The 1920s was a pivotal time in American history. This decade was all about exploration, curiosity, and culture.
The 1920s is widely referred to as the Roaring 20s, or the Jazz Age, due to the boom of jazz music, jazz performers, bootleggers during prohibition, bathtub gin, dancers, and of course, the infamous flappers.
It was a time of glitz and glamor that we’d all often love to emulate.
The stunning jeweled dresses, beautiful headwear, striking makeup looks are just so enthralling, that it’s no wonder that today fashion lovers are still inspired by these looks. So, what was the fashion actually like?
What Was The 1920s Fashion?
The 1920s was largely inspired by art deco. The fashion was decadent, Gatsby style with all of the razzle dazzle of the roaring twenties.
When we think of 1920s fashion, we think of the androgynous silhouette, with straight cuts, short hemlines and party dresses.
Think of Clara Bow, Louise Brooks, or Zelda Fitzgerald who were all icons of style during this time.
After the First World War ended, women were choosing to embrace a more bold, flamboyant lifestyle, which is reflected in the clothes they wore, make up, and hair cuts they chose.
The time was very much about social rebellion, with the opening of speakeasy bars, the boom of artists and talent across the states, and women’s fashion evolving from long, reserved skirts, into shorter, more relaxed, boyish fits.
Then came the flapper trend, with knee length skirts, dropped waistlines, art deco embellished designs, and pearl necklaces that defined the glamor of the 1920s.
The style icons of the age were actresses, dancers, and showgirls, always pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a 1920s woman.
Think of Greta Garbo, who embodied the controversial styles of the flapper, with glitzy getups that women around the world wanted to emulate.
One of the more poignant parts of 1920s fashion was the hats and headwear that women would wear to add even more razzle dazzle into their wardrobes.
What Hats Did Women Wear In The 1920s?
Women of the 1920s wore a variety of hats and headpieces. The classic, most popular hat of the 1920s was the cloche hat.
This was bell shaped, and often adorned with embellishments such as flowers, feathers, and other decorative designs.
Other styles would be wrapped turbans, bucket hats, headwraps, and the lido hat. Let’s take a look at some of them in closer detail to see which you need to add to your 1920s inspired wardrobe.
The Cloche Hat
The Cloche hat was invented by Caroline Reboux in 1908, but these hats rose largely to fame from about 1922 to the early 30s. The term cloche means bell in French.
After the end of the First World War, the cloche hat had become incredibly popular. This hat was close fitting, and many women chose to crop their hair into bobs which paired perfectly with the cloche hat (see also ‘10 Fashionable Vintage Fitted Hats You Need In Your Life‘).
This hat is very closely associated with the flapper style.
The expertly crafted silhouette of the cloche hat contrasted all of the women’s hats that had come before.
This is why the cloche is considered a ‘flapper’ hat as it rejects social norms that women needed to wear large, embellished hats with floral additions.
Cloche hats were meant to be worn low down over the eyebrows, so the wearer would have to tilt their head and chin up to look up at others, which was considered flirtatious and alluring.
With the rise of art deco, these hats became more embellished, often made of felt or silk, and touched with lace or rhinestone additions for added sparkle and interest.
The cloche was the fashionable item to have, worn by the likes of Joan Crawford, Vilma Banky, Josephine Baker, and many others.
The Lido Hat
The Lido hat was often made from velvet or silk, and was designed to show off a charming, young face. This was best suited to chic women as the silhouette lines and patterns would draw attention to the face.
The Picture Hat
The Picture hat was a wide brimmed hat with a round crown that is still popular today. These hats would be worn at the height of summer, and resembled a bonnet in style.
The name is derived from the fact the brim of the hat would droop down at the sides, perfectly framing the face for a picture. You would often find a flower or brooch at the side of the hat for extra glamor (see also ‘How To Wear A Brooch‘).
A wrapped turban was also considered a symbol of glamor that would often be worn by movie stars or flappers. Draped turbans quickly became a fashion statement.
They were not religious statements that they had previously been in other cultures, as they were simply more functional for the close kept waves and hairstyles of 1920s women.
These turbans were often made of velvet or silk, and embellished with feathers or brooches. Turbans would be worn night and day by flappers, but evening ones would be far more decadent than daytime ones.
1920s Inspired Hats
The cloche hat is the most iconic- so why not try this look for yourself? You’ll feel like a true Roaring Twenties woman in one of these flattering hats.
We just love this bold Red Cloche Hat with a bow accent that is just perfect for wrapping up during the winter months, but still looking glamorous.
Alternatively, try this simple Vintage Wool Cloche Hat to add a touch of the 1920s Jazz Age to your life.
If heading to a Gatsby inspired party, then why not wear this Linen Cloche Hat with lace, to dress as Daisy Buchanan!
