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Women's Fashion of the 1920s: Great Gatsby Party Outfit Ideas

CEO Tinh Phung
You've received an invitation to the most extravagant party in town - a Great Gatsby-themed soirée! Now, it's time to find the perfect outfit, accessories, and shoes that will turn heads and make you the...

You've received an invitation to the most extravagant party in town - a Great Gatsby-themed soirée! Now, it's time to find the perfect outfit, accessories, and shoes that will turn heads and make you the center of attention.

The 1920s, also known as the Roaring Twenties, was a period of immense social and cultural change in the Western world. In this article, we will delve into the captivating world of women's fashion in the 1920s, exploring the main trends and selecting an outfit that will flatter your figure. Even as a fashion enthusiast attending a retro party, it's worth checking out the fashion trends of the 1920s, as they continue to inspire and captivate us today.

This decade was marked by bold, stylish, and individualistic clothing choices that represented the shift in societal values, particularly for women. As women abandoned their conservative corsets and long skirts in favor of shorter dresses and bob haircuts, their clothing, hair, and accessories became symbols of freedom and liberation.

Now, let's embark on a journey through the glamorous world of 1920s women's fashion, which still fascinates fashion lovers, retro party-goers, and fashionistas to this day.

What's a Great Gatsby Party?

A Great Gatsby party aims to recreate the atmosphere and style of the 1920s, incorporating elements of fashion, music, decor, and cocktails from that era. Guests are encouraged to dress in glamorous costumes inspired by 1920s fashion, such as flapper dresses for women and dapper suits for men. The party decorations often feature Art Deco motifs, vintage props, and lavish displays reminiscent of the extravagant parties described in F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel.

In essence, a Great Gatsby party offers you a chance to step back in time and immerse yourself in the spirit of the Jazz Age. It's an opportunity to celebrate the opulent lifestyle depicted in "The Great Gatsby" and embrace the nostalgia for a significant era in American history.

A Brief History of 1920s Women's Fashion: What Happened in the 1920s?

Before we dive into the distinctive features of 1920s women's fashion, let's take a moment to understand the political and cultural context of that time. It's important to consider the events that influenced fashion in the '20s.

Here are some key events that shaped this era:

1. Women Got the Right to Vote

In 1920, the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution granted women the right to vote. This newfound empowerment led to a shift in fashion. Women rebelled against constrictive clothing and embraced looser, more comfortable garments. The iconic flapper dress became the symbol of this fashion revolution, featuring shorter hemlines, lower necklines, and a looser silhouette.

2. Economic Boom

The 1920s witnessed a period of remarkable economic growth, offering business opportunities and wealth. The newfound prosperity afforded people more disposable income, which they spent on clothing and high-end accessories. Fashion designers responded to this wealth by creating luxurious garments and accessories filled with glitter, sparkle, and opulence. This era also marked the rise of department stores, further fueling the consumer culture.

3. Art Deco Movement

The Art Deco movement emerged in the 1920s as an artistic and cultural phenomenon. Characterized by geometric shapes, streamlined forms, and bold colors, Art Deco influenced fashion by introducing modern patterns and prints. Dresses were adorned with intricate geometric designs, and accessories boasted bold shapes.

4. Hollywood Glamour

The advent of motion pictures brought celebrity culture and glamour to the masses. People looked to Hollywood for fashion inspiration, and designers began creating garments reminiscent of the iconic costumes worn by movie stars. Women embraced more daring clothing choices that exuded both glamour and practicality. The "little black dress" became a staple in every woman's wardrobe.

5. The Prohibition Era

In 1920, the 18th Amendment to the US Constitution prohibited the sale and consumption of alcohol. This ushered in a new era of rebellion and illicit activity. Speakeasies and secret bars emerged, and people began dressing in more covert and inconspicuous clothing. Women adopted the "garçonne" look, featuring shorter haircuts, trousers, and a more boyish style.

6. The Jazz Age

The 1920s epitomized prosperity, economic growth, and hedonism. This vibrant atmosphere perfectly complemented the energetic nature of jazz music. Jazz became synonymous with the carefree attitude of the Roaring Twenties, providing the soundtrack to extravagant parties and social gatherings.

