Emulating Roaring 1920s Fashion

1 year ago / by Melanie Fourie
Lacey gloves, pearls and wavy hairstyles all formed part of the glamor of this era.
Lacey gloves, pearls and wavy hairstyles all formed part of the glamor of this era

1920s Fashion comprised simplistic and androgynous trends. It also included the signature bob hairstyle, and headgear like the cloche, bell hat and feathered hat band. The era saw women’s multiple layered clothing transition into lighter gear, designed for sheer comfort. That being said, 20’s eveningwear epitomized glamor with its silk, beadwork, rhinestone, embroidery and fancy sequins, making women shine in Great Gatsby style.   

Coco Chanel played an integral role in promoting the flapper dress in this era. These dresses were worn at knee length and resembled a sleeveless shift. Nude hosiery, beads or pearls and cardigans formed part of this look too.  20’s Style dresses comprised a dropped waist with a belt enfolded around the hip. The skirt section of these dresses extended towards the ankle or on the knee. 

Guide to 1920s Fashion

The following is a guide on 20’s fashion and what you should wear to achieve this look.  

1920s Style Dresses

The flapper dress was the quintessential style in this era, and came in several variations. That being said, 1920s clothing also included other dress styles. The following is what the era offered.

The Sequenced Floor-Length Evening Flapper Dress 

These came in a variety of opulent fabrics, all intrinsically adorned in sequenced patterns. Some of the most popular colors for these dresses were black and gold, black and pink, burgundy, black and emerald and champagne. This style dress resembled a mermaid-type cut, with a lengthy bodice and a long skirt that flared subtlety at the ends. Necklines were relaxed, but not plunging. 

You could also sport long gloves, a feather head band and a sequenced clutch purse in a complementary color with this. This vintage style was the epitome of elegance. Long flapper dresses often comprised short lacy sleeves, or were completely sleeveless like a vest. 

The Classic White Flapper Dress

This 1920s style dress type often had a knee-length skirt, with a fringe that dropped to your mid calves. It was designed in sleeveless and non-sleeved versions. Also richly adorned, it was often made with silver or cream sequences. If you’re looking to replicate this look for a fancy dress party, be sure to don a pair of white peep toe T-bar heels and a white lace headband. To complete this look, rev up your vintage hair glam with some Hollywood waves, or a pin curl bob with a white feather head band. 

Drape some pearls and a white fur shawl over this flapper dress. Or add a pair of white satin gloves and cigarette holder. You could also opt for a white flapper dress with sequenced edging and fringe rows. Be sure to add a pair of black fishnet stockings, your white T-bar heels and a white fan to complement this style. 

The Tea Length Flapper Dress

These flapper dresses had a hemline between the ankle and below the knee. Flatter in shift silhouette with a hip length waistline in these dresses. Choose three quarter or short sleeve styles here. Some of the tea length flapper dresses were fitted to thigh length, with a fringe that went down to the mid-calf. Other tea length flapper dresses comprised sequenced material without a fringe, that went down to mid-calf. Tea length flapper dress sleeves were often made of sheer fabrics like lace or organza. The skirt part of these dresses were also often layered. 

The Short Flapper Dress

The short flapper dress was often tasseled and had a swanky aesthetic. This thigh length 1920s clothing item was often worn with patterned stockings to complement its dress sequences. This flapper dress was exceptionally popular with women who loved to have freedom of movement on the dance floor. Bust lines were also seemingly more risqué, allowing ample cleavage. Other necklines included V and round necklines. Some of the short flapper dresses also comprised asymmetric hemlines for that provocative edge. Short flapper dresses were also made with layered tassels. 

1920’s Swimwear 

The one-piece women’s bathing suit was popularized in the 1920s. These bathing suits were tight fitting, yet comfortable. This suit was practical and resembled a long top that overlapped a shorts. Some of these bathing suits also had a little apron near the bottom edge. Bathing suite necklines were not plunging, and were mainly round or V-shaped. 

The two-piece bathing costume was also popular in the 1920s. This basically included a flannel pants and jersey-like shirts. Swimsuit attire also included jersey knickers and satin swimming frocks. Women in the era often complemented their bathing suits with headgear such as jersey bands and rubber hats. Bathing slippers were also perfectly paired with swim suits. 

1920s Lingerie 

20’s Fashion included specific types of lingerie like the following. 

Corsets and garter belts

Many women wore corsets in the 1920s. This helped them appear more slender, especially since the flapper-style dresses were made for a slender form. Tummy’s were flattened, and the lengthier corsets worn under long flapper dresses or evening wear, made it look like women were gliding when they walked. Also, corsets were not uncomfortable like the Victorian-era corsets. Unlike Victorian-era corsets, 1920 corsets were made with elastic panels, which allowed much flexibility. 

In the latter part of the 1920s, women tossed the conventional corset for a lighter version of the original one. This style was melded with a bra. These evolved undergarments were called girdle corsets, corselets or garter bras. 20’s fashion also included garter belts. These tummy belts were used to support stockings. 


