Style File: All in a flap - Flapper dresses

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Stand out from the crowd and channel The Great Gatsby and Downton Abbey for party season with  Miss Selfridge’s new collection of vintage-inspired flapper dresses, says Emma Akbareian

In the 50 years since it first opened, Miss Selfridge has  cemented its status on the British high street as the youngest and most playful of the  Arcadia brands. There’s more to its designs than meets the eye, however, thanks to the store’s creative director,  Yasmin Yusuf, and her discerning eye for vintage collectibles.

While the key aesthetic Miss Selfridge subscribes to is one of fun, trend-led fashion, look a little closer and you’ll find subtle nods to design features from past eras, the result of a carefully curated vintage archive sourced from all over the world and used as inspiration for the brand’s collections.

Just in time for the Christmas party season, Miss Selfridge has created a range of five  flapper dresses based on  authentic 1920s designs. The limited-edition creations – there will only be 200 of each produced – are intricately hand-beaded and all feature the characteristic scooped backs and dropped waists of the period.

This summer’s blockbuster version of The Great Gatsby certainly has a lot to answer for: flapper-inspired designs have been prolific for the last few seasons with Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Prada all going to town on the trend. The latter with good reason: Miuccia Prada collaborated with costume designer Catherine Martin to devise the elaborate, exuberant Gatsby costumes, based on 1920-influenced designs from her collections over the years – in case you wondered why they had an unusually fashionable flair.

The slinky-hipped, handkerchief-hemmed flapper shift has become the defining image of womenswear from the 1920s. The lasting popularity of  the design is testament to its enduring modernity – no  corsets or petticoats required.

Shelling out on an authentic vintage piece might seem like a good idea, but the inevitable wear and tear, considerable price tag and often-tiny sizes of the real thing make Miss Selfridge’s versions far more sensible. Their roots in original designs also mean they have a ring of authenticity that’s so often lacking in vintage-look styles on the high street.

The only pitfall of sporting one of these designs? Flapper frocks can easily fall into fancy dress if you team them with retro hair, make-up and accessories. So, unless it’s a Christmas costume party, leave the ostrich fan, feather headband and cigarette holder at home.

Prices from £150-£190, available in selected stores and online at

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