Well, most flapper styles don’t look like this. “The basic flapper style is quite short, with the upper torso covered in a black cotton jacket with the sleeves rolled up,” says Robert B. Smith, professor of history at the Boston University Graduate School of Journalism. “The sleeves can be rolled down over one’s hands or down an arm, but the sleeve length is very tight and only partially covers the wrists at the back. The front of the front of the jacket is very wide, usually about 4 to 5 times as high as the back. It’s usually unbuttoned and tucked into a pocket. Many flappers, myself included, think it makes a beautiful change to cut a black jacket.”
The jacket is usually made of thick, heavy, cotton, which is stiffer than the lighter flapper materials used by men like Billie Holiday. In addition, it tends not to fray. “The flapper jacket also has a lot of pockets,” says Smith. “The buttons can be fastened to the inside of the coat, or there’s a flap hanging there so you can put things in there. The sleeves are usually a little bit narrower than a normal coat, so that they can be left unbuttoned and buttoned down. If you are wearing a flapper jacket when you get wet, the material will still be water-resistant, so you can really pull up into it and go swimming or just walk around without having to worry about getting wet.”
The sleeves are usually open at the back and have buttons on either side. “When you wear a flapper, your hands get wet, which makes the leather in the jacket scratchy and slippery,” says Smith. “However, when you are dry you can just brush it away with a cotton swab.” In the summer, you can often just pull the arms up and hang them in the flapper-cut sleeves for a summery breeze. Because flappers are open-fronted, a button on the back of the jacket could easily snag when you pull your hair back, or when your chin is pressed against a cold window.
The flapper look has its share of misconceptions, but I think it’s safe to say it’s here to stay. After all, the idea of wearing that flap around your waist and letting air blow through the collar to create a sense of coolness seems to have permeated our zeitgeist, from the latest fashion trends to our favorite musicians performing on their knees while their hands
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