The Bee's Knees: The Lingo of Flapper Fashion

By Lisa

April 12th, 2011

Picture, if you will, a Roaring Twenties nightclub, a live jazz band in full swing, everyone dressed to the nines. A young woman stands by the pillar in a sleek little black dress, her hair in Louise Brooks bob, her slender arms piled with bangles. She smokes through a quellazaire, while checking her makeup with a jeweled compact. What’s going through her mind? Well she might be dodging a “corn shredder,” an “alarm clock,” and a “dewdropper,” or looking for a little “feathers” or a “blow” (not what you’d think), or hoping a “highjohn” or “umbrella” will fetch her a “lap.”

Come again? Thanks to Pennsylvania book peddler Jim Lewin, we can now translate the lost lingo of the Art Deco era. Our pals at Boing Boing alerted us his post on the “Flappers’ Dictionary,” an article he discovered in a stack of ’20s “Flapper” magazines. Take a look, and you’ll be talking like a “biscuit” in no time.

Leave a Comment or Ask a Question

If you want to identify an item, try posting it in our Show & Tell gallery.