1920’s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz AgeThe iconic image of the woman of the 1920s is the flapper. A photo of a tall thin woman in a drop waist shift dress and a cloche hat instantly identifies the era. However, just as fashion of the 1960s covered far more territory than bell bottom jeans and tie dye T-shirts, fashion of the Jazz Age was about more than being a flapper.

 

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

Two lovely ladies in full figure fashions

If a woman looking for plus size clothing in the 1920s wanted to wear the latest fashions from Paris she was going to be out of luck, although she was not alone. American women considered “average” in size felt a bit neglected by the Parisian fashion designers, too. Still, that did not mean that women needing plus size clothing were shut out of the fashion world.  Vogue said, “surely the makers of the mode do not expect all women whose waist-lines measure more than 34 inches to retire to one of those communities where the genial garment known as the Mother Hubbard is the last word in dress.”

1920’s  Plus Size Clothing Industry

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

1925 Lane Bryant Catalogg

When Lane Bryant opened its doors in the early 1900s, the term for its clientele was “stout. ” Whatever term they used, their business model was a success because by 1916, their sales were over $1 million a year. The fact that the founder, Lena Himmelstein Bryant, and her husband, Albert Malsin, bothered to take the time to actually research body sizes no doubt helped the company’s success. Lane Bryant did not simply want to make clothes in larger sizes. It wanted to make clothes that helped larger women look and feel thier best. In their stores and catalogs they also made maternity clothing utilizing similar design principals.

Department stores and mail order catalog companies caught on to the plus size garment industry quickly. Offerings included dresses, coats, lingerie, corsets, hats, and shoes. Each style was designed to flatter her body type.

Charles Williams 1926 catalog describes this dress:

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

1926 Plus Size Silk Satin Dress

“The circular flare has proven itself very becoming to the stout woman. Slender lines are achieved on this ALL Silk Satin-Faced Canton Frock. The narrow panel set in with fagotting down the front is of contrasting color. The collar and long tie string at the front are very smart and effective. There is a half belt of self-materiel, which ties at the back. The Tiny glass buttons on the panel down the front add a smart finish. Stout sizes 38 1/2 to 54 1/2 inch bust. Navy, Brown, Black. $10.98″

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz AgeIn some ways, the style of the era actually created more plus size options. A woman could wear a straight evening gown that dropped straight to the floor, perhaps with an uneven hem, and be fashionable while still camouflaging her build. Wide, bell-shaped sleeves with fluting, buttons, or unusual shaped cuffs provided interest. Deep V backs elongated the body, as did longer, flared skirts. Tall women wore blouses with attached capes that started just under the shoulder blades, paired with a long skirt. Tulle capes were flattering and great for adding a touch of youthfulness.

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

Mother and daughter in full 20’s finery flattering to thier shape

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

Woman in a drop waist dress with pleated skirt sides.

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

Crochet dress overlayed on a slip

Women in search of plus sizes also benefited from the popularity in sportswear. A big appeal to this clothing was that it came in colors other than black or navy blue. Manufacturers rarely created plus size clothing in bright colors (only in the past few years has that trend begun to change.) Other casual clothing that was popular was loose, unbuttoned cardigan sweaters worn with a long skirt. Stockings and shoes matched to avoid drawing attention to the ankle.

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

Sports Wear

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

1928 Hat for Fuller Faces

Of course, the emphasis on plus size clothing was concealment and to that end, fabrics were “quiet.” No swishing satin or ruffling taffeta. No high shine fabrics that glistened under bright light. That did leave a wide range of other fabrics, though, including crepe de chine, crepe romain, jersey, and twills. Hats were not too large and not too small with perhaps a drooping brim.

 

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

Enid Stamp Taylor, 1924, Actress and Plus Size Flapper

It seems that regardless of the decade and a woman’s frame, finding clothing that is both fashionable and flattering can sometimes be a challenge. However, the clothing industry made important strides in the 1920s in acknowledging that women come in all sizes and shapes. The fact is that most women were not flappers but that did not mean that they were relegated to the sidelines when it came to the fashion and fun of the roaring 20s.

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

Beautiful! Fringe bottom dress with lace center accent.

Plus Size 1920’s Fashions Today

I hear over and over again “twenties clothing does not look good on my curvy figure.” This is really a shame because when dressed in the right 20’s clothes, “stout” women look amazing. For example take Cherie S. posing in a beautiful 1920’s reproduction dress from Unique Vintage:

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

Cherie S. shows us how to dress well in 1920’s clothing

Cherie chose a straight fitting beaded dress worn with a long scarf coat that came to mid shin. Both the long beads on the dress and fringe on the coat create vertical lines that are very 20’s and very slimming. Well done Cherie! You look amazing (and congrats on your wedding.)

Here is another example. Last summer I helped my sister in law, Tricia, find a thrift store costume for the Great Gatsby Festival in Lake Tahoe. We started with a black 60’s velvet shift dress, added a matching velvet evening jacket, cute beaded purse, scarf for a headband, Mary Jane shoes, and simple long gold necklace. We were both really happy with the final outfit. Based on pictures of 20’s plus size catalog dresses this is pretty darn accurate and quite flattering.

