By Saleha Mehr
Photographed by Ryan North
The skirts were higher, the hair was shorter, the jazz was roaring, the liquor pouring, —the 1920s were an unparalleled era of fashion and freedom. Suffragettes relinquished themselves of the constrictive corsets and societal expectations of the old world. After gaining the right to vote, women entered the work force in record numbers. Young women during this time began to break down barriers in all aspects of life. They began to drive, go to the movies, listened and danced to jazz. There was a transformation in every sphere of life, including fashion.
Perhaps the most memorable look of the 1920s was “the flapper.” Flapper was a term coined for the newly liberated woman, bold and confident in every way. The roaring ‘20s ushered in the “cage dress.” It was boxy, with no impression of a waistline. It was also more practical and more manageable than the constrictive dress of women’s past. The dress hung from shoulder to knee, allowing women to move more freely. The exposure of leg, however, was quite controversial with the conservative, older generation.
Flappers continued to shock by chopping their hair short and wearing makeup. Long hair was considered the mark of an honorable woman. Working women, however, had no time to maintain such hair. Makeup also caused a lot of uproar. Once only used by prostitutes or actresses, flapper women enjoyed the glamour of cosmetics, experimenting with dark lipstick and eyeliner. The flapper’s style became so controversial some states made laws about minimum dress lengths. Women were even fired from jobs for their haircuts!
The interest in this unparalleled era lives on today. As we celebrate jazz with the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell, we celebrate the Jazz Age and the legacy it has left for our music heritage and our modern culture.
With respect to fashion, the Jazz Age continues to inspire and capture our imagination with blockbuster movies like “The Great Gatsby,” starring Leonardo DiCaprio to singer Rihanna wearing a fringe flapper-inspired dress to her birthday bash. And let’s not forget Best Actress Academy Award Winner Emma Stone, who recently accepted her 2017 Oscar channeling ’20s glamour in a Givenchy Haute Couture gown. The hairstyles of 1920s also saw a comeback with a modern twist. The trend of sharp and angled bobs to pixie cuts have challenged the modern woman to once again be daring, bold, and fun.
To get the look for your wedding, select a classic cage dress and pair it with a long strand of pearls. Then add a stylish up-do or a sassy short cut with a feathery fascinator. You might opt for a cloche hat (The word ‘cloche’ is derived from the French word for ‘bell,’ and these hats were popularized during the 1920s and 30s era). But you don’t need a cage dress or a cloche to get the look. If you are not ready for a full on 1920s style, you can simply opt for an “inspired-by” look by using accessories, hair and make-up that is reminiscent of the period. The models in our photo feature demonstrate that even contemporary dresses such as those from Yvonne La Fleur, can lend themselves to the feeling of glamour and revelry that is the hallmark of the Golden Age of Jazz.