affairs (the opera, presentations at royal courts), but not by flappers and other women to go to dances and speakeasies.


Examples of vintage day dresses (for regular wear, garden parties, etc) dating from the early 1920s through the latter 1920s:


Formal and party dresses from the early to mid 1920s. The three dresses on the top right are robes des style. The dress of white voile was likely a wedding dress and would have been worn with a slip underneath. The dress at lower left has a lace overlay and could have been worn for a daytime party.


These evening dresses date from the early to mid 1920s. They are pull-over style, and hang straight to the hips. Some on the top row from c. 1922-24 have straight panels going down the front and back over an under layer. The three dresses at lower left are constructed from two flat pieces of fabric (sewn up the sides like a Tshirt), so that the top of the fabric makes cap sleeves. The black one is heavily beaded and is a very common mid 1920s style. The pastel one has a lace overlay. The dress at the lower right is beaded all over with red silk fringe at the bottom of the pattern.


Here are examples of mid to late 1920s evening dresses. Some hang straight and others have fitted bodices. Top row are beaded, The blue one is French has beads of different shades of blue applied directly to the chiffon fabric (not beaded fringe). Bottom row has two embroidered dresses and two with metallic gold and silver lace.


Party & evening dresses dating from the mid to late 1920s. Top row dresses are chiffon. The peach and yellow ones in the middle have delicate beading. Chiffon dresses were always worn with a slip underdress. The dress at bottom left is beaded in rows, three are silk satin, and one is floral velvet. FINAL NOTE: Waistlines of straight-cut dresses c. 19221926 were very low – almost at the derriere. 1927-29 the waistlines of straight bodices were a bit higher, at mid to upper hip, as in the beaded dress on the bottom left.


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