What was the meaning of a flapper’s free attitude? The way flappers were supposed to wear their hair – no longer a necessity – what was the meaning of wearing a hair ribbon or a bun? Why did you need a lot of hair – what was the significance of making lots of hair – why did you have to make your hair very long? In our schools we learned about the importance of the hair – how much did the hair take away? How did students cope with the problems of hair? Why were hair conditions a problem in many schools?
But when did people start talking about the importance of their hair? We found that women began to ask about the importance of hair in 1920s and 1930s – when they started to wear their hair straight and longer. They often used the phrase “hair that keeps one’s head warm” – and it is interesting to note that women in Victorian England had just begun to think of their hair as a valuable commodity.
What happened to the word “flapper” as a verb in English of the 20th century but not in American slang of the 20th century? And in French? When did fashion and style start to take an increasingly active place in American life?
Fashion is another word that began to gain popularity in American culture by the second half of the 1920s (when the term “boutique” came into use). The term “Boutique” describes a variety of items of clothing with a certain character (such as leather jackets and scarves and silk slippers). “Fashion” is defined as the state of being at one’s self-imposed standards of beauty.
These definitions were developed by American women. Why should American women have developed such different words to describe their sense of style?
The answer is “femme fatales.” Women used to dress as femmes fatales. And not just women – men. When you look on the pages of the Ladies Home Journal, you will find women like the following, who were women.
“Sally Anne” was a young woman who went to Paris for her own pleasure in 1920s and ’30s Paris. She spent several weeks in a French café. There, “at the café, she met a beautiful and intelligent young woman called Isabelle.” There were also the following, “Marcelle” of London. Marcelle was an ex-model who loved flapper fashion – dressing up as a flapper and sitting in the front row of the opera
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