Let’s travel to the 20’s. Just to situate ourselves in an era, we will speak of a peculiar fashion that emerged at the end of World War II, when a new cultural and artistic awakening arose to give space to a new stereotype of women that flooded and scandalized all the social spheres.
Women began to emancipate, gained power and freedom through work; women could get employment usually as a secretary, telephone operator or clerk in clothing stores. That is how women began their economic independence, allowing her to drive, go out at night without a companion, drink hard liquor, smoke and have attitudes and behaviors that were reserved for men.
Then flappers arise. Breaking with all social parameters; these women changed the form of behavior and dress code dictated by the English aristocracy of those years. The fashion that preceded the flapper limited women’s movement as every garment they wore was designed to highlight the shapes of their bodies, it was uncomfortable and conservative. The flappers era changed all that. They undid the classic corset that slenderized the figure by making the waist narrow, raising the breasts and allowing the hips to look rounded by using a different corset that crushed the chest making a figure much more square achieving a childlike and androgenic appearance, which was combined with a male haircut called Bob Cut.
A characteristic of the flappers, besides the rebellious behavior, masculine and scandalous was the excessive use of makeup. They did their lips with fiery reds that stood out from a skin that was paled with talcum powder, the eyes were framed with heavy black eyeliner and generally their hair was colored jet black, platinum blond and the most daring tinged red, which at that time there were many superstitions about redheads. As for accessories, they wore layers of pearl necklaces, sashes covered with bracelets, feather wraps, and headbands, all full of glitter and sequins.
The flappers even had their own jargon. Their dialect reflected their promiscuity and his habits. Terms like “snugglepup” referred to men who frequented get-togethers where everyone kissed and caressed. These parties were called “petting parties” where of course they also had “barney-mugging” so they would refer to sex. To express their approval, flappers used phrases like “That’s so Jake” and “That’s the bee’s knees”. Many terms that flappers used in the 1920s still exist in the current jargon of American English, such as “big cheese”, that is, an important person.
This fashion also had an artistic impact and culture. American writers and artists like F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Held Jr., and Anita Loos popularized this fashion and social attitude in their works, giving the image that the flappers were independent and attractive women. The first appearance of the word and image of a flapper in the United States came from the popular Olive Thomas movie “The Flapper.” This was the first film in the United States that portrayed the lives of these women, and from there, many actresses would direct their careers following the same image as Thomas.
Like all fashion and countercultural movements, the world of flappers came to an end with the devastating fall of the United States stock market. This lifestyle could not find a place with the economic problems of the 1930’s, a conservative and religious reaction eradicated the liberal lifestyle and fashions of the 1920s, yet these independent women allowed modern women to become an integral part and long lasting in the Western world.