Bring on the Sequins: We’re Ready to Dress for the Roaring Twenties 2.0
“Now I understand why everyone wore sequins and feathers and party dresses everywhere in the 1920s.”
I’ve read (and reread) multiple versions of this refrain on Twitter for months as people begin to prepare for the “after” times. It’s been more than a year since we began quarantining in our homes, and with COVID-19 vaccines becoming more readily available to larger groups of people, we’re all counting down the days until we can once again emerge from our living rooms and safely venture almost anywhere that isn’t a grocery store or a doctor’s office. And, based on our surprisingly flamboyant new shopping habits and the sheer volume of Roaring Twenties-theme tweets, it looks like our re-entry into society is going to be a spectacularly glamorous one.
According to the global shopping platform Lyst, searches for bold colors and pieces that feel special or outside the ordinary have been steadily rising since the start of 2021. Summer metallics, cut-out knitwear, mixed prints, chunky chain jewelry, hot pink and bright yellow, sparkly bras, corsets and puff-sleeve tops (thank you, Bridgerton), strong suiting, the return of evening gloves—all these eye-catching, “look at me” trends are topping our collective shopping wish-lists, and we imagine there will be even more funky fashion soon to follow. In much the same way that the 1920s saw a rise in celebratory aesthetics through jazz, Art Deco and flapper styles after enduring the hardships of World War I and the Spanish Flu, the imminent arrival of a post-COVID era has us primed to break out the good stuff and celebrate life—even if that means simply being able to hang out at a friend’s house sans mask.
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve put on makeup and pulled together a cute outfit in the past 12 months, and every single time it was an absolute thrill. I’ve always loved fashion, but getting properly dressed this year felt like an entirely new experience—if I was going to go through all the trouble to leave my house to eat dinner on a New York City sidewalk in 40-degree weather, you better believe I was going to look good doing it. Ok, not just good: Special. Notable. Impressively chic. In the past, that may have meant pulling on tailored minimalist separates, but with so few opportunities to step out it now feels like a waste to slip on a black cashmere knit, even if it is the most expensive piece in my closet. I should be celebrating! Bring on the color! There needs to be shine, and glamour and glitz! And this is exactly how I intend to approach dressing in the months to come, whether it’s for a day at the office (is it weird to say I can’t wait for those!?), casual Sunday brunch with friends or date-night drinks at my local bar. And I’m not the only one.
In the past two weeks my sister has sent me links to multiple strapless party jumpsuits, asking if I thought they were good purchases. When I inquired where exactly she planned to wear a gold sequin one-piece or a shimmery floral number, she replied, “idk, dinner? Who cares? I’ll find an occasion.” And I don’t doubt she will. Friends Cristina C., in Colorado, and Dena S., in NYC, both mentioned wanting to add more color to their wardrobes in 2021. “I’m all about the two C’s right now: comfort and color! If it’s bright green or yellow or tie-dye, I want it,” says Cristina. And despite numerous think-pieces published early in quarantine about the death of high-heels, Dena is suddenly stocking up again. “My walkable heel collection for spring is really growing, in a major way. I hope I have at least a few occasions to wear them out-out, but if not, my future trips to the coffee shop will be rather stylish outings.”
Just as jazz-era flappers a century ago dared to chop their hair into sleek bobs and pile on the makeup, women nowadays are willing, eager even, to take more fashion-related risks. Chelsea C. says, “During quarantine, I was having a difficult relationship with my body. I always have. But post-pandemic, I’m hoping I can dive into clothes that have been deemed ‘not fit’ for women with curves, big boobs, big butts, and so on. I want to wear skirts and body con dresses. Maybe even a corset or two. I actually want to put effort into wearing trends and getting rid of the thought in my mind that I can’t wear it because of [insert self-conscious worry here].” In fact, Chelsea plans to put this self-affirming experiment to the test in a few weeks, when her birthday rolls around. “I have a two-piece set that I never thought I would wear, but I’m now feeling pretty pumped about it. I just tried it on, and I felt super confident in it. I’m also looking at thigh-high boots…maybe even a pair of heels (!).”
Look, we know the 1920s wasn’t all gilded, sequined goodness—we’re looking at you, prohibition drama—but the images that have come to define the Art Deco era are ones of jubilant excess. Overall, it’s a decade that’s been remembered as a time of prosperity and happiness. Women in particular started to gain more autonomy, seizing more control over their finances, breaking with the strict rules of their elders, owning their sexuality, and even winning the right to vote. Our collective desire to wear bright colors, heels and statement jewelry all reflect the hope that, 100 years later, we’re entering into yet another boundary-pushing, history-defining period. There are many, many things we can learn from our year in isolation, one of which is the importance of not getting lost in the daily hustle and remembering to appreciate and embrace the time we spend with our loved ones. Experiences that we took for granted before 2019—chilling at a coffee shop, hopping on a plane to visit friends across the country or the globe, going to the theater to catch a movie, a play or a concert—now bring us the same level of excitement as a coveted party invitation. And, so, we plan to dress like 2021 is a party.
If you want to sport sequins for a picnic, do it. If you’re all about the statement jewelry, we say more is more. Pile on the bright pink, or mix cherry red with violet purple. Wear a bikini. Rock that backless dress (no matter your cup size) or try an outfit of head-to-toe daisies. In the spirit of the Roaring Twenties Round Two, we encourage you to embrace the fact that fashion is about to get a whole lot louder. And, damn, it is going to be fun.