Roaring Twenties: Womens Fashion in the 1920s

Flappers, jazz, and prohibition – these are some of the things people associate with the 1920s. But the decade was also a time of great change in women’s fashion. The restrictive corsets and long hemlines of the Edwardian era gave way to shorter skirts, looser garments, and a more androgynous silhouette. Women began to embrace comfort and practicality, rejecting the ornate embellishments and heavy fabrics of the past. This article explores the fashion trends that defined the Roaring Twenties for women.

Roaring Twenties: Womens Fashion in the 1920s
Roaring Twenties: Womens Fashion in the 1920s

The Era that Defined the 1920s Women’s Fashion

The 1920s, known as the Roaring Twenties, was a decade of tremendous change in the United States after World War I. It was a time of social, economic, and political transformation. Women had just won the right to vote and they were ready to celebrate their newfound freedom through their fashion choices. This era set the tone for fashion trends that would last for years to come.

New Trends for Women’s Clothing

The influence of the war years was still present in the 1920s. Women wanted to move away from the restrictive clothing of the past and embrace a more comfortable, practical, and daring style. For the first time in history, women started to wear shorter dresses and skirts, exposing their legs. This allowed for a freedom of movement and was a symbol of their newfound liberation. Low waists, loose-fitting clothing, and the absence of corsets signaled a new era of fashion.

  • The Flapper Look

The most iconic look of the 1920s was the flapper style. Flappers were bold, carefree, and rebellious young women who challenged the societal norms of the time. They wore dresses that fit loosely around their body, with hemlines that stopped just above the knee. These dresses were often adorned with beads and fringe, giving them a fun and playful feel. Flappers also wore cloche hats that hugged their head, adding a touch of sophistication to their look. The androgynous fashion style was another trend that became popular during this time. Women wore tailored suits and blazers that were inspired by the clothing traditionally worn by men.

The Iconic Flapper Style

The 1920’s was a decade filled with change in the fashion world. Women started to wear shorter dresses, showed more skin than ever before, and embraced hairstyles and makeup that broke away from the norms of earlier years. This brought forth the era of the “Flapper,” a new breed of young women who rebelled against societal norms and embraced a new kind of lifestyle.
The flapper style is considered as a symbol of the 1920s and marked a significant change in the clothing industry.

The Flapper Dress

The defining feature of the flapper style was the dress. Compared to the ankle-length, tight corseted, and heavily layered dresses worn previously, flapper dresses had a much looser fit, ending above the knee, which was the new normal. This new style allowed women to move and dance more freely while also providing an opportunity to show off their arms and legs.

Another feature of the flapper dress was the appearance of fringe on the hemline. When worn, the fringe swung and swayed as women danced the Charleston, becoming an integral part of the flapper girl’s image.

The Flapper Hair and Makeup

Along with the flapper dress came the bobbed hairstyle, which was much shorter than the traditional long hairstyles worn by women before the 1920s. Bobs were simple and understated but made it easier for women to move without the inconvenience of long hair getting in the way.

Makeup was also minimalistic. Flappers wore pale powder, rouge, and lipstick with dark arched eyebrows. This look, like the bob, was designed to be simple and understated while showing off a woman’s natural beauty.

The Flapper Shoes

Shoes also saw a significant overhaul during the roaring twenties. The introduction of the T-strap shoes provided women with a practical and fashionable means of footwear. These shoes had an open toe, a strap that went over the top of the foot, and a strap that wrapped around the ankle. They were comfortable, easy to wear, and perfect for dancing the night away.

The Rise of the Bob Cut

The 1920s was a decade of freedom and liberation for women. With World War I over and the rise of suffrage movements, women’s fashion was no longer restricted to long and heavy dresses. The era saw shorter hemlines, effortlessly chic styles, and bobbed hairstyles. The bob cut, in particular, became a significant trend that defined the fashion era.

The Origins of the Bob Cut

The bob cut originated in the 1910s and was initially popular among dancers and flappers. It was a drastic change from the traditional long hairstyles of the 19th century. The first variations of the bob cut were chin-length, blunt cuts known as “castle bobs” or “Dutch boy” bobs. They were straight, sleek, and symmetrical, inspired by the famous ballerina Irene Castle.

The Prominence of the Bob Cut in the 1920s

By the 1920s, bob cuts had become mainstream, with more women embracing the trend. The style was versatile and complemented the newly fashionable shorter hemlines, dropped waists, and bold makeup. Women of all classes and ages sported bob cuts, including Hollywood stars like Clara Bow, Colleen Moore, and Louise Brooks.

  • Short Bobs
  • The shorter bob cuts were still popular in the ’20s, with many women opting for the ear-length bob or the shingle cut. The shingle cut featured closely cropped hair at the nape of the neck and longer hair at the crown. It was a versatile style that complemented both casual and formal outfits.

  • Curly Bobs
  • Curls were also in vogue during the ’20s, and many women with bob cuts added curls to their hair. The “spit curls” were tiny, tight curls placed on the forehead, while “finger waves” added soft waves to the hair. These styles were achieved using a curling iron or hair pins.

  • Faux Bobs
  • Many women weren’t ready to commit to the drastic chop, so they opted for faux bobs instead. A faux bob involved rolling long hair under to create the illusion of a shorter bob. The illusion was completed by tucking the hair under and securing it with hairpins.

