The release of Baz Luhrmannâs Gatsby movie, set in the Roaring Twenties, has reignited interest in this glamorous era of gangsters, molls, jazz, dancing and parties parties parties.
In the 20s there was always an excuse for a party and you can capture the essence of this feeling of flighty freedom at your own twenties themed party.
The twenties were also referred to as the âJazz Ageâ and the soundtrack to your 20s party has to include the tunes to get your guests up on the floor doing the Charleston, Tango, Foxtrot and Waltz.
Think fun, frivolity, dancing and a little bit of danger, get your flapper wigs and spatsÂ on and follow our guide to 20s themed fancy dress.
What to wear
When it comes to choosing what to wear at your twenties party, remember that it was a time when girls were girls and boys were boys. Women dressed in flirty flapper dresses , their hair in neat bobs or waves, wearing cute little shoes made for dancing.Â The men were elegant and dapper, rocking a zoot suit , hair slicked back, spiv tash at the ready.
20s themed fancy dress
The Great Gatsby
Parties, glamour and excess run through the iconic book and the Gatsby movie, which sums up the danger and decadence of the era. Modern designers have taken up the glamorous Gatsby mantle â all slinky flapper dresses and jewelled headdresses.
You can get the Gatsby girlÂ look for a fraction of the designer price label â our slinky Gatsby Girl costume , topped with a jaunty Charleston headband , embodies the sophisticated but flirty look. Add a sleek 1920s bob wig , a feathered boa and a sexy garter , slipping a tiny gun in there to add your own dark and dangerous secret to your look.
If youâre dressing up as the Great Gatsby himself, you can recreate the power and glamour of the enigmatic tycoon with a sophisticated pinstripe suit . Sling a white tasselled scarf around your neck and revive the 20s look with a seriously dirty martini and a flapper girl on each arm.
Gangsters and molls at the speakeasy
Prohibition in the twenties made the manufacture, import and sale of beer, wine and hard liquor illegal. So what did people do when they wanted a drink and a dance? They went to a speakeasy of course.Â And no real speakeasyâs to speak of unless itâs full of gangsters and molls. Signpost your guests to the action with a glitzy Speakeasy sign.
Speakeasies were the birthplace of infamous gangsters including Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, and Bugs Moran. Invite your guests to come dressed as gangsters and molls. Give it a twist by getting the women to come as the gangsters and the men as the molls!
Al Capone was the archetypal American gangster and head of a crime syndicate called The Chicago Outfit.Â Smuggling and bootlegging liquor was a serious business, and they had the serious suits to go with it.
Act like a crime heavyweight in a hefty fat cat costume or get suited and spat-booted in a sharp double breasted chalkstripe suit . This get-up instantly becomes gangster with the artful addition of a white tasselled scarf. Add some white spatsÂ to shoes so shiny you can see your pencil-thin moustache in them, an Al Capone hat tipped at just the right angle so your victims canât see the whites of your eyes as you approach, and bring the whole dangerous look together with a gangster gun .
Molls wonât be messed with either â you might look like a doll but tuck a gun into your garter under your elegant flapper dress and accessorise with a sequinned cigarette holder and a sweet smile and those philandering gangsters wonât know whatâs hit them.
Dress up as Roxie Hart or Velma Kelly, the glamorous but deadly murderesses whose story is told in the musical Chicago. Think fringed flapper dresses , a wig of glossy waves , fishnets and killer heels.
Donât forget to dress your venue too â you might not have Chicagoâs skyline silhouetted in your kitchen window, but the next best thing is some great silhouettes of instantly recognisable 20s images.
Pick out a trumpet blowing musician, pinstriped mobster, flapper girl, Tommy gun and the classic Lincoln Coupe styled gangster carÂ in shadow on your walls and bring the 20s to life in your 21st century living room.
by Peter Walker