When the skirt hems began to rise in the Twenties, it was widely understood that the vision of a woman's leg was a rare treat for both man and boy; a spectacle that had not been enjoyed since the days of Adam (married men excluded). The flappers certainly knew this, and they generally believed that suffering the dizzying enthusiasm of the male of the species was a small price to pay in order to secure some element of liberty. The flappers liked their hem-lengths just where they were and, thank you very much, they were not about to drop them.
Attached are some verses by an anonymous flapper who expressed her reaction regarding all that undeserved male attention her knees were generating.
"Will Paris succeed in imposing long skirts on the flappers of America?"
"Not if most of them have their way! When Paris started the short skirt fad and America eagerly aped it, the dressmakers figured that it would probably run its course and then die a sudden death. But no! For American flappers may be fickle but they know a good thing when they see it. And they intend to hang on to it."
Click here to read about another icon of the Twenties: Rudolph Valentino.
Originally writing for the FORREST PARK REVIEW, Flapper advocate Myrtle Heilman (1895 - 1973) opined that the Flapper was the one and only topic of the day worth thinking about:
"Analyze her dress. It's the most sensible thing since Eve. She wears rolled socks and why shouldn't she? They are extremely cool and comfortable. Her toddle pumps are fairly low-heeled and she doesn't try to squeeze into a Cinderella. Her skirts are short because it's the fashion. Her bobbed hair is cool, sensible and sanitary. There is a twinkle in her eye and she has a saucy cock-sureness. And why shouldn't she?"
"She does respect her parents and she obeys them, just as well as her grandmother did hers, but she has common sense and she knows when it's time to use her own judgment and exercise her own authority".
The deans who presided over LITERARY DIGEST made this article their lead piece, so urgent was the sensation that an onslaught of vengeful modernist women, so fleet of foot and irreverently unhampered by hanging hems and confining corsets, were approaching their New York offices as their first act in disassembling the patriarchy. Their article begins innocently enough, asking the question:
"Is 'the old-fashioned girl,' with all that she stands for in sweetness, modesty and innocence, in danger of becoming extinct?"
•Suggested Reading• Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang
In the attached column, a high-spirited editorial writer hails the Flapper Revolution and singles out Paris fashion designer Paul Poiret (1879 - 1944) for being so out of step with the women of his day for continuing to design long dresses:
"When flappers rise en masse and say that they can see no reason for giving up a style that means comfort, freedom and health, then indeed, out of this welter of strikes, injunctions and warfare may be seen a glimmer of hope for mankind."
"M. Poiret, designer of Paris, has seen fit to take up the cudgels on behalf of the long skirt, and therefore he cannot object if the shafts of ridicule are hurled at him in return..."