How to Accessorize a Flapper Costume

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Flappers were free-spirited young women.
Flappers were free-spirited young women. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

The flapper was a term used in the 1920s to describe a type of independent new woman who did things like cut her hair short, wear short skirts, drive cars, participate in sports, take up smoking, listen to jazz music, become sexually active, adopt a rebellious manner and more generally participate in and derive pleasure from activities and life experiences that were not considered fit for women by the previous Victorian generation. Now old-fashioned looking but representing a new way of experiencing the world, flapper costumes are fun to wear to parties, and there are many ways to accessorize them.

Things You'll Need

  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • High heels
  • Smoking accessories
  • Purse
  • Ukulele
  • Sports accessory

Wear a hat. In the 1920s, headgear was de rigueur for both sexes. For a day event, a flapper should wear a cloche hat; it is the quintessential 1920s hat. But for a less well-known 1920s hat, opt for a tricorner hat. At night, flappers wore hair bandeaux, which were similar to wide fabric headbands that were often decorated with embroidery, beading, lace or even feathers. A more unusual evening choice is the Oriental-influenced turban.

Wear gloves. During the day, flappers often wore short gloves in white or in a color that matched or complemented their outfit.

Wear high heels. During the day, flappers wore standard high heels or a type of Oxford pumps, while at night, they wore standard high heels or T-strap high-heeled shoes.

Carry smoking accessories. An elegant evening accessory option for a flapper is a cigarette holder. It can hold a cigarette, whether you light it or not, or a fake cigarette. A cigarette case is also a fun flapper addition to any lady’s purse. Wear an oversized coat, preferably lined with fur or fake fur on the collar and cuffs. To get to a day or evening party, a flapper would not be without her oversized coat.

Carry a purse. For the day time, a clutch purse is an elegant flapper accessory. For evening, use a small metal chain-link purse, or a small purse with a metal clasp and carrying strap. Tuck inside the purse a handkerchief, a powder compact and a tube of lipstick – three flapper essentials.

Carry a ukelele. It is a Hawaiian instrument that looks like a small guitar. Ukeleles were very popular in the 1920s and flappers often played them at parties.

Carry a sporting equipment item or wear a sports garment for a sport that was popular in the 1920s. Some examples include wearing a aviator hat or a racer’s cap, or carrying a golf club or a croquet mallet.

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