V39: 1920s Beaded Flapper Dress Design

Today Lady Carolyn invited me to participate in a presentation on 1920s fashion coming up at Reno’s National Automobile Museum at the end of March.  How could I resist!

I have a decent selection of 1920s dresses…unless, of course, we’re talking about evening attire, of which I have none.  No flapper dresses, which is pretty lame when I love the 20s so much.

This presents the perfect opportunity, though, to work that 1990s beaded slip dress I snagged for $15 at a thrift store into a beaded flapper frock worthy of the Charleston.  Here’s the plan (or three):

Which one do you think?

The neckline decoration is coming straight off the dress as-is, but the question is what to do with the rest of the dress.  I would like to use as much of the remaining vermicularly beaded fabric as I can, but I will have to supplement the re-fashion with some additional fabric, either black crepe, some kind of skirt material like metallic drapey-netty-stuff, or fringe.

Fringe almost seems too cliche, though, doesn’t it? …despite it being totally period accurate, like on this dress:

The Frock

I looked at a large cross-section of flapper dresses, but feel quite limited in how to use that heavily beaded neckline and also balance it on the lower half.  Here are the two other inspo pieces:

Callot Soeurs
And a third, for the cool paneled skirt like this:
Don’t I wish I could afford one of these reproductions from LeLuxe!
Help! Which re-fashion would you go with?


  • Skye

    February 8, 2012 at 5:10 PM

    I really like the first one. It looks the most 'balanced'. The colour of the bottom works well with the top. (But I'm no specialist in any way!)

  • Cassidy

    February 8, 2012 at 5:33 PM

    I would go with number two or three, just because I think you don't see enough beading on 1920s costumes in general. Three would have a good balance of beading above and below.

  • Erin T./Emelote of Calais

    February 8, 2012 at 5:35 PM

    I have to say it…I LOVE #2…but #3 is also very nice. I love fringe, and it is so part of the 20s. Good luck on deciding what you want to do!

  • MrsC (Maryanne)

    February 8, 2012 at 6:37 PM

    I love the last one. It is different, entirely authentic, classy, and uses most of the original dress too ๐Ÿ™‚

    • KittyKatt

      February 12, 2012 at 3:28 AM

      I have to agree. Chainette fringe, if done right (as in your example photo) is okay, but is usually overdone as a choice for many 20s costumes. It kind of screams: "I couldn't afford a proper beaded dress, and my pattern came from the pattern books at the fabric store, and I'm doing a musical of Guys and Dolls at my local community theater." Your mileage may, of course, vary.

  • Anonymous

    February 8, 2012 at 8:28 PM

    I think I like #1 the best, #2 is nice too, especially with the sparkly beaded fabric on the top. The curvy waist thing on #3 looks a bit odd but I like the panels.

  • Kizzandra

    February 8, 2012 at 9:20 PM

    Love the 3 – spot on for period, good use of recycled fabric which means you can splurge on beads and all that handwork will really personalize.

    On the downside, it is not as fast as the others. End of march is really quite close.

    If you have to go for one of the others for speed then I like 2. I take your point about cliche, and raise you an Iconic. Even the mundanes will recognise your 20's verve.

    Don't like 1 at all.

    • Lauren R

      February 9, 2012 at 12:46 AM

      You have a very good point there. May my disinclination towards fringe has to do with the strong inclination in the 1960s for fringe, and also that every Halloween Flapper Costume out there has fringe on it. It would have to be done just right ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Creative Kiwi

    February 8, 2012 at 10:42 PM

    I would chose the third example but with a sheer(chiffon)underskirt in a pale Beige or Pink at the dropped waist. The paneling reads more 20's than the other two examples (in my opinion)

  • Debbie @ VintageDancer.com

    February 8, 2012 at 10:59 PM

    #1 would be awesome with the right fabric (which I am sure you can find.) If you do #3 we'll almost be twins (that's my same Leluxe dress ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Lauren R

      February 9, 2012 at 12:45 AM

      I LOVE your LeLuxe. I wish I had one. The panels are so cool! Don't worry, you will always eclipse my humble hand-made version ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Anonymous

    February 9, 2012 at 12:41 AM

    #2 would look best if you incorporated gold/silver into the lower two-thirds of the dress. Having the color just at the top makes it look out of place and too heavy. The period beaded gowns I've handled incorporate the beading over the entire gown, and if there's more than one color, it is used throughout.

  • Lauren R

    February 9, 2012 at 12:44 AM

    Tough call! So far, #3 is in the lead, but not by much. I do like the paneling on it, although it will require more hand work. … time to go shopping!

  • Carol

    February 9, 2012 at 1:10 AM

    I love #3…it will move as you move, not hang there like a curtain! I've done costume pieces with this kind of skirt and they turn out really well, although mine were not fancy, nor beaded. Be sure to let us see what you do!

  • Beth

    February 9, 2012 at 3:27 AM

    The fringe would work so long as you don't use cheap stuff, do layer it close together, and do the scallops/zig-zags. Cheap fringe widely spaced in straight lines is what looks like Halloween.

    That said, #1 is my favorite. I'm imagining the skirt from the Callot Soeurs dress on that version.

  • Steph

    February 9, 2012 at 4:53 PM

    I'd go with your third option, definitely. The beaded skirt tabs scream flapper, but they're less typical than fringe. Sharon's Robe de Style idea is spectacular! They're such a unique 20s style, and there were so many ways to create the panniers and use them in the design.

  • Maternity Evening Wear

    February 10, 2012 at 9:52 AM

    Superb dresses shared here. I like all of them. All are of latest fashion and very comfortable. I am highly obliged to be here by getting it.


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