The Fashionable Accessories

During the 1920s, women’s fashion saw a drastic change, with new styles emerging that reflected the era’s societal and cultural changes. In addition to the iconic flapper dresses, accessories became an essential part of completing the look. Here are some of the accessories that became popular during that time:

The Headband

A headband is a stylish accessory worn on the forehead, and during the 1920s, it became an iconic accessory, popularized by the flapper girls. Headbands were made using a variety of materials, including lace, sequins, and beads. They came in different colors and styles, ranging from simple and elegant to flashy and glamorous. Women often paired headbands with short bob haircuts to complete the look.


Gloves were popular accessories during the 1920s, with women wearing them to compliment their dresses. They could be made from silk, leather, or lace, and came in different lengths, ranging from wrist to elbow-length. Gloves were an important symbol of fashion, indicating a woman’s social status. Wealthy women often wore longer gloves, while working-class women wore shorter gloves.


Jewelry was an essential part of women’s fashion during the 1920s. Women wore long beaded necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and brooches to compliment their dresses. The jewelry was often made from precious metals, such as gold and silver, and featured precious stones such as diamonds, pearls, and rubies.

The Handbag

A handbag was an essential accessory for women during the 1920s, and it was designed to match their dresses. They were often made from lightweight materials such as metal, fabric, and leather. Women would carry essentials such as makeup, perfume, and cigarettes in their handbags. Popular styles included the clutch, drawstring purse, and shoulder bag.

The Return of Feminine Styles

The 1920s are often associated with the flapper style, which was characterized by short bob haircuts, straight-line dresses, and a more androgynous look. However, this was not the only style trend during this time. The fashion industry of the 1920s also gave way to ultra-feminine styles, such as the tea gown.

The Tea Gown

The tea gown was a dress that was worn by women at informal occasions, particularly while having tea. It was a light and airy dress that was made of soft, flowing fabrics like chiffon, silk, or cotton. Tea gowns were usually sleeveless or had short sleeves and were often adorned with lace, beads, or sequins. They were meant to be comfortable and functional, yet elegant and feminine.

Tea gowns were quite popular during the late 19th century, but their popularity declined during the early 20th century. However, in the 1920s, the fashion industry contributed to the tea gown’s comeback. Women began to wear tea gowns not just for tea parties, but also for other informal occasions, such as picnics, garden parties, and dinners at home. They were also worn as evening dresses, as they were considered more comfortable than the tight-fitting, straight-line evening gowns that were in fashion at the time.

The return of the tea gown was part of a broader trend towards more feminine and romantic styles in the 1920s. This was in contrast to the more boyish look that was associated with the flapper style. The tea gown was just one example of this trend, which also included floral prints, delicate embroidery, and other soft and flowing fabrics.

Legacy in Fashion

The 1920s was an era of dramatic change in women’s fashion, and its influence can still be seen in the present day fashion industry. Let’s explore the legacy of 1920s women’s fashion and how it has evolved over time.

Influence on Present Day Fashion

The flapper look of the 1920s has left a lasting impression on the fashion industry. The iconic drop-waist dresses, cloche hats, and long pearl necklaces have all made a comeback in recent years. Many modern designers have put their own spin on the flapper look, introducing new colors and fabrics while still adhering to the silhouette of the time period.

  • One example of a modern twist on the flapper dress is the addition of fringe to create movement and add visual interest.
  • Another innovation is the use of metallic fabrics, which add a touch of glamour and reflect the bright lights of the modern city.

Evolution of 1920s Fashion

While many designers draw from the flapper era for inspiration, women’s fashion has come a long way since the 1920s. One significant shift is the move toward more casual attire. Women today have more freedom to express themselves through their fashion choices, and comfort has become a top priority.

Another key change is the introduction of pants and shorts into women’s wardrobes. While the flapper look featured shorter hemlines and more relaxed silhouettes, it was still largely focused on dresses and skirts. Today, women have more options than ever before, and trousers have become a staple in many modern wardrobes.

Despite these changes, the legacy of 1920s women’s fashion lives on. Whether you’re attending a 1920s-themed party or simply looking to incorporate elements of the flapper style into your everyday wardrobe, there are endless ways to pay homage to this iconic era in fashion history.

Frequently Asked Questions

Questions Answers
What were the popular fashion trends for women in the 1920s? The popular women’s fashion trends in the roaring twenties were short bob haircuts, drop-waist dresses, cloche hats, and low-heeled shoes.
Why did women’s fashion change so much in the 1920s? The change in women’s fashion in the 1920s was due to the cultural and social changes that were taking place during that time. Women were gaining more freedom and independence, and fashion reflected this.
What was the significance of the flapper dress in the 1920s? The flapper dress was a symbol of the new “flapper” culture in the 1920s. It represented a break from traditional gender roles and expectations, and a move towards more freedom and individuality.
Were all women in the 1920s wearing the same fashion? No, not all women in the 1920s were wearing the same fashion. The fashion trends varied depending on social class, cultural background, and geographic location.
What impact did women’s fashion in the 1920s have on society at large? The fashion trends in the 1920s represented a shift in societal attitudes towards women. It showed that women were no longer content to fit into the limited roles assigned to them by society, and were instead seeking more freedom and equality.
Is 1920s fashion still relevant today? Yes, 1920s fashion is still relevant today. It continues to inspire designers and fashion enthusiasts, and has even made a comeback in modern fashion trends such as the “flapper dress” and the “bob” haircut.

Thanks for taking a walk through the 1920s Fashion Time Capsule!

Thank you for joining us on this journey through the fascinating and empowering world of 1920s women’s fashion. We hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the roaring twenties and that it’s sparked your interest in learning more about this iconic period in history. Be sure to check back with us soon for more articles and insights into exciting fashion trends and beyond.

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