All that Jazz

I’ve dressed up as something I’ve wanted to be for the last few years. Yesterday (Halloween), I was a flapper, the quintessential good time girl of the 1920s (think Betty Boop, as one friend told me).

I’m fascinated by the flapper’s image: their sleek and straight dresses, their jewelry, their flirty bobs, their sophisticated joie de vivre, their red lips puffing on a cigarette while holding a martini glass. Of course, Halloween was the only time I could dress up as a flapper without getting strange looks from people.

Three years ago, I purchased a flapper headpiece and a feather boa from Party City, but wasn’t able to buy a flapper dress at that time because, well, they ran out of them. I got a flapper dress from Target, but when I tried it on at a friend’s house (where the Halloween party) was held, it didn’t fit. I figured better bring my dark angel costume in case the flapper dress didn’t fit. And the flapper dress didn’t fit. The two years since then, I didn’t dress up for Halloween because I didn’t go to any Halloween parties. I didn’t want to be all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Halloween 2009 was the day when I finally got the chance to hark back in time to the Jazz Age. I donned a little black dress I’ve had for years – which is good, so that I wouldn’t have to blow $30 on a flapper costume I’d wear once. Plus, I’m recycling and trying to be green. I picked up a pair of bejeweled sheer black gloves, a string of fake pearls and some fake cigarettes from Party City. I’m saddened that Party City didn’t have cigarette holders when I was there. Completing the flapper look with the headpiece and boa I’ve had for a few years, I was itching to listen to jazz and do the Charleston.

I really toted that fake cigarette at my daughter’s Halloween party at her karate school. It was fun too look like I was smoking, but to actually smoke of course wouldn’t be so fun. Even if I wanted to smoke real cigarettes, I couldn’t do it; the fear of cancer in various types, bad odor and premature aging would forever haunt me.

Last year, I read a book called “Flapper: A Madcap Story of Sex, Style, Celebrity, and the Women Who Made America Modern” by Joshua Zeitz. I heard about flappers as good time girls before reading that book. However, from reading the book, I didn’t realize flappers had a huge cultural impact on American history. I learned that among the many ways flappers liberated women, they were the ones who did away with the constrictive corsets. There’s also a section in there on Coco Chanel, who had such a huge impact on flapper fashion and women’s fashion in general; she created the Little Black Dress.

Of course, the Jazz Age couldn’t have been the Jazz Age without F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of “The Great Gatsby.” Zeitz covers Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda throughout the book. Even Zelda was a cultural impact on the Jazz Age: she too was a flapper. Now “The Great Gastby” is included in my forever growing list of books I want to read.

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