The Flapper: A new ideal of Beauty

Photo Credit: 1924 Genevan McCartney Library

Photo Credit: 1924 Genevan McCartney Library

The 1920s brought an avant-garde female ideal to the widespread demographic of the American collegiate woman. Originating from style innovators in Europe such as Coco Chanel who created a new idea of women and in turn a new customer through her new boxy shapes and cropped haircut perfect to tackle the male dominated field of fashion design, introduced a masculine twist in a new feminine way.[1] Flappers in America captured this spirit in their choice of style and life, just as modern Japanese Lolita girls personify their style in every aspect of life, so did the Flappers who came to college campus nationwide.[2] In order to put on a more accessible front as equals instead of objects of traditional beauty, flapper girls adopted the garcon look, flattening their busts with bandeaus and wearing oversized and boxy clothing, they became the streamlined boyish figures they desired.[3] They were free from corsets, and long retraining clothing, as well as time consuming locks of hair to pin and style which they bobbed to chin length. By these changes in lifestyle they were free to focus on new things in college life, equaling every club and activity outside of athletics, becoming closer to equals on collegiate campuses than was ever possible before the 1920s. Although the flappers were not traditional they still evoked beauty and did not dismiss femininity altogether, more attention than ever was placed on style as the advent of ready-to wear clothing brought the trends of Chanel and other innovators to the common campus.[4]

1926 Student Senate1926 YWCA

[1] Krick, Jessa. Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, “Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel (1883–1971) and the House of Chanel.” Last modified October 2004. Accessed April 10, 2013.

[2] Godoy, Tiffany. Style Deficit Disorder: Harajuku Street Fashion Tokyo, (San Francisco, CA: Goliga Books, 2007), 12.

[3] Drowne, Kathleen. The 1920s. (Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 2004), 99.

[4] Drowne, 96-97.

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