By day: We dance on the ledge of a roof. In heels.
The quintessential Twenties
(American, Western European or simply sophisticated) woman. A young lady even more spirited than the Spirited Young Lady
, where Victorian morals were loosened the same time restrictive corsets
were, thanks to newfound liberty, rising feminist movements, and the 19th Amendment*
. She danced the Foxtrot, the Tango, the Shimmy, the Black Bottom, the Baltimore Buzz, and the Charleston
, wore make-up for the first time since the 18th century, drank with the boys, and enjoyed various other delights The Roaring Twenties
had to offer. Short hair
, short skirts
, short, loose & low-waisted evening gowns
, high rolled silk stockings
, boyish figures
, and swanky cloche hats
were a must.
Their sexual liberty was a result of the feminist movements like women entering the workforce and women's rights to vote, and of women's growing hatred of the classic Double Standard
; that promiscuous men were "studs," while promiscuous women were "whores." In their eyes, "sheiks" and "shebas" were equal, so they could be just as sexually free. Another factor was the then popular view of women as house wives
and mothers who should be subordinate to their men and preferably not leave the house.
The concept also spread east to Japan and China, where it spawned the "modern girl" (モダンガール modan gaaru
, or モガ moga
for short) and "modern Miss" (摩登小姐 modeng xiaojie
) cultures respectively.
The flapper lifestyle and look disappeared after the Wall Street Crash and the following Great Depression
. The high-spirited attitude and hedonism were less acceptable during the economic hardships of the 1930s.
Compare and contrast The Lad-ette
- Gina in Porco Rosso, as befits the early depression setting. Especially apparent in comparison to the Edwardian dress she wears in her flashback.
- The Great Gatsby: Most of the females in the novel, both played straight or played with.
- Jordan Baker, a fashionable and gorgeous golf player who dates Nick Carraway.
- Mrs Myrtle Wilson, Tom Buchanan's lively mistress.
- Subverted by Daisy, who isn't spirited and actually dislikes Gatsby's lavish, chaotic parties, and would prefer to stay in her calm world of Old Money.
- The Sun Also Rises: Brett.
- In another F. Scott Fitzgerald novel, Gloria in The Beautiful And Damned. Since the novel is set in the 1910s, she is explicitly said to be an early proponent of the fashion.
- Naomi in Tanizaki Jun'ichiro's novel Naomi.
- Sadie, from Sophie Kristanella's Twenties Girl.
- Boardwalk Empire premieres with the onset of Prohibition, but it isn't until the third season (when the show's timeline has advanced to the early 1920's) that we get an honest-to-gosh flapper in the character of Broadway chorine Billie Kent.
- Rose, the Crawley sisters' rebellious younger cousin, on Downton Abbey.
- Betty Boop: None other than the Boop herself.
- In The Simpsons, we once see a photo of Marge's mother in her flapper days.
- This was the original characterization for Minnie Mouse. However, times faded and she lost her flapper look.
- Vexus used this in order to blend in with teenagers, only for Jenny to find out because her apparel was obviously outdated for about a century or so.
- Earthworm Jim does this as a gag in one of the animated series episodes.
- When Joan Crawford came to Hollywood in 1925, she promoted herself by entering and winning dance contests doing the Charleston and other routines of that era. Her early roles often featured her dancing skills.
- Clara Bow, the original IT girl, was Hollywood's foremost flapper in the 20's. She may have inspired the creation of Betty Boop along with Helen Kane.
- Louise Brooks and her iconic bobbed hair.
- Anna May Wong in the 1920's deliberately cultivated a flapper image in that hope she would be less typecast as a Dragon Lady or a demure Proper Lady. Unfortunately, it did not work.