1920 Flappers Took the Country by Storm – But Did They Ever Truly Go Away

Women of the Roaring Twenties had a lot in common with today’s millennials

By Linda Simon Smithsonian Magazine September 2017

Flappers Atop Chicago Hotel

She was the sexy ingénue, spending evenings in jazz clubs hazy with her cigarette smoke. She cavorted, wild and willful, in the stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who summed her up as “pretty, impudent, superbly assured, as worldly-wise, briefly-clad and ‘hard-berled’ as possible.”

The glamorous, shimmering flapper in her slinky dress and stylish bob seemed to emerge into American life out of nowhere after the First World War, but the term was already familiar by then. In 1890s Britain, in fact, “flapper” described a very young prostitute, and after the turn of the century, it was used on both sides of the Atlantic for cheeky, prepubescent girls whose long braids, the New York Times reported, “flapped in the wind.” Soon, a flapper was any girl or woman who defied convention—girls who balked at being chaperoned, suffragists, women aspiring to a career, and those, as the Boston Globe put it, “expert in the arts of allurement.”

Unlike their mothers and grandmothers, flappers tended to go to high school and even college, and they devoured new books featuring confident, fun-loving adolescent heroines who hiked and camped and solved mysteries. Flappers biked, played golf and tennis, and strove to emulate the flat-chested and hipless physiques of the adolescent boys whose freedom and lack of domestic responsibilities they envied.

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Mantrap 1926

The above clip is from Mantrap a 1926 American black-and-white silent film based on the novel by Sinclair Lewis.

Harry Sinclair Lewis (February 7, 1885 – January 10, 1951), better known as Sinclair Lewis, was an American novelist, short-story writer, and playwright. In 1930, he became the first writer from the United States to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, which was awarded “for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humor, new types of characters.” His works are known for their insightful and critical views of American capitalism and materialism between the wars. He is also respected for his strong characterizations of modern working women. Source Wikipedia

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Book Review: Flappers

Lost Girls: The Invention of the Flapper by Linda Simon

With bobbed hair and flat chests Flapper Fanny and her friends were the scourge of polite society, says Ysenda Maxtone Graham

The ladies’ solo Charleston champion Miss Hardie in 1925
The ladies’ solo Charleston champion Miss Hardie in 1925GETTY IMAGES

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I (Ysenda Graham) always thought flappers were mainly a 1920s phenomenon. This book shows how wrong I was. As long ago as the 1890s the term flapper, already being used to mean “young prostitute”, came to be generalised and sanitised to describe thin, long-legged adolescent girls who were “flapping their butterfly wings”. By 1910 the flapper movement was going strong, much to the horror of mothers and the despair of clergymen. Read more.

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Flappers In Focus

The Economist 1843

BY KASSIA ST CLAIR | SEPTEMBER 28TH 2016

Asked what women wore during the 1920’s, most people would picture the same thing: a drop-waisted dress, low-heeled Mary Jane shoes, a long string of pearls and a headband decorated with a diadem and a curling feather.

Designers were making clothes that reflected profound social and cultural change. The corseted silhouette of Victorian and Edwardian times was already becoming looser before the first world war, as simpler fashions and the drive for women’s suffrage caught on. The war, which forced women to enter the workforce in greater numbers, sped up the revolution: long skirts and trailing sleeves were serious impediments around factory machinery or on the farm.

Once the war was over, many women returned to their old lives, but the spirit of emancipation persisted. Women were gradually gaining political as well as economic power: over-thirties were given the vote in 1919 in Britain, and with fiancés and husbands killed on the battlefields, would-be housewives were forced to become financially independent. Meanwhile, the crumbling of the old social order and the growth in the retail sector meant that women that might once have gone into domestic service became shop girls, living in cities with a disposable income to spend on travelling, make-up, clothes, fashion magazines and cinema tickets.

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What It Meant When Lady Mary Bobbed Her Hair on ‘Downton Abbey’

Source

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In the final season of Emmy-nominated Downton Abbey, set in 1924, Lady Mary Talbot (née Crawley) debuted a new haircut: the bob. She was a little behind the times, as the cut had entered the mainstream in America starting in 1920, as women finally earned the right to vote and the Saturday Evening Post ran F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short story “Bernice Bobs Her Hair.” But for a member of the British aristocracy, cutting off one’s hair and moving away from corseted Victorian fashions marked a notable break with traditional ideas of what a woman should look like. In short: the bob, at the time,  was a haircut that made both a political and a cultural statement about what kind of woman one was. Read more from article

 

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Louise Brooks 1920’s read more

 

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Josephine Baker (1920’s)

Read more about “Tough Guy Stereotypes” from the 1920’s and 1930’s.

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Suffragettes

TULANE NEWS

Female presidential nominee a long time coming.

July 22, 2016 1:00 PM

by Mary Ann Travis mtravis@tulane.edu

Suffragettes petition for the right to vote in New York in 1917.

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The first national election in which women voted was in November 1920, after the 19th Amendment to the Constitution granting women suffrage was ratified on Aug. 18, 1920. (Library of Congress)

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Wise Guys and Flappers at Elks Hall

THE COMOX VALLEY RECORD

Wise guys and flappers at Elks Hall

posted May 9, 2016 at 12:00 PM by Pippa Ingram

Special to The Record

 Elks 

Speakeasy, The Forgotten Flapper – from TheatreWorks – is a light-hearted look at prohibition in the ‘20s. Writer/director Kymme Patrick offers a potpourri of genres in the witty, original script with elements of a whodunnit, a tragedy, a musical and a morality tale, to mention a few, with a delightfully ‘camp’ and clever use of satirical jargon reminiscent of the Roaring ‘20s.

It is onstage at the Lower Elks Hall on Sixth Street, May 12, 13, 14, with a start time of 7:30 p.m. Seating is festival and limited, so be sure to arrive early. Tickets are $15, available from cast members, at Laughing Oyster Bookstore and at the door. READ MORE

 

 

Music of the 1920s and 1930s

1920 Flappers

1928 Country

In the Jailhouse Now by Jimmie Rodgers (1928)

In the Jailhouse Now by Jimmie Rodgers

1930 Blues

Truckin' My Blues Away (Blind Boy Fuller, Ragtime Guitar Legend)

Truckin’ My Blues Away (Blind Boy Fuller, Ragtime Guitar Legend)

 

To read about restoring Knoxville’s lost record in music history, click here.