Dressing for the 20s on a Budget: The Flapper!

March 20, 2019


Thinking of joining us at one of our 20s Speakeasy events (our next one is in Newcastle on 6th April, tickets are available here) but unsure how to get that fabulous Flapper look on a budget? Worry no more! We have some useful hints & tips on how to dress for a 1920s event, even on the smallest of budgets! What we cover here is more about how you can achieve the look in the most cost effective way, if you’re looking for something a little more in-depth, click here for our article on 1920s dresses, or here for the accessories for the flapper.


So, to set the scene...it’s the 1920s! The Roaring Twenties...The Jazz Age! A decade of independence, revolution in social norms and morals, and illicit fun! The powers-that-be have implemented prohibition, making the manufacture and sale of alcohol illegal, but worry-not carefree flappers and dappers, the Speakeasy - a refuge for the fun-loving audacious residents of 1920s America is born! A secretive locale of high-spirited jazz, carefree dances, and decadent cocktails (to disguise the moonshine of course), the Speakeasy is the place for the carefree, the fun-loving, and the rebellious flappers, dappers and fascinating characters of the Twenties! Here we'll cover how you can dress as a Flapper for a 1920s event on a budget!  


The Flapper Dress!

(Image credit: Rockmyvintage.co.uk) 



Don’t be under the impression that you need to go out and buy a new dress! It’s always worth checking what you already have in your wardrobe (or failing that, in a charity shop)! We aren’t suggesting you’ll have a ready made ‘flapper’ dress from a long-forgotten 20s party in there already, but it’s worth checking whether you do already own a dress that matches some of the characteristics of a 1920s flapper dress! Look for a loose fitting, drop waist, straight cut dress that's around knee length, sleeveless and ideally with a scoop neckline! (if you find an eye-catchingly elaborate glitzy piece with sequins and beaded details and decoration, you’re obviously already a flapper at heart!) Don’t worry, we aren’t suggesting you find a dress which matches all of those, it’s just to give you an idea of the ‘ideal’ 20s dress in terms of characteristics! Also don’t be concerned if it’s plain, achieving that fabulous 1920s look on a budget is all about the accessories! It’s amazing how fabulous it will look once we’ve added a touch of 20s glitz, opulence & glamour with some inexpensive accessory options!


If you can’t find anything which matches any of those attributes in your wardrobe or in a charity shop, we recommend simply searching for an affordable flapper dresses on Amazon and filtering by price - there are some beautiful 1920s style dresses available for under £15! So we would suggest picking something pretty inexpensive, and then concentrating on the accessories which will truly allow you to channel your inner flapper! 


It's all about the Accessories!


Whether you’ve bought your dress or picked it from your wardrobe, it’s time to move on to the accessories which will complete your Flapper look! The great thing is that whilst the majority of these are inexpensive, they make a huge difference to the overall look, it’s an fabulous way to dress to impress 1920s style without the need to spend a great deal. Another fab thing is - you can go as far as you choose (or as your budget allows) with accessories. You could for instance, just go for a 20s headband and some beads or imitation pearls - which would look fantastic and could cost less than £10 it total! Or if you want to you could have a headband, pearls, beads, a cigarette holder and some elegant evening gloves, and still without having to spend a great deal!


The Headpiece or Headband - From £3!


Probably the easiest way to achieve the glitzy and flamboyant look associated with the flapper is to find a 1920s inspired headpiece or headband. When looking for the perfect option, think glitz, glamour and opulence - there's no such thing as too much! Look for something with plenty of sparkle, with feathers and/or beads or imitation jewels or lots of sequins! Keep an eye out for Art Deco and Egyptian styles (there was a huge craze for Egyptian-inspired design and fashion following the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb!) as these were incredibly popular among Flappers! You'll find black, gold and silver are popular colour themes, and these are often accompanied by white or black feathers. Again, for cost-effectiveness, we would recommend having a look at what Amazon have to offer - you should find a beautiful option with ease, and many start at £3! If you're unsure on the colour, go for black and gold or black and silver!


The Jewellery: Pearls or Beads - From £2!


We'd suggest focusing on the necklace and looking at beads or imitation pearls! You really don't need to break the bank, again it's worth starting by checking your local charity shops for strings of imitation pearls or beads (black beads or coloured glass beads were a popular option in the 20s!). Failing that, you really can't go wrong with a string of imitation pearls (again, from Amazon!), which are available from around £2! But be warned, some of the extremely cheap 'pearls' can snap very quickly! So if you can afford it, we would recommend ones such as the imitation pearls made by 'babeyond' (available for around £8) which are among the best we've come across -  they seemed pretty sturdy (they haven't snapped for us yet!), are long enough to double over to create a multi-strand look or to tie in a knot, and they aren't bright white (like many of the cheapest imitations), so they look much more like real pearls! 


Once you've found your beads or pearls, it's personal preference how you wear them - single strand, double strand, even triple strand, or knotted!


Some Additional Extras - from £2 each!



And that's really all you need to become a fabulous flapper for an evening on a budget - a flapper style dress, some pearls or beads and a 20s headpiece/headband! But if you are looking to add some extra accessories, a great addition is the cigarette holder (available from £2 on Amazon), which was a very popular fashion accessory for the Flapper! Long evening gloves (sometimes called 'opera gloves', and available from £3) are another fantastic option - usually made of silk or satin and in black or white, the gloves extend past the elbow and were a popular form of evening wear during the 20s!


We hope this has been helpful to you in your search for the perfect inexpensive flapper costume! If you have any questions at all, we'll be happy to help, just get in touch with us via the contact page! Hopefully we'll see you at our 1920s Speakeasy Experience in Newcastle on 6th April!




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Dressing for the 20s on a Budget: The Flapper!

March 20, 2019

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