Ask Laia: How Do I Pull Off The Great Gatsby Vibe Without Looking Too Costume-y?

Birthday girl Kelly wants to dress up like it's the Roaring Twenties, but she doesn't want to look dated.
Publish date:
June 3, 2011
ask laia, 1920s, great gatsby, style inspiration

Hi Laia-

My bday is coming up and a small group of friends and I are doing this really fun Great Gatsby boat tour on Long Island. Obviously, we want to dress up. But I don't want to be costume-y -- I just want to be Roaring Twenties-inspired! I might play around with costume-y faux pearls or feathered headbands, but in terms of actual clothes I am at a loss! Any ideas? Keep in mind it will be daytime, hot, and breezy on the water.



Thanks for sending in such a fun question Kelly! I understand what you mean about wanting to look the part without looking like it's Halloween. Even though a mention of the '20s immediately brings to mind flappers, there was so much more to this time than fringed dresses! This is the time when women were liberated from the corset and in turn liberated in their life as well. The silhouette was loose and straight, and the waist line dropped to the hip (aka a drop waist). This helped create a more boyish line that was all the rage.

The classic 1920's look, slightly androgynous and devoid of all curves.

What does that mean for your party attire? Probably something along the lines of an easy shift dress with a drop waist. It's a style that always makes an appearance during the spring and summer months, so now you have an excuse to get yourself a cute new dress! I found these three that I really liked.

ASOS Revive Drop Waist Pin Tuck Dress $62.78, ASOS; Eci Chiffon Drop Waist Dress $138, Nordstrom; Drop Waist Ruffled Dress $99, Rachel Roy.

All these dresses should find plenty of wear in your life post-birthday celebrations. The subtle sheer detail in the ASOS dress has just the right amount of sex appeal for a daytime affair. And I love the graphic prints on the bodice of the Eci dress. But Rachel Roy's linen and cotton mustard-green dress is my favorite contender. It has a slight "early Chanel sportswear" vibe (which is very appropriate).

Sonia Rykiel Glittered Mary Jane Pumps $196.50, The Outnet; ALL BLACK Jazz Kitten Mary Jane Pump $59.13, Endless.

On your feet any low- to mid-heel will do, but a Mary Jane would be just the way to complete your look. The ALL BLACK shoe is the most retro, but I think the Sonia Rykiel glitter pumps are SO much more birthday appropriate. I mean they're GLITTERED!

In the end, just keep your silhouette loose and on the longer side and you'll catch the right vibe. You should definitely get those glitter shoes though, I'm kinda obsessed! Have a blast at your birthday!

Do you have do you have something in your closet that you don't know how to wear? Email