Style File Special Edition: The Roaring Twenties

By Lora Hlavsa

With Winter Ball around the corner, many of you may be scrambling for the perfect outfit for the big event. Keep in mind that there are many ways to be stylish while still rocking the 1920’s look. Ladies’ fashions in the 1920’s were marked by loose-fitting dresses, higher hemlines, and drop waists. Many dresses in these styles can be found in vintage stores, but if you go to your local mall, you are sure to find a suitable dress amongst the holiday styles. Possibly the most notable element of women’s fashion during the Roaring 20’s were the accessories. Women were often spotted sporting headbands adorned with intricate beading or feathers around their heads, which drew attention to the then fashionable “bob” hairstyle. 1920’s style headbands may be hard to come by in stores, but with a little DIY magic, a Goody headband can be transformed in minutes. Pearls were also a popular accessory, and they were worn long and layered. Faux pearls are usually fairly easy to come by; just take a look at a local thrift store, or if all else fails, the super cheap jewelry of Forever 21 will do in a bind. Men’s fashion in the 1920’s simplified the stuffy Victorian trends that they left behind when they shipped off to fight in the first World War. Like many eras in men’s fashion, the three-piece suit was extremely popular during the 1920’s. However, suit coats were short in length, and slacks were worn a little baggier. Pinstripes were iconic during this era, appearing on pants, vests and suit jackets on a fairly regular basis. Vests were often worn without the suit jacket for a more informal look. Suspenders were also another feature of 1920’s fashion, both a facet of style and practicality. Two-tone oxfords were rather popular formal footwear for men during this era; however, one-tone oxfords were more commonly seen. Many of these things are basics that can be found any number of places and can be used over and over again. If you want to invest, take a look at department stores for a suit, but if you don’t want to spend too much on your Winter Ball wear, thrift stores are always a great option. During this time period, it was also very common for women to don menswear-inspired styles. Marlene Dietrich was famous for popularizing menswear-inspired women’s wear, often performing in a top hat and tails. These styles included loose fitting pants, collared shirts, ties, and vests, but all cut for a woman’s body. These fashions can be found in most stores; a trip to New York & Co. or Forever 21 should provide you with the pieces you need to create a masculine-inspired outfit. When looking for 1920’s inspired looks, it is important to remember that you don’t have to spend a fortune to look the part. Try hitting the local thrift stores or Ragstock to find pieces before going to a store and blowing an exuberant amount of money on something you might only wear once. If you are still lacking inspiration after reading this special Style File, try watching some films set during the Roaring 20’s to find some inspiration. Here are some suggestions: Chicago (2002) – Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) and Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) epitomize the 1920’s flapper style. Public Enemies (2009) – John Dillinger (Johnny Depp) and his gang could serve as possible menswear inspirations. Midnight in Paris (2011) – During Gil’s (Owen Wilson) travels through times, there are some great examples of 1920’s fashio in Paris. Boardwalk Empire (2010) – This Emmy-nominated HBO show set in the Prohibition era features costumes based on 1920’s tailoring books, making them extremely accurate.