Women and teens in the flapper era had several options for wearing 1920s accessories. Regardless of the accessory, the colors were pastels in summer, rich jewel tones for an evening, or the Art Deco color palette of red, black, and jade green for the bold New Woman. After choosing a dress, a 20s Great Gatsby woman would pick a cloche hat in a coordinating but not matching color. The band on her hat might also coordinate with her jewelry, a belt, or her gloves. Naturally, she had to wear stockings in a dark nude, black, or pastel color for the evenings. If she was dressing casual, a pair of knee high socks would replace stockings. A city woman usually carried a small purse with makeup with her.
These 1920s accessories were all mentioned in The Great Gatsby book, giving us an authentic look at fashions worn by real flappers in the ’20s.
1920s Accessories to consider wearing:
- A cloche hat or sun hat for daywear. Turban hats for evenings. Shop 20s hats here.
- Headband, hair clips, tiara, or headpieces were evening hair accessories. Shop here.
- Makeup – A ’20s face was painted with a little makeup such as lipstick, eye shadow, and rouge. Learn about 20s makeup.
- Drop earrings or large stud earrings to match tassel necklaces or long pearls. Learn about jewelry and shop for 20s style jewelry.
- A long stem cigarette holder studded with jewels or hand painted is an iconic 20s accessory. You can use fake cigarettes and e-cigarettes too. Shop here.
- A small flask tucked into garters, boots or handbags was a rebellion against prohibition. Shop here.
- Feather boa, beaded cape, fur stole, or fringe shawl covered shoulders in a dramatic way. Shop them here.
- A feather fan, lace fan or paper fan was another dramatic handheld accessory. For daytime, a paper parasol was a popular beach or poolside accessory. Shop parasols and hand fans.
- A sunny day called for round sunglasses. Shop 20s sunglasses.
- Gloves. Long over the elbow opera gloves for evenings and shorter mid arm leather, silk or mesh gloves for daytime. Shop gloves.
- Small handbags were a thing of delicate beauty. Shop 1920s handbags.
- Backseam stockings came in dark nude, white or pastel colors. Leave the fishnets for the theater. Shop 20s stockings.
Read on for a bit more details about 1920s accessories:
1920s Women’s Hats
The 1920s hat icon was the cloche. These round shaped, snug fitting, helmet-like felt or straw hats came so far down the forehead that visibility was only possible by lifting the chin up so she had to look down on people. This made 1920s women seem smug or snooty, when in reality it was just the fashion fad. Early cloche hats had a wide brim to them, while the mid ’20s cloches had a 1 to 3 inch brim and the late 20s none at all. A few sun hat cloche varieties had very wide side brims with very narrow front and back brims.
Hat decorations were simple geometric ribbon shapes or abstract embroidered designs. A hat pin also worn as a brooch pin, and could add a little extra gem or even feather to a hat.
The turban style hat was similar to the cloche. It was made of wrapped fabric circling the head and adorned with flowers, gems and feathers on one side. The fabric usually matched the dress and was typically an evening hat rather than day wear.
Cloche hats are back in fashion. Many new styles of “cloche” hats cane be worn with vintage 1920s clothing.
Shop for the best new cloche hats online.
Necklaces came in two varieties: beaded or ribbon chokers, and long strands of glass beads and pearls. Sometimes these long strands of gems also became used as loose belts hanging from the hips.
Earrings are long drops for both day and evening. The chandelier shape was a particular favorite. Gem colors often matched dresses and or other accessories. Bracelets were a major fashion accessory in the ’20s, from cuffs to battalions of bangles. They were thick and usually made of gold or bright colored plastic like materials. Bracelets worn on the upper arm were called slave bracelets. Read more about 1920s jewelry here.
Shop 1920s style jewelry here.
With flimsy dresses and exposed shoulders, women needed something fashionable to keep their shoulders warm. Shoulder wraps made of animal furs like fox and mink (often with heads and feet still intact) were a wealthy woman’s pride and joy. The less wealthy used large silk triangular scarves wrapped and tied to one side with a brooch. Silk scarves were worn for day and evening wear and were intricately detailed with Asian prints and hand-beaded designs.
1920s Hand Bags
Much like the previous decades, fancy hand beaded handbags were carried by women for formal events. They held a little makeup or bobby pins for fixing fly away hair. These little bags were intricately hand beaded with purse clips made of gold. The could either be strapless or have a short single strange gold chain strap. Some amazing inspired and reproduction purses can be found online.
Read more about purses and bags of the roaring twenties.
Headbands and Hair Jewelry
Hats covered up cute bob haircuts so the alternative was to wear a ribbon tied tight around your upper forehead and down behind the back of your head with a bow. Ribbon colors usually matched your dress.
It was also common to wear a wide silk scarf like bands wrapped around the head but exposing the crown. These, like narrow ribbons, were sometime adorned with beads and feathers on the right side.
Hair jewelry was all the rage, particularly gold or gem tiaras and jeweled headbands that sat across the eyebrows. Long strands of pearls were also used to create hair jewelry. These were strung around the head, over the top, and around buns of hair and connected with gems, feathers or more jewelry. Strands of small jewels that covered the head entirely were called skull caps. They fit snugly over slicked back bobbed hair. The style reminds me of Egyptian headwear worn by Pharaohs queens. Fittingly, King Tut’s tomb was discovered in the 1920s and anything ancient Egypt was a fashion trend.
1920s Accessories: Stockings
If you think all women wore only black or nude colored stockings and hosiery in the 1920s, think again. Black stockings dominated the early years for during the day, but dark nude stockings made up the rest of the decade. Rising dress lengths exposed legs, giving women an opportunity to show off some fun style. Silk stockings came in all sorts of geometric patterns, Art Deco images, and Asian inspired dragons and butterflies. If a woman was not bold enough to wear patterned stockings, then she would wear stockings that would match her dress. Most dresses were pastel colored, so stockings came in peach, pink, light green, blue, silver and white.
All stockings had seams. They were very subtle seams, not bulky like most seamed costume stockings are today. They were also thigh-high and held up by ornate garters around the top or garter belts with clip-type holds. Stockings fit rather loosely. It wasn’t uncommon to see them bunch up at the ankles.
If a lady was really daring, she joined the “flapper girl” style and rolled down her stockings to just below her knees. This was the “in” style, if she dared to defy her strict upbringing.
Tip: Whatever you buy, don’t get fishnets unless you want to look like a scandalous 1920s showgirl.