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Vintage and Retro Clothing from the Decade of the Flapper Style!

February 22, 2019

Explore vintage and retro clothing from the decade that brought us the quintessential Flapper style and all the other jazzy, free-and-easy glamour of the 1920s!

Are you looking for vintage and retro clothing to amplify your personal style? Look to the 1920s for your inspiration and find the fashion, fit and flare to enliven your wardrobe and jazz up your style!


Vintage and retro clothing - Alice Joyce wearing flapper dress in 1926

Alice Joyce wearing flapper dress in 1926

1920s vintage and retro clothing revolution

The 1920s were a time of revolutionary fashions and styles as women the world over threw off their Victorian constraints, corsets and strait-laced restrictive wear to stride onto the runways of their lives in the casual, loose and yet oh-so-glamourous outfits of  1920s fashion.


This decade saw the invention of new man-made fabrications like rayon, chiffon, georgette and artificial silk, which made vintage and retro clothing styles of the day much more accessible to the mass population. On the opposite end of the fabric spectrum, there was also a move towards wearing more cotton and wool, reflecting a boom in the cotton mills industry and an explosion in the sources and types of wool.


Vintage clothing from the 20s era was epitomized by the Flapper style of dropped-waist dresses, layers of fringe on skirts and dresses, loose shift styles and skirts that were worn short for dancing or long for day dresses.


Vintage clothing was actually very modern and daring in the 20s, when the world was rejoicing after coming through and seeing the end the first World War, and where the Great Depression was still far in the future. Both men and women rejected the restrictive, uncomfortable clothing of prior eras and vintage and retro clothing in the 1920s was the ultimate expression of freedom and emancipation from the social strictures of the past.

Joan Crawford, 1927

Joan Crawford, 1927

Music and Movement

The 1920s saw the advent of the Jazz Era, the exuberance of the Charleston dance and the explosion of dancing and music in clubs across the big cities of the world. Vintage and retro clothing in the dance clubs were all about the Flapper style, with loose-fitting spaghetti-strapped dresses layered with fringe or bedazzled with sequins. These dresses shimmered and shimmied as arms and legs were flapped around to the big band beat.


Ladies embellished their vintage and retro clothing tailored for the dance floor with feathers, brooches, glittering bracelets and fanciful tiny hats adorning their short bobs.

Alice Joyce wearing flapper dress in 1926 - 1925 copy of Madeleine Vionnet "Little Horses" dresss

1925 copy of Madeleine Vionnet “Little Horses” dresss

Androgynous Shapes and Styles

Day dresses were cut in loose, straight shift styles or with dropped-waisted skirts. Hemlines fell anywhere between the knee and ankle. The body shape of the day was boyish and slim, which provided a perfect foil for the vintage clothing of the times. Hair was worn short and bobbed and covered with close-fitting cloche hats.


Menswear-inspired suits with loose-cut, high-waisted, pleated pants and double-breasted blazers completed the vintage clothing looks of the day.

Ladylike Vintage and Retro Clothing

While the look of the day was free and easy, ladies still wanted to exude polish and class in their vintage and retro clothing.   They draped long rope pearl necklaces in a couple of loops around their necks, letting the length of the pearls fall down the front of the dress. They also added elbow-length gloves, usually in white, to finish off the demure yet sophisticated vintage clothing look of the day.

1926 Evening coat shown at the Metropolitan museum

1926 Evening coat shown at the Metropolitan museum

Designing 20s Vintage Clothing

Fashion designers setting the trends for the 1920s included Coco Chanel in her eponymous tweed suits, pearls and cropped hair. Then there was Jean Pateau and her vintage yet timeless tennis white pleated skirts and fitted complimentary tops. And Elsa Schiaparelli came into her own in this decade, dressing Hollywood stars of the day like Greta Garbo.


Have you been inspired to take the vintage and retro clothing of the 1920s for a spin?  If so, your choices are endless, flattering and timeless in style and structure, so give it a whirl!