That really was the Cat’s meow!

The twenties brought about a massive change for young women. Women began working outside their homes and socialising with the opposite sex unsupervised. They challenged and discarded the roles of their Victorian parents and their devotion to religion, hard work and plain-living for personal choice, laissez-faire attitude and outlandish life-style. These young women were known as flappers.

Two Flappers Dancing atop Chicago Hotel1920s dancerPearl sisters

The flappers were seen as brash women with no morals. They wore what was considered short skirts (they showed their knees and calves – shock horror?!), listened to jazz music and spoke freely about sex. They also wore excessive make-up, cut their hair short or bobbed it – as some said, drank alchohol and drove automobiles.

Flappers were also known for their impeccable style. The dresses won by the flappers were straight and loose with no definition to the waistline unlike their predecessors with their corsets and hooped skirts. They also wore heels that were 2 to 3 inches high and loose-fitting lingerie such as step-ins.

What it cost to be a flapper?The Flapper - The Saturday Evening Post

The Saturday Evening Post: Feb. 4, 1922

The media was not kind to the flapper girl branding them pleasure-loving, reckless and a depiction of what was flippant with young people in the society. I’m not sure they cared what society thought and if they did, they didn’t show it. Famous writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was a celebrity at the time along with his flapper wife Zelda, popularised this lifestyle through their work. His novel, The Great Gatsby depicted a character named Jay Gatsby, a mysterious millionaire who threw regular extravagant parties for all his flapper friends.

Along with music and fashion, flappers also needed some new slang words as an addition to their evolving lifestyle. Here are 10 of my favourite yet somewhat cringe-worthy (if used today) slang words from the 1920’s:

*Bank’s closed – definition: no kissing or making out – as in “Sorry mister, this bank’s closed!”
*Cash or cheque – definition: kiss now or kiss me later – as in “Thanks for a swell night! Do you wanna cash or cheque?”
*Cat’s Meow – definition: something or someone highly sought-after – as in “Wow, that car really was the cat’s meow!”
*Chassis – dentition: a woman’s body – as in “That doll had the best chassis I’ve ever seen!”
*Cheaters – definition: eyeglasses – as in “Geez, I think I need to replace my cheaters.”
*Drugstore cowboy – definition: a guy that stands around street corners trying to pick up girls – as in “He’s not my type. He’s a drugstore cowboy!”
*Egg – definition: high life – as in “Hey Mac, what can I say. I’m living the egg!”
*Gams – definition: legs – as in “Look at the gams on that flapper!”
*Jake – definition: Okay – as in “Trust me. Everything is Jake!”
*Upchuck – definition: to vomit when you are drunk – as in “It was unsightly! She was upchucking all over the place.”
 Gloria Swanson (2)

What’s your favourite slang word?

7 responses to “That really was the Cat’s meow!

  1. Pingback: Le Dandysme, partie 2: Et aujourd’hui? – Cosculture·

  2. Pingback: Le Dandysme, partie 2: Et aujourd’hui? – Épix·

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