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How to Be a Gatsby Flapper Bride – Roaring 20’s Style

by Tina Boomerina (Christina Gregoire)

roaring twenties wedding styleIf you fell in love with the romance of the Great Gatsby era and you want to have a 1920’s style wedding, you’re totally on trend. However, there is more than one way to be a flapper bride... so check out these dress and headpiece ideas.

If I were planning a Gatsby wedding outfit, the first thing I would do is to decide if I wanted my gown and headwear to be more deco (geometric) or more girly (flowery). Most women look better one way or the other, depending on their body type and personality. You can have both styles at your wedding, but I think your ensemble should lean one way or the other, so it doesn't become too busy and so your dress doesn't clash with your accessories.

Hey, I'm not a bridal expert. I'm an artist. I'm good at visualizing things. And, when I look at the gowns in the main photo above I see aspects of deco and girly-girl in each of the dresses, but the gold dress (from Frock and Frill) on the left is quite structural and deco, the middle dress (from Phase Eight) is more girly even though it has deco scallops, and the dress on the right (from Asos) is extremely deco and geometric even though it has lacy scrolls at the bottom. And, all three dresses are perfect for a Gatsby-themed wedding because they all have that simple, slinky 1920's sillhouette. (Note: I do not get paid by any brand to endorse their products.)

Here are other things to consider:

  • How “authentic” do you want your outfit to look? Do you want to wear 20’s style from head to toe or do you just want a few flapper accessories?
  • Where do you want the focus of your bridal outfit to be? When playing around with vintage looks, it’s easy to go overboard. Instead, I think you should start with one thing that you really love (a gorgeous dress, a glitzy headpiece, some sparkly deco jewelry, a killer veil) and make that your statement piece. Well… some people (like me) can wear more statements than others, but if you stay focused on your main piece, your outfit will become a beautiful, cohesive ensemble that will stand the test of time… even if your marriage doesn’t.

roaring twenties wedding dresses

Vintage 1920’s Flapper Brides

I've been looking at photos of 1920's brides all day to get a feel for the trend, and I've noticed that most of the real flapper brides wore simple tea-length (midi) or ballerina-length (ankle) gowns, however they accentuated the modern length of their "short" dresses by donning exceedingly long cathedral veils that swept across the floor... and sometimes off into the next county. I have a feeling these rebellious chicks were trying to make sure we all noticed their shapely ankles... hey, these were hot mamas who had just won the right to vote and to kick up their heels.

If you look at the dress in the main photo (on the right) with the sheer skirting, you'll see that it gives a similar effect. The dress is short, but the lower part of the outfit is veiled... it's a modern version of the flapper bride's leggy look.

Gatsby Headpieces and Gowns: Find a Good Balance

I've spent a crazy amount of time looking at old photos, so I want to tell you what I've learned... even if you decide to ignore me. Anyway, one of the key elements of your Gatsby outfit is going to be your veil or headpiece... or lack thereof.

If you decide to go totally vintage with your headpiece, I've discovered 3 main styles from the Roaring Twenties era:

1. Double Floral Headpiece: See the illustration from Ladies Home Journal 1924 of the bride looking into the mirror. This type of veil/headpiece has one big flower on each side of the head (or several little flowers bunched into adorable poufballs). Think Princess Leia in Star Wars, but cuter and more feminine. You can get a similar effect by bunching your veil on both sides with some kind of ornament. I consider this flowery headpiece to be part of the girly-girl style.

2. Flapper Pouf Wedding Veil: I don't know what else to call it. See the sepia photo above for an example. This type of veil fans out behind the head like a halo... and I love, love, love it. I think it's created by bunching some tulle behind the head and chopping it off at just the right height so that the bride doesn't look like she's become a punk rocker in a mohawk. There are a hundred variations on this fan pouf, but I'm showing you the most elegant way to do it. If you decide to wear this fabulous veil, your dress should be sleek and simple, because the look is very structural and deco.

3. Juliet Cap With or Without a Veil: A Juliet cap is a tight fitting hat that clings to the head. I've seen photos of geometric or lacy caps without veils... sort of like elegant bathing caps. I've seen glittery caps with tassels that hang down to the shoulders on either side of the head. And, I've seen faux Juliet caps made by wearing a circlet (or headband) over a veil.

flapper hats headbands flowers floral rhinestones

Gatsby Wedding Headpieces:

The one thing I have not seen in the authentic wedding photos is the wearing of bridal headpieces (flapper headbands, circlets, rhinestone things) without a veil. But, there's a reason for that. Once upon a time... way, way back in the olden days... before the 1960's... women had to cover their heads in churches (and temples and such) or they would have been thrown out of their garden clubs. So, back in the 20's, it would have been unthinkable for a bride to go bareheaded. But, times have changed. If you want the focus of your Gatsby outfit to be on your dress or your fabulous art deco jewelry, you can wear a headpiece like those in the photo above... and you'll look absolutely stunning.

More Tips for Vintage Brides:

Most flappers carried huge, round bouquets. The main exception I saw was when a bride was going for an ultra sleek look (with a deco Juliet cap and a plain silk dress). In those photos, the bride carried several long-stemmed lilies. As for shoes, all the brides I saw favored white, pointed, low-heeled Mary Janes.

Well, you don't have to be historically authentic or follow any of these rules to be a beautiful, vintage flapper bride. We don't care if you show up in your jammies... as long as you feed us and fill us with bathtub gin... and you entertain us by doing the Charleston... on the table. It's all good. We just want you to be happy... but looking fabulous AND being happy... that's even better.

More Articles for Baby Boomer Women:

Flapper Fashion Trend for Parties, Cruises & Weddings

Plus-Size Wedding Gowns: Advice for 3 Body Types

Wedding Dresses for Older Brides: Women Over 40

Flapper Dresses & Accessories for Costumes or Parties

Photo Credits: prshots.com.

  • Main Photo: Asos, Phase Eight, Asos.
  • Mouseover for other photo credits.

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Tina Boomerina (AKA Christina Gregoire) is a Baby Boomer born at the end of 1952. Her mission is to make the internet a kinder and gentler place for Baby Boomer women around the world. Tina's specialty is fashion for women over 50.

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