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

Gatsby Costume

There are many tips women were given the 1920’s to choose the right clothing based on your figure as well as hair color, face shape, height and age.  I put all these tips in the free 1920’s Fashion or Your Body Type ebook. I just finished revising it with even more information and about 40 new pictures of 20’s clothing. It should help you pick an outfit that is the most flattering.

 

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

1920’s Fashion for Your Body Type V2
Click to Download now

Click to Download a PDF copy of the 1920’s Fashion for Your Body Type

Shopping Guide:

 

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age

1920’s Plus Size Flapper Dress at Macys.com

1920’s plus size reproduction dresses and inspired dresses are plentiful this year. After looking at the dresses here use the menu on the left to add shoes, stocking, hats, headbands and shawls.

1920’s One Hour Dress and Pretty Frocks ebooks are both excellent 20’s patterns adapted to your own measurements.

Sewing patterns- many in plus sizes. See the BIG list of 20’s patterns. 

More 1920s style plus size dresses for sale:

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1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

SL Fashions Plus Size Dress and Jacket, Sleeveless Tiered Sequin

$129.00

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Floral 2-Piece 1920s Style Tea Dress in Womens Sizes

$14.99

Buy at: AmeriMark

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Unique Vintage Plus Size Green & Silver Embroidered Somerset Flapper Dress

$398.00

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1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Soulmates Dress D1106

$440.00

Buy at: TJ Formal

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Plus Sleeveless Contrast Gown

$160.30

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Soulmates Women's Hand Crochet Dress

$114.99

Buy at: Overstock.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Komarov Charmeuse Dress & Chiffon Jacket (Plus Size)

$424.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Plus-Size Beaded Cocktail Dress With Godet Skirt

$209.00

Buy at: Lord & Taylor

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Unique Vintage Ivory & Rose Elegant 1920s Flapper Dress

$198.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Bead Arrow Cascade Jacket Dress

$223.00

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

J Kara Beaded Mock Two Piece Chiffon Gown (Plus)

$188.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Iridescent Chiffon Bead Trim Dress

$213.00

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1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Adrianna Papell Beaded Mesh Gown (Plus Size)

$198.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Beaded Sequin Long Sleeve Dress

$213.00

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Jkara Plus Beaded Flutter-Sleeved Dress

$209.00

Buy at: Lord & Taylor

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Patra Plus Size Sleeveless Pleated Gown and Jacket

$219.00

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Soulmates Ribbon Silk Dress & Jacket (Plus Size)

$528.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

J Kara Beaded Mock Two-Piece Gown (Plus)

$208.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Jkara Plus Beaded Three-Quarter Sleeved Gown

$171.69

Buy at: Lord & Taylor

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Jkara Plus Plus Size - Beaded Evening Dress With Jacket

$259.00

Buy at: Lord & Taylor

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Navy Brilliant Beaded Dress

$358.00

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Fully Beaded Cocktail Dress

$328.00

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

J Kara Embellished Chiffon Gown & Jacket (Plus)

$298.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Black Embellished Dress

$34.99

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1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Lead Sultry Sequins Gown

$310.00

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1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Alex Evenings Plus Size Sequin Lace Dress and Jacket

$148.99

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Navy Sweetheart Beaded Dress

$418.00

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Charcoal Sultry Sequins Gown

$310.00

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Soulmates 3-Piece Silk Crochet Skirt Set (Plus)

$498.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Deco Dreamscape Dress Catherines Women's Size 1X,2X,3X,0X, Jade Isle

$89.00

Buy at: Catherines

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

J Kara Plus Sequin Gown and Bolero Jacket Two-Piece Set

$259.00

Buy at: Lord & Taylor

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Black Beaded Cocktail Dress

$328.00

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Alex Evenings Plus Plus Sequined Lace Sheath Dress With Jacket

$141.69

Buy at: Lord & Taylor

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

R & M Richards Plus Size Sequin Lace 2-piece Navy Jacket Dress

$76.99

Buy at: Overstock.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Komarov Sleeveless Satin Dress & Chiffon Jacket (Plus Size)

$424.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Trendy Triple Tiered Skirt

$89.00

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Black Sequin Dress

$36.99

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Antique Rose Brilliant Beaded Dress

$328.00

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Angel Lace Jacket Dress Catherines Women's Size 1X,2X,3X,0X, Light Beige

$178.00

Buy at: Catherines

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Shimmer Glitz Jacket Dress Catherines Women's Size 18W,20W,22W,24W,26W, Black, Seed Pearl

$158.00

Buy at: Catherines

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Beaded Silk Dress With Jacket

$280.00

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Bead Arrow Cascade Jacket Dress

$243.00

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Soulmates Dress C8080

$360.00

Buy at: TJ Formal

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

1920s Style Black & White Fringe Flapper Dress

$74.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Navy Beaded Set

$139.00

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Caviar Beaded Gown Catherines Women's Size 20W, Jewel Blue

$178.00

Buy at: Catherines

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Plus Size Three-Quarter-Sleeve Beaded Gown

