The Fashion of the Jazz Age Lawn Party


Over the weekend, I attended the Jazz Age Lawn Party at Governors Island. It was a mega trip back in time, with the island transformed into a multi-stage extravaganza with 1920s-era music that reminded me of the last two minutes of The Shining.

I knew it was a themed event, but because this was my first time, I did not know how seriously the concert-goers took the clothing. I was blown away by the flapper fashions — and I wasn’t the only one.

I spotted the NYT’s Bill Cunningham — the most legendary street style photographer of all time — snapping away by the dance floor. It was, by far, my most exciting celebrity sighting of all time. He so clearly loves his job and clothes, and he was grinning ear-to-ear, despite the 90+ degree heat.

Fashion celebrity sighting of the century: Bill Cunningham!
Fashion celebrity sighting of the century: Bill Cunningham!

I’ll be sharing my outfit in tomorrow’s post. But for today’s post, I took a page from Cunningham’s book and snapped photos of the outfits that I found particularly inspiring.

Here are the top 3 trends from the August 2015 Jazz Age Lawn Party.

1. Intricate, Delicate Dresses

When I think flapper, I think of those ubiquitous fringed Halloween costumes. But at the lawn party, the concert-goers took great pains to steer clear of polyester costumes, opting for vintage beaded or embroidered gowns with sumptuous details. I was awestruck — I never wear dresses to outdoor picnic events because I think they’re uncomfortable to sit in. But this was revelatory.

Charming quartet.
A feather wig (yes, really!), and red sheer dress.
Gunmetal gray lace.

2. Floral Headpieces

Flower crowns have been on the festival circuit for years, but it was nice to be reminded that their predecessors were much more elaborate and formal.

This headpiece, constructed of feathers and flowers, was such a showstopper.
Cherry-orchid headband.
Gauzy white florals with pearls and feather fan.

3. Quirky Accessories

The 1920s were such a visual feast for the eyes, and the weekend attendees fully channeled those little details.

Red shoes and printed stockings.
Parasol and kimono-style jacket.
Parasol and kimono-style jacket.
Cage veil and bright red lips.
Cage veil and bright red lips.
I know this poodle purse is more 50s and 20s, but it's so cute.
I know this poodle purse is more 50s than 20s, but it’s so cute.
  • Diane in Manhattan

    I was there that weekend and many of the attendees were dressed inappropriately. Not only were most people wearing styles that were incorrect for the time period (for example, too-short skirts and spike heels), but many people were dressed in evening wear. I saw a lot of men wearing wool. For a daytime picnic in August – in NYC! It was ridiculous. Those beaded dresses of poly or silk had to have been uncomfortable for picnicking. The temperature reached over 100 degrees that day. I sure was glad I wore my historically accurate cotton eyelet day dress (which I made) that kept me cool.