Your great grandma was a lot cooler than you think. If she grew up as a young woman in the 1920’s, chances are she got a much-needed dose of freedom around this time, and fully expressed it! The bummer of prohibition aside, the post-war period was a time of incredible liberation in social norms and attitudes, particularly for women. Beginning with more casual dress (like the history of Beach Pajamas written about in our last post!), for the first time women took on behaviors that were taboo or previously acceptable only for men.
Photo of filmmaker Mack Sennett's Bathing Beauties circa 1921.
Tired of men’s dominance in society and of the old social norms that stifled them, women were enjoying some new-found freedoms and rights. In the 1920s alone, the 19th amendment was ratified, we elected our first female governor and women began competing in the Olympic games. This was also the time of the “flapper”, women drove cars, drank alcohol, attended jazz clubs, smoked and dated men casually. (Yes, we have evolved and learned some balance in these regards, but that’s a topic for another time.) More importantly, they began taking jobs outside of the home and were staunch advocates for voting and women’s rights.
Along with these social and fashion statements, a new slang emerged for women with some very colorful phrases that have sadly died out in our modern vernacular. They'd say things like "the bee’s knees" and "cat's pajamas" when something was cool. Not surprisingly, many of the words reflected their growing liberation. “Handcuff” was a slang term for engagement ring, “hush money” was allowance from a father, and “dropping the pilot” meant getting a divorce.
We think these words should make a comeback, and soon! In an effort to nudge this along, below we’ve shared a list of some key 1920’s phrases and how to use them in this day and age. The word malaise in this country is real, as evidenced by Stephen King, who last week used Twitter to urge writers to stop using the word “amazing” because there are so many words that are better! His point was well taken given the slew of over-used phrases plaguing the written and spoken word these days. It would be awesome (snore), nay, "kippy" if we can start adopting these words and phrases.
Doing our part, we just released a fun series of comfy cropped graphic sweatshirts that coordinate with our Beach Pajamas collection that spell out our favorites.
Alex wears our Bee's Knees Sweatshirt and Carmen Shorts in Sunshine in sunny Venice, California.
Alex is the epitome of the cat's pajamas in our Cat's Pajamas sweatshirt, worn over our Suzel Slip in Slate.
Read our list below and find out if you are a “tomato”, “goof”, or “gimlet”. Then keep scrolling for more fun pics of the collection.
Alarm Clock: Chaperone. "I want to go to the rave, but I have to bring an alarm clock."
Bank's Closed: No kissing. "Ariande Grande to Pete Davidson: the bank's closed."
Bean Picker: One who tries to patch up trouble. "Olivia Pope was the ultimate bean picker."
Bee's Knees: The absolute bestest. "Her new jacket is the bee's knees."
Berries: Great. "Avocado toast? It's the berries!"
Big Cheese: An important person. "Let's talk to the Big Cheese, maybe he can get us in."
Biscuit: A total cutie. "Kendall Jenner is a major biscuit.
Blouse: Go, to go. "Let's Blouse, this party is lame."
Canceled Stamp: Wall flower or shy girl. "Heather? She is such a canceled stamp don't even bother."
Cat's Pajamas: Anything good, the best, the greatest. "Idris Elba is the cat's pajamas!"
Cool Drink of Water: Gorgeous guy or girl. "Gigi Hadid is a cool drink of water."
Cutting yourself a piece of cake: Making yourself wait patiently. "I'm cutting myself a piece of cake for Chris Hemsworth to fall in love with me."
Ducky: Term of approval. "The Spice Girls comeback is just ducky."
Dud: A wall flower. "Steve is such a dud, he won't even dance to Lady Gaga."
Dudding Up: Dressing up. "Everyone's dudding up for the Met Gala."
Father Time: Any man over 30 years of age. "Yuck, he's like 40. What is this, father time?"
Fluky: Funny, different, odd. "I like kombucha, it's just a little fluky."
Gimlet: A chronic bore. "Brad is such a gimlet."
Goof: Sweetie. "I have a major crush on Noah Centineo. He is just such a goof."
Grummy: Down in the dumps. "I can't do the winter. It makes me feel so grummy."
Handcuff: Engagement ring. "After only a few months of dating, Justin Bieber gave Hailey Baldwin a handcuff!"
His Blue Serge: His sweetheart, his girl. *Sobbing after watching The Notebook* "Allie really was Noah's lifetime blue serge."
Hooch: liquor. "Once the hooch hits, I will be all over the dancefloor."
Hopper: Dancer. "Who knew "Grocery Store Joe" was such a great hopper?"
Kippy: Neat or nice. "I had such a kippy morning. The woman in front of me in line paid for my coffee!"
Kluck: Dumb, but happy. "Michael Kelso is such a kluck in That 70's Show. You can't help but to love him."
Out on Parole: A person who has been divorced. "Jennifer Aniston is out on parole again."
Sharpshooter: A good dancer or a spendthrift. "Everyone becomes a sharpshooter once Drake blasts through the speaker."
Tomato: Good looking girl with no brains. "She's a sad tomato, she's 3 miles of bad road (thank you REM)."
Trotzky: Old lady with a moustache and chin whiskers. "My downstairs neighbor is such a Trotzky."
Wind Sucker: someone who boasts too much. "I can't stand her Insta stories. She's such a wind sucker."
It was a total coincidence that Alex ended up under a sign that says "cool drinks" coordinating with our Cool Drink Sweatshirt and Carmen Pant at The Waterfront Venice. Ella wears the Bee's Knees Sweatshirt and gives a look indicating it might not have been a coincidence.
Alex wears the Bee's Knees Sweatshirt and Carmen Short in Sunshine, while making a surf sesh rezzie at the Rose Street parking lot.
Our shoot ended at The Waterfront Venice because we were having too much fun to keep working. Alex plays shuffleboard in the Cool Drink Sweatshirt and Carmen Pant in Sand.