Some hosiery types of the era included nylons, tights and stockings. Stockings were worn with the flapper dress, and turned the spotlight on legs in the 1920s. Stockings were also made of rayon, silk, or cotton at the time, although some women preferred the cotton types, as these were more breathable. If you really wanted that bit of extra shimmer, you’d opt for the super shiny rayon types, although many women in the era preferred to tone down the shimmer by powdering the rayon variations. 

Stockings in the 1920s were only worn to thigh length, and needed garter belts. The garter was attached to a girdle or corset. If you didn’t like using a garter belt, you could also always simply roll your stockings down and secure it with a special band made for that purpose. These bands were also sold as elaborately decorated gold bands. 

There were also different types of stocking construction. These included the semi-fashioned type, a full-fashioned stocking type, cut and tubular stockings. The semi-fashioned variation comprised a circular pattern. It also had a mock seam.

The full-fashioned stocking  comprised a knitted flat section in leg form. These leg silhouettes were joined via a seam under the foot part and reverse side of the leg. Cut hose was designed with a circular knitting apparatus in tube form, that went down the length of the leg. Tubular hose was often worn by teenagers or young girls, as they were designed sans shape and a back seam. 

Some of the most common stocking shades in the 1920s were black, blue, brown and white. In the latter part of the era, nude, peach and grey stockings became increasingly popular. Other common shades also included silver, champagne and ivory. Sporty women in the 1920s often took to wearing sports stockings. These included stockings with argyle, striped and checked patterns. In fact, the shapes often designed on sweaters of the era, often appeared on sports hosiery too. Many women also wore polka dot stockings. 


Knickers of the day were mostly made of rayon or silk. These undergarments were also known as bloomers. In the 1920s, knickers were often attached to a camisole. These garments were called cami-bloomers. Another undergarment essential in the 1920s was the slip. Also known as a petticoat, slips were made with low necklines and a draw string waist. Some slip variations sported layered ruffles on the ends, while some had pleated hemlines. 


Brassieres comprised a camisole top. These tops had square necklines, were gathered and had an elastic waistline. Many women also wore this over a bandeau brassiere. These bandeaus were simply square shaped cloth draped across the chest, with sparse straps over the shoulders. 

Some of the undergarment types women wore in 1920s, including corsets and slips
Some of the undergarment types women wore in 1920s, including corsets and slips

1920s Sleepwear

Sleepwear in the 1920s was flamboyant, and women showed a lot of flesh when wearing it. Most nightwear was made of satin or cotton, while some were silk. These luxurious garments also came in a variety of colors such as pastel blue and pink, as well as cream. 

Some popular types of sleepwear of the 1920s included knickers, chemises and corsets. Some women slept with corsets, as they believed that the corsets made their curves more prominent. Women also wore soft silk or satin chemises over these corsets. Satin sequenced night gowns were also worn over nightwear. Silk or satin culottes and shift-like camisoles were also popular nightwear items in the 1920s. 

1920s Style Headgear

The cloche hat was the signature hat of the 1920s. It was essentially bell shaped, and adorned with feathers and floral accessories. Some cloche hats were more elaborate with wider brims. Some cloche hats had large bows in the front too. Other cloche hats sported lace or satin bands. Cloche hats also came in a variety of fabrics, and some were even made of straw. 

Then there was of course the headband, which was worn with or without feathers. Women took to the beaches on summer with their straw hats, and bucket hats were all the craze too. Turban style headgear beautifully decorated with pearls and brooches, were seen on some on the most elegantly dressed women of the time. It was not only head bands that sported feathers, as many turban style hats had feathers too. Some turbans were knotted in the front, and sported rows of pleats throughout. 

Turban style headgear, a popular look in the 1920s
Turban style headgear, a popular look in the 1920s

1920s Style Shoes 

If you’re looking to impress in Downtown Abbey fashion or dance the night away in swing style, be sure to wear the type of shoes worn in that era. So what exactly were the types of shoes worn back then? Read further to find out.

The Oxford Shoe

One of the most popular shoe types of women of that age has to be the Oxford shoe. Also known as the brogue, these shoes were super comfortable and ideal for dancing the night away at parties. Some of the Oxford shoe types were tied with laces, while others were slip on. Note that the ones you’d slip on, were often adorned with satin bows, or another similar accessory to make up for the absence of laces. There were also different heel lengths for these shoe types, so you could choose yours based on your comfort level. 

The Oxford shoe with laces were synonymous with the 1920sThe Oxford shoe with laces were synonymous with the 1920s
The Oxford shoe with laces were synonymous with the 1920s

The Cobb Heel Shoe

The Cobb heel shoe with T-bar strap, was also exceptionally popular back then. In fact, a lady’s 20’s outfit was seldom without it. These shoes were feminine, and came in both closed and open-toe variations in a range of colors. 

Mary Jane, or single bar shoes were also often worn in the 1920s. These were made in flat or Cobb heels, and in an array of colors. Some of the bars were also decorated with satin bows. 


Vintage boots were all the craze in the 1920s, and is a must if you want to recreate 20’s fashion. Some of the boots for this era were Victorian style lace-ups that reached just above the ankle. These Victorian style boots were either flat heeled, or made with a slight heel. Some of vintage boots were two-toned in tan and black, while others were monotone. 

