Roaring Twenties 20s Fashion Guide

1920s Fashion History

1920s house dress VS day dress fashion

1920s house dress VS day dress fashion

In a nutshell, 1920s fashion for women was all about getting loose, which applied to morals, too. Women wore dresses all day, every day, rain or shine. Day dresses had a drop waist, which was a sash or belt around the low waist or hip and a skirt that hung anywhere from ankle on up to the knee but never above. Daywear had sleeves (long to mid-bicep) and a skirt that was straight, pleated, hank hem, or tired. Daywear accessories included cloche hats, seamed stockings, a purse, gloves and maybe jewelry. Daytime shoes were 1-2.5 inch T-straps, single or double strap mary janes, and walking Oxfords.

1925, dresses idea for church or afternoon garden party

1925, dresses ideal for church or afternoon garden party

For most men, suits were the day to day attire. Striped, plaid or windowpane suits came in dark grey, blue and brown in winter and ivory, white, tan and pastels in summer. All suits had matching lapel collar vests with a pocket watch and chain dangling from inside. The dress shirt was unique with a white round or pointed collar on a colored body of stripes or light pastel solids. Men also wore hats such as the felt fedora, classy Homburg or round bowler. In summer, it was the straw boater or Panama that topped most men’s heads. For men’s ’20s shoes, two-tone Oxfords were the latest and greatest fashion, although solid black or brown cap toes were equally common.

1920s costume: casual sporty skirt, blouse, vest, beret hat. Get more ideas at VintageDancer

A 20s casual sporty outfit

On the weekends, women’s clothing didn’t change. A long skirt, blouse and cardigan sweater was a common casual outfit.  She might have worn beach pajamas on vacation or knicker pants, blouse, tie and a sweater vest to play golf. Men’s sporty clothes consisted of a similar look with plus four pants, tall argyle socks, sweater vest, dress shirt and newsboy cap. If he played summer sports, he might have worn white trousers with a white sweater vest like most tennis stars did.


1920s men's golfing outfit : Argyle vest, knickers, tall socks, two tone shoes. Get this look at vintagedancer

Men’s golfing outfit

Working class men didn’t have the luxury of custom suits. Instead, they wore overalls or blue jeans with a cotton button-down shirt and canvas coat. His hat of choice was the newsboy cap or a used felt hat. Learn more about mens vintage workwear.

Men's Vintage Workwear- 1900-1940s- striped overalls, wool flannel shirt, denim jacket, cap, gloves and sturdy work boots.

Men’s Vintage Workwear- 1900-1940s- striped overalls, wool flannel shirt, denim jacket, cap, gloves and sturdy work boots.

Casual women’s clothing turned to menswear for inspiration. Ladies could wear tall argyle socks, knickers, button-down shirt and tie and newsboy cap just like the men. Although pants were uncommon by the end of the decade Beach Pajamas were made of wide-leg palazzo style pants and matching top. Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries uses beach pajamas quite often in the show’s costumes. Take a look at these 20s casual outfit ideas and these non-flapper outfit ideas.

Amelia Earhart aviatrix aviator costume outfit idea 1920s not-flapper costume vintagedancer

Amelia Earhart aviatrix outfit

20s Party Clothes

Actress Blanche Sweet, 1920s beaded evening party dress

Actress Blanche Sweet, 1920s beaded evening party dress

Fancy 1920s dresses were sleeveless, shapeless, ankle to knee length slip gowns accented with beading, sequins, fringe, and some feathers. Rich jewel tones and soft pastels made the simplest of gowns look expensive. Add to that some lavish accessories, such as a diamond tiara or headband, silk shawl, feather fan, long pearl necklace, and gold arm bangles, and women looked like silent movie stars!

1923 formal party dresses- no beading!

1923 formal party dresses- no beading, sequins or fringe!


1920s accessories: hat, headband, pearl necklace, drop earrings, sunglasses, cigarette holder, feather fan, parasol, feather boa, flask, purse, gloves, and makeup. Shop and learn at VintageDancer

1920s accessories

While ladies lavished in fancy frocks, men found relief in slightly more comfortable dinner jackets (tuxedos) instead of stuffy tailcoats. Many men cast off formal attire all-together and embraced the colorful life of striped suits, flashy neckties, Homburg hats, and gold capped walking sticks.

Mens 1920s formal attire- Dinner jacket (tuxedo) or full white dress with tails

Men formal attire- Dinner jacket (tuxedo) or full white dress with tails

For a formal affair, getting a dose of fashion history (and a lot of pictures) will help you get in the right mindset for the night. Ladies be sure to read about creating the iconic flapper costume look or getting really fancy with 1920s formal dresses. Gentlemen should read about 1920s tuxedos.

1920s evening dress, flapper dresses, party dresses

Beading, feather boa, headbands galore!


If you would rather look semi-formal, try 1920s party dresses for the ladies and 1920s suits for the gents. Knowing how popular the Great Gatsby is, men might also like to dress in all white like Jay Gatsby did or perhaps as a bootlegger like the characters in Boardwalk Empire or Peaky Blinders. Speaking of popular TV shows, ladies might enjoy the casual styles of Miss Fisher or the sophisticated looks of Downton Abbey and gents too.