Read Alert: Fords, Flappers & Fanatics

I’m very much looking forward to DFW this weekend. It’s the excitement of so many events, seeing a huge production come together, looking forward to summer–it’s all of those things. But more than anything, I can’t wait to watch the 1920s Circus show. Vintage inspired? I’m there. And I’m particularly excited to see how Denver’s top local designers dazzle us with an era so famous for its fashion.

In preparation (and in a desperate attempt to decide what to wear myself?!) I’m rereading a fun little book that I read a few years ago: The Twenties: Fords, Flappers & Fanatics, a collection of essays edited by George E. Mowry that looks at all the novelty and popular culture of the Roarin’ Twenties.

So often the ’20s are portrayed as a senseless rampage of a decade, wrought with booze, sex, and crazy clothes. And while that may all be true, and while certainly the era was wild, fun, and free, what I like about Mowry’s book is that he answers some of the “Why?” It’s an easy read, but a history lesson, setting the stage with religion, economics, movies and radio, strange trends, Prohibition, racism, and international heroes–all the legs on which our perception of the ’20s stands.

It’s nearly comical that what we boil down to beaded dresses, cloche hats, kitten heels, and bobbed hair is actually the culmination of a million new ideas, of free spirits blazing forth, and of a significant change in America’s seemingly pretty conservative society. Really, the ’20s allowed us the freedom to be who we are today.

And that’s not to play lightly on fashion’s role in the matter either. Because it is the calling card of such a boisterous and effective generation, it’s instrumental in its own right. It’s the definition of who they were; and as such, Saturday’s show is to honor those who went before us. It’s our take on a powerful movement and what it means to society today.


Sarah Ann Noel is a freelance writer, blogger, and public relations professional. She blogs “Read Alert” every week and covers other Denver-related events and thoughts on writing and motherhood on her personal blog. Check back every week for reviews, literary events, and other bookish finds.

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