Silent-ology’s Handy Tips For (Accurate) Roaring Twenties Halloween Costumes

It being That Time of the Year, this article (one of my most popular!) deserves a reblog. Toss those goofy headpieces with the one long feather, consider a ’20s suit that ISN’T pinstriped, and take a look!


So you want to dress up as a flapper or a Prohibition-era gangster for Halloween!! (Don’t we all, at some point?) And you probably already have some visions in mind–a fringed dress paired with a feather boa, a pinstripe suit and white tie–something along those lines.

Related image Don’t worry, even Hollywood with all its millions couldn’t get it right.

If you visit your nearest Halloween store, fringe and white ties are the only options you’ll find. Now, if that’s what you really want to wear, it’s your funer–I mean, it’s up to you. It’s okay, I will only judge you in the privacy of my mind (and only a little harshly). But if you want an authentic look that draws inspiration from the many real styles of the Jazz Age, then boy oh boy have I got some handy tips for you!! 

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15 thoughts on “Silent-ology’s Handy Tips For (Accurate) Roaring Twenties Halloween Costumes

  1. Other 20s essential accessories are: powder compact with obligatory puff, garter holding up the little lay’s rolled stockings with tucked in whiskey flask, and along cigarette holder. Or, alternatively, ala Norma Desmond, a cigarette holder clipped to the 2nd finger clasping said cigarette.

    Or copy what Marilyn did in 1958 – dress up like Clara Bow in a knee length red fringed dress, purse your pouty little lips, and with one hand hold a bottle of fizzing champagne and try to make contact with the champagne glass held precariously in the other hand.

    • The DiCaprio film did more than get the costumes wrong. The film failed to show why Fitzgerald’s novel is THE great novel of the 20s. A novel that succeeded in explaining this “lost” generation to itself. A film audience 9 decades removed from this period cannot but fail to understand why Gatsby is a tragic figure. One leaves the theatre (or dvd) bored and wondering why the producers spent all the money they did to make this glitzy empty film.

      • It definitely tried “updating” the book too much. To me the worst of all was the use of modern music. “B-BUT-BUT JAZZ WAS LIKE THE RAP OF ITS DAY, THIS MAKES THE YOUNG FOLKS GET IT.” Um, no. People Charlestoning to Fergie just looks awkward.

        The 1920s is basically a character in the book.

        • There was one (ONLY one) part where the modern music wasn’t too grating: an Amy Winehouse song that was sung/arranged in a 1920s style. That actually kind of worked for me. Why didn’t they do that for the other songs?? That could’ve been passable at least.

    • Yup, agreed, the gals all looked either 1930s or some vague idea of Louise Brooks. The cast did a great job (well, except for the interpretation of Daisy) but it’s not my favorite Luhrmann film, the CGI and camera swoops didn’t really fit IMO, neither did using modern music that time around.

      • I enjoyed DiCaprio’s Gatsby (a lot of people romanticize the character too much in film versions IMO, whereas DiCaprio at least got that the character is a blend of the romantic and the unsavory) and thought Toby Macguire was a decent Nick. But yeah– it’s weird how the movie itself “gets” its source not much at all. To be honest, Romeo + Juliet was a better adaptation– I feel like that one at least got what the play was about and Luhrmann used creative imagery (the religious symbols, water) to bring out the play’s themes.

        • A sympathetic Daisy! I can see Norma Shearer telling Mayer to order the script writers to make Daisy likeable or else. But THIS Daisy is no Shearer with an image to protect, so WHY did the producers choose to not put the REAL Daisy on the screen? Irritating to see Gatsby and Daisy presented as a great love gone awry. People who have read the book are disappointed, while those who have not read the book, and won’t be inspired to do so after seeing this film, exit the theatre grumbling about having wasted their time and money on gas and the high price of popcorn and cokes and milk duds.

          A great film rendering of a great novel is the Magnificent Ambersons. Luhrmann can learn a thing or 2 about making a film to screen adaptation from Welles.

  2. Maybe, since this is a website devoted to silent films, a discussion of the novel, The Great Gatsby, while it is the quintessential story of the 20s, is not appropriate. Not sure, so I’ll continue.

    Nitrateglow has brought up the PROBLEM of Daisy in the 2013 film adaptation. And rightly so. The scriptwriters have not given us the Daisy that Fitzgerald created. Luhrmann has erased the point that Fitzgerald was making about this time in America. Gatsby’s infatuation with Daisy, the teenager he fell in love with just before WWI, was not worthy of his adoration, just as the 20s, a period of chasing after wealth and social position, was not a worthy or attainable goal. After the war, after Gatsby had become wealthy and could court Daisy and win her away from her husband, he didn’t see that the real Daisy and his idealized illusion of Daisy were in conflict. He died believing that he and Daisy would soon be together, his dream come true. In this sense, the novel has a happy ending.

    Am still awaiting a film maker to tackle The Great Gatsby and bring Fitzgerald’s GREAT novel to the screen.

    • Perhaps Luhrmann felt the need to make her sympathetic because he was seeing this too much as a tragic love story and not as the commentary on the Jazz Age that it actually is. It ties back into the film’s inability to actually engage with the 1920s– we have to have modern music, modern fashions, modern everything, which just strips away Fitzgerald’s themes. Yes, Gatsby is a story with ideas that still resonate now (if it didn’t, it wouldn’t be a classic), but it’s all mired in its own era and the filmmakers should have respected that. They only seemed to view the period as an obstacle.

      • Astute analysis. Has Luhrmann been asked by an interviewer WHY he chose to remake Fitzgerald’s novel and omit almost entirely what it is that makes the novel so compelling? Doomed love stories are a staple of Hollywood – sentimental 5-hanky tearjerkers. This adaptation shows disrespect to its audience, assuming apparently that mush is what they want. And maybe too the money men will not put their dollars into a big budget film that goes outside the formula. Here’s hoping another director takes a shot at bringing this story to the screen because, as you point out, the IDEAS in the novel are still relevant today. Understanding Gatsby is ever so helpful to understanding ourselves.

  3. The novel was published in April 1925. A Broadway production directed by George Cukor opened Feb1926. Paramount bought the film rights and its film was released in Nov 1926 starring Rudy and Gloria. Correction: the stars were Warner Baxter and Lois Wilson. While all the Paramount films of Rudy and Gloria exist, nothing remains of the first film version of The Great Gatsby but a 1 minute trailer. From what I can see in the trailer, it got the fashions right, but the story is missing. Lostmediawiki said: “The film’s director Herbert Brenon designed The Great Gatsby as a lightweight, popular entertainment, playing up the party scenes at Gatsby’s mansion and emphasizing their scandalous elements.” With the limitations of silents, dependent on title cards to tell the story. it’s understandable that Brenon would choose this approach in bringing a popular novel to the screen. Almost 90 years later, now with the ability to bring out the nuances in the novel, Luhrmann’s version did the same as Brenon’s, EXCEPT he got the fashions wrong.

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