Paul, my NYE date, and I are goofing off trying on funny hats. We don’t have our 1920s outfits yet!
By Shelley Widhalm
I love New Year’s Eve for the ultimate fun factor—and the flashback to 1920s wild parties.
The night is all about frivolity, but then the next day, three months of the big holiday pileup is essentially over until Valentine’s Day. In the meantime, January can be a bit depressing with cold, snowy, short days that have to be slogged through to get to spring and baby animals.
Luckily, January is introduced with a big party night. I’m showing up as a flapper in a feather headpiece, elbow gloves and … yes, sparkly jewelry.
Oh-h, a Gala!
My date and I are going to the 19th White Rose Gala, a Roaring 20s Great Gatsby NYE Party, at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House in Denver. I haven’t gone to a fancy, expensive party, ever, so I’m super stoked to stay up past my usual 10 p.m. bedtime curfew.
For this curfew-bending outing, my date rented a 1920s tux, and I’m wearing a little black ruffle dress, pearls I already had and sparkly dangling earrings, all that match photos I found online of Great Gatsby accessories.
I “edited” my outfit to fit the decade, sans cigarette holder, since I hate cigarettes (the smoke interferes with breathing and crap) and holding things, especially for hours on end, unless it’s some cute guy’s hand or a drink, preferably rum and Coke.
Here’s a Bit of History
The 20s were known for Prohibition, riotous spending, flourishing arts, jazz music, speakeasies and nightclubs, along with a sudden change in clothing. Women went from tight corsets and floor-length hemlines to the loose glam of the flapper dress. Shorter hems allowed for easier movement, and accents like strings of pearls and tassels showed off dance moves. Men, too, opted for stripes, bold colors, suspenders, vests and less formalwear when they hit the town.
Hemlines rose from the ground to the knees (scandalous! Plus, miniskirts won’t even appear until the 1960s!). Hair went short—women showed off their bobs with rounded felt hats and headbands embellished with feathers, sequins and jewels. And makeup became smoky, dark and daring.
Here’s Something Personal
Flappers dressed for wild nights out. I, too, love partying, though I’m buttoned-up and disciplined about writing, editing and work. I used to be a party girl during college and after until I went to grad school, when I had so much homework to do, I had to focus on that or not get my perfectionist-chasing straight As.
I partied some while building my career, but to a lesser extent. With all the worry about success, I never let loose like the convention-defying flappers, instead doing what I was supposed to. I think that’s why NYE is so riotous—you can escape the boundaries of responsibility to ascertain your real energy. Mine’s a bit wild. Though if you met me, you’d probably think I was nice, a nerd and quiet.