May 18, 2013 by thepolishedbutton
I may have come to your attention that a little film called The Great Gatsby has just been released (it’s had a small amount of press coverage…) and of course has got everyone in the mood for a bit of 1920’s inspiration. Always one to jump on the nearest bandwagon, I thought I do a post about recreating the Art Deco look!
The classic image of 20’s fashion is the eponymous Flapper girl. Free spirited, beautiful and a party animal, the flapper represented a new ‘modern’ woman, freed (literally) from the constraints of the earlier Edwardian period, young women threw off their corsets, cut their hair and *shock* raised their hemlines. Female ankles never had it so good! Women had the vote, WWI was over and it was time to shimmy and shine. Well, that’s if you had time and money, which of course the great majority of women in 1920’s Britain did not, but hey, let’s not take the shine off just yet ;-)
In terms of style, shapes completely changed, and a slender, athletic figure was desirable, a direct response to being rid of the tight and restrictive corsetry that had previously kept boobs up, waists in and ribcages broken! (This is not to say that women were skipping round without any kind of structural underwear – boned and laced bodices kept any sign of a curve firmly strapped down) As I mentioned, hemlines rose by a few inches, to show off your feet as you did the fox trot or charleston. Fringing, beading and sequins also served to glitter and shimmer as you danced, proving what a quick footed glamourpuss you really were.
Silks, embroidered and beaded fabrics and very fine wool were popular fabric choices, as was anything lightweight and sheer. Necklines were often embellished with beading, embroidery and collars, and of course the dropped waistline emphasised the slender hips and straight ‘up and down’ figure. (Sadly, finding original, intact examples of beaded flapper dresses is harder and harder, as the weight of the heavy glass beads meant that the delicate and elderly silks just disintegrated!)
It is a fabulously simple style to adopt for sewing, as it is all about the fabric and detail, rather than complicated patterns, so running up a simple flapper dress is really just a tube with straps!
If you want a slightly more contemporary look, patterns such as the Colette Jasmine blouse is lovely, and delicate chiffons and silks give that fluid feeling.
Add some striking Art Deco buttons and maybe a bit of silky fringing or sequins, and you’re good to go!