How to Rock [Fake] the 20s [Out]

December 11, 2012

in therapy in session

Maybe it is because the release of the movie trailer for The Great Gatsby (2013) starring the Titanic “I am the king of the World” guy, the roaring twenties is certainly a popular theme for holiday parties this year. Based on the limited sample size of three, I confess: Two of the company parties (in different offices) I was fortunately enough to be invited to were of “The Roaring Twenties” and “Speakeasy” themes. And the hotel we will happen to be staying in on New Year’s Eve also will be a roaring twenties party.

So here is a tutorial on how to rock the 20s…

#1. Be white.

Ok, I am being facetious.

#1. Don’t tell your co-workers at a retro theme party that as a matter of fact if we were in THE era, you would not have been allowed to be in the same room as they, unless you were working as a waitress.

Hey, just want to get it out of the way.


#2. If you are a gentleman, wear your 3-piece suit and a gangster hat (i.e. expensive-looking fedora). You are done! See the gentleman in the picture who’s pointing his gun at me. Pretty sure he did not even have to dress up for his gangster acting gig.

#3. If you have short hair, wear a pretty elastic beaded headband the “wrong” way. Find any earrings that are dramatic and preferably in the Art Deco style (or, in fact, any geometrical shape will do. i.e. no hoop earrings…) at your local Marshalls and T.J.Maxx. If you have medium to long hair, you could be all professional actress-y and do the Finger Waves or Pin Curls. Or you could be lazy practical and tie your hair in a pony tail, tuck the tail inside the hair above the elastic band, stick 100 pins to keep the tucked hair in place and call it a day. See the crazy wombat on the right in the picture.

#4. You don’t need a dress strictly in the 20s style. Something with a simple silhouette will do. The key, I found out accidentally after the effect, is to have a nice, classy shawl.

#5. Take advantage of the fact that women did not know about “F* Me Heels” back then and spare your feet on the dance floor. Wear low heels with t-straps or some Mary Janes also look right for the occasion. I ended up with these.

#6. Scour your local second-hand stores for a beaded purse. I got mine for $12.

#7. Costume long black gloves, $8. Costume cigarette holder, $2. Going all out in lalaland, priceless.


#8. Take advantage of this opportunity to try out the “smokey eyes” makeup techniques from YouTube. Don’t fall asleep while watching this lady taking frigging 20 minutes to do her eyes and then think that you could just wing it. Don’t even attempt to draw in your eyebrows. Unless you have had practice before, let’s just stay away from the eyebrows. I don’t care if women in the 20s had strong eyebrows. If only we all looked like Louise Brooks and her amazing eyebrows!

#9. Make peace with your eyebrows.

#10. Perhaps you should consider getting enough sleep so the black circles under your eyes will not become augmented the night of the party and conveniently blend in nicely with the smokey eye look and turn it into a rabid raccoon look. Or, if you are Chinese like I am, it would be a nice panda look.

  Ta da!





#11. When you walk into the second party and immediately realize that you and your date are the only two people who actually dress up for the theme, don’t panic.

#12. Charm the actors hired to be a gangster and a British Constable (yes, do ignore the fact that there is a British Bobby at a Speakeay party) so greatly that they grabbed you as soon as you walked in the door to have pictures taken with you, not with your camera. While you are at it,  become simpatico with the actresses/flappers because of your awesome Louise Brooks choker.

#13. Yes, it’s ok to let the gangster kiss you on the cheek as he points his gun at you. (What you gonna do about it anyway?)

#14. When someone you know upon recognizing you actually bursts out laughing, and instead of approaching to say hi and telling you how awesome you are for having the guts, turns in another direction, stay cool.

#15. Make belief that you and your date are at some random bar surrounded by strangers (which may as well be the case, the part about “being surrounded by strangers”). The only difference is — Everything is FREE! Have more fun than everybody else around you.

That’s the best revenge of all: happiness. Nothing drives people crazier than seeing someone having a good fucking laugh. — Chuck Palahniuk



And finally, as always, channel Louise Brooks wherever you are.


