Gatsby dresses in Philly
September 19, 2013 10:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to a Gatsby-themed party next week! I have nothing to wear, nor any idea where to get it. I'm in Philly. Where can I get (affordable) 20's themed women's clothing for the party? I'm thinking flapper dress, shoes, accessories. I can go to the suburbs if needed, but would prefer to do my shopping in the city.
posted by DoubleLune to Shopping (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Buffalo Exchange?
posted by angrycat at 10:57 AM on September 19, 2013

As a last resort you could just wear all green and go as the green light across the bay.
posted by elizardbits at 10:57 AM on September 19, 2013 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Old reliable Macys has some pretty nice stuff that will be wearable in other situations.

Navy Dress

A purple-frilly number is fun.

This black one is spicy.

T-Strap shoes are a good choice.

A High Heeled Mary Jane would also work.

Get a sparkly beaded clutch, or satin, or velvet. Go to Claires or Charming Charlies for a head wrap. While there, get a rope of long fake pearls.

Now you're in business!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:04 AM on September 19, 2013

Best answer: I think you'll wind up spending too much if you look for "a flapper dress." Instead, I'd look for a very simple shift dress, something without a defined waist that you'd normally belt. The really important parts of this look are the long string of pearls and the cloche hat and/or little turban.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:08 AM on September 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

for a costumed trip to the movie, we ordered an ivory halter shift dress from forever 21 for my daughter. Layered chiffon. it was maybe 20.00, i doubt they still have it, but it is worth a look. you can easily accessorize from claires and the like.
posted by domino at 12:19 PM on September 19, 2013

Seconding Buffalo Exchange. I know they've had Halloween costumes out for at least a weekend or two so there's a good chance they have something 20s-themed in that section.
posted by Oliva Porphyria at 12:21 PM on September 19, 2013

Check for a "20s Flapper" fringe dress in a Halloween costume shop. My gogo troupe wears a version of this that isn't too boob-tastic (and so maybe a little more period accurate)-- probably more likely to find it at a more permanent costume shop, rather than a pop-up. Actually, searching for "Charades Fashion Flapper" will show you the one I mean.

The pop-ups will likely have a few "sexy" versions of this look if that works for you.
posted by travertina at 12:33 PM on September 19, 2013

Buffalo Exchange is a great idea, but you could try Retrospect on South Street, or the Philly Aids Thrift, or one of the few vintage places on either side of that. Retrospect is very affordable for a vintage shop and might be particularly good to get a couple cool accessories to spruce up a more general-purpose dress.
posted by ootandaboot at 8:44 PM on September 19, 2013

You could give this place a call and see if they have Gatsby era rentals: D&J. Of maybe this joint: Masquerade
posted by WeekendJen at 6:40 AM on September 20, 2013

What you're looking for is a cocktail dress either "shift" or "drop waist" style. If you buy it in black you'll be able to get more wear out of it than just the one time. Add, as noted above, a long string of false pearls and medium high-heeled pumps or Mary Janes and you can be a "chic" Gatsby guest.

The narrow decorative band across the forehead a lot of people associate with the 1920s is actually from about a decade earlier. 1920s hair styles mostly didn't use a lot of ornaments: maybe a jeweled barrette or, if the hair was worn in a chignon, jeweled combs.

YouTube includes a number of 1920s makeup tutorials.
posted by La Cieca at 10:30 PM on September 20, 2013

FWIW, I was just listening to a great interview with the historian and author, Sarah Churchwell, whose recently published Careless People concerns itself with the precise historical details of Gatsby.

TL;DR: In 1922 (when Gatsby was set) dresses were actually quite long, and the Charleston was about three years from being a thing. Our image of Gatsby's jazz age is very much influenced by film representations, which have been almost universally inaccurate, in favor of a later, more iconic look.

Probably best not to let this influence your costume—why be the nerd in the punch bowl?—but it could be great conversational material.
posted by mumkin at 1:14 AM on September 22, 2013

Response by poster: I ended up getting a dress at Macy's, pearls at a costume jewelry store across the street from Retrospect, and gloves and a boa from Amazon. Did 20's nails, makeup, and hair, and the party was a blast!
posted by DoubleLune at 3:42 PM on October 3, 2013

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