Louise Brooks and The Flapper Era

The flapper era was the time of the worship of youth (pandorasbox/flapper). Flappers were women of the Jazz Age. They had measurements of pre-adolescent boys, with no waistline, no bust, and no butt. Flappers had short hair worn no longer than chin length, called bobs. Their hair was often dyed and waved into flat, head-hugging curls and accessorized with wide, soft headbands. It was a new and most original style for women. A lot of make-up was worn by flappers that they even put on in public which was once unheard of and considered something done only by actresses and whores. Flappers wore short, straight dresses often covered with beads and fringes, and they were usually worn without pantyhose. Young flappers were known to be very rebellious against their parents, and society blamed their waywardness partially on the media, movies, and film stars like Louise Brooks (Szabo).

Louise Brooks was a big part of the Jazz Age and had a lot of influence on the women of the 1920s. Being a film star with a great, original personality she is known for being one of the most extraordinary women to set forth the Flapper era. Her sleek and smooth looks with her signature bob helped define the flapper look (pandorasbox/flapper).

On November 14, 1906, in Cherryvale, Kansas, Mary Louise Brooks was born. She had two brothers, one sister, and parents, Leonard and Myra Brooks, who was a costume maker and pianist. In 1910, Brooks performed in her first stage role as Tom Thumbs bride in a Cherryvale church benefit. Over the next few years she danced at mens and womens clubs, fairs, and various other gatherings in southeastern Kansas.

At ten years old she was already a serious dancer and very much interested in it. In 1920, Brooks family moved to Wichita, Kansas, and at 13 years old she began studying dance (pandorasbox/chron).

Louise Brooks had a typical education and family life. She was very interested in reading and the arts, so in 1922 she traveled to New York City and joined the Denishawn Dance Company. This was the leading modern dance company in America at the time. In 1923, Brooks toured the United States and Canada with Denishawn by train and played a different town nearly every night, but one year later she leaves Denishawn and moves back to New York City. Not too long after her return, she gets a job as a chorus girl in the George White Scandals. Following this she and a good friend of hers sailed to Europe. At 17 years old she gained employment at a leading London nightclub. She became famous in Europe as the first person to dance the Charleston in London, and her performances were great successes (pandorasbox/chron).

In 1925, Louise Brooks returned to New York and joins Ziegfeld Follier, and performed in the Ziegfeld production, Louie the 14th. That summer she had an affair with Charlie Chaplin. At the same time, Brooks also appeared in her first film, The Streets of Forgotten Men, and signed a five year contract with Paramount. This same year, she had her first appearance on a magazine cover. In 1926, she featured as a flapper in A Social Celebrity which launched her film career and introduced the flapper era (pandorasbox/chron).

In 1933 Brooks married wealthy Chicago playboy Deering Davis, but within six months they were separated. In 1956, she met James Card, the legendary film creator at George Eastman House, and moved to Rochester, NY. Here she studied film and continued to write at the House. Throughout her life she finds employment on the radio, as a model, and stared in many more films in which many of them she portrayed the rapidly spreading style of a flapper. She is a miraculous woman who helped to unfold and expand the flapper era throughout the world (pandorasbox/chron).

Not only did Louise Brooks have a great impact on the culture revitalization of the 1920s, but she also left contributions that are still evident today. The year is 2000, and everywhere we look this so-called "new fashion" is becoming popular, but look again. Dresses just above knee length with fringes and frills being worn by teenage girls and women, are the same style as those worn in the 1920s. The flappers of the 1920s also started a new phase of rebellion that would be passed on for decades. Before the 1920s, girls and women were always refined, reserved, "daddies girls". This new era brought more unrefined, unpolished, and more rebellious girls. It brought women with attitude and youth, which can be seen in todays society. Teenage girls today are constantly disobeying their parents and staying out past curfew. They are said to have a mind of their own. And of course, they are wearing things of which their parents disapprove, just as flappers like Louise Brooks wore clothing that would have been deemed whorish and vulgar if it was not for her stardom and acting success. She gave life to a new style would influence women for years to come.


  • "Flapper Culture and Style: Louise Brooks and the Jazz Age." The Louise Brooks Society. http://pandorabox.com/flapper.html. 3/22/00.
  • "Louise Brooks Chronology." The Louise Brooks Society. http:// pandorasbox.com/chron.html. 3/23/00.
  • Szabo, Julia. "Oh, Those Flabbergasting Flappers!" Long Island Our Story. Http://www.lihistory.com/7/hs715c.htm. 3/22/00.