The popularity of drinking cocktails started in 1920s America when prohibition resulted in the available alcohol being of such poor quality that the taste had to be drowned with fruit and mixers. Early evening cocktail soirees and parties became the craze and the ‘Cocktail Hour’ was born.

The fashionable modern women would wear a sheath dress with a matching hat, shoes and gloves (although the hat was removed once inside and the hostess never wore gloves). This early evening dress was the first cocktail dress, although the term would not be used until in the late 1940s when Christian Dior came up with the name.

The 1920s cocktail dresses were embellished with beads, fringing or lace and you can create a similar look, as ’20s Vintage glamour is again the Bees’ Knees!

Main picture: Sleeveless navy georgette dress by Joanna Hope. Beading on front and back and layer scallop edges. Length just below the knee.

This style of tiered layering is a great way of hiding the tummy and hip area whilst still keeping a slim silhouette. But is it also good for broader shoulders or a full bust as the layers balance the bottom with the top half.

Fabric: polyester. Price from £95.00 to £113. Worn with Joanna Hope Diamante midnight blue sandals. Price £40.

Both available from

They say ‘Blondes have more Fun’ – Brunettes and Redheads: there is no need to change your hair colour, just wear this Blonde Fringe Lace Dress from Phase Eight

Again the fringing is a great way of hiding the tummy.

Fabric: 96% viscose 4% elastane. Price: was £140, sale price now £73.50.

Dress up with a dusty pink flapper head band and a pair of nude Mary Janes.

Headband from Freedom at Topshop. Price £14. or 0127 784 4476

Head over Heels Meg in nude patent with black side corsage. Also available in black fabric with grey side corsage. Price was £49 now £29.50.

Flapper-style cocktail dresses were usually sleeveless but for those of you who prefer to keep the tops of your arms covered, this star embellished dress by Next is ideal. The fabric does not cling so also is good for hiding any lumps or bumps making it a star of a dress!

Fabric: 100% polyester. Price £115.

For a more sultry look go for Silk and Sawdust’s tighter fit midi-length Clara dress with black deco style lace over blue polyester satin.

Details: Wide lace straps, bust gathering detail, slim fit, side zip and back slit. Price £139.

Team with blue faux fur stole. Price £27.

Another popular style was the drop waist – superb for dancing the Charleston. The drop waist brings attention to the hip area away from the tummy or top, so is great for women with broader shoulders or fuller bust and slim hips.

Sleeveless dress with lattice embroidery and beads worn here with stone shrug.

Dress: 100% viscose. Price £325.
Shrug: 70% angora 30% nylon. Price £105.

Both available from

The straight or drop waist styles are not so good for the pear-shaped woman.

Here Miss Selfridge has an empire line nodding to the ’20s with its beading and handkerchief hemline. Price £100.

Miss Selfridge

And don’t forget to accessorize with lots of long beaded necklaces!



Karen Grace studied Personal Styling at the London College of Fashion and is a registered affiliate member of the Federation of Image Professionals International. You can read more of Karen’s fashion advice at:

For personal shopping and styling services you can reach her via frumpy to funky on and 07787 800 390.

Allison is the Publisher of Eclipse Magazine. She loves going to the Races and is learning to bet (despite being officially the worst bettor in the History of the Universe), there's a lot more to learn...

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