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Who doesn’t love a good 20s themed party? I know I do! The people in attendance are always dressed sharply. Men and women in elegance really are sights to behold.
The problem is that while there are just so many ways to dress up and look good for women, the same can’t really be said for men. Some just opt for the usual 3-piece suit.
If you’re looking to up your game at your next Gatsby-themed party, read on! These outfit ideas are sure to make you stand out, even in a crowd of well-dressed people.
The History of Gatsby
The 1920s were known for sophistication and elegance. When you think of the 20s, your mind automatically goes to rich and wealthy people socializing in glamorous outfits. Don’t fret, though! The outfits in question aren’t incredibly expensive and will surely make you look great.
Gatsby is known to be a self-made, powerful man. He’s the story of the American Dream, building himself up out of nothing. Because of this, 20s parties seem to move towards sophistication and richness as part of the theme. Women are in beautiful flapper dresses and men can be seen in their three-piece suits.
I personally love attending 20s parties because they throw you back in time! The general atmosphere really makes it feel like the era it was set in. Everyone looked great in the 20s, right? A 20s themed party never fails to amaze and entice people. The music is so great as well.
Excited to find out your options for your next 20s themed party? Keep on scrolling and find inspiration here!
Of course, who better to go to a Gatsby party than as Gatsby himself? His iconic looks feature a three-piece suit and a cane. He’s probably the best choice for men, and there are good reasons for that too! He’s charming, well-educated, and self-made. He is the life of the party and you can never go wrong with a classic gatsby look.
Do you prefer something less flashy? Try wearing his tuxedo outfit! Typically worn during his evening parties, the tuxedo is a classic way to be sophisticated without being too flashy and bold. A tuxedo is a great and simple way to impress your friends at your next Gatsby party.
Nick Carraway is the cousin of Gatsby’s love interest in the story. He is a World War II veteran and became a bond salesman in New York. He’s also the narrator of the story! Nick Carraway is charismatic and bold, being wary of Gatsby’s intentions for his cousin and keeping a close eye on him throughout the story.
Nick’s character is important in the story. He’s the opposite of Gatsby, being born into privilege and maintaining that as he grows up. The development of Carraway’s story is incredibly interesting and gives you a different side of the 20s culture!
Nick Carraway’s style
He dresses well, reflecting his privileged background. When he was invited to one of Gatsby’s great parties, he immediately blended well with the crowd. His outfit is made up of earthy tones that are highlighted with gold accents.
Nick Carraway’s style is a great choice to follow for your next 20s party! It looks great, fits in with the theme, and is a good option if you don’t want to go as Gatsby himself.
1920s Newboy Costumes
A newsie is a newsboy that delivered newspapers to people in the 20s. Back when social media didn’t exist, these newsboys would bike around town and bring the news to every house. Whenever you would hear someone yelling “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” when enjoying your breakfast, that meant a newsie was biking around your neighborhood.
Nowadays, people get the news electronically. With news being available digitally on news stations and social media, people don’t need physical newspapers anymore. However, that doesn’t mean the fashion of newsies has died! It’s a great option to consider if you want to stand out at your next 20s party.
The newsie style is simple and comfortable, yet fits perfectly into the 20s theme. A ¾ sleeve polo, matched with short pants and a vest is a great way to imitate this style.
Complete the outfit with a shoulder sack and fill it up with newspapers and you’re good to go!
For accessories, wear brown leather ankle boots and a newsboy cap to perfect that newsie image. Wearing the right colors together is sure to make it look like you’re an actual newsie from 1920! This is a great outfit choice if you want to be comfortable while partying with your friends.
1920s Boaters Costumes
Boating was all the rage in the 20s. It was a symbol of wealth, power, and influence. If you were able to afford your own boat, chances are you belonged to the elite. Boaters were invited to the classiest of parties, mingling with some of the most influential people in the 20s. In the Great Gatsby, many boaters were invited to Gatsby’s parties and socialized with him.
The boater outfit is also associated with barbers! Whenever you think of a barbershop quartet, you always picture them in colorful, striped blazers and boater hats. They were a huge part of the music industry in the 20s as well. Anyone wearing the boater style was considered to be a significant part of the 20s history.
The Boater Style
As mentioned above, the boater outfit is usually made of colorful pieces put together fashionably.
A striped blazer paired with a white button-up is typically the way to go when looking to be a boater at the party. This style is sophisticated and classy and can rival even Gatsby’s sense of style.
Complete your outfit by accessorizing! Pair this outfit with a walking cane, a classic boater hat, and a bow tie, and you’ll be ready to impress your friends at the party. Experiment with multiple color combinations to add a modern twist to the costume as well! You can never go wrong with a classic boater look.
