Latest posts by Steff Benton (see all)
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I love the styles of the 1920s, and I love the culture and style behind the Flapper girl. I just thought – once upon a time – this wasn’t a style for me. After all, the silhouettes fashionable at this time were boyish and straight – something Coco Chanel called “garçonne“. And I, well; I am not.
I am as womanly as they come and I have that stereotypical hourglass shape that meant I just immediately gravitated towards the 1950s in my vintage styling, with full skirt, petticoats and wasp waist. Not that I’m knocking this style at all, as it still remains my favourite style era. It certainly knows how to dress my big boobs and large posterior with panache and flair!
I know where I am with a ’50s silhouette but the 1920s flapper style is something completely different. Instead of accentuating femininity it conceals it (and the traditional notion of feminine curves) and introduces a more androgynous shape.
This was a direct act of rebellion against the tight-laced and long-haired “Gibson Girl” preceding it from the late 19th century.
There are a lot of plus size ladies that shy away from this style for fear it will make them look bigger in a society that is constantly encouraging them to look smaller!
So, it did take a bit of inner persuasion to try something a little different. Was this a style that was going to suit me?
Hint: Absolutely YES.
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I collaborated with Gatsbylady very recently for a model editorial and piece in Vintage Life magazine (due out in December). I can’t say much, except that the woman behind Gatsbylady is an absolute genius. Here are two images from the shoot I can show now, but the rest – plus the words – are under lock and key!
The original plus size ladies of the 1920s were encouraged to wear ‘safe’ colours, cuts and cloths. Nothing too shiny that caught the light. You could say that’s changed, looking at these sequins, fringing and silky fabric. We’re almost a century on and you could say another rebellion has taken place.
Perhaps an interesting modern-day comparison to make is Ready to Stare’s controversial cupcake dress, which caused some backlash on social media. Many saw it as unflattering or even ugly because in society we are used to “flattering” shapes. The cupcake dress rejected all of it and challenged ideas of what a plus size body should and should not look like in clothes. Much like the flapper girl, it was a big “eff you” to the status quo.
There is a sea of swing dresses out there in ’40s and ’50s styles, all flattering to all sizes. This is why I like what Gatsbylady is doing. The 1920s isn’t just for the garçonne any more.
So, to summarise: don’t feel bogged down by social conventions. If you want to wear it; wear it. Oh, and definitely check out Gatsbylady!