$155.99

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Patra Plus Size Illusion Beaded Tiered Dress

$179.00

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Plus Size Three-Quarter-Sleeve Beaded Gown

$152.99

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Patra Plus Size Bead-Trim Tiered Dress

$84.50

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Adrianna Papell Illusion Yoke Long Beaded Gown (Plus Size)

$360.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Silk Chiffon Beaded Jacket Dress

$250.00

Buy at: Bluegala.com and alight.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Shimmer Glitz Jacket Dress Catherines Women's Size 22W, Seed Pearl

$158.00

Buy at: Catherines

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Unique Vintage Plus Size Ivory & Silver Beaded Fringe Fitzgerald Flapper Dress

$282.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size Angel Lace Jacket Dress Catherines Women's Size 1X, Light Beige

$178.00

Buy at: Catherines

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size L'Amour Dress Catherines Women's Size 16W,18W, Mariner Navy

$178.00

Buy at: Catherines

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Plus Size All Angles Dress Catherines Women's Size 2X, Dark Khaki

$89.00

Buy at: Catherines

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Chaps Polka-Dot Georgette Maxi Dress - Women's Plus

$50.00

Buy at: Kohls Department Stores Inc

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Adrianna Papell Beaded V-Neck Gown (Plus Size)

$318.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Patra Plus Size Short-Sleeve Tiered Dress

$109.00

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Komarov Embellished Chiffon & Charmeuse Jacket Dress (Plus Size)

$424.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Alex Evenings Plus Size Sequined Lace Dress

$159.00

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Patra Plus Metallic Lace Dress and Jacket

$219.00

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Plus Size Embellished Drop-Waist Dress

$209.00

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Patra Plus Size Kimono-Sleeve Beaded Dress

$229.00

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Patra Plus Size Short-Sleeve Tiered Dress

$109.00

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

R & M Richards Plus Size Sleeveless Glitter Shift and Jacket

$129.00

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Alex Evenings Plus Sequined Lace Jacket & Dress Set

$189.00

Buy at: Lord & Taylor

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Erin Fetherston Faye Mesh Floret Shift Dress

$265.00

Buy at: Lord & Taylor

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Phoebe Couture Beaded Sequined Shift Dress

$399.00

Buy at: Lord & Taylor

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

J Laxmi Women's Plus Size Black Beaded V-Neck Flutter Dress

$140.99

Buy at: Overstock.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Crochet Lace Maxi Dress

£39.00

Buy at: Anna Scholz Ltd

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Unique Vintage 1920s Style Emerald Green Beaded Sinclair Flapper Dress

$310.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Royal Silver & Black Beaded Babbit Flapper Dress

$296.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Unique Vintage Nude & Silver Beaded Fringe Fitzgerald Flapper Dress

$148.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Classic 1920s Style Black Fringe Flapper Dress

$74.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Sequin Skirt Dress

$269.99

Buy at: MANGO

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Komarov Charmeuse Dress & Chiffon Jacket (Plus Size)

$444.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Sequin Fit & Flare Dress (Plus Size)

$178.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Beaded V-Neck Gown & Jacket (Plus Size)

$236.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Beaded Lace V-Neck Gown (Plus Size)

$218.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Beaded Chiffon Gown (Plus Size)

$198.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Plus Size Three-Quarter-Sleeve Beaded Gown

$209.00

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Plus Size Embellished Cowl-Back Sheath

$209.00

Buy at: macys.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

J Kara Beaded Dress & Sheer Jacket (Plus Size)

$238.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

J Kara Beaded V-Neck Cocktail Dress (Plus Size)

$208.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Adrianna Papell Beaded Sheath Dress (Plus Size)

$289.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

J Kara Beaded Flutter Sleeve Chiffon Dress (Plus Size)

$218.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

1920s Style Aqua Fringe Flapper Dress

$74.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

1920s Style Purple Fringe Flapper Dress

$74.00

Buy at: UniqueVintage

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Beaded Illusion Yoke Gown (Plus Size)

$236.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Beaded Drop Waist Dress (Plus Size)

$236.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Embellished Mesh Dress (Plus Size)

$236.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Beaded Lace Sheath Dress (Plus Size)

$198.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Pisarro Nights Beaded Bateau Neck Shift Dress (Plus Size)

$198.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

Adrianna Papell Beaded Illusion Gown (Plus Size)

$335.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

J Kara Beaded Godet Dress (Plus Size)

$244.00

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

J Kara Beaded Godet Dress (Plus Size)

$146.30

Buy at: NORDSTROM.com

1920s Plus Size Fashion in the Jazz Age
 

J Kara Plus Embellished Kimono Dress

$229.00

Buy at: Lord & Taylor

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About Debbie Sessions

Debbie Sessions is passionate about wearing history through fashion. She and her husband, Oscar, have turned their hobby into a career by teaching others how to re-create vintage style with affordable new vintage inspired clothing and accessories. We connect shoppers to the best vintage inspired clothing, shoes and accessories and teach fashion history as it was worn by everyday people. Need more help? Contact us anytime.

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