Culture in the 1920s

History Period 2


The term "flapper" first appeared in Great Britain after World War I. It was used to describe young girls, still somewhat awkward in movement who had not yet entered womanhood. The Flappers' image consisted of drastic - to some, shocking - changes in women's clothing and hair. Nearly every article of clothing was trimmed down and lightened in order to make movement. The young set themselves free especially, the young women. They shocked the older generation with their new hair style (a short bob) and the clothes that they wore were often much shorter than had been seen and tended to expose their legs and knees.

It is said that girls "parked" their corsets when they were to go dancing. The new, energetic dances of the Jazz Age, required women to be able to move freely, something the "ironsides" didn't allow. Replacing the pantaloons and corsets were underwear called "step-ins."

The Flappers also went out without a man to look after them, went to all-night parties, drove motor cars, smoked in public and held men’s hands without wearing gloves. Mothers formed the Anti-Flirt League to protest against the acts of their daughters. But after the horror of the The First World War, the younger generation mistrusted the older generation and "did their own thing". The President of Florida University even said the low cut gowns and short skirts "are born of the devil they are carrying the present generation to destruction".


The period from the end of the First World War until the start of the Depression in 1929 is known as the "Jazz Age". Jazz had become popular music in America, although older generations considered the music immoral and threatening to old cultural values.


Dances such as the Charleston and the Black Bottom were very popular during the period. Also Waltz, Shimmy, Fox Trot, Tango, etc were very popular. Many thought that these dances were not acceptable and very racy.