Women's Fashion of the 1920s: Main Trends

When it comes to 1920s fashion, its distinctiveness and instant recognizability are undeniable. From flapper dresses, cloche hats, and T-strap shoes to Art Deco jewelry and bob haircuts, the clothing of the Roaring Twenties exuded personality. These trends not only remain popular for retro parties and Great Gatsby-themed events but also serve as permanent fixtures in modern-day fashion.

Flapper Dresses

flapper dress womens fashion of the 1920s

One of the most iconic fashion trends of the 1920s was the flapper dress. These dresses were loose, sleeveless, and typically knee-length or shorter. They symbolized the newfound freedom women experienced after World War I. Crafted from lightweight fabrics such as silk or chiffon, flapper dresses featured intricate beading or fringe. Even today, flapper dresses remain a popular choice at retro parties and vintage shops.

Cloche Hats or Turbans

cloche hat for a Gatsby party

A crucial accessory for fashionable women in the 1920s was the cloche hat. These close-fitting hats sported a bell-shaped silhouette that hugged the head, with a brim angled downwards to frame the face. Made from materials like wool, straw, or felt, cloche hats were often adorned with ribbons or other embellishments. They offered a striking contrast to the extravagant hats of previous decades and remain popular choices for vintage fashion enthusiasts today. You could also opt for a turban, which adds a touch of Hollywood glamour.

T-Strap Shoes

T-strap shoes

Another popular trend of the 1920s was the T-strap shoe. These shoes featured a strap running across the foot, forming a T-shape. Often low-heeled and crafted from leather, suede, or fabric, T-strap shoes were comfortable and stylish, providing a welcome departure from the high-heeled shoes that dominated previous decades. Today, T-strap shoes continue to add a touch of vintage charm to women's footwear collections.

Art Deco Jewelry

Art Deco jewelry from the 1920s

The 1920s witnessed the rise of the Art Deco period, known for its bold and angular designs heavily influenced by geometric shapes. Art Deco jewelry featured bright colors like emerald green, ruby red, and sapphire blue, employing materials such as metal, enamel, and glass. Playful and whimsical designs adorned these accessories, which remain highly sought-after by collectors and vintage enthusiasts.

Menswear-Inspired Clothing

1920s women's suit

The 1920s also saw a rise in women embracing menswear-inspired fashion. This style, reminiscent of the flapper era, took a more tailored and structured approach. Women donned trousers, button-up shirts, vests, and blazers, traditionally associated with men's fashion. This shift reflected the changing roles of women in society, as they became more independent and entered the workforce, resulting in more practical and functional clothing choices.

Accessories: Beads and Gloves

beads for flapper dress 1920s

Accessories played a pivotal role in completing the look of women in the 1920s. Gloves, usually made of silk, cotton, or velvet, were paired with dresses to exude a lady-like demeanor, especially while dancing. T-strap pumps or Mary Janes with low heels were the preferred shoe choice for comfort and style, often in metallic or neutral shades.

Bob Haircuts

1920s bob haircut

Last but not least, the 1920s were characterized by women sporting short bob haircuts. This newly-introduced hairstyle reflected a rejection of the traditional long-haired looks of previous decades. The bob was typically chin-length, sleek, and straight, complementing flapper dresses perfectly. Today, the bob remains a popular and timeless choice for women of all ages.

A Typical Outfit from 1920

flapper dress typical 1920s outfit

A typical outfit from the 1920s consisted of a knee-length drop-waist dress with a simple pattern and a beaded collar. This is the most popular outfit idea for a Great Gatsby party.

The dresses of that era had no defined waistline. Instead, the fabric would pass over the hips, creating a straight line that gave the illusion of a flat chest and hips. The dresses also featured low necklines, showcasing the woman's new bobbed haircut.

Accessories included long beads or pearls, a feather boa, a cloche hat with a ribbon band, and a small clutch or an art deco-style handbag.

