A look at how you can make the 1920s trend work for you.

DressWhenever I receive a party invitation I always love when I see that it has a theme. Hats, Disney, Hawaii, Anything But Clothes, I’ll happily spend days thinking up interesting and innovative outfits. However there’s one theme that fills me with dread – ‘1920s Glamour’.

I understand why it’s so popular. The prolonged build-up to the release of Baz Luhrman’s Great Gatsby has got everyone in a fever to throw on sequinned flapper dresses and feathered headbands. The opulent parties, the alcoholic concoctions, beautiful women draped over sofas in men’s silk pyjamas… It does indeed conjure up an image of glamour and opulence. As a money stricken student I understand the appeal. I would much rather be attending fabulous parties instead of shivering in a onesie worried about my next deadline. However, the idea of dressing in a 1920s style always brings me out in a cold sweat.

After the whale-boned corsets of the previous decades, fashion celebrated a straight up-and-down figure without the feminine curves caused by painfully constricting underwear. The dropped waists and thin straps look magnificent on ‘boyish’ figures as the clean lines perfectly present an athletic body. In a similar way, apple shapes benefit from this as well. The short dresses allow you to show off slim legs and arms while strategically placed motifs or sequins can create the illusion of a slimmer figure. They have some beautiful dresses for hire from Girl Meets Dress that would be perfect for any Gatsby themed evening.

However, for an hourglass figure, flapper dresses fail to do anything. They bypass the waist and hang off the chest and the bum in an almost tent-like fashion. Unless the dress is skin-tight there is little opportunity to appropriately flash your assets. My solution for this dilemma is to stick to menswear. The slightly high-waisted trousers, teamed with a silk shirt, allows you to emphasise a great waist and long legs. Brogues are the preferred footwear, but by choosing extra long trousers you can wear crazy heels underneath. To make it more feminine I choose to wear a cloche hat, pulled low over the eyes.

A less obvious version would of course be the Chanel suit. Timeless and universally flattering, there are always reinterpretations found on the high street or the charity shops. A bright colour will add a more modern twist to the classic.

1920s is one of those styles that people really go to town with so you need the make-up and hair to match. Look up screen beauties Louise Brooks and Clara Bow. As silent actresses, dark eye make-up and red lipstick allowed their facial expressions to be clearly seen on screen. Bobs were obviously de rigueur, but it would be taking the fashion too far to chop all your locks off. Instead use a bejewelled hairpin or feathered headband. Also, if you are feeling particularly daring, a silk scarf fashioned into a turban nods to the oriental trends that were beginning to sweep fashion at this time.

For a complete look, wear a fur coat or silk kimono slung around the shoulders. So grab a feather boa and get your Charleston on.


Millicent Wilkinson


Image by Millicent Wilkinson