What Is A Flapper Girl?

When you think of a flapper girl, instantly you imagine frilled dresses, pinned hair and of course those incredible dance moves.

What Is A Flapper Girl?

But there is so much more to the flapper girl than tantalizing dance moves and sensual lipstick. 

Below we explore not only the trend but the movement that is flapper girls. From the fight for  women’s independence to the fall of the flapper girl trends.

With their energetic freedom, we are all enamored by flapper girls.

So, let’s discuss the real questions: what is a flapper girl?

Find out below!

Flapper Girls Fight For Women Independence 

During World War I, women were pushed to keep the workforce of the world moving.

And when the war was over, not many women were willing to give up their freedom. 

Throughout the 1920’s women earned the right to vote and in the mass production of women’s contraception.

The 18th Amendment’s repeal of the legal sale of alcohol resulted in Prohibition, which was implemented during the 1920s.

The scene was prepared for speakeasies, which provided illegally produced and distributed alcohol, thanks to the rise in popularity of jazz music and jazz clubs.

All of these factors allowed women to embrace their newly found freedom and so the Flapper Girls was born. 

What Is A Flapper Girl?

Ultimately, the birth of the word Flapper into the American language is unknown.

However, it is closely tied with the end of World War I. 

A fashionable young party girl is the stereotypical image of a flapper.

Smoking in public, drinking alcohol, dancing at jazz clubs, and engaging in sexual liberation practices among flappers that shocked their parents’ Victorian morals.

Flapper girls are known for their fashion above anything else.

Although not traditionally form-fitting, they wore beautiful flapper dresses with shorter, calf-revealing lengths and lower necklines: Straight and thin was the ideal silhouette.

This was to allow young women to show off their legs and ankles but also to allow them to dance.

The flapper dress is light and breathable allowing women to remain comfortable and dance the night away. 

They also ditched the constrictive corset for more comfortable bras and lingerie paired with high heeled, closed-toed shoes.

Flapper girls introduced the concept of extravagant makeup with deep rogue, striking lipstick, dark eyeshadow and heavy mascara. All complete with a short updo or bob haircut. 

Flapper girls were daring and powerful in the way they expressed themselves. 

Flapper fashion was dominated by designers like Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, and Jean Patou.

A freer, more relaxed silhouette was influenced by Jean Patou’s creation of knit swimwear and women’s sportswear like tennis gear, while the knitwear of Chanel and Schiaparelli brought unfussy lines to women’s clothing.

By cutting cloth against the grain, Madeleine Vionnet’s designs highlighted a woman’s body shape in a more organic way.

Gone were the days of big skirts and high necklines. Flapper Girls dared to show more than they were supposed to and it slowly became the norm for women fashion. 

Flappers were defined not just by their attire but also by their actions and attitudes.

Flappers were young, brash, quick-witted, careless, and unconcerned with prevailing taboos or social customs.

They ingested wine, drove and rode in cars, kissed various men, and “petted” them.

The Flapper Language 

As young women became liberated in their clothing, social activities, and their sexuality, they also created their own sense of dialogue.

From expressing joy and happiness to calling out someone else’s nonsense, flapper girls created a new sense of liberation. 

Often women were not permitted to indulge in certain expressions, especially when voicing their own opinion in the presence of a man.

The Flapper Girl movement allowed women to create new terms and phrases to express their opinions. 

This was often looked down upon among older women and men, however, younger men enjoyed the privileges of such frivolous, carefree young women. Funny language and all. 

Flapper Girls In The Media 

Much like today, the media in the 1920s spread the news far and wide about the women who showed too much skin and wore too much makeup.

However, the media quickly used the fact that women now had their own disposable income to their advantage. 

Marketing executive, Helen Lansdowne Resor is widely known for her role in bringing a womens sex appeal to the forefront of advertising to women.

Previously women had only been marketed towards men but as the flapper girl appeal grew, women quickly became one of the world’s biggest customers.

What Is A Flapper Girl?

You could see flapper girl style on the covers of Vanity Fair, and Life.

Big media companies were showing extreme interest in the style and ambition of the flapper girl movement. 

Flapper girls were also represented through books and film.

Anita Loo wrote and published her book “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” and its sequel “But Gentlemen Marry Brunettes” which quickly shot her to fame.

The books were adapted into films in 1928 with a remake starring Marilyn Monroe coming to screen in 1953. 

Though the screen depictions of flappers were often less permissive than the real-life ones, movie popularity skyrocketed in the 1920s.

The first widely watched flapper film was “Flaming Youth,” which was produced in 1923 and starred Colleen Moore, who quickly became Hollywood’s “go-to” flapper actress.

Louise Brooks failed her audition for a role in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”

However, the picture of Brooks with her perfect bob has come to represent the ideal flapper.

Before transitioning to more somber dramas, her Hollywood film career included a number of prominent flapper roles.

Fall Of The Flapper Girl 

While the majority of young women were enjoying their newfound freedom, many were not impressed.

Those against the liberation of young women made their disagreements known through the media and it even became a political marker in the fight for Women’s Independence. 

A bill to regulate the length of women’s skirts was attempted in Utah.

Both Virginia and Ohio attempted to outlaw clothing that was too form-fitting or that showed too much of a woman’s throat. 

There were also instances of women being removed from beaches if their bathing suit was deemed inappropriate for the public. 

While it may seem that these laws and rules were created by men, the majority of those against the flapper girl trend were other women.

With large public figures looking to create an opposing movement in order to restrict flapper girls in what they were and essentially how they express themselves. 

Flapper girls quickly lost their power and appeal with the hit of the stock market crash in 1929 when no one could afford to warrant the free, ambitious, and luxurious lifestyle.

This way of living quickly became a thing of the past as everyone had to be wary of their spending.

Expensive dresses and parties just didn’t seem to be on the list. 

With the introduction of talking films, which was not always a flapper girl’s strength, several movie star flappers had already met their demise two years earlier.

Independent women in the flapper style were nearly hard to represent on screen due to the Hays Code, which was passed in 1930 and severely restricted sexual themes in films.

Impact Of Flapper Girls 100 Years On 

While the Flapper Girl movement died out in the 1920s with the Great Depression and the crash of the stock market, you can still see the effects they created on society. 

Flapper Girls showed young women of the world that there is freedom and power in their sexuality.

These young women allowed others to engage in casual, consensual sexual activities without the image of being immoral, or damaged.

The idea that a woman’s value is determined by her virginity or purity was disproved in this way by flappers.

The flapper movement also provided women with many more clothing options.

Unlike today, women in the 1920s were not spoiled for choice when it comes to fashion.

Flapper girls highlighted that women can dress in items other than corsets and long dresses. 

This movement is one of the reasons that women have so much freedom today.

Imagine living in a world where you had no choice in your dress sense of social activities?

Flapper girls made it possible for women to begin to make their own choices in their personal lives.

An impact that women of today are highly thankful and appreciative of. 

Final Thoughts

So, flappers girls while not quite as forceful and brazen as the Suffragette movement, aided in the changes to create society into what it is today. 

From their shorter hem lengths to their outspoken tendencies, Flapper girls were the societal change the 1920s needed. 

Flapper girls embraced their freedom. Whether it was finding their own jobs to enjoy shopping (Check out What Is Vintage Retail Therapy) or going out dancing with unknown men, they took life by the horns and took every opportunity to enjoy themselves. 

Sounds like yourself? Who knows, maybe you would’ve been a flapper girl had you been born in the 1920s. 

Today we pay homage to the flapper girl movement through fashion choices, make up, and embracing our freedom to its fullest.

Willa Price