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''Canonizing the Flapper'' <br />(Vanity Fair, 1921)''Canonizing the Flapper''
(Vanity Fair, 1921)
The following is an excerpt from the review of the New York production of the 1921 play, "A Bill of Divorcement" by Clemence Dane (born Winifred Ashton 1888 - 1965). With much enthusiasm, the reviewer wrote:

"We know of no better expression of the creed of the new generation than that which Clemence Dane has drawn up...".

What followed was a very short soliloquy which beautifully summed up not only the philosophy of the modern woman, but the philosophy of much the Twentieth Century.

Comprehending the Flapper Revolt <br />(Vanity Fair, 1921)Comprehending the Flapper Revolt
(Vanity Fair, 1921)
In the early Twenties there were a good many social changes which men had to struggle to understand; among them was the Modern Woman. The Italian novelist and lexicographer Alfredo Panzini (1863 - 1939) attempted to do just that for the editors of Vanity Fair.

"'Don't expect us', she says to you, disconsolate male, 'don't expect us to be like the old-fashioned girls who went to church, and did the laundry, and looked up to their husbands as to their God.'"

VANITY FAIR Throws a Bobbed Hair Party <br />(Vanity Fair, 1919)VANITY FAIR Throws a Bobbed Hair Party
(Vanity Fair, 1919)
A smattering of cartoons depicting those sweet young things of yore who were partial to bathtub gin, short skirts and short hair styles.

In 1919 you didn't have to be plugged-in 24/7 to the youth scene in order to recognize that bobbed hair was where the fickle finger of fashion was pointing. Perhaps the editors of VANITY FAIR presumed that a "bobbed hair party" was the best social alternative that could have been offered six months after the 1919 passage of the 18th Amendment, which ushered in the Prohibition of alcohol throughout the United States.

''A Flapper's Appeal to Parents''  <br />(The Outlook, 1922)''A Flapper's Appeal to Parents''
(The Outlook, 1922)
"If one judges by appearances, I suppose I am a flapper. I am within the age limit, I wear bobbed hair, the badge of flapperhood. I powder my nose. I wear fringed skirts and bright colored sweaters, and scarves and waists with Peter Pan collars and low-heeled 'finale hopper' shoes. I adore to dance... But then there are many degrees of a flapper. There is the semi-flapper, the flapper, the super-flapper. Each of these three main general divisions has its degrees of variation. I might possibly be placed somewhere in the middle of the first class".

The Spirit of Flappers  <br />(NY Times, 1922)The Spirit of Flappers
(NY Times, 1922)
Speaking about why she loved the Twenties, Diana Vreeland (1903 1989) - observant fashion editor and unique fashion phenomenon, once remarked on a chat show that "there's never been a woman with her clothes chopped off at the knee in history". Indeed - Vreeland would find the attached article about flappers to be spot-on.
The Winter Look for Flappers <br />(NY Times, 1922)The Winter Look for Flappers
(NY Times, 1922)
"Stockings Scare Dogs"

-so ran the sub head-line for this news article from the early Twenties which attempted to explain to one and all what the new look for the winter of 1921 - 1922 was all about.

The Plot to Restore the Corset  <br />(The New Republic, 1922)The Plot to Restore the Corset
(The New Republic, 1922)
A shewed observer of fashion, Mary Alden Hopkins (1856 - 1930) noted how the Victorian dinosaurs who lorded-over the male-dominated, pro-corset fashion industry had attempted (unsuccessfully) to manipulate and coerce the shoppers of the early Twenties to reject the Chanel-inspired revolt that the young flappers were currently enjoying.

"How can I sell these styles?...the flappers won't buy them."

The Case Against Flappers <br />(Literary Digest, 1922)The Case Against Flappers
(Literary Digest, 1922)
A collection of low opinions concerning the Flapper and her confederates, gathered from numerous clerical magazines throughout the fruited plane:

"There is a great deal of frank talk among them that in many cases smacks of boldness. One hears it said that the girls are actually tempting the boys more than the boys do the girls, by their dress and conversation..."

Flappers Were Nothing New  <br />(NY Times, 1922)Flappers Were Nothing New
(NY Times, 1922)
Since the preceding article was jam-packed with intolerant remarks from the "lip-service" corner of the Holier-Than-Thou clerical crowd, it seemed only fitting that we post this article which dwelt upon the far more accepting and just a wee-bit more Christian feelings of yet another clergyman who tended to think that the flappers were not really as queer as everyone liked to think they were.

"Painting faces is no new thing except on occasion. Belles and famous beauties of the past painted for State occasions. But then it was not good form to wear paint in daylight. Now it is, apparently. That many young women now carry this to extreme is not unusual..."

Click here to read an article about the demise of a popular 1940s hairstyle.

N.Y. Court Ruled That Women Can Smoke in Public  <BR> <br />(Hearst's Sunday American, 1917)N.Y. Court Ruled That Women Can Smoke in Public

(Hearst's Sunday American, 1917)
A brief notice from 1917 reported on the arrest of three women for smoking in the Times Square subway station in New York City.

