We have a long and complicated history with the women of the flapper dress (with variations), from their simple beginnings in New York City in the late 19th century and through the 1940s and 1950s when they spread from the United States to the rest of the world. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and after that, they became the fashion for New York and for the rest of the country.
It’s not really possible to know why these women, as it were, broke into the flapper dress. Maybe they saw it as a fashion for young men—and some were actually young—but there are other theories that the flapper dress was something that women who had already been dancing for a long time. In my book about the flapper attire, “A Guide to Old Fashion, New Fashion, and the Style of the Fashion Dress,” I say that these women had already been dancing their whole lives, which makes “a flapper” a bit of a misnomer.
Flappers were not the first women to wear the flapper attire. For example, the “Pleasure Dress” was first known as the flapper dress in the 17th century. Then, just years later in the 18th century, we saw the first women in America take to the dress, and by the end of the decade, in the 1830s, they were the “fashion of New York.”
The term “New York” actually comes from a phrase meaning “new.” In that context, the words “flapper dress” were not really an improvement over the traditional flapper dress of the American Revolution. It wasn’t something that changed, but they were not considered fashionable, just as “New York” didn’t become a fashion term until after the Civil War, long after the American Revolution. The flapper dress was something that they’d worn for many years already.
It was important to note that it wasn’t until after these early women started working and living in the United States that they started wearing the flapper dress. They weren’t the first to go through with it, but when they started wearing it, for a long time they were part of the American fashion crowd.
It’s important to remember that women were seen as objects of desire. Women weren’t objects. They were people.
The women who had already been at it in America for the last 10 or 15 years, they had been at it for years. That is to say, the
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