What Are the Different Types of 1920s Vintage Clothes?

Karize Uy

Probably the most iconic of the array of 1920s vintage clothes is the flapper, a loose type of dress that became popular in the mid-1920s. The “wrapover” coats were also a fashion trend, as well as pantsuits among women in the decade. The men also had their share of fashion, with the emergence of formal suits and tuxedos, both of which became the template of the 21st-century suits and tuxedos. Other clothing and accessories include the cloche hat, fuzzy handbags, and Mary Jane shoes. The 1920s, the era after the First World War, saw the more “liberated” fashion trends, where hemlines became shorter and undergarments became less restricting.

Some 1920s vintage coats featured the fasteners or buttons on just one side.
Some 1920s vintage coats featured the fasteners or buttons on just one side.

At the onset of the decade, 1920s vintage clothes for women had hemlines that stopped just above the ankles, a length that was considered already indecent decades before. Soon after, hemlines became shorter until the emergence of the “flapper dress” in 1925 that showed off a woman’s calves and even her knees. The flapper dress had a loose fit, with little tapering at the waist, an arm-baring style, and a wider, sometimes pleated, skirt. This loose-fitting design allowed for movement during dancing, as the music genre of jazz also emerged in this decade. The dress was initially restricted to the society’s more affluent women, but because its design was so simple, middle-class women learned how to sew their own flapper dresses, and the fashion trend soared to popularity.

Oxford shoes were often worn in the 1920s.
Oxford shoes were often worn in the 1920s.

During the wintertime, when flapper dresses might not provide warmth, the “wrapover” coats were the “in” 1920s vintage clothes. The coat's distinguishing feature was the fasteners or buttons located on just one side, so that the one side of the coat would literally “wrap over” the other side for it to be closed. Just like the 1920s dresses, the wrapover was initially longer until it became knee-high in the middle of the decade. It became fashionable to wear the coat with a fur shawl around the neck, along with a walking cane and a hat to make a woman look more distinguished.

For the men, the 1920s vintage clothes would primarily be the tuxedo, which consisted of at least four garments: the usual white shirt, vest, long-sleeved coat, and the trousers. Neckties were usually worn during formal occasions, but could be taken off for casual days. During the early years of the decade, the trousers had a higher waistline, along with the jacket that was also tapered high at the waist. The trousers also became more slender, but would usually be short enough to show the socks. Narrow slacks also became part of a woman’s attire when the renowned fashion designer Coco Chanel began selling and wearing them herself.

Of course, the 1920s vintage clothes also came with their own hairstyles and accessories. The women’s hairstyles were significantly shorter, right at or above the ears. The “bob” or “crop” cuts fit suitably under cloche hats, oval-shaped hats that would snugly cover the head up to the eyebrows. As for the men, their hair would usually be slicked back or would be parted at the middle or at the side. Shoes were rather heavy-looking, such as the “Mary Janes” for women and oxford shoes for the men.

Flapper dresses were simple and somewhat shapeless.
Flapper dresses were simple and somewhat shapeless.

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Discussion Comments


The cloche hat was certainly one of the most popular styles of the 1920s, but you really had to have a certain face shape to wear them successfully. I found that out when they came back into vogue about 1992 or so. I can rock a fedora, but a cloche is not my style, at all. They look best on girls who have longer, angular faces. A round or full face does not make for a good cloche look. It makes the whole face look much, much too round. Adds 10 pounds to a round face. Give me a fedora or beret any day.


Flapper dresses came into vogue to showcase the more athletic woman's figure then popular. The Gibson Girl look with a large bust and wasp waist was out of fashion, and girls who were able to achieve that look didn't look great in the flapper dress.

The other item of clothing that really changed for women in the 1920s was the swimsuit. No longer did women wear the long dresses and mob caps. No, the trend was for a tank top and boy shorts. A lot of girls still wore bathing caps, stockings and bathing shoes, but the suit itself really changed over about a five-year period.

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