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What Are Flapper Dresses?

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  • Written By: Anna T.
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 16 April 2014
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Flapper dresses came into fashion in 1926. Many people during that time thought the dresses were risqué because the dresses usually revealed the leg from the kneecap down. The dresses were typically made to be shapeless and similar to a shift dress with no sleeves. They were often paired with nude stockings to enhance the look of the bare leg, and a cardigan to cover the arms during the winter. Eveningwear flapper dresses were usually made of expensive fabrics with sequins or strings of beads sewed on.

Dresses worn by the upper class before the flapper style became popular were generally made of expensive materials with a complicated design. Average women were not usually able to wear the fashions of the rich, thereby making it easy for most people to determine social standing based on clothing. The simplicity of the flapper design made it possible for women of a lower class to dress similarly to the upper class, who also commonly wore flapper dresses. In the 1920s, the line dividing the rich and the poor may have blurred a bit due to the popularity of the dresses.

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It became unfashionable to have curves in the twenties, which resulted in many women striving to be thin. Females who were big-breasted often went to great lengths to reduce the size of the chest, in some cases using bandages wrapped tightly around the upper body to flatten it. Some women wore special bras that laced up on the sides that were specifically designed to reduce the bustline. The rounded figures and fussy fashions of the early 1900s became a thing of the past, and the roaring twenties may have been a difficult time for women who suddenly found themselves looking dated.

Coco Chanel is the fashion designer most often credited for creating the look of flapper dresses. The clothes she designed during that era were typically comfortable, made of lightweight fabrics, and were easy to wear. This style of dress was considered a major contrast to the corsets, layers of material, and complicated patterns of years past. She is known for designing the little black dress, which is still typically considered fashionable.

During World War I, many women had to do the work of the men who were fighting overseas. This may have led to women becoming more independent and embracing the idea of comfortable and practical clothes versus corsets underneath long, heavy dresses. The flapper era is long gone, but many people believe the changes it made in the world of fashion will always have some impact on the way women dress.

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