How to wear a 1920s look in 2020? 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the “roaring twenties” and theme parties will multiply: Birthdays, cocktails, weddings and even company dinners in which you will need to be dressed in the “Great Gatsby” style.
Have you been invited to an event set in the 1920s and you don’t know what to wear? If you wonder how to get your look right for each of these events we give you some keys below.
Be it a glamorous “the Great Gatsby” party, a “Downton Abbey” style wedding or just for a more rogue dinner with friends, inspired by the gangsters of “Peaky Blinders”, getting a «1920s dress» or at least Some complement of the style will be key this year.
To be the perfect “flapper girl”, you should decide how to adapt your wardrobe, whether to dress in the 20s style from top to bottom, or to buy just a few pieces and give it a more contemporary touch. We will also give you some tips for wearing your dress “casually”.
What is a 1920s dress?
The cut of dresses in the 20s were simple, although they were made with fabrics rich in details and embroidery. These are dresses with a straight cut, made with flowing fabrics that did hug the body, cut to the hips, preferably to the knee. The flared cut and V-necklines are also very characteristic of this style.
You have 3 options to dress in 20s style to an event that requires that “dress-code”
Buying an authentic vintage dress from the 1920s
Buy a good reproduction or 1920s style jewel dress
Recycle a new dress with some good accessories from the 20s
Buy an AUTHENTIC dress from the 1920s
If you are looking for an original 20s dress, we advise you to look in your grandmother’s closet. Look in the trunks in the storage room and see if any of those items can still be salvaged. You will be surprised how a simple day dress from your grandmother can work with good accessories.
If nothing has survived in the attic, you can go to thrift stores, but don’t forget the basic rules about buying vintage clothing. Keep an eye on the condition of the clothing and discard those garments that have tears or sweat stains.
There are shops specializing in authentic vintage but it is difficult to find an original 1920 dress in good condition and that does not weigh too much. At l’Arca, we have original vintage dresses from the 1920s, which we restore so they can be worn again or be use them to inspire new creations. In addition to sales of original pieces, we also collect dresses from the last century in our private collection, which we occasionally display.
Buy a REPLICA or jewel dress
The second option is to acquire a replica dresses in the Cabaret or “Great Gatsby” style. They tend to have rhinestones, beads, appliques or “art-deco” fringes. Nothing represents the spirit of the 20s better than fringes and sequins that accentuate movement and sensuality and are ideal for dancing.
Our advice is to look for a good reproduction, made with quality fabrics and rhinestones, that does not shine much and is well embroidered, to avoid unpleasant surprises. At l’Arca, we offer a good selection of dresses – quality reproductions, tunics, fringed dresses or garments embroidered with beads.
RECYCLE a new dress with good ACCESSORIES
The least expensive option is to adapt a dress you or your friend own that looks like a period garment. If you do not want to invest a large budget for a single occasion, you can choose an affordable 20s-style dress and “elevate” it with quality accessories. A simple cotton dress in light tones can work perfectly for a work party, while bright colors are more suitable for the evening. The black / gold / or silver combo works great for night parties. You can take advantage of a short or loose vintage dress with a waist or V-neckline. You can even find 1920s dresses in many stores. The instagramer Marikowskaya recently made a splash with a 1920s dress that costed just over 30 euros.
The most suitable dresses to recycle as 1920s dresses are the following:
Dresses with thin straps or sleeveless dresses with a very loose fall, almost like a nightgown.
Tunics with lantern sleeves if you don’t want to show your arms..
Dresses with a very low waist, hip, or dresses without a marked waist.
Flowy garments in general, cotton for the day and satin fabrics for the night.
Short dresses with ruffles or with a fairly deep V-neck
Pleated skirts (always if it is with an Art Deco optic, very built and geometric)
COMPLEMENTS in the 1920s style
In the 1920s, women wore an array of striking accessories. We have selected 4 of them that are the ones that work best to complement your look
They became a very important part of clothing in the 1920s. They generally consisted of geometric-cut art-deco pieces. The earrings, brooches, bracelets and headbands stand out. The brooch was placed in strategic places to hold the ornaments. At that time, the long pearl necklaces and the chokers at the height of the neck dominated. You will find good reproductions of this type of jewelry in silver and marquesitas.
Stoles can be made of fur (or faux fur, which is a more ecological option) in winter or boa-like feathers in summer. They are a good way resource to accentuate a glamourous look and to make a grand entrance, in addition to protecting you from the cold.
HEADBANDS or RIBBONS can be found in many different styles, either with rhinestones, feathers or those known as “jewel headbands”. They are the perfect touch to decorate your head, regardless of the haircut or the length of your hair.
Turbans are also an ideal complement, to which you can add a feather or a front rhinestone brooch, and then reuse in a more casual way without the brooch.
Flapper dresses for BIG SIZES
The advantage of the 1920s style is that as the waist is little marked, there are more options for all body types. The loose-fitting tunic dress, in the style of designer Paul Poiret, is the most suitable option for plus sizes. It is better to opt for fabrics such as brocade, silk or lamés, very much in vogue at that time. You may also wear a caftan or a long loose dress adorned with lace or sheer fabric and combine it with a long coat with a fur trim.
Vintage kimonos and turbans will help you get the oriental touch. If you don’t feel comfortable in dresses, there are many options: 1920 is the androgynous decade par excellence. Girls began to wear the pantsuit, that is, with pants, jacket and vest. The feminine touch will be given by the cuffs and collars of the jackets and coats, which ended in the form of fur. If you opt for the suit, you may consider complementing the look with men’s Oxford laced-up footwear.
Dress for GUESTS to a wedding
If you are a bride and have chosen an Art-Deco theme for your wedding this guide will provide useful tips on styling. If you are a guest, the “20s” outfits are back and are perfect for attending an event or wedding as long you follow certain rules are followed so the look does not look like a costume.
For a day wedding, a short dress is ideal. For an evening ceremony, you can choose more formal options. Black, ivory or white are not advisable colors.
You have to adapt makeup and accessories to current trends, avoid overdoing it and choose wisely accessories such as handbags, headdresses and jewelry. When you wear a beaded dress it is important to opt for simple accessories so as not to overload.
1920s tunic dress, Lavender color
Reuse your 1920s dress in a CASUAL way
If you decide to buy a Gatsby-style jewel dress, you will surely have the opportunity to reuse it this season. Accessories are the key: the same dress can be worn for a more casual look by changing accesories to go out at night or even to go to the office.
Try adding layers, adding a cotton t-shirt or shirt to your tank dress and a wide belt, and your look takes on a “casual-glam” tone. Change your Mary Jane shoes for sneakers, add a bomber or a denim jacket and you will a more informal look
Clothing for MEN
How did boys dress in the 1920s? The decade of the 20s was a time for a polished male look that enhanced elegance and masculine character. Hats, three-piece suits, neutral tones and accessories such as walking sticks and pocket watches are part of the men’s wardrobe.
The more rogue tone of the “Peaky Blinders” series is an option to find inspiration if the groom does not fancy a typical tuxedo. The “uniform” for the characters in the series, set in Birmingham in the 1920s, consists of a three-piece set: ankle-length trousers, and a matching jacket and vest, made of herringbone tweed in shades of gray or brown .
There are also long coats, as well as lace-up boots and Oxford shoes that have become fashionable again. And as for accessories, the pocket watch and the cap take center stage. For a wedding, your companion can opt for a more sober look with suspenders, a bow tie and a vest.