What Headwear Did Women Wear In The 1920s?
The headpieces from the 1920s are far more recognizable than the hats. This age was notorious for beaded headbands, skullcaps and hair clips to dress up a flapper outfit and hairstyle.
Skull Caps were very popular headpieces. These would be beaded skull caps also known as the Juliette cap.
These beaded caps would be perfect for those with cropped or thin hair, as they would cover the head entirely, leaving the face free. Others were made from fringe or other materials.
In some cases, strings of pearls or beads could be wrapped around the neck and also around the head or hair for a striking look.
Headbands or bandeaus would be worn for evening events with formal dresses.
Headbands would often be worn either on the hair, or across the forehead, and would be adorned with jewels, rhinestones, or diamonds.
These would often have feathers or pearls added in, and were popularized by the stars. These hair pieces were a symbol of the roaring twenties, worn most by flappers and glamorous women.
1920s Inspired Headwear
If you want to feel like a flapper yourself, then why not find 1920s inspired hair pieces to wear to your next glamorous event?
We love this Great Gatsby Rhinestone Headpiece for your next 1920s flapper party. You’ll definitely feel like a Hollywood starlet in this one.
If you prefer a Crystal Flapper Headband, then this one’s for you. It screams glitz and glamor, and would be perfect for a Gatsby themed wedding.
If you want to look like a rebellious siren, then this 1920s inspired Leaf Headband is just perfect. You could also try a Feather Flapper Headband to really draw the eye, and feel like Daisy Buchanan yourself.
What Was The Most Popular Hat For Women In The 1920s?
By far the most popular, recognizable and iconic hat from the 1920s was the cloche hat. This hat became a symbol of the 1920s woman.
The cloche hat is a bell shaped hat that fits closely to the head and face. It would have been very snug, and would highlight the features of the face.
The cloche hat is the hat of choice for flappers, musicians, starlets, and other 1920s women alike.
How Do You Dress Like A 1920s Flapper?
A 1920s flapper was considered scandalous at the time. The boyish shapes, short dresses and flirtatious makeup and clothing cuts was all part of the social rebellion of the era.
As such, a flapper would wear very high heels, would no longer wear corsets under their clothing, and would instead wear bras and lingerie.
A flapper would typically have lots of rouge on their cheeks, bold lipstick, mascara, thin outlined eyebrows, and shorter, more maculine haircuts such as the famous bob of the age.
Flappers were considered young, flirtatious, reckless, fast talking, even faster dancing women who didn’t seem to care about social conventions or expectations.
As a result, they would drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, drive in cars, and were ‘looser’ with men. These women were more likely to live in busy cities, and hold down jobs to pay for their lavish lifestyles.
To dress like a 1920s flapper, you would need a dress with a loose silhouette.
These dresses would typically be sleeveless, knee length, and would often be embellished with fringe detailing, jewels, lace or sparkles. The more glamorous, the better.
Then, it’s all about the accessories. You would have to have a headpiece- this could be a feathered one, or one that is embellished with jewels and rhinestones.
Then, you want to wear high heels, long draping jewelry such as pearls, and gloves. You could even wear a feather boa draped around the shoulders.
To finish, you will need to create a dark and dramatic makeup look. Most flappers would wear kohl lined eyes, or a smokey black eyeshadow.
The eyebrows tended to be very thin, and penciled on in a single line. Finally, rouge the cheeks and opt for a bold, red lip.
If you are looking for inspiration, take a look at Clara Bow, or even consider the animation Betty Boop for inspo!
How Was Hair Worn In The 1920s?
As hats and headpieces were so pivotal to the Jazz Age, hair was often worn to accommodate this. For most women, the hairstyles in the 1920s were worn sleek, and close to the head.
If an individual had longer hair, then it was pulled back into a low chignon, but most women had bobs cut with tapered layers so the hair would lie flat.
The bob was easily the most iconic hairstyle of the 1920s. This hairstyle was cut short, and chin length, and could even be razored at the back.
The point was to show off the neck, which was considered sexy! Some women had bangs too, or the hair was brushed to one side.
Flappers also preferred to wear their hair in clipped curls or water waves. They could also use combs to place waves and bend the hair.
This is done by placing combs on damp hair to dry, leaving the hair in waves across the head.
There would also be finger waves, which is a way to set the hair into curls that sit tightly on the top of the head, like a sleek S shaped style. These waves are synonymous with the 1920s woman.
To summarize, the 1920s was a time of rebellion and transformation, and this was reflected in the fashion choices of the era.
One of the biggest changes for women was the hairstyles and headwear.
Hair was cropped short and kept flat to the face, making it perfect for wearing the iconic cloche 1920s hat, or the headpieces and headbands that have become synonymous with the era.
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