Flamboyant Fashion

Shwetha Arun Devotta shares her 1920’s party experience at the ‘1920’s Jazz Age Party’, along the East River in New York. She talks fashion, fun and a little bit of dancing too!

Living in one of “Fashion Capitals” of the world, well has its perks! It was a pleasant summer day and after a day of planning and preparing, we were ready to conquer the world of flapper dresses and plaid bow-ties. A pre-anniversary celebration planned, it had all the elements of– song, dance, performances and good food. The ride reaching the party along the choppy waters of the East River was a fun ride, especially after the hour long wait just to get on the ferry!

From the looks of it not a lot of people were in character and the feeling that maybe we were overdressed came to mind. Those thoughts were instantly thrown away the moment we stepped on the ferry. Flapper dresses, Oh-so-chic hats, silk gloves, delicate lace dresses, multi-stranded pearl necklaces and bracelets for the women and bow-ties, hats, suspenders, cropped pants and boat shoes for men dominated the 1920’s scene; on the rustic “East River Ferry”.

In less than ten minutes the ferry docked at the island. And there we had it, as far as our eyes could see, there were people lined up from the edge of the water all the way up to the hill winding their way to the grounds where all the action was taking place. This is when we realized that we were indeed going to be part of something spectacular.

As we moved through the long lines at snail’s pace, we were treated to some totally outrageous to simply elegant 20’s style. The styles that particularly caught my attention were the “Parasols” or as we call it the Umbrella’s used back then. With my little knowledge of the era these vintage umbrellas were a fashion statement as much as they were a sign of a sophisticated young lady, who did not have to work outdoors like the other commoners. With their lacy gloves, shoes and stockings always matched carrying those dainty parasols, they sure painted a pretty perfect picture!

Fun, flirtatious and fashion forward, these parasol’s/umbrellas added a pop to this “1920’s Jazz Age Party”. We finally arrived at the arena one can say, with tons of people surrounding the classic musician’s band, complete with their typical circular mikes from the era; as they struck a beautiful chord with everyone in the audience swooning to their music. This was followed by a jazz performance by “The Dreamland Follies –with Gregory Moore”. As we stood there watching the women draped in golden layers from head to toe, swaying and dancing gracefully to the not-so-familiar but very fun music of the 1920’s – it felt like we had hopped on a time-machine back to the era.

Once the performances were done, it was time for us to shake a jazz-leg! At first, although being familiar to dance ourselves, the style  and the footwork had us overwhelmed. After watching from the side lines for a bit, we felt confident to go kick some butt!! As the first jazz note hit, our feet were tapping, kicking and jumping. The footwork in this dance form was fun, from simple twisting of your feet to lazy kicking to the rhythm and quick kicking with forward and backward kicks along with tapping the feet – it was challenging I must say.

We danced away to the fast paced music and I noticed this 80-something old cute couple dancing right beside us. It brought me such joy to see their enthusiasm as they tip-toed around the dance floor, doing turns and kicks with grace and ease. As we stepped out of the dance floor, my eyes fell straight on the vintage stores which had their collections on display. From pretty hats, vintage buckles, brooches and pins (which were a big rage among women then), lace gloves, classic bow-ties, flapper dresses (of course) there was a lot to see!

I myself  did not opt for a flapper dress, but went for something flowing, which I had picked at a vintage boutique and paired it with the quintessential string of pearls and contrasted the pale brown dress with a navy blue hat that had a little bow and a blue clutch (not so 20’s but its OK!). The one touch I added was with my eye-makeup, which was perfected to the typical 1920’s look, thanks to Youtube, all round black on the eyelid, a dull brown shimmer close to the brow and dark lips to finish off. My better half went for the suit with a bow-tie look – simple, yet smart!

But all good things come to an end, and so did this fun-filled 1920’s jazz party – which was perfectly set against the historic backdrop of “Governors Island” – a testimony to the life on the island back in the 1800’s, complete with its vast green expanses, little pathways and vintage houses, all reminiscent of an era gone by.

We bid adieu and set off on our ferry back to Manhattan, with memories to cherish!

Learn more about Shwetha Arun Devotta.

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About Shruti Bharath

Social entrepreneur and developmental writer, passionate about creating workable solutions in the areas of improving employability of youth and women through skill enhancement/training and generation of productive and sustainable employment opportunities.

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