Retail Therapy: Vintage sparkle: 1920s-era dresses grabbing the spotlight

The Fresno BeeDecember 21, 2013 

Macy's fashions in Fresno Bee studio on Dec. 18, 2013.

MARK CROSSE — Fresno Bee Staff Photo Buy Photo

Bring on the sequins, shimmer and glitter.

New Year's Eve and its built-in excuse to get dolled up are coming. Outfits at Fresno-area stores run the gamut of styles, but one kind of dress is standing out: The 1920s, Great Gatsby, vintage style.

Last summer when "The Great Gatsby" movie came out, women everywhere gawked at the era's dresses, elaborate head bands and chunky jewelry. So it's no surprise that several Great Gatsby-themed parties — the Downtown Club in Fresno and Erna's Elderberry House in Oakhurst, for example — are planned around here.

Dresses at local boutiques and department stores have varying degrees of the style, and range in price from $25 at second-hand stores to hundreds of dollars.

The Little Black Dress Boutique at Bullard and West avenues started stocking such dresses after several area high schools held Great Gatsby-themed winter formal dances.

"Fringe on the bottom and lots of bugle beads hanging at the hem are popular," says owner Keri Frazier. "The Great Gatsby period symbolized rich fabrics, luxurious beading and classic styles and that is showing in the fashion."

For people going to 1920s-themed parties, Bebe O's is a boutique in the Tower District that specializes in dressing customers for parties from multiple eras.

The boutique, at 1050 N. Fulton St., has some original dresses from the 1920s. Think lace and ruffles. The store also carries feather boas, decorative head bands and furs — both faux and real.

Bebe O's is also seeing demand from customers attending the "Diehard 80s" New Year's Eve party at the Star Palace downtown.

The dresses range from $25 to $69 and the store has a sale that ends today.

Even if you're not going to a Gatsby-themed party, you'll see the era's influence in fashion. The 1920s style isn't the most popular for New Year's at Macy's, but the store has plenty of dresses that fit the category, says Martin Oftedal, senior manager of Macy's By Appointment at the Fashion Fair store.

Many popular dresses have draping fabric — ideal for a hiding a tummy — or bling on a shoulder strap that echo the style of the era.

"Vintage embellishments and vintage silhouettes continue to be popular," he says. "Shimmer is really, really big."

Even David's Bridal is getting in on the trend. The store, most known for wedding and bridal gowns, sees lots of brides holding Gatsby-themed weddings, says assistant manager Maria Falany.

But the retailer also carries party dresses, including for New Year's Eve. Like Macy's, the dresses aren't always meant to be 1920s style, but fit into that category.

Several short dresses have flapper-esque elements, empire waists and lots of opulent details.

Anything with sparkle is popular, Falany says.

"A lot of women are coming in for balls and proms and of course for New Year's, and they always want a little bit of sparkle, anything to make the gown a little more special."


The columnist can be reached at (559) 441-6431, or @BethanyClough on Twitter. Read her blog on

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