The traditional view of femininity took a considerable battering in the 1920s. Boyish figures with flattened busts and hips became the fashionable ideal; hemlines shortened to the knee; dresses became thin and skimpy if not actually see-through; and behaviour, at least for the social elite, grew ever more extravert, and even "masculine". Women drank cocktails, wore increasingly obvious make-up, drove cars and rode bicycles, took holidays abroad - and on their own! - and even took up active sports like golf and hockey. The beaded "flapper" dress exemplifies these changes, constrasting so dramatically with the full flouncy feminine fashions of the Edwardian era.
This blue beaded evening or dance dress from the end of the 1920s was intended for use at a cocktail party or jazz club, and for enjoying one of the new strenuous dances like the Tango or Charlston. Beading shimmered seductively when moving in artificial light, adding to the impression of glitz and glamour, as did the movement of the pointed assymetrical hem. The pink dress with a layered petal skirt is also intended to be seen in movement. Women carried beaded and tasselled bags to evening dinners and dances, again sparkling in the new electric lighting.
Full item descriptions:
"evening dress" [1947.4297]
"evening dress" [1946.124], Moss Turton Ltd, Manchester
"bag & handbag" [1971.148]
"evening bag & handbag" [1983.305]
"evening bag & handbag" [1968.23]