While being a “flapper” was in many ways an attitude – a new liberalism – the cost of being a well-dressed flapper didn’t come cheap. This article from 1926 claims a person could furnish a three-bedroom flat for the same cost of buying the accompanying outfit, modelled by quintessential flapper girl Clara Bow.

Read over the piece and you’ll see that the appeal of quality garments that are sophisticated in their minimalism (“simplicity is one of the most expensive effects a designer can achieve,” says the article) hasn’t changed. The price tag, however, has.

In 1926 Clara Bow’s outfit cost $346.50. So what does that equate to now? And what would it cost to be a “well-dressed flapper” today?

what it cost to be a flapper in 1926

In 1926 $346.50 was a considerable amount of money: adjusted for inflation, Clara Bow’s outfit would cost $4,498.92 in 2012.

To give a better idea to our audience in Europe and the UK, it was (in 1920s exchange rates) around £78.41 – the equivalent today of £3,748.00.

So what if we wanted to be a well-dressed flapper girl now, with “chic and deceptively simple garments” made by today’s designer labels? In Clara’s day a pair of shoes didn’t seem to break the bank, but now it’s our leather accessories that are often our biggest investment pieces (genuine pearls are still a big ticket item). Hence the below outfit, counting all items at their full price, comes in at a total of £7,124.35 – or just over $11,000 USD.

modern day flapper outfit

Red Valentino wool blend coat, £755; Gucci silk-georgette blouse, £765; Lanvin wool-felt skirt, £1,365; Stella McCartney wool-felt cloche hat, £185; Miu Miu lizard-trimmed clutch, £1,065; Wolford sheer stockings, £15; Gucci metallic leather and suede sandals, £585; Mikimoto graduated Akoya pearl necklace, £2389.35.

Obviously this is just one example of an outfit representing a classically chic look from desirable labels – it’s not the cheapest selection, but then it’s not the most expensive either. What it does prove is that being a well-dressed flapper in 2012 can easily cost twice as much as it did in 1926.

1926 image via Retronaut.

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