How To Dress Up For A Gatsby Party: Female

When Leonardo Dicaprio first introduces himself in the 2013 movie, he simply states ‘I’m Gatsby’, and as he does so, an extravagant display of fireworks sets off in the background.

This is a sign of things to come, as the parties held by Gatsby in the movie are the epitome of luxury and wealth. They represent a bygone era of frivolous extravagance. 

How To Dress Up For A Gatsby Party Female

It’s no wonder that more and more people nowadays want to replicate these parties to create a party atmosphere. One of the greatest appeals of Gatsby parties is certainly the clothing that’s involved. 

Men donning crisp suits, and women in embellished flapper dresses, what’s not to love? If you’ve found yourself receiving an invite to a Gatsby party, you might be wondering where to begin in terms of clothing. 

There are so many different styles of flapper dresses out there, along with a wealth of different accessories, that it can be tricky knowing where to start.

This is where we come in. If you need help finding the perfect look for your Gatsby party, we’ve got you covered, simply keep reading below to find out more. 

What Is A Gatsby Party? 

Gatsby parties have risen in popularity in recent years, with celebrities such as Khloe Kardashian opting to have her birthday party decked out in this theme. 

Gatsby parties are based on the ones that Jay Gatsby holds in his mansion, in the novel ‘The Great Gatsby’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

This book was written in the 1920’s, and the style of Gatsby parties reflects this time period. 

In the novel, Gatsby holds these extravagant parties in order to try and win the attention of Daisy Buchanan, a long lost love of his who lives next door.

He believes that the more decadent the parties, the greater the chance that she will attend. Therefore, fireworks, champagne, and jazz music abound. 

Because of the decadence of this period, Gatsby parties have become a popular choice of theme for people in today’s world. It’s an opportunity to immerse yourself completely in a different time period. 

What Did Women Wear In The 1920’s? 

In order to help figure out what kind of clothing you should wear to your Gatsby party, we need to take a look at some of the fashion history of the period. 

The creator of the flapper dress (which we’ll look at later), is actually credited as being the fashion designer, Coco Chanel.

Apparently, she created the flapper dress merely by donning a man’s shirt, and then wrapping a belt around the waist. 

Coco Chanel was also a proponent of the famous beads and jewelry we associate with the Gatsby era too. 

If you were a wealthier woman during this period in time, you would have both a morning and an evening dress, which you’d be required to change into.

The morning dresses were far more loose and comfortable, with long flowing sleeves, and were typically adorned with flowers. 

The evening dresses, on the other hand, the women would typically wear a ‘cocktail dress’, a style of dress that we’re familiar with today, and was coined during this era. 

They would be long, sleek, with straight lines, along with lots of embellishments and sometimes fringes. They would typically have a hat to match, as well as a handbag. 

The hair would typically be worn very short, styled as a short bob that reached just below the earlobe.

This style of hair was featured in Vogue magazine several times during the decade, and more and more women were inclined to chop off their long locks. 

What Should I Wear To A Gatsby Party? 

Now that we’ve taken a brief look at some of the fashion history of the decade, as well as Gatsby parties themselves, we can move on to discuss some outfit options.

Below, we’ve generated a guide of everything that you’ll need to create that perfect Gatsby look. 

With each element of the outfit, we’ve provided a little history behind each of the items, and why they were important during the 1920’s. 

To create your gorgeous Gatsby look, simply keep reading below. 

The Flapper Dress

The Flapper Dress

The first thing you’ll need to purchase to make sure that you’re well prepared for your upcoming Gatsby party, is a flapper dress.

These dresses are crucial when it comes to achieving the ultimate Gatsby look, and the sparklier and more extravagant, the better. 

History Of The Flapper Dress

First, let’s take a brief look at the history of the flapper dress. As we mentioned earlier, Coco Chanel was credited with its invention, along with many other historical styles of the decade, including the classic short bob. 

Flapper dresses represented a shift in mindset within the period, where women were finally able to rid themselves of those constrictive corsets and full skirts.

The evening dresses were light, sleek, and elegant. 

The ideal body shape for these dresses was slender and straight. Women of the period were taught that flat stomachs and breasts were desirable.

Instead of using curves to show their sensuality, the open arm feature of the dresses, along with the show of their legs acted as a tool for eroticism. 

The hemline of flapper dresses began as quite low down in the calf, but as the decade progressed, the dresses gradually became shorter and shorter, revealing more skin in the process.

The dresses also gave an elongated effect, as the hemline was often featured just above the hips. 

These dresses have become iconic pieces of clothing of the decade, with many art deco pieces demonstrating women donning these styles. 

Different Styles Of Gatsby Dresses

There are a few different styles of Gatsby dresses on the market today, some more authentic than others, giving you a lot of choice in terms of what appeals to you.

