Prohibition-Era womens fashion: A timeless and elegant style

Prohibition-era womens fashion is timeless and iconic. The 1920s marked a turning point for women’s fashion, with a rebellion against the corsets and restrictive clothing of the previous era. Women began wearing shorter hemlines, looser clothing, and bolder accessories, creating a whole new fashion statement. This era gave birth to some of the most iconic style staples that still remain fashionable today. The style was elegant, daring, and feminine, and it has managed to remain relevant in modern-day fashion.

Prohibition-Era womens fashion: A timeless and elegant style
Prohibition-Era womens fashion: A timeless and elegant style

The Roaring Twenties: Overview of the Fashion Era

The 1920s, also known as the Roaring Twenties, was a decade marked by significant social and cultural changes, including a widespread shift in women’s fashion. It was an era of liberation, where women shed the traditional dress codes and embraced a new style that was both functional and stylish.

The Flapper Style

The Flapper style was a popular trend during the 1920s, and it was characterized by shorter skirts, straight-line dresses, and low waistlines. This style was a stark contrast to the earlier fashion trends, which were dominated by corsets, long dresses, and restrictive clothing. The Flapper style showcased a new sense of freedom that women had gained during this period.

The style also featured bold and vibrant colors, including reds, greens, and blues, which were a departure from the pastel shades that were popular during the Edwardian era. The shift in color schemes was a reflection of the youthful, optimistic, and bold mood of the decade.

The Impact of Hollywood

Hollywood had a significant influence on the fashion trends of the 1920s. The popularity of silent films led to the emergence of movie stars, who endorsed new fashion trends. Actresses like Clara Bow, Joan Crawford, and Louise Brooks were known for their iconic hairstyles, flapper dresses, and bob haircuts, which became hallmarks of the era.

The movie industry also helped to disseminate new fashion trends to a wider audience through publicity stills, newspapers, and magazines. Costume designers like Adrian, who worked for MGM, became household names as they set new fashion trends in Hollywood.

Prohibition-Era womens fashion: A timeless and elegant style

The Prohibition Era is a time in history that is often thought of as being gritty, grim and having very little style. However, when it comes to the fashion of the time, that couldn’t be further from the truth. This era was a time of change, social upheaval, and it gave rise to a new type of woman; one that was independent, free-spirited, and fashionable.

Flapper Style: An Iconic Trend

The fashion of the flapper is perhaps the most iconic and well-known trend of the Prohibition Era. This style was all about breaking free from the traditional constraints of clothes and allowing women to express themselves. It was an era where the trend was to be young, chic, and independent.

The Iconic Bob Haircut

No discussion of flapper fashion would be complete without mentioning the signature bob haircut. This style became incredibly popular during the Prohibition Era and was seen as a symbol of a new type of woman who was breaking free from traditional constraints. The bob haircut was often complemented with stylish hats, such as cloches, which were tight-fitting and pulled down over the forehead.

Drop-waist Dresses

Flapper fashion was all about bold, daring and fun. One of the key elements of flapper fashion was the signature drop-waist dress. These dresses were designed to hang straight down from the hips, emphasizing the free-spirited attitude of the era. Drop-waist dresses were often made from light fabrics, such as silk, satin, and chiffon, and were adorned with sequins, beads, and fringe for added glamour.

  • Sequin and Beaded Accessories

Accessories were an important part of the flapper style. Bold jewelry like long pearls or tassel earrings that swung with the movement of the wearer’s head was a key element of flapper attire. However, it was the addition of sequins and beads to almost every accessory that truly made the flapper wardrobe shine. Handbags, headbands, and more all had added cluster of beads and sequins took center stage. These accessories showcased the pure joy of fashion and femininity that was a defining characteristic of the flapper era.

The Gatsby Look: Glamour in the Prohibition Era

Women’s fashion trends during the Prohibition Era were just as iconic and timeless as the jazz music and flapper culture that defined the era. One of the most notable fashion milestones that epitomized the grandeur of the era was the emergence of The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, which brought to life the fashion and glamour of the time.

The Iconic Flapper Dress

The flapper look was one of the dominating styles for women during the Prohibition Era. It embodied the desire for freedom, independence, and equality. The flapper dress was a more comfortable and relaxed alternative to the tight corsets and long dresses of the previous era. They were short, sleeveless, and had a straight, boxy look meant to disguise the curves of the body. The materials used to make these dresses were often lightweight and airy, such as chiffon, silk, and cotton.