When the socially astute, forward-thinking judge recognized that no real crime had been committed they were released, but in the high fashion world feminine tobacco abuse, these women are often said to be the Rosa Parks of nicotine:

Mary Driscoll, Edna Stanley and Elsie Peterson

let their names live ever more!

The Flapper as a Religious Force in the World  <br />(Literary Digest, 1927)The Flapper as a Religious Force in the World
(Literary Digest, 1927)
"Scorned for too long by churchmen as an ambulatory example of folly, the flapper at length finds herself defended by the Church. She is not, in this new view, the brainless, overdressed Jezebel that she has been pictured to be. 'She is a symbol of the times. As she sweeps down the street, she is like nothing so much as a fine, young spirited puppy-dog, eager for the fray'."

Unlike some members of clergy, the wise sages of Hollywood were clearly numbered among those who held favorable views about flappers, but they didn't always produce films that were sympathetic to their causes; for example, the editors of Flapper magazine hated this movie.

New Fashioned Girls <br />(Flapper Magazine, 1922)New Fashioned Girls
(Flapper Magazine, 1922)
Unearthed by a team of underpaid urban anthropologists digging all hours in the skankiest and most vile of magazine repositories was this single page of feminine poesy representative of an obscure, forgotten genre of Twentieth Century prosody that celebrated a brash cast of woman that was once known as a Flapper.
Alas, the name of the poet has been lost to time.
Ode to Feminine Knees <br />(Flapper Magazine, 1922)Ode to Feminine Knees
(Flapper Magazine, 1922)
When the skirt hems began to rise in the Twenties, it was widely understood that the vision of a woman's leg was a rare treat for both man and boy; a spectacle that had not been enjoyed since the days of Adam (married men excluded). The flappers certainly knew this, and they generally believed that suffering the dizzying enthusiasm of the male of the species was a small price to pay in order to secure some element of liberty. The flappers liked their hem-lengths just where they were and, thank you very much, they were not about to drop them. Attached are some verses by an anonymous flapper who expressed her reaction regarding all that undeserved male attention her knees were generating.
The Flapper Exageration <br />(The Flapper Magazine, 1922)The Flapper Exageration
(The Flapper Magazine, 1922)
The attached column first appeared in Flapper Magazine and begins with three paragraphs outlining the ceaseless march of flappers throughout the centuries (Eve, Cleopatra, Madame Du Barry, etc...) and then dedicates the remaining three paragraphs to the various legal dust-ups flappers were causing throughout the fruited plane:

"In Vinland, Kansas, a town of 400 inhabitants, [the rustics are up-in-arms because] Alice Hansen and Maude Buchanan, 16-year-old flappers, and daughters of farmers, are wearing skirts shorter than those that are in vogue among the high school pupils....it is now up to the highbrows of the Supreme Court of Kansas to decide the case and bring a satisfying verdict...All this criticism of flappers is bunk and should be treated lightly."

Flapper Poesy <br />(Literary Digest, 1922)Flapper Poesy
(Literary Digest, 1922)
More juvenile flapper verses revealing that the flapper is as old as history itself - and far more meddlesome than her male counterpart.

Click here to read a FLAPPER MAGAZINE review of an anti-flapper movie.

Click here to read an article about the demise of a popular 1940s hairstyle.

Flapper Beauty Contest <br />(Flapper Magazine, 1922)Flapper Beauty Contest
(Flapper Magazine, 1922)
This funny announcement from the yellowing pages of FLAPPER MAGAZINE made it clear to one and all that all flappers were eligible to enter their "Flapper Beauty Contest":

"You don't have to be beautiful to be a flapper, and if you're not a flapper you wouldn't be considered beautiful. So there!"

(But we're sure it helped)

The Back-Hand from a Flapper <br />(Flapper Magazine, 1922)The Back-Hand from a Flapper
(Flapper Magazine, 1922)
Flapper Magazine crowned itself the

"official organ of the national flapper's flock"

If nothing else, this verbiage simply spells out that the editors took themselves very, very seriously indeed and it was in that same spirit they gleefully went to work disemboweling a movie that they saw as anti-flapper to its very core. The film in question was Nice People (Paramount, 1922) starring Bebe Daniels and Wallace Reid. Produced by Willam C. deMille (1878 1955), elder brother of Cecil, the film makers were clearly intimating that "nice people" will always keep their flapper daughters in line; it is at that point in the flick when the reviewer dipped her pen in the ink:

"This is one of the themes that 'old fogies' usually delight in; the 'reformation' of the flapper... The picture is replete with pithy subtitles, such as 'the smart girl of today removes the rouge from her lips only to kiss and make up.'"