Below you’ll find some of the different styles you can opt for when choosing your dress. 

Classic Gatsby Dress

One of the most popular and easiest kind of flapper dresses you’ll come across is the classic style. It features that classic v neck which reveals a portion of the chest, as well as being sleeveless. 

It also contains some embellished items on the front and back, and a fringe on the bottom.

The great thing about these dresses is that they finish just above the knee, which gives you a lot more comfort and freedom of movement.

This also makes it the perfect dress for dancing the night away, and really getting your groove on! 

Sequin Gatsby Dress

Another option that you can go for when choosing a dress, is the sequin Gatsby dress.

These dresses are often heavily embellished with sequins rather than beads, giving them an incredibly sparkly appearance that shines almost as much as champagne. 

Sequin Gatsby dresses are great when you want to stand out from the crowd, and really show just how fun you are. 

Sequined dresses were actually produced in the 1920s, and some women of the decade would don these dresses.

However, the majority of sequined dresses from the decade were typically worn by female performers, rather than the everyday woman. 

These dresses are certainly something to look at, and will keep you feeling sparkly all night long! 

Floor Length Gatsby Dress

Now we can move on to discuss some of the Gastby dresses which differ slightly in terms of appearance to others.

Perhaps the party you’re going to is an elegant affair, and you don’t intend to boogie, but rather strut around in your glorious evening gown? 

If that’s the case, then it’s probably best that you choose a long evening dress that still  features some of the classic embellishments and designs we’re accustomed to with Gatsby dresses. 

As we mentioned earlier, although many people associate the Gatsby era with knee length dresses, the decade actually started out with dresses that were much more similar to the one advertised above. 

It features all of the same embellishments that you might expect from the decade, as well as a long portion of gloriously sweeping fabric at the end.

It has been inspired by art deco prints, so you’re guaranteed to feel like a work of art when you wear it. 

Plus Size Gatsby Dresses

Although the 1920’s boasted sleek and slender lines, nowadays, there are plenty of Gatsby dress options for those who are considered to be plus sized.

They actually make a beautiful silhouette, which can naturally compliment the curves of your body. 

Our personal favorite is the one shown above, it features a beautifully bold red color that is overlaid with gold beads and sequins for a really stand out look.

As well as this, it also features embellished sleeves, which are otherwise transparent, giving an effortlessly chic appearance. 

On the bottom portion of the dress, you’ll notice the classic flapper fringe, which makes it a great option for twirling the night away. 

A great tidbit of information is that the 1920s actually revolutionized plus size clothing for women.

As the media was pushing slim and straight curves, women began campaigning for brands to extend their size catalog. 

Local brands were urged to become more inclusive, and this eventually prompted Lane Bryant to become the first designer to include larger sizes of clothing.

The clothing actually generated sales of 1 million dollars after it was released, showing the great need for plus size clothing on the market. 

Other companies began to take notice, and eventually advertisements were made in magazines and catalogs showing plus size clothing for women. 

You can find some more plus size dresses to wear to your Gatsby party here.

Affordable Gatsby Dresses

If you’ve got an upcoming Gatsby party, but you don’t want to break the bank when searching for your perfect dress, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Most of the dresses out there seem to be incredibly pricey, largely due to the heavy embellishments on the dresses. This doesn’t need to be the case, however. 

Just take a look at the beautiful dress advertised above, which features a beautifully sleek and elegant dress, with gold embellishments covering the surface. 

This one in particular can either be purchased in black or white depending on your preference.

If however, you want to purchase your Gatsby costume as a whole, then you can find the whole set here for a reasonable price. You can choose from five different colors and designs to create your own personal Gatsby look. 

Art Deco Gatsby Dresses

If you want to emulate some of the classic pieces of artwork from the decade, then you can choose to wear an art deco Gatsby dress, which features beautiful embellishment in the era’s art style. 

Art Deco is a style that revolutionized the 1920’s, encompassing everything from clothes to furniture. It is a modernist style of artwork, which pays homage to classic styles such as cubism, and futurism. It originated in Paris, but spread rapidly throughout the globe. 

If you want the perfect art deco style dress, we recommend something like the one featured above, which has bold designs embellished on it. It has the perfect figure hugging shape, which is defined by the placement of the sequins on top. 

It’s also great if you’re not a massive fan of over the top Gatsby dresses, and are instead looking for a cocktail dress that you’ll be able to wear multiple times. 

We also love this art deco inspired dress, which is an incredibly wearable cocktail dress that you will get lots of use out of. The best thing about it? It comes in 8 different colors, so you can simply choose your favorite. 

