The first thing you need to know about 1920s fashion is that everything uses a very flowing silhouette. The masculine and feminine ideals are very different from what we see today, right down to things like placement of muscle tone and fat, and general proportions. This is slightly more the case for women than for men, but men’s suits are still pretty different in shape and cut from the way they look today. Also, the modern concept of flappers is pretty much a total fiction, which is one of the reasons why I never reviewed the latest Great Gatsby movie, and why I’m eternally frustrated by the concept of “flapper parties” and faux-1920s fashion spreads.
The body shape required for flapper fashion is just as damaging as any other ~fashionable body type~ because, you know, you have to conform to a certain standard that most people cannot naturally achieve. Specifically, the flapper look required you to be slim, boyish and flat-chested, meaning that women bound their breasts and wore girdle corsets. Secondly, while flappers were a feminist movement in that they were all about female liberation, sexual freedom and not passively relying on the income of your husband, one of the reasons why they were seen as so rebellious and extreme was because they were hanging out in multiracial nightclubs and/or co-opting black jazz dance styles. So I’m not saying that it’s bad to enjoy the concept of flappers (or the modern idea of “flapper fashion”), but there’s a lot more to it than just going to speakeasies and cutting your hair short. — Harry Potter, costume design, and some speculation on wizarding fashion in 1920s New York. (Part 2)