I was inspired to write this post with two fun events coming up: Halloween and a 1920's prohibition theme party. As some of you may know, I love suiting up and the 1920's was a glorious era for men and women in North America. The First World War has ended and advances in production methods meant greater access to quality clothing for the average person. An HBO TV show called Boardwalk Empire captured this fascinating era perfectly. On thee show, men and women were dressed to the nines from tailored pinstripe suits to head turning cocktail dresses.
For people who want to capture the essence of the 1920's in an upcoming costume party, here are some tips that may help you put together that striking outfit.
The most basic thing is required is a well fitted suit. The beauty about suits is the fact it is timeless and its design stayed consistent. A wool suit from the 1920's is not dramatically different compared to the ones made today. It's all in the small details and here are three things you can include to create the look of the 20's:
When I say "everything is better in 3's", I'm referring to the three piece suit. Something that was popular in the 1920's and less common now is the the waistcoat (vest) that is wore under the suit jacket. It is a dashing addition and can be worn with a pocket watch. Traditionally most people wear a waist coat of the same pattern and material as their suit. I don't believe that is a rule that must be followed; a contrasting waistcoat that's a different pattern or color looks just as sharp. Only rule is to not overload your outfit with patterns. For example, a plaid suit pairs well with a solid colored waistcoat or vice versa.
An essential accessory for men in the 1920's were hats. A thing of beauty when paired with a suit, remember there are etiquette to wearing a hat like a gentle. From tipping your hat to a lady to situations where you need to take it off, here's an interesting link for more details. Fedoras is a solid style that will complete your 1920's look. The general rule for fedoras is to pick a solid color and it does not need to be the same as your suit. I personally like dark brown as it goes well with most essential suit colors such as grey, black, or blue. For people who don't know where to buy a fedora, Zara is a retailer with a great selection of styles and colors.
Some of the best dressed gents of the 1920's are gangsters in disguise. They lived the high life, enjoying the spoils of their risky ventures and looked good doing it. Other than an expensive suit, these dapper gents stood out from the crowd with bold accessories. Three essential accessories for a polished look are pocket squares, boutonnieres, and bow ties.
Pocket squares are sold at most retailers that sell suits/blazers. You can't go wrong with a white pocket square as it's neutral and matches any color suit. If you want to experiment with bold patterned pocket squares, check out the look book for some inspirations. A boutonniere is a floral decoration wore on your jacket lapel (see photo below). It's not the most practical accessory as a fresh flower has a shelf life of a day. Today, we replace that with a floral lapel pin. An online retailer with a large selection of floral lapel pins at at reasonable price is Harrison Blake. Bow ties can elevate your suit game. The exact same outfit wore with a bow tie instead of a regular tie looks much more striking simply because it exudes confidence. Try wearing a a solid or polka dot bow tie with your outfit, you won't regret it.
If you do everything mentioned above, you will be well on your way to looking like a striking 1920's gentleman (or gangster if that's what you're looking for). I will like to emphasize the importance of a well fitted suit. If the fit is too large, which is often the case, the most amazing waistcoat, fedora, or accessories will not help. To make sure your fit is right, review the key details of a well fitted suit on the Simple Style Manual. Once you have the fit right, everything else will fall into place.
In the 1920's, fashion for women changed from prim and proper to free and spirited. The ladies of this era looked as good if not better than their counter part. Referred to as flappers, women were fashionable while flouting conventional standards of behavior. The dresses were becoming racier, baring more skin most designs were sleeveless and show a lot of back.
Simple accessories for a fun flapper look:
As you may have noticed, my expertise is on men's style. Hence I thought it may be more useful for the female readers to get advice from a woman who's experienced in this area. The video below is very useful and demonstrates how the flapper look can be achieved without breaking the bank.
Whether you are preparing for a 1920's theme party or a night out on Halloween, I think the key take away here is to be daring and experiment with your look. Have some fun and put effort into the fine details of your outfit. The roaring 20's was a time I wish I can experience hence I am thrilled at the fact I will be attending a 1920's theme party. I can't wait to spend the night drinking fine whiskey with a group of well dressed flappers and gents.
For the men who need that extra push to dress up, I'll leave you with this quote from Boardwalk Empire: "You can't be a half gangster". Check out my website for more simple style advice for men. I'll also be launching a line of handcrafted pocket squares and accessories soon. Follow me on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to be the first to know about it.
First time blogger, long time style enthusiast.