New Years Eve Gatsby Dresses

New Years Eve Gatsby Dresses

We know that many Gatsby inspired parties are held on New Year’s Eve, to welcome the coming year in style.

This means that you’ll really need to go all out with your dress, as you’re tackling two different themes at once. 

We all know that the requirement for New Year’s Eve parties is that you don something sparkly, but combined with a Gatsby theme, you’ll need a stand out dress.

There are lots out there to choose from, and one of our favorites is the one above. 

It features the classic, little black dress style, whilst boasting bold lines and designs on the front.

It’s covered with gold sequins that take on a sharp and elegant appearance. This dress is sure to make you stand out from the crowd. 

The design also has a waist dropping effect which helps to give you that elongated frame so popular in the decade. 

In the 1920s, people believed that getting dressed up in your very best attire for New Year’s Eve could help to bring you prosperity and luck in the coming year.

It was symbolic of wealth and abundance, something that people wanted to attract more of. 

You can do the same, and celebrate the obligatory fireworks with a sparkly, Gatsby style New Year’s dress. 

What Length Should My Dress Be? 

If you’re wondering what sort of length your dress should be for your upcoming Gatsby party, the choice is really up to you! If you prefer to wear something which is more akin to the popularized style of 1920’s dresses we see today, opt for a knee length one. 

The knee length dresses that have an added fringe are also great if you’re attending a party where you plan on doing some dancing.

This is because the fringe of the dresses is actually designed to accentuate your movements. As you move, so will the fringe on your dress. 

As we mentioned earlier however, true Gatsby dresses could be of any length. This is because the decade started out with longer evening dresses that would reach calf length or lower.

A longer dress might also be a good option if you’re attending a cocktail party, where you’re likely to do more mingling than dancing. 

At the end of the day, the choice is really up to you when it comes to choosing your personal favorite. 

What Should I Wear Underneath My Dress? 

Another common question that people ask regarding their Gatsby dresses, is what they should wear underneath.

The decade itself is famous for moving away from the constrictive corsets of yesteryear, and wearing slinkier lingerie instead. 

This gives you the perfect opportunity to don some of your fanciest undergarments, so that you can feel glamorous both on the surface and underneath. 

Another great idea is to wear a slinky slip, which women of the decade would wear under their clothing.

They were usually made from satin or silk, and were incredibly comfortable and lightweight under the dresses. 

Some of the Gatsby dresses listed above might prove to be a little heavy too, because of the embellishments, so choosing lightweight undergarments is the way forward. 

Shoes 

Now we can move on to discuss some of the different shoes you can opt for to pair with your perfect Gatsby dress.

Below, we’ve provided some information about shoes that women wore in the decade, so that you can get a better understanding of the kinds of styles you’re looking for. 

History Of 1920’s Shoes

Many fashion historians would say that the very best thing about shoes in the 1920s, is that they were visible.

Previous to this decade, women’s dresses were so long that their feet would be completely covered.

This meant that their shoes had to be stylish as they’d be on display for all to see. 

Women of the decade tended to wear strappy heels and pumps when they were planning an evening out.

If they were going somewhere extra special, they would make sure that they wore satin shoes, which were considered to be a great luxury. 

The most popular colors for these heels were gold and silver, which scream luxury.

They were also neutral enough so that they could be paired with a whole host of different color dresses. 

Gatsby Shoes 

Below, we’ve compiled a list of some different styles and colors of shoes that you can take inspiration from when creating your look. 

Sparkly Heels

Sparkly Heels

As we’ve mentioned countless times throughout this article, the 1920’s were a period of excess and luxury.

This gives you the perfect opportunity to pick up some sparkly heels to complete your look. 

As we mentioned above, the most popular options for women of the decade were gold and silver shoes.

These colors make us think of money and wealth, some of the most important themes in Fitzgerald’s novel. 

If you want the perfect pair of sparkly heels to complete your look, simply take a glance at the ones above.

The embellishing detail demonstrated by these heels is truly a work of art. In fact, they’re almost too beautiful to wear. 

They have gold piping and sequins plastered over the front, as well as a little rhinestone droplet featured at the closure. 

Mary Janes

If you want to find an authentic style of shoe to wear to your Gatsby party, then we recommend donning a pair of Mary Janes. 

Mary Janes weren’t actually called as such in the decade, but were nonetheless one of the most popular shoes of the time.

You could purchase flapper models, which would feature little fringes to match your dress, as well as daytime versions. 

As well as this, Mary Janes were also incredibly popular due to the fact that they were incredibly comfortable to wear.

They weren’t bulky, but still featured a block style heel that was comfortable enough to walk and dance in. 

Just as they do today, they featured a single strap reaching from one side to the other, just the same as the Mary Jane’s we’re accustomed to today. 