The Flappers and Their Fashion Rebellion <br />(Flapper Magazine, 1922)The Flappers and Their Fashion Rebellion
(Flapper Magazine, 1922)
In the attached column, a high-spirited editorial writer hails the Flapper Revolution and singles out Paris fashion designer Paul Poiret (1879 - 1944) for being so out of step with the women of his day for continuing to design long dresses:

"When flappers rise en masse and say that they can see no reason for giving up a style that means comfort, freedom and health, then indeed, out of this welter of strikes, injunctions and warfare may be seen a glimmer of hope for mankind."

"M. Poiret, designer of Paris, has seen fit to take up the cudgels on behalf of the long skirt, and therefore he cannot object if the shafts of ridicule are hurled at him in return..."

The Common Sense of the Flappers <br />(Flapper Magazine, 1922)The Common Sense of the Flappers
(Flapper Magazine, 1922)
Originally writing for the Forrest Park Review, Flapper advocate Myrtle Heilman (1895 - 1973) opined that the Flapper was the one and only topic of the day worth thinking about:

"Analyze her dress. It's the most sensible thing since Eve. She wears rolled socks and why shouldn't she? They are extremely cool and comfortable. Her toddle pumps are fairly low-heeled and she doesn't try to squeeze into a Cinderella. Her skirts are short because it's the fashion. Her bobbed hair is cool, sensible and sanitary. There is a twinkle in her eye and she has a saucy cock-sureness. And why shouldn't she?"

"She does respect her parents and she obeys them, just as well as her grandmother did hers, but she has common sense and she knows when it's time to use her own judgment and exercise her own authority".

Colleen Moore: A Flapper in Hollywood <br />(Flapper Magazine, 1922)Colleen Moore: A Flapper in Hollywood
(Flapper Magazine, 1922)
By the time this piece appeared in The Chicago Daily News (prior to being picked up by the fast crowd at Flapper Magazine) Colleen Moore was all of twenty-one years of age with fourteen Hollywood films to her credit. This interview was conducted over lunch by the polished Hollywood reporter Gladys Hall, who we're sure picked up the check; on that day Miss Moore wanted to talk about flappers, a flock she was proud to be numbered among (and a subject she seemed to know well).
Flappers Defy the Paris Dictators <br />(Flapper Magazine, 1922)Flappers Defy the Paris Dictators
(Flapper Magazine, 1922)
"Will Paris succeed in imposing long skirts on the flappers of America?"

"Not if most of them have their way! When Paris started the short skirt fad and America eagerly aped it, the dressmakers figured that it would probably run its course and then die a sudden death. But no! For American flappers may be fickle but they know a good thing when they see it. And they intend to hang on to it."

Click here to read about another icon of the Twenties: Rudolph Valentino.

Flappers Altered the Sexual Contract in Society <br />(Coronet Magazine, 1955)Flappers Altered the Sexual Contract in Society
(Coronet Magazine, 1955)
Perhaps the above headline gives a wee-bit too much credit to the flappers for changing the sex codes of North America - but it certainly would never have happened without them. They were one of the necessary elements, in addition to motion pictures, recorded music, automobiles and greater job opportunities for women, that, when mixed together created a new social contract. The attached article spells it all out as to how the flappers of the 1920s had "stripped the female body of its Victorian wrappings and proudly displayed it in the sunlight".

You might also want read about sex during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

''Is the Younger Generation in Peril?'' <br />(Literary Digest, 1921)''Is the Younger Generation in Peril?''
(Literary Digest, 1921)
The deans who presided over Literary Digest made this article their lead piece, so urgent was the sensation that an onslaught of vengeful modernist women, so fleet of foot and irreverently unhampered by hanging hems and confining corsets, were approaching their New York offices as their first act in disassembling the patriarchy.

A History of THE BOB <br />(Coronet Magazine, 1955)A History of THE BOB
(Coronet Magazine, 1955)
A single page history essay concerning the most popular hairstyle of the 1920s.
British Flappers <br />(Vanity Fair Magazine, 1914)British Flappers
(Vanity Fair Magazine, 1914)
''Me & My Flapper Daughters'' <br />(American Magazine, 1927)''Me & My Flapper Daughters''
(American Magazine, 1927)
A Victorian father embraced the spirit of the Flapper rebellion, welcomed it into his house and testified that it made his daughters better and their family bonds stronger.
The Flapper Debate <br />(Literary Digest, 1921)The Flapper Debate
(Literary Digest, 1921)
This article is made up of the musings of various editors, university presidents and social reformers discussing the cultural relevance of the Flapper and the cultural changes she has brought forth.

<i>Flaming Youth</i> <br />(Time Magazine, 1923)Flaming Youth
(Time Magazine, 1923)
Here is an entirely unsympathetic Time Magazine review of the 1922 film, Flaming Youth starring Colleen Moore and Milton Sills. The uncredited reviewer really wasn't buying any of it and was not at all impressed with the morality of Flappers. Today, Flaming Youth has deteriorated to just just a few feet of film and rests in the vaults of the Library of Congress; the reviewer probably would be pleased to know that.