There’s a lot of debate about this. Some, like the most popular photo of all time — a 1964 cover of American Vogue — depict a flapper in what looks like a 1950s blouse: browns, whites, and pinkish pastels.
But if those of you who remember your high school fashion magazines also remembered a time when blue jeans were worn by flappers, it was the 1960s. And while it’s true that women’s fashion started to make a name for itself after 1945, in the 1960s, the fashions were on the move. Women’s fashions were evolving, and not everyone was happy.
In 1964, a magazine called Fashions for All Seasons printed a photo featuring two women — one flapper and one not — lounging under a tree. The photo’s caption read: “A flasher and a flapper in a green dress.”
And in 1958, The Hollywood Reporter published an article that asked fans to name the “flats.” A man named Richard G. Taylor — who was a well-known fashion photographer — responded, “Flats? Flats!” (That’s his second correct answer.)
Of course, this is where things get complicated — the idea of “flashing” is more of a slang term and doesn’t mean “flasher.”
The word flasher, when used as a verb, comes from a 19th-century slang term for a prostitute, which meant a woman who engaged in illegal sexual activity. If you used that word right now, you’d be referred to as an “unmarried and unmarried flasher.” It’s not clear that these women were even flashers, but they seem to fit the model’s look and name fairly well.
But what are the cultural markers that helped this fashion group become known as “flashers”? Here are a few examples that can help:
1952, a New York Times Magazine article headlined, “Wet and Proud: A History of Flashers” said that for women, there was more to flasher culture than the color of flappers’ eyes, but it also said it has a “more subtle” effect on men.
In 1965, an article in Ladies Home Journal said that flashers “often come dressed in bright red pants, a pair of white gloves and red hair” so that men will recognize them. “I never met any of them who wouldn’t blush,” the article says.
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