Homemade Flapper Costumes

A close-up of a white feather and a string of pearls in a wooden box.
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Flappers were the liberated women of the 1920s who subverted the social norms of previous generations. They smoked and drank alcohol in public, worked office jobs, dated casually, drove cars and wore revealing clothes. While a flapper would hardly seem scandalous today, the flapper look is just as glamorous now as it was then. Watch movies from the period for fashion inspiration, especially those with Clara Bow, the original "It Girl."

Choosing a Dress

Modern interpretations of flapper dresses usually have layers of fringe, but historically, they weren't a frequent feature. A sheath-style sleeveless dress, particularly with a drop-waist, is an appropriate flapper dress. It should be short enough to expose your knees, as that's what made the dresses so daring at the time. The dress should also be loose-fitting at the top since the small-breasted, boyish look was the the ideal. If you really want to be authentic, go bra-less. Part of the flapper lifestyle was the rejection of corsets.

Styling Your Hair

The bob haircut freed flappers from the elaborate hairstyles of the preceding decades. If you don't have a bob but have short hair, curl it into finger waves. If you have long hair, sweep it into a simple up-do. Complete the look with a cloche hat or a headband worn across the forehead.

Applying Makeup

Hollywood films of the 1920s show fashionable women wearing dark kohl eyeshadow and darker shades of lipstick. Flappers also lightly dusted rouge on their knees.

Adding Accessories

Many depictions of flappers show them wearing long strings of costume pearls. Any necklace at least 24 inches long complements a flapper-style dress. A feather boa adds a touch of glamour, as do patterned stockings. For the classic rolled-stocking look, cut a pair of regular-length stockings at the thighs and paint clear nail polish on the raw edges. When the polish is dry, put on the stockings and roll down the tops until you get the right fit. You could also wear thigh-highs to save time. Wear a visible garter for a look inspired by Betty Boop, the quintessential cartoon flapper.


Flappers often wore T-strap and Mary Jane-style shoes. Embellish a pair of inexpensive shoes for extra authenticity. Buckles, bows and other decorations drew attention to flappers' short dresses.