We absolutely adore the ones above, which feature a shimmering gold base, overlaid with a paler gold strap finish.

They are advertised as being a great choice for dancing in, and so are perfect for when you feel like boogying. 

Satin Shoes

As we mentioned briefly in our history of the shoes of the decade, women would often wear satin shoes on evenings out.

This makes them a great choice if you want to make your Gatsby look as authentic as possible. 

Satin was and is still considered to be a luxury material, that makes us think of comfort and wealth, so if you want to feel these feelings whilst attending your party, why not pick up a pair of these? 

We absolutely adore these ones above, which come in a Mary Jane style that is also reminiscent of the decade.

This way, you can combine both the style and the materials reminiscent of the decade.

The best thing about them is that they have an elegant rhinestone clasp that is sure to work well when paired with the sparkles on your outfit. 

Accessories

Now that we’ve looked at the main components of your outfit, the dress and the shoes, we can now move on to discuss the accessories that you’ll be wearing. Below you’ll find a brief history of accessories that were popular in the 1920’s. 

The History Of 1920’s Accessories

One of the most popular accessories that women could don in the 1920’s, were headbands.

Although they seem relatively simple today, headbands were a new invention during this period. Previous to being worn as fashion items, headbands were used only to treat illnesses such as headaches. 

After the decade hit, however, they became a fashion phenomenon.

They could either be covered with feathers, sequins, or rhinestones, and were a common accessory worn by those wanting to achieve the flapper look. 

As well as this, another popular option for people of the decade was to don turbans.

These would often be gold or silver in appearance, and look highly luxurious. They were made to complement the sleek lines popularized in the decade. 

As most of the women of the period also had short hair, they were easy to slip on without having to fuss over unruly locks. 

In terms of jewelry of the decade, people began to reject the notion that necklaces and rings had to be signifiers of wealth.

After WW1 was over, people began to appreciate jewelry more than ever, in all of its forms. 

Wearing jewelry became more about creating an overall look, and achieving a specific style rather than trying to display how much money you had.

People became big fans of green gemstones, which is a color often associated with the decade. 

As well as this, long pearl necklaces also became popularized, because they helped to achieve that sleep elongated look by drooping past the chest. 

Gatsby Accessories 

So, in order to complete your look, you’ll need to make sure that you pick up the best accessories to complement your dress.

Below, we take a look at some of the gorgeous accessories that are reminiscent of the decade. 

Headband

Headband

As we mentioned previously, feathers were a popular choice for women to wear in their headbands. They’re great for achieving a vintage look, and simultaneously standing out from the crowd. 

Wearing a headband can help to elevate your look to a whole other level, and give you that little vintage boost to stand out from the crowd.

Chances are that most people will just don a vintage style dress, but accessorizing it with a headband too will really help you to turn heads. 

We love the peacock feather featured in this one, along with the intricate rhinestoning detail which was also incredibly popular during the decade. 

Turban 

Now we can move on to look at the ever popular turban which was worn frequently by women of the time.

These turbans are truly special to look out, and are incredibly eye-catching because of their bright, vibrant colors. 

These all come in a wide array of different colors, that include bright blue, red, gold, and silver. Choosing the right colored turban is a great way to match your outfit, and take your look to the next level. 

An added plus is that you won’t have to worry about your hair all evening, and you can simply enjoy looking stylish with very little effort. 

Jewelry 

Now, when we’re talking about jewelry for the decade, we also recommend that you dress up your outfit with a few select pieces. 

The main item of jewelry that we recommend you purchase is an elongated pearl necklace. They’re a great nod to the decade, and can help to give you that desirable straight frame.

You don’t necessarily need to break the bank and purchase freshwater pearls, there are plenty of costume jewelry options out there to choose from. 

The one demonstrated above shows that you can look effortlessly expensive, without having to pay lots of money. 

As well as this, depending on the color of your dress, we also mentioned that green gemstone jewelry was a popular choice for women of the period.

If your dress matches with emerald green, you can opt to wear a few select pieces in the form of rings or bracelets. 

We’re in love with this matching set, which can help you to create the perfect Gatsby Esque look. 

Some More Ideas

In addition to each of the key items that we’ve listed above, you can opt to don a ladies cigarette holder too. These are great for showing your vigor for the decade, as it was the period in which it was finally acceptable for women to smoke

Final Thoughts 

In order to create your perfect Gastby style look for your party, you’ll need to make sure that you choose an uber sparkly, sequined dress that boasts a fringe on the bottom. Either this, or choose a long baroque style evening gown. 

Mary Janes are a great choice for shoes, and you can match these to your dress. Finish the look by adding a long pearl necklace. 

Willa Price
Latest posts by Willa Price (see all)