  • The Embellished Shift

Shift dresses came in many different designs, but a popular style during that time was the embellished shift. These dresses were simple in shape but had elaborate embellishments such as intricate beading, sequins, and embroidery. They were created to reflect the glitz and glam of the era’s nightlife.

  • The Fringed Dress

The fringed dress was another popular option during the 1920s. They were often worn for dancing, where the fringe would sway and move with the rhythm of the music. The fringe was mostly on the hemline or brought the dress’s movement to life.

The Accessories

The Prohibition Era was also a time when accessories had as much importance placed on them as clothing. They were a way to add some edge to an outfit and make a statement. Hats were a must-have accessory and were worn for every event. They ranged from cloche hats, which were tight-fitting and simple to extravagant hats with wide brims and breathtaking ornamentation.

  • The Long Gloves

Long gloves, preferably silk, were another essential accessory, often worn over the elbow. They were usually white or black and matched the dress or outfit being worn. These gloves added elegance and sophistication to any outfit.

  • The Statement Jewelry

Jewelry was also a must during the Prohibition Era. Bold necklaces, earrings and bracelets made a statement. An iconic piece of jewelry was the long pearl necklace. They were worn delightfully long and could be layered to add some depth to an outfit.

Dress to Impress: Dress codes of the Prohibition Era

In the Prohibition Era, women’s fashion was influenced by the social and political climate of the time. Dressing for various occasions was important, as it represented a woman’s place in society. The dress codes for women during this era were strict, with etiquette being followed for daytime and evening wear.

Daytime Wear

Daytime wear during the Prohibition Era was conservative and practical. Women wore dresses that were below the knee, and the hemlines did not rise above the calf. The dresses were loose-fitting and comfortable, allowing women to move around with ease. The fabrics used were mostly natural fibers such as cotton, wool, and silk. Patterns were popular, and stripes and checks were common. Women also wore gloves and hats to complete their outfits.

Evening Wear

Evening wear during the Prohibition Era was more glamorous. Women wore dresses made of luxurious fabrics such as silk, satin, and velvet. The dresses were form-fitting, with hemlines sometimes rising above the ankle. Sequins, beads, and lace were popular embellishments. Women also wore jewelry and fur coats to complete their evening wear outfits.


Accessories were an important part of women’s fashion during the Prohibition Era. Women wore gloves, hats, and handbags that matched their outfits. Gloves were considered a must-have and were worn at all times, even indoors. Hats were worn both indoors and outdoors and were made of different materials such as felt or straw. Handbags were small and dainty and were carried only to hold essentials such as a handkerchief, powder, and lipstick.


Etiquette during the Prohibition Era was important, especially when it came to dressing for various occasions. Women were expected to dress appropriately for each occasion. For example, women were not supposed to wear evening wear during the daytime. It was important to dress conservatively during the daytime and more extravagantly during the evening. Dressing appropriately represented a woman’s place in society, and it was considered a sign of respect for the occasion and the people in attendance.

Materials and Accessories: The Details That Matter

The 1920s was a decade of dramatic social and political change, and its fashion mirrored this evolution. The prohibition of alcohol began in 1920 and lasted until 1933 in the United States, which led to a rise in speakeasies and illegal alcohol consumption. However, this time period is also celebrated for its glamorous and sophisticated fashion. Prohibition-Era womens fashion featured luxurious materials and intricate accessories that added a touch of elegant sophistication.


The materials used in Prohibition-Era womens fashion were often luxurious and expensive. Silk, chiffon, and velvet were popular fabrics used in dress designs. Flapper-style dresses with intricate beading and fringe details were also commonly seen during this time. Fur was often added to coats and accessories, with fox fur being one of the most commonly used. The fur collars and cuffs added a luxurious touch to any outfit and kept women warm during the cold winters.


Prohibition-Era womens fashion was all about the accessories. From head to toe, every detail was carefully curated to complete a look of glamour and sophistication. The most common accessory was a strand of pearls, which could be worn with any outfit. Long, layered pearl necklaces were popular, as well as shorter choker-style necklaces. The T-strap shoe was also a must-have for any fashionable woman in the 1920s. The ankle strap provided support while the T-bar across the foot added a touch of elegance.