It wasn’t all just fun and parties in the 20s too. Gangs and mafia bosses ran rampant in that decade, establishing power and influence all over the country.
The classic gangster look is meant to give you the feeling of being a mafia boss and is a perfect way to catch the eye of everyone in attendance.
When we think of gangs, we think of hoodlums sticking to an oath made to their superiors. In the 20s, this was not the case. Gangsters had so much influence and control in their cities that everyone both admired and feared them. As a result, many gangsters were invited to the Gatsby parties.
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If you want to have the same sophistication and powerful aura that they had, consider wearing a gangster outfit to your next 20s party.
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The gangster style was a reflection of their influence. They wore double-breasted suits with padded shoulders to accent the authority they had.
They also wore fashionable fedora hats and had a monochromatic look to their outfits. Usually seen wearing a full white pinstriped suit, gangsters were as fashionable as they were fearsome.
To complete your gangster look, match it with a fake tommy gun and a fake cigar (or a real one if you prefer).
While they didn’t really show their guns out in the open in the 20s, bringing a fake tommy gun along is sure to push the message of being a gangster when you’re at the party.
The full white suit is also enhanced with the addition of a solid black tie. Wrap it all up with a classic fedora, and you’ll be good to go!
No 20s outfit is complete without some accessories! The suits that men wore in the 20s were improved and elevated with the addition of accessories that showed their wealth and influence.
Here are some accessories to consider when you want to dress up for the 20s.
These suspenders were all the rage in the 20s! They were fashionable, comfortable to wear, and helped keep your clothes in place. Suspenders are a great accent piece to add dimension to your 20s costume. Suspenders were usually worn by boaters and newsies to keep their pants from sagging. This is a great way to stay true to the era where your outfit came from!
Bow Ties and Neckties
If you choose to wear a suit, make sure you have a bow tie or a necktie to complete your outfit. These give contrast to the suit and make it feel even more sophisticated than it already is. Choose a solid color that doesn’t clash with your suit, and you’ll be looking dapper already.
While we already have smartphones to tell us time, the gentlemen of the 20s usually kept a pocket watch handy. This is a great way to stay true to the 20s theme while also improving your costume.
Gatsby, Carraway, and the gangsters all had pocket watches of their own, so it would be a great addition to your outfit as well.
Some costumes just look great with a hat added into the mix. They can make you look like you have a sense of style while completing your 20s outfit!
If you’re going as a newsie, choose a newsboy hat that sticks to the general color scheme of your outfit. News boys wore this hat to protect them from heat and it has become an unmistakable part of the outfit they wore.
Going as a boater? Wear the classic boater’s hat to complete your look. Boaters wore these hats to protect their eyes from the sun while also adding a bit of flair into their outfits. Choosing the right boater’s hat is easy since you only need to match it with your outfit.
If you’re going as a gangster, a fedora is your best bet. These fedoras gave gangsters an air of mystery and intimidation, and will surely round out your suit.
If you want to add a bit more flair, consider buying a fedora with feathers in them for that extra push.
Shoes were less complicated in the 20s. Men usually paired their suits with either black or brown leather dress shoes.
These shoes highlighted their suits more and made everything look more put together. Lighter colored suits should be paired with brown dress shoes, while darker colored ones go best with black.
For those going for the newsie outfit, a leather ankle boot is also a good option. They are comfortable yet still fashionable and formal. Boaters also wore brown boots or dress shoes, depending on what they were wearing at the time.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How should I style my hair for a 20s party?
A: Men usually wore their hair neat and slicked back. Their hair was coiffed and kept in place with gel, giving it a neat and shiny look. The sides were usually kept neat and short as well. For facial hair, shave off or trim your beard but keep your mustache in place. A lot of men had mustaches in the 20s and it adds to the appeal as well.
Q: What other accessories should I keep in mind? Do I need to have a lot?
A: Not at all! Accessories are only there to enhance the overall look, but having one or two is enough to make you look great. Consider bringing a walking cane as well to fully embody the 20s look
Q: What’s the general dress code for 20s parties?
A: 20s parties were strictly formal, which means no jeans and t-shirt allowed. If you don’t have access to costumes made for 20s parties, a crisp and clean suit will do. Just make sure you look great and you’re comfortable and you’ll be good to go.
The 20s was a time of style and sophistication, and Gatsby’s parties were no exception. These style ideas are a great way to stay true to that image and will surely make you stand out at the party!
Written by Kerry Wisby – GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Owner & Founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com
Kerry Wisby, a former teacher with a BA in English, is the founder of GatsbyFlapperGirl.com. With a passion for all things 1920s, including The Great Gatsby novel, her website is the ultimate source for Roaring Twenties fashion, history, and party ideas. Read more about Kerry here.