Ladies' and Gentlmen's Evening Dress
for the early 1920s
Early 1920s Evening Dress
The following images are provided as an overview of fashions of the early 1920s, to aid in the creation of an early 1920s evening ensemble.
A page of fancy dress costume is also included for those who wish to wear a period halloween costume to the ball.
The illustrations here are arranged chronologically, and show the evolution of styles
throughout the decade. from 1912 to 1919.
Full length white gloves would complete the outfit splendidly. Shoes in a color to match or
compliment the gown, with a medium height heel of 1½-2 inches, such as Capezio character shoes are
comfortable for Ragtime dancing. Hair should be worn up and was usually dressed with decorative
headbands, ornaments, or feathers.
While travelling to the Ball one might wish to wear a cocoon coat or fanciful evening wrap. An
example is shown balow. One from 1919, in pink patterned
brocade has white fur or velvet trim, behind it are a red satin cloak with black fur trim and a
royal blue cape with brown fur trim. Capes in rich satins (see color plate at the top of the page), brocade or velvet are also an easy and
An old evening dress from your closet or local thrift store may well capture the spirit of
the dresses of this period - if not as they stand, then perhaps with a small amount of
modification such as adding a draped outer skirt.
Past Patterns has several 1920s reproduction patterns (for the experienced seamstress)
in their Vintage Revivals pattern line.
Please feel free to contact
for further information
or advice. One can also visit
Vintage Victorian's Costume links page for more resources
Men's Evening Wear of the Jazz Age
Gentlemen's evening dress of this era is fairly
similar to modern formal wear consisting of a black tail coat or tuxedo jacket. White formal shirts
can have wing tip collars; vests and bow ties should be either white or black (cummerbunds are not
appropriate). White gloves add the final touch of formality for ballroom wear. Flexible soled shoes
such as Capezio black jazz oxfords are quite suitable for dancing.
We have illustrated here a tailcoat suit from 1920 with white waistcoat and white tie, with top
hat, white gloves and cane. Also a tuxedo suit, also from 1920, with black waistcoat and tie. The
Tuxedo is a more informal alternative to the tailcoat. Below is a scene from 1919 with a new style
of double breasted dinner jacket (described as being a new style fashionable for young men in 1919),
a more traditional single breasted tuxedo jacket and a formal tailcoat (swallowtail) suit. White
waistcoast would generally be worn with tailcoats and black with tuxedo jackets in this period. The
seated lady is wearing a very simple lightweight silk dancing dress.
As in the nineteenth century, the function of men's dress is to provide a
setting that will allow the ladies to show off their own gowns all the more
brilliantly. A gentleman wearing a plain dark suit can be confident that the
details of his dress will pretty much escape notice and that he therefore need
not be overly concerned with the matter.