Fur was a sign of wealth and luxury during the Prohibition-Era. Women would wear fur coats to social events and accessorize their outfits with fur scarves or muffs. Fox fur was the most commonly used fur in fashion during this time period, but other furs such as mink and rabbit were also popular. The fur details on jackets and accessories added an extra level of sophistication to any outfit.


Pearls were a staple accessory during the Prohibition-era. Women would layer strands of pearls to create a timeless and classic look. Pearls also appeared on headbands and hair accessories and added a touch of elegance to any hairstyle. It wasn’t just necklaces that featured pearls, earrings and brooches also incorporated pearls into their designs.

T-Strap Shoes

T-strap shoes were one of the most popular shoe styles for women during the Prohibition-era. This style featured a strap across the foot and an ankle strap for support. T-strap shoes came in a variety of materials, including leather, suede, and satin. They were a staple accessory in every woman’s wardrobe and could be dressed up or down depending on the occasion.

Prohibition Era Fashion Today: How to Incorporate the Style into Your Wardrobe

If you love the art deco style and the flapper era, then prohibition era fashion is perfect for you. This timeless and elegant style is still popular today, and you can easily incorporate it into your wardrobe. Here are some tips on how to do it:

1. Start with the basics

To start incorporating prohibition era fashion into your wardrobe, begin with the basics. Look for pieces like midi-length dresses, cloche hats, and long strands of pearls. These classic pieces will give you a good foundation to build upon.

2. Mix old and new

Don’t be afraid to mix prohibition era fashion with modern pieces. You can pair a flapper-style dress with modern leggings and boots for a chic and unique look.

3. Use bold accessories

Accessories are a big part of prohibition era fashion. Consider adding a bold and colorful statement necklace to a simple outfit. Or, try adding a feathered headband or hat to your look for a touch of glamour.

4. Embrace the details

Prohibition era fashion is all about the details. Look for dresses with intricate beading or lace detailing. Choose shoes with a T-strap or Mary Jane style. These small details will make a big impact on your overall look.

5. Play with textures

When it comes to prohibition era fashion, texture is key. Look for fabrics like silk, velvet, and chiffon. These luxurious fabrics will add a touch of elegance to your wardrobe.

6. Don’t forget the makeup

Complete your prohibition era look with the perfect makeup. Bold and defined eyebrows were popular during this time, as well as smoky eyes and dark lips. Consider trying a bold lipstick shade like deep red or plum.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions Answers
Q: Where can I buy prohibition-era inspired clothing? A: There are several online stores that specialize in vintage-inspired fashion, such as Unique Vintage, ModCloth, and Lady V London. You can also check out local thrift stores for vintage finds.
Q: What kind of shoes were popular during the prohibition era? A: T-strap shoes, Mary Janes, and Oxford lace-ups were all popular shoe styles during the prohibition era. They were often made with leather or suede and had low or medium heels.
Q: Can I wear prohibition-era fashion to a modern-day event? A: Absolutely! Prohibition-era fashion is timeless and can be incorporated into modern-day outfits. You could pair a vintage-inspired dress with modern accessories or wear a vintage-style blazer with jeans and boots.
Q: What hairstyles were popular during the prohibition era? A: Finger waves, bob cuts, and pin curls were all popular hairstyles during the prohibition era. These styles were often achieved with the use of hair gel and hairpins.
Q: What kind of fabric was used for prohibition-era clothing? A: Fabric such as silk, cotton, wool, and rayon were commonly used for prohibition-era clothing. These fabrics were often lightweight and comfortable, making them perfect for dancing the night away.
Q: What were some popular accessories during the prohibition era? A: Long gloves, cloche hats, and beaded necklaces were popular accessories during the prohibition era. These accessories added a touch of elegance and glamour to any outfit.

Thanks for reading!

We hope you enjoyed learning about prohibition-era women’s fashion. The timeless and elegant style of this era never goes out of fashion. Whether you’re looking for a special occasion outfit or just want to add a vintage touch to your everyday wardrobe, there are plenty of ways to incorporate prohibition-era fashion into your style. Be sure to check back for more fashion tips and inspiration in the future!

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