1920s Accessories

Be sure to add these accessories if you want to replicate 20s fashion.

Cigarette Holders  

Most flapper style girls carried a cigarette holder with them at parties. This stemmed tube was primarily made of silver and occasionally jade, and formed an integral part of a 20’s outfit. Daytime cigarette holders showcased hand painted art. Dinnertime cigarette holders were often ornately decorated with jewels. 

Feathered headbands, long satin gloves and the tasseled flapper dress epitomized the roaring 20's trend.
Feathered headbands, long satin gloves and the tasseled flapper dress epitomised the roaring 20’s trend


Women wore gloves to almost every occasion in the 1920s. Often referred to as the “clothing of hands”, gloves were donned in classic gauntlet length style. This specific style glove were cuffed, and a bit longer than wrist-length. It wasn’t a new type of glove, as it was initially worn in the 17th Century, but went out of style in the 18th Century. The gauntlet gloves of the 1920s were mostly made of silk and lace. It also came in various patterns, including polka dots.  The era also had women showcasing wrist-length gloves, as well as longer length gloves that reached just beneath or above the elbow. Longer length gloves in the 1920s also came in styles that covered the top of the hand, but not the fingers. 


Hankies were the craze in the 1920s too. These were usually made of lace or cotton, with the most beautiful embroidery patterns. In fact, embroidery was a craft many women in the 1920s took to as well. Most of the hankies of the era were cream or white, and colorful ones were only introduced at the beginning of the 1930s. 


The 1920s also saw the advent of several jewelry trends for ladies. It was the age for glamor and opulence, and this reflected in the jewelry worn. Pearls were one of the most common jewelry types of the time. Women wore pearls as a single string, draped over evening gowns and short flapper dresses. They also wore multiple layers of pearls. Pearl earrings were popular too. Head band designers also often added pearl sequences to their bands. Women wore beaded bracelets and necklaces with beaded tassels too. Drop earrings with an array of gems and designs, were also a 1920s jewelry trend. Women also sported geometric-shaped earrings. One other significant jewelry trend were bangles. These were exceptionally glamorous and chunky, and made with Bakelite or metal. 

Rings were worn to complement necklaces and earrings. Some rings were pure works of art with its geometric, square, rectangular, twisted and circa shapes. The rings were never plain bands, but intrinsically crafted with gems such as diamonds, onyx, opal, garnets and sapphire.  Women often matched their jewelry with the sequined patterns on their dresses and  headgear.  

1920s Bags

Handbags and purses formed part of the 1920s accessories trend too. One of the trendiest bags of the era was the clutch purse. These were often embellished with chain straps. There were however also clutch purses without straps. One of the primary uses for these purses especially at parties, was to carry cigarette holders and gloves. Cloth bags were common in the era too, as well as mesh bags. Makeup bags grew increasingly popular in the 1920s too, as women started to apply makeup more often. These vanity bags had mirrors and various partitions for cosmetics, money, and accessories such as hankies. Shopping was conducted in style too, as women took to department stores with woven shopping baskets. 

The clutch purse with chain strap, was one of the most sought after bags of the era

1920s Coats

Vintage coats were designed below the knee or at mid-calf length. These garments were the epitome of warmth and flair. Some of the coats were also designed with fur around the sleeves, and had fur collars. These coat types were primarily wrap around coats. 

Other coats were essentially made of velour, and had buttons running down the front. Velour coats usually had matching belts. Collars were V or funnel shaped. Many of the 1920 coat designs had a swing jacket look at the back, as the back of these coats were flared. At the beginning of the 1920s, coats were essentially monochrome, but as the roaring 20s evolved, bolder coat patterns like checkered designs, emerged. Several coat designs had embroidered pocket and lapels too. 


What did they wear in the 20’s?

The 20’s was synonymous with the flapper dress. This signature 20’s outfit came in different lengths and styles. There was the short flapper dress, the tea length flapper dress and the long flapper dress. Some flapper dresses had round necks, while others had V-shaped or more plunging necklines. Flapper dresses were intricately designed and adorned with sequins. They also came in pleated, fringe and tassel styles. 

Women also wore T-bar heels, Mary Jane type heels or flat shoes and Oxford or brogue shoe types. A 20’s outfit was never complete without a 20’s signature hat like the cloche hat or embellished turban.

Some of the most popular fashion trends for this era was the elegant and artsy cigarette holder. Head bands with feathers was also one of the trends. Women also wore rolled stockings held up with lavish bands, and chunky bangles made of metal. Pearls were a fashion accessory too, and were worn as single or multiple layered necklaces. Other costume jewelry included drop earrings, often designed with tassels and exquisite gemstones. Rings were designed in geometric, rectangular, square, twisted and circular fashion. Women also attended lavish parties with clutch purses that matched the color of their head bands and dresses. Gloves were the trend too. Women wore long satin gloves to complement chic evening wear. Gloves also came in wrist length. Fur coats were the 20’s craze too. These were often designed with fur around the wrists and collar. If you were out and about in the 1920s, one of the accessories you could never leave home without, was an embroidered hankie. Swimwear trends evolved into one, and two piece bathing costumes too.