Another popular accessory was fur, particularly fox fur. Fur was a staple in women's wardrobes, often worn as a stole or collar. Fox fur accessories were favored for their comfort and adorned with silk linings. Popular actresses, like Marlene Dietrich, frequently showcased fur on the red carpet.

These outfits can be easily spotted in movies set in the 1920s, such as "The Great Gatsby," "The Artist," and "Chicago."

What to Wear to a Great Gatsby Party: Outfit Ideas

Now, let's explore three captivating outfit ideas that are easy to put together yet exceptionally chic for a Great Gatsby party.

The Flapper Look

flapper dress outfit

When it comes to a Gatsby party, nothing screams the Roaring Twenties like a flapper dress, the cornerstone of 1920s women's fashion.

A flapper dress is a straight, knee-length shift dress, often made of fringe or beads. These dresses are short, allowing you to dance the night away. They come in a range of colors, from classic black to vibrant blues and purples. Opt for a dress adorned with beads, sequins, or feathers to add shine and texture. Complete the look with a pearl necklace and a headband.

To complement your Gatsby look, don't forget to wear the right kind of shoes. The iconic shoes of the 1920s are T-strap heels, which provide a vintage feel and enhance your Gatsby outfit. If heels aren't your preference, opt for low-vamped, pointed-toe Mary Jane pumps. These shoes are comfortable and pair well with almost any outfit. Choose satin or velvet materials for added texture.

This outfit is perfect for dancing to jazz music and swinging your way through the night.

The Gangster Look

1920s gangster outfit

Why not embrace the role of the villain for a change? This 1920s-style pantsuit outfit will make you stand out from the crowd.

If this look appeals to you, take inspiration from Marlene Dietrich's iconic androgynous style. Opt for high-waisted trousers and suspenders to achieve the look.

Consider a Chanel-inspired design with a fitted, straight-leg trouser and a boxy jacket. Add a touch of vibrancy by sporting a bright blouse under the jacket, which can be elegantly tucked in for a formal look. Complete the outfit with drop earrings and heeled pumps.

Alternatively, you can wear a double-breasted suit with a vest, a fedora hat, and oxford shoes. Accessorize with a pocket watch and a cigar to achieve that menacing look. For extra flair, consider adding a prop Tommy gun. This look is perfect for women who want to exude confidence and swagger while mingling with the crowd.

Take inspiration from Marlene Dietrich and her iconic 1920s women's suits. Madonna and Cate Blanchette have also reimagined this look with a modern twist.

The Hollywood Glamour Look

1920s Hollywood glamour outfit

This outfit is for those who want to dress to impress. The Hollywood glamour look exudes luxury and elegance. Wear a long gown made of silk or velvet, featuring a high slit or a low back. Accessorize with long gloves, a fur stole, and a beaded clutch. Pair the gown with strappy heels or peep-toe pumps. To complete the outfit, add a sparkly headband or a tiara. This look is perfect for those who want to command attention with a stunning and sophisticated ensemble.

For a more glamorous and high-end option, an Art Deco gown does the trick. The sleek, fitted silhouette highlights your curves, and a drop-waist design with geometric patterns instantly transports you to the world of 1920s women's fashion. For accessories, opt for long gloves, a sparkly statement clutch, and a pair of kitten heels.

With the Hollywood glamour look, your style icon is Gloria Swanson. Take inspiration from the legendary actress' dramatic makeup look, featuring defined eyebrows, bold red lips, and prominent cheekbones.

Summary

A Great Gatsby-themed party brings out your inner flapper and allows you to indulge in a night of dancing and glamour. The perfect outfit will help you channel the spirit of the Roaring Twenties and radiate confidence throughout the event. Flapper dresses or two-piece sets are excellent choices, paired with T-strap heels or pointed-toe Mary Janes. Don't forget to accessorize with pearl necklaces, headpieces, and gloves. Now that you're well-versed in Gatsby fashion, go ahead and turn heads at the next Gatsby party!

Whether you're a fashion lover or a fashionista, embracing these timeless looks from the 1920s is sure to add a touch of vintage glamour to your wardrobe.

Which trend from the 1920s do you like the most? Let us know in the comments!

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