DIY Flapper Girl Costume | 1920s Great Gatsby Dresses, Accessories, Hair & Makeup Ideas
How To Dress In The Fashion Of The Roaring Twenties
Thanks to the recent Great Gatsby movie, people have been inspired by the elegance and glamor of the 1920s and as a result the style has already become a fashion trend - one which is still growing and is bound to be very popular this Halloween.
So if you want to dress like a flapper girl for a fancy dress party then you have come to the right place! Below you will find advice on dresses, hair, shoes and more, with plenty of DIY costume tutorials and makeup demo videos.
I hope you enjoy this page :)
Glamorous & Vibrant Flapper Girl Costume
What You Need
To Complete The Ultimate 20s Style
I have put together this costume guide after watching The Great Gatsby movie and being inspired by the rebellious nature of the 20's flapper girls as they exposed their arms and often wore short skirts (shock horror!) And doing it with some serious stylish flair too!
Flapper girls were independent young women who were distinguished by various fashion choices, as well as the wearing of more makeup than was usual, smoking, and wearing their hair in a bob.
Dresses: Women were expected to wear corsets in the 20s and flappers rebelled against these restrictive garments by wearing loose hanging dresses which didn't fit to the shape of their waist at all. A popular style of dress was the 'drop-waist' dress, and they were usually highly embellished rather than being plain. The dress lengths ranged from short to below-the-knee, and the materials used were quite thin and flowing (as opposed to thick and stiff) to allow free movement.
Dancing was a favourite pastime of the flapper girls and so many dresses either had fringing or had bead dangles attached in order to accentuate movement when dancing. Highly beaded dresses were popular, and patterns were often quite art deco in style. To replicate 20s dresses, sequin fabrics are a good ready-made choice and imitate the sparkly and shimmery materials that were popular then. Delicate fabrics such as lace were also well-liked, and necklines were either plunging (as were dress backs), or they were straight across. Florals were also favoured, as you will see in The Great Gatsby movie when Daisy wears a floral kimono.
You can make your own dress if you have the dressmaking skills or sewing confidence, but I think the best way to make a unique costume is to buy a plain loose dress in the color of your choice and then embellish it yourself. This could involve sewing on sequins, fringing or beads. You can then choose exactly the colors and design you want.
Jewelry: Large Art Deco style dangly earrings were popular, as were long necklaces, especially if they were made of pearls. Crystals and rhinestones were also fashionable.
Props & other accessories: Flapper girls were generally smokers so a cigarette holder is a good prop for using with this costume. Feather boas, faux fur stoles and long satin gloves are also perfect for getting into the glamorous flapper mindset.
Hair: Short bobs were the most popular hairstyle, and these were mostly styled using the 'finger wave' technique, which is where a precise series of narrow waves are created in short hair. Flyaways were a no-no - make sure your hair is perfectly placed and neat. Have a look at the videos on this page to see how to work long hair into a bob style by tucking it under. Or you could wear a wig.
Headpieces and hats: Cloche hats and peekaboo hats were worn casually by flapper girls, and on a night-out a thin headband was traditionally worn, often with feather or rhinestone embellishments. Scarf turbans or beaded skull caps were also an option, but you will definitely need to wear something on your head to pass for a true flapper girl :)
Makeup: A lot of flapper girls seemed to have flawless skin (I wish I could manage that!), and wore makeup that maintained a pale complexion. Certainly no fake tan in the 1920s! Highly contrasting cupid-bow lips of red, a beauty spot and dark, dramatic eyes were a trendy combination. Eyebrows were well defined and thin.
Shoes: Because they had to be suitable for dancing, they had wide heels and weren't too high. Mary Janes with a heel, t-strap shoes and most round-toe strappy shoes are styles that you can use.
I wish the twenties look came back into mainstream fashion because I just love it!
Gloves, Cigarette Holder & Necklace
These 3 products are the perfect accompaniments to any flapper girl outfit:
Elegant satin gloves in a variety of colors so you can match your outfit. Very long length which is how flapper girls wore them.
These costume jewelry beads are much cheaper than the real thing, and are just what a 20's gal would wear.
A 'sophisticated' cigarette holder is a perfect prop to complete your look.
Great Gatsby Trailer & Costume Information - The Inspiration Behind The Popular 20s Fashion Trend
Fringed & Sparkly Dresses
These fabulous examples are a combination of fringed cocktail dresses, beaded dresses and the best of the pre-made costumes:
DIY Costumes & Accessories
Here are some excellent tutorials showing you how to make various parts of your costume:
- Flapper Dress & Headband
I like the use of partial fringing and gold trim.