For two extraordinary years I have been working on it – learning to write – but mostly learning how to tell the truth. At first it is quite impossible. You make yourself better than anybody, then worse than anybody, and when you finally come to see you are “like” everybody – that is the bitterest blow of all to the ego. But in the end it is only the truth, no matter how ugly or shameful, that is right, that fits together, that makes real people, and strangely enough – beauty…

Louise Brooks on writing a memoir


{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Velva December 30, 2012 at 11:24 am

I can totally picture you giddy about the roaring 20’s theme. It is so you! It brings out your natural creative side-just like writing.

Happy New Year to you and your family. I hope 2013 rocks for you.

Velva´s last blog post…Dirt to Table Experience: Fresh Lemon-Herb Dressing in a Jar


Absence Alternatives December 31, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Thank you. Thank you so much really for all the support and friendship ever since we found each other. I’m truly fortunate in my online adventure. Happy new year to you and your loved ones also!!!


Meg at the Members Lounge December 20, 2012 at 8:26 am

I’m so jealous you got to dress up as a flapper! Did you read “The Chaperone” – a good read that had a Louise Brooks storyline? I was obsessed with the 20’s this summer and read every book I could that took place in that era… now I just need a sparkly headband and a pair of maryjanes to make my dreams come true!


Absence Alternatives December 20, 2012 at 8:37 am

I have to find that and read it. Thank you! You should throw a party with the theme! It would be a great excuse for people to dress up. Also it is easy for guys, they just have to wear suits so they shouldn’t birch too much about it. Lol. It would be a blast!!!

Also, if you wish, you could go to costume shop and get a bunch of gloves, cig holders $2!, cheap sparkly head bands etc for your guests, garter belts and flasks, etc.


GeePawHill December 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Just a note to say I love you.

I was trying to remember when I first subbed your blog. I can’t. But I sure as fuck remember *why*.

Love — GeePawHill


Absence Alternatives December 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm

Oh gee. *blush*


Jessica Gottlieb December 12, 2012 at 12:17 pm

You forgot #16: Have Jessica’s favorite prohibition era cocktail, the negroni.
Jessica Gottlieb´s last blog post…They Keep Stealing the Wrong Things


Absence Alternatives December 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm

I wish I had known about that. We asked for Tom Collins and they did not even know how to make it. I doubt they knew how to make Negroni though…


BigLittleWolf December 11, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Love, love, love the look! You ROCK it! (Could you dress like that a few times a week? Now that would be cool.)

Now you’ve got me thinking I should cut myself some Louise Brooks bangs…
BigLittleWolf´s last blog post…December Sonnet (Gift Wishes On It)


Absence Alternatives December 15, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Thank you! Let me know if you do cut the bangs!


Tom G. December 11, 2012 at 11:53 am

Not allowed in the same room? Try not allowed in the same country!

Another dark piece of American history we pretend not to notice.
Tom G.´s last blog post…Fini


Absence Alternatives December 15, 2012 at 5:29 pm

Yup. AND not that many years ago my marriage to my husband would have been illegal. I believe Alabama still had that miscegenation law until 2001.


Jotter Girl December 11, 2012 at 9:38 am

You looked fabulous!!!

Love Louise Brooks!!!

I could totally live in the 20’s….wait, maybe I did.
Jotter Girl´s last blog post…Abercrombie & Fitch Part II. Seriously, pull up your pants.


Absence Alternatives December 15, 2012 at 5:28 pm

LOL. Love her. Love you too!


Diane Laney Fitzpatrick December 11, 2012 at 7:02 am

People did NOT laugh at you. They DID NOT. Losers. Who goes to a theme party without getting dressed up for the theme? Thanks for reminding me to make peace with my eyebrows. You look stunning, by the way.
Diane Laney Fitzpatrick´s last blog post…O Little Christmas Ghetto


Absence Alternatives December 11, 2012 at 7:17 am

Thank you! Unfortunately they did. At one party. It’s very interesting how different crowds (from different departments and different cities, and possibly different age group) behaved completely the opposite: the other party that I went to, 50%+ of the people there did dress up and those who did not asked to have their pictures taken with those who did. All had a rocking good time. 🙂


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