There is perhaps no more exciting – or important – era in the history of fashion than the 1920’s. Jazz music was in its inception, and the world was changing. For women, it marked a time of liberation; suddenly, we were allowed the freedom of wearing trousers, and skirts that were daringly short. It was the era of the Flapper girl. It was the era of women smoking in public, and cutting their hair short. Bright, colourful clothing with scarves, pearls, low-waisted dresses and headbands were all the rage. Clothing was fun, playful – liberating.
It was also the dawning of the era of the “garconne”, the androgynous style of thin, flat-chested, gamine women wearing men’s clothing. It’s safe to say that this was a ground-breaking time for women, and for fashion.
Enter Coco Chanel.
Ms. Chanel stripped down the formerly frilly style of women’s clothing, using less material and cleaner lines, doing away with the restrictive corset, and employing sturdier fabrics usually reserved for men’s clothing – a practical move to cater to the new, modern woman’s needs. It’s thought that she was the creator, in fact, of the “garconne” style – with her clean, straight lines and boyish suits;
She was also credited with creating what became known as the “flapper look”. Replacing corseted waists with drop-waisted dresses, ruffles with straight lines and boyish silhouettes for an easy, casual look for women, allowing for new freedom of movement –
She invented the classic Chanel Suit – an entirely new look for women. She replaced cinched waists and frills with jewelry integrated into the clothing – faux-pearl belts and chains sewn into the clothes themselves for a feminine touch. Making fashion accessible by inventing the concept of “casual chic”, she forever changed the face of fashion, creating a look that carries into modern times, continuing to influence today’s styles.
Chanel and 1920’s makeup:
When you think of the Roaring 20’s, you can’t help but think of strong, red or dark lipstick, circles of blush, and eyes ringed in black. Before the 1920’s, it was considered inappropriate for women to wear cosmetics – a realm reserved only for “ladies of the evening.”
But women like Coco Chanel – and the Sufferagettes, who wore red lipstick as a form of protest while rallying in the streets for Women’s Rights – changed all that. Chanel elevated makeup to the level of everyday sophistication – in 1924, she created her own line of lipsticks, including a classic blue-based red – upon which the extremely popular “Pirate” is based. Ironically, Coco herself at some point found red lipstick to be “vulgar”, because of its propensity to stain her glassware. However, this clearly was a fleeting attitude on her part, considering the iconic Chanel Red Lip bringing forth the concept of the “everyday red lip”. Taking even the exaggerated flapper look and putting her own spin on it, she changed makeup forever; Her signature look of a clean brow, black lined eye, and strong red lip is a classic makeup style that has stood the test of time, and works even today – it’s always fresh, always appropriate, always modern. As the Fabulous Ms Coco once said; “If you are sad, add more lipstick, and attack.” Indeed.
The 1920’s changed fashion for women in ways that made modern fashions possible – and women like Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel made the creation of those fashions possible. Imagine having to walk around in ankle-length skirts, corsets and bustles?! Not being able to wear pants, no makeup? Having to keep our hair long? Until the 1920’s, that’s pretty much what our options were. The 1920’s ushered in the modern era of fashion, and the modern era for women.
If i’m influenced by any era above all others, it’s certainly the Roaring Twenties. A mix of Garconne and Flapper Girl, i easily flit between gamine boyish looks and drop-waisted dresses. My clothes are always utilitarian (if not stylish). My hair is cut short, and i’m never without my red lipstick. And i certainly owe a debt to Ms Chanel, who taught me that the Little Black Dress should be a staple in every woman’s closet, that trousers can be ladylike and fashionable, and cigarette holders are de rigeur (at least, when i smoked). I’m a firm believer in the perfect bag as accessory, and i covet the perfect string of pearls.
Wearing in this post:
- I’m From Ginseng Serum – for gross hives outbreak on cheeks, again. This time due to a toner that didn’t agree with me *sadface*. I carry this in my bag for reapplication on affected area if things start to worsen!
- Dr Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment SPF 30 – reapplying this throughout the day on redness/hive outbreak. It really helps the itchiness and redness a lot! I put it on under cushion, then on top as needed. No blush today until things calm down…
- AmorePacific Color Control Cushion Compact SPF 50 – I wear the lightest shade, #201, which is supposedly pink, but i got it because it actually has a yellowish undertone. Although there is alcohol in the formulation, it still seems to keep my skin hydrated with all the other skincare ingredients. The coverage is very light, so my skin shows through. The finish is very dewy and natural.
- Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour SPF 30 – Ms Coco was all about a healthy sun-kissed glow on the skin, so of course i had to swipe a little of this on; it imparts a bit of colour to the skin, without looking like Bronzer Queen. I don’t do bronzers, as i’ve said before. It technically isn’t one, it’s an all-over finishing powder; but if you care to use it as a bronzer, you can buy a shade darker and go to town.
- NARS Hardwired Eyeshadow in Pygar – A girl can’t do a proper flapper eye without a bit of gold lame eyeshadow. This NARS single shadow is SUPER pigmented and such a unique shade – a sort of cross between gold/platinum/pewter. Applied from lash-line to orbital socket. Just gorg.
- YSL Couture Palette Couleurs 04 – As is probably obv from the condition of this poor thing, i’ve had this palette for ages. I love YSL eyeshadows. They’re soft, pigmented, and lovely. The snow-coloured one is perfect for highlighting beneath the brow.
- Chanel Stylo Yeaux Waterproof Eyeliner in 916 Perle de Lune – unfortunately, this was a Limited Edition colour, but i linked to the product page with the rest of the shades. It’s a silvery-taupe that’s really lovely, which i used to line the lower lashes only.
- Cle de Peau Intensifying Liquid Eyeliner in Black – my current go-to black liquid eyeliner, particularly if i have a strong eyeshadow on. This liner stays all day without needing retouching, and is waterproof to boot. Deep, rich black and double-ended for extra precision. My HG liquid liner. (Le Metier de Beaute runs a close second as a fav for daytime liner)
- Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil in Platinum Blonde – I think my search for the perfect brow pencil might be over; this angled pencil is such a great, icy blond shade, and the consistency and shape so effortlessly fill in my sparse, Hashimoto’s brows without looking overly-drawn or fake. I’m really digging this pencil – the container is luxe-looking, heavy and weighty in the hand, making it easy to wield. Plus, it has a good spoolie on the other end. Score.
- Chanel Volume de Chanel Mascara in Noir – My new favourite mascara, this plumps, lengthens, and fills sparse lashes. Flapper chicks always had serious lash-game, and this mascara will definitely fit the bill.
- Chanel Rouge Allure Lipstick in Pirate – And finally, no Roaring Twenties – or classic Chanel, for that matter – look is complete without a fabulous red lipstick. This particular red has been around for a long, long time. This particular incarnation in the Chanel lineup is called Pirate, and it’s just gorgeous. It’s a classic blue-red, and pretty much goes with anything. Jeans, Little Black Dress, or just a spritz of Chanel No. 5. It’s up to you.
I hope you enjoyed my time-traveling post back to the magnificent 1920’s! It was quite an era – offering women choices previously not available to them. And women like Coco Chanel pioneered the way. We wouldn’t be where we are today without her.
What was your favourite fashion era?
XO – Monday