- DIY Flapper Costume
How to sew a fully fringed dress.
- 3 Crystal Headpieces
Inspiration for making your own sparkly headbands.
- 1920s Sequin Headband
How to decorate a headband with blues and purples.
- Velvet Turban
Luxury headband style which is true to the era.
- Faux Fur Stole
Adds a touch more elegance...and keeps you warm!
- Furry Shoulder Wrap
Choose a light colored & soft, quality fur for a luxury look.
- How To Wrap a Turban
Wrap up your hair in a scarf, 1920s style.
- Delicate Head Piece
Pretty accessory made from chains.
- Rhinestone Hair Brooch
Ideal for jazzing up your hair.
Vintage Flapper Girl
Flapper Girl Dress Sewing Pattern
If you plan on making a costume completely from scratch, this sewing pattern is priceless and gives you all of the dimensions you need in one package, plus you get templates for various other awesome outfits too.
In total there are 5 costume patterns; Cave woman, Ancient Egyptian, Native American, Greek Goddess and, of course, Flapper Girl.
Ladies sizes 8-16
20s Costume How-To Videos
Hair & Make Up Tutorials - Plus Other Fashion Tips
- Finger Waves Diagram
Plus a huge gallery of stylish examples.
- A Summary of the Great Gatsby Style
Including advice about hair, makeup and shoes.
- Elegant Updo
Step-by-step tutorial for a twisted-style hairdo.
- Authentic Finger Waves Video
Instructions for achieving a traditional 20s look.
- Makeup How-To
Strong eyebrows and red lips make up the classic look.
1920s Hair Style Tutorials - Faux Bobs, Finger Waves & More
Wigs, Bags & Parasols
These are the accessories that add the glamor; whether it's a platinum blond bob, a beaded bag or a pretty paper parasol:
Inspiration & Photo Examples
- How to Embody a Flapper Girl
A list of famous flapper girls, plus some funny words to say!
- Great Gatsby Movie Stills
So you can study the details of the costumes used in the film.
- Twenties Inspired Photo Gallery
A variety of hair and clothing photos to get the creativity flowing.
- 1920s Style File
Scroll down for a genuine vintage photograph slideshow.
- Roaring Twenties Wedding
Awesome party ideas plus inspiration for a men's costume.
Flapper Girl Makeup Lessons & Ideas
Super sequinned black dress with fashionable 20's details...and classic fringing of course!
Also included are the feathered headband and the glam cigarette holder.
How To Make a Flapper Girl Headband
(Image credit: me)
What you will need:
* Narrow, stretchy sequin trim in the color of your choice. You will need enough to fit around your head.
* 1-3 feathers, depending on the size you are using, and the effect you want. Peacock feathers were popular in the 20s, but these will only really look good if the sequin trim is green or black. You just need any type of feathers that doesn't clash in color with the sequin trim.
* A large crystal/rhinestone/pearl brooch (an Art Deco design would be a bonus) OR an oval of thick black felt and an assortment of rhinestones/beads/sequins/gems to glue or sew onto the felt.
Ebay is a good source of inexpensive costume brooches - aim for a cheap silver-colored plastic brooch because then it will be lightweight.
* Long (approx. 6") black fringing, You'll only need a length of 3"-4"
* Superglue or hot glue
* Needle and thread
- Wrap the sequin trim around your head to determine how long you need the band to be in order for it to fit well; not too loose but not too tight.
- Sew or glue the ends of the trim together securely.
- Next, glue the feathers onto the front of the trim, and make sure that when the headband is in place the feathers stand up straight and aren't too heavy. You may need to trim them down if they're too big. It might be best to attach the feathers on top of the seam of the trim in order to hide it.
- Take your length of fringing and roll it up tightly to make a tassel. Sew or glue the top ribbon section to secure the roll.
- Sew the tassel into place on top of where the feathers are attached. Try to make the top as flat against your head as possible so it doesn't stick out too much from your head.
- Fix the brooch over the top of the tassel to finish OR sew the gems/rhinestones onto the oval of black felt and glue/sew it onto the headband to cover up all the previous glueing and sewing.
- That's it!
Cloche Hats, Beaded Caps & Headbands
No self-respecting flapper girl goes around without a hat or headpiece of some variety! Here are some fabulous examples: