Following on from my guide to Twenties day wear, here’s part two – how to dress for the evening.
I’ve written about my slight obsession with Otto Dix’s paintings before, but I have to return to his magnificent ‘Grossstadt’. The main scene, set in a Berlin club, shows a couple dancing along to a jazz band with several onlookers smoking and drinking. The woman about to step onto the dance floor, with her orange-yellow dress, slick Easton crop hair cut, pink feather fan in hand, to me perfectly embodies Twenties decadence and what Twenties evening dress is about: glamour, exoticism, magic, enchantment, excitement.
Against contemporary stereotypes, Twenties evening dresses weren’t short, certainly not above knee-length, and full-length gowns remained popular throughout the decade. Monochrome dresses in black and white, creme or pastel tones were often worn with exquisite art deco shawls in geometrical or oriental prints.
Just as with daywear, the silhouette was boyish and dresses – always sleeveless – were straight up and down or cut to a drop-waist. Cape or cut out back details were very en vogue as were luxurious fabrics such as silk and fur.
Scalloped seams and heavy embellishments using embroidery and pearl details became popular on dresses as the decade progressed – leading up to the fringe detailing that we now associate with a typical flapper dress.
Similar to the daytime look, hair would be cropped in a short bob or Eaton cut and worn straight or set in Marcel or finger waves. Alternatively small curls would be piled up tight on the head. Tiara-esque silver headbands or elaborate crown-like head pieces were popular, often decorated with pearls and feathers.
For accessories women wore pearls or silver jewellery, plume fans were popular too.
To recreate the look:
If you’re based in London, do head to the Vintage Emporium just off Brick Lane for the most incredible Twenties vintage dresses and accessories. Online shop Dorothea’s Closet Vintage also stocks incredible Twenties vintage, even if you can’t afford it, get inspired by her stock. Again, check out Etsy, which harbours incredible treasures such as this emerald green Twenties gem (it’s nearly £600…).
Don’t be put up off if you can’t afford to buy any Twenties vintage – just be creative, improvise, make your own: a simple white, sleeveless, ankle-length dress dressed up with a stole and a homamade feather fan will work wonders.