Want to get ’20s fab without flapper kitsch? Here’s how to mimic Art Deco style
This past weekend, I accompanied a group of friends to the Art Deco Society of Virginia’s first Jazz Age Preservation Ball, a benefit to raise funds for one of the oldest theaters in the city, erected in – you guessed it – classic Art Deco style.
The ball was incredible – everyone decked head to toe in their best vintage finds, doing the Charleston and Lindy Hop, and taking advantage of a beautiful old house kept in tip-top period shape by the Women’s League of Richmond. There were professional dancers doing exhibitions, a delightful jazz orchestra, and a duo of burlesque performers. It reminded me very vividly just what it is about Art Deco that’s so inspiring and lovely.
When we talk about the Art Deco movement, often the first (and only) thing people think it pertains to is architecture. While Art Deco buildings and homes are certainly distinctive, in my opinion, Art Deco is one of the most fascinating cultural movements in our recent history – music, architecture, clothing, literature, and all.
Unfortunately, when the early 20th century is mentioned, the beauty and elegance of Art Deco often gets overshadowed by the glitz, gangsters, and (lack of) gin that came with the (in)famous Roaring Twenties.
So if you’re looking for Art Deco glam without flapper kitsch, give this guide a quick spin for some nifty ideas.
- Check out The Artist, “Gosford Park,”“Downton Abbey,” and “Boardwalk Empire” for wardrobe inspiration.
- For day wear, look for drop waists, cloche hats, long strings of beads, t-strap heels, mid-calf or knee-length skirt suits, and boxy, tunic-like dresses. For evening wear, keep an eye out for drop waists again, delicate beading, glitzy headbands, fascinators, sleek mermaid-style gowns (‘30s), low backs, evening coats with large collars, FUR, and bias-cut seaming.
LeLuxe Clothing also has some incredible modern examples of Art Deco loveliness for your admiration.
- If you’re looking for makeup, film and TV are still great places to start. Also check out tutorials like this one and this one. For 1920s, think Mae West (cupid’s bow lips in bright shades, heavy kohl eyes, etc.) – for 1930s, think early Ginger Rogers or Joan Crawford (enhanced lashes, dark lip colors, very light rouge, etc.).
- Hair-wise, the 1920s were all about the pageboy and the bob. Whether worn curly or straight, bobs were in and long locks were out if you were a trendy working girl. Don’t despair if your hair is lengthy at the moment – if you want the look of the frizzy, curly fashionable bob, give this quick tutorial a shot. If you’re going for a more elegant, Downton look, you’re in luck – Lady Mary never cut her hair, so you can see her lovely, understated low chignon-style coifs, perfect for day or evening, on nearly every episode.
Looking more towards the ‘30s, I combined this ‘do and this one for a perfectly heavenly evening-worthy updo, shown at left. (I also prepped my hair for these styles by letting my hair spend a night and day in a sock bun… gorgeous, teasable curls are just one sock away!) Finger waves are also another popular Art Deco style, though they tend to be quite a challenge. If you’ve found a less-nightmarish way to make them work, let me know!! :)
- When considering accessories, think of long strands of beads and pearls, short but dangly clip-on or screw back earrings, statement rings with geometric designs, and pinky rings.
This guide is only a brief one, so feel free to contact me here or via message with any questions!