A Revolution in Style

Mary Anti

Mary Anti, who immigrated from Hungary to Fairfield with her family in the early 1900s, is dressed in the conventional daywear of that era, with a long skirt, shirtwaist, and a large hat.

Timeline of Flapper Fashion

Women's fashion changed dramatically during the 1920s, with shorter skirts, short hair, and more skin showing than ever before. The dropped waist and simple lines of the 1920s dresses, inspired by the straight lines of modernist art, reflected the ease and freedom of the new woman.

Over the course of a few years, hemlines shortened, rising from the ankle to just below the knee by 1926. The new visibility of women's legs made both shoes and silk stockings (often rolled just below the knee) fashion statements. 

"I'm gonna rouge my knees and roll my stockings down. And all that jazz." ("Chicago: The Musical", 1975)


High-fashion evening dresses in the 1920s were typically sleeveless; their simple construction was contrasted with elaborate ornamentation, such as beading and frindge. Beading started as an accent and later became part of the fabric design. Metal sequins and gold or silver metal embroidery were sometimes used to create the look of beadwork.

New Freedom in Corsetry

This page from the Sears catalog showed the long, slender silhouette that flapper fashion favored. 

Warner's Wrap-Around Corset

This advertisement for Warner Bros' "wrap-around" corset appeared in the Ladies Home Journal in 1922. 

What about the girls?

Flappers popularized a slender silhouette that highlighted the straight lines of the era's fashion design. Women whose bodies did not naturally conform to this straight up-and-down look relied on different kinds of undergarments to achiveve the desired look. 

Bras were designed to flatten the bust, and took the form of a bandeau, worn tight against the body (similar to today's athletic bras). Side laces on a popular style of bra could be pulled in to further flatten teh chest. The discomfort of this style may explain the growing popularity by the end of the decade of the "Maidenform" bra, which was named to contrast with the "boyish form" in vogue during the 1920s.

Facing plummeting sales throughout the decade, corset makers like the Bridgeport-based Warner Brothers Company made changes in their products, offering long corsets and lighter girdles that created a tubular shape. Most women continued to wear some kind of corset, although the most daring flappers might go without- reportedly, some jazz clubs had a "corset check room" where they could be discarded for the evening.

A Revolution in Style