Whether you are after a truly vintage-inspired evening or just want a bit of cheeky fancy dress fun, a Twenties party is bound to be a good night. Here are some top tips for hosting your very own Twenties party at home.

dixInspiration
If you’re not sure where to start, watch modern, Twenties-set film The Artist or watch Billy Wilder’s 1959 film Some Like It Hot. Featuring Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag on the run from the mob, the film’s memorable opening scene is set in a funeral parlor, which disguises a speakeasy serving coffee laced with booze. Love interest Marilyn Monroe’s amazing flapper outfits will be a great inspiration too. 

For a more serious account of the era, John Dos Passos’ 1925 novel Manhattan Transfer gives a fantastic insight into life in New York City during America’s Jazz Age.

I also keep on referencing Otto Dix’s drawing Die Grossstadt (see right), which depicts a scene in a Berlin jazz club during the Twenties.

The decor
The Twenties were heavily influenced by the Art Deco movement and its ornamental, graphic designs that include zigzags, chevrons, and sunbursts. Try to replicate these on napkins and your invites. Another popular theme was Egyptian design – Howard Carter discovered King Tut’s tomb in 1922 – think bright colours like blue and emerald, stylised mummies and scarabs.

Alternatively you could give your party an Oriental feel and get inspired by Twenties Shanghai, with red lanterns and faux lotus flowers.

What to wear
It’s easy to go for the many Twenties-inspired dresses you can pick up from the highstreet these days, but they are not very authentically Twenties. Against contemporary stereotypes, Twenties evening dresses weren’t short, certainly not above knee-length, and full-length gowns remained popular throughout the decade.

Monochrome dresses in black and white, creme or  pastel tones were often worn with exquisite art deco shawls in geometrical or oriental prints, so just be creative, improvise, make your own: a simple white, sleeveless, ankle-length dress dressed up with a stole and a homemade feather fan will work wonders.

Or go for a more oriental look and wear a simple shift dress layered with an embroidered kimono.

Nylon stockings or tights weren’t around in the Twenties, and women would have worn silk stockings. To replicate the look, wear skin-coloured tights/stockings and wear your best t-bar dancing shoes.

Any attending male guests could simply don a tuxedo in black or midnight blue. Be inspired by the British party set The Bright Young Things and be androgynous like Cecil Beaton or Stephen Tennant.

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Hair and make-up
My top tip for girls with long hair: wear a simple head band and tuck your long hair tucked over to create a faux bob. It’s very tempting to go for crazy headbands and feathers but a sleek bob or fingers waves are far more period. This is a really great video tutorial on how to finger wave your hair.

As for make-up, the Twenties look was about a strong, vampish face. Exaggerate blushed cheeks, deep red lips with cupid bows and kohled eyes. Your eye brows should be pencil-thin and in a high arch.

What to eat and drink
To create a Prohibition atmosphere, you could serve champagne or gin cocktails out of mismatched tea cups, or simply stick to champagne flutes. As far as cocktails go, I love the French 75. Named after a hard-hitting World War I artillery piece, the French 75 is, as far as can be determined, the only cocktail invented in the United States during Prohibition to become a classic.
Shake well with cracked ice:
1 ½ oz London dry gin
½ oz fresh-squeezed lemon juice
¾ oz simple syrup
Strain into a tea cup full of cracked ice and top off with chilled champagne.

As for food, I wouldn’t bother with Twenties recipes as they can be rather difficult to recreate and a modern palate is often not used to the Twentie’s fondness of putting anything into aspic. Instead be inspired by the era’s decadence and serve lobster cakes, champagne truffles and figs dipped in chocolate.

What to do
Dance the Charleston (here’s a great introduction video showing the basic steps) and get stuck into Twenties slang expressions.

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