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Flapper Inspiration From the Novel, The Chaperone

The Chaperone  is the charmingly fictionalized retelling of the early life of 1920s starlet Louise Brooks. It’s the summer of 1922, and sixteen-year-old Brooks is about to leave her hometown of Wichita, Kansas, to begin her rise to fame. Cora Carlisle, a one-time New York City orphan who has conquered Wichita’s high society by marrying a well-respected lawyer, looks after Louise during a month-long trip back to the city. While Louise takes daily dance classes, thirty-six-year-old Cora uses the sabbatical from her privileged Midwestern life to launch some covert detective work she hopes will answer lingering questions about her grim childhood.


Unsurprisingly, amidst all the scheming and dreaming, this flapper novel delivers some fine fashion.

In an age where a certain artist who-is-so-often-named-that-we-don’t-have-to-name-her-here thinks nothing of wearing fishnets under ass-baring meat dresses, it’s hard to imagine an era where a day at the beach meant a bathing suit that included a cape, hat and hosiery. Similarly, the season’s most daring dresses attached unstructured ankle-grazing skirts to boxy, roomy smock tops. (A few clicks through 1920s clothing catalog images, and all the ladylike modesty troublesome Louise put herself up against is immediately apparent.)

Some of you may find sartorial inspiration in The Chaperone’s speakeasy starlet, while others may prefer to replicate her foil’s more reserved look. In either case, we’ve got you covered, as they say! There’s no shortage of flapper-inspired options for this summer (fringe!), but the slouching hemlines and blousy silhouettes are recast in bold colors, glistening beads, gauzy cap sleeves and sexy spaghetti straps. You’ll get all of demureness and sophistication—but without quite so much fabric.

Buy Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone, $17.80, on Amazon.com.

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