In the early 1920s, things changed rapidly, the 19th Amendment passed in 1920 giving women the right to vote.
Women began attending college. The Equal Rights Amendment was proposed by Alice Paul in 1923.
World War I was over and men wanted their jobs back.
Women, though, who had joined the workforce while the men were at war, had tasted the possibility of life beyond homemaking and weren’t ready to relinquish their jobs.
Prohibition was underway with the passing of the 18th Amendment in 1919 and speakeasies were plentiful if you knew where to look. Motion pictures got sound, color and talking sequences.
The Charleston’s popularity contributed to a nationwide dance craze. Every day, more women got behind the wheels of cars. And prosperity abounded.
All these factors—freedoms experienced from working outside the home, a push for equal rights, greater mobility, technological innovation and disposable income—exposed people to new places, ideas and ways of living.
Particularly for women, personal fulfilment and independence became priorities—a more modern, carefree spirit where anything seemed possible.
Delphine Atger, 1920s
The embodiment of that 1920s free spirit was the flapper, who was viewed disdainfully by an older generation as wild, boisterous and disgraceful.
While this older generation was clucking its tongue, the younger one was busy reinventing itself, and creating the flapper lifestyle we now know today.
It was an age when, in 1927, 10-year-old Mildred Unger danced the Charleston on the wing of an airplane in the air (see above).
What drove that carefree recklessness?
For the most authentic descriptions that not only define the flapper aesthetic, but also describe the lifestyle, we turn to flappers themselves.