Prohibition Era Fashion and Theatrics in San Francisco

The Speakeasy SF

Photo Credit: PureWow

Prohibition Era Fashion and Theatrics in San Francisco

When one thinks “fashion,” initial thoughts may be visions of anything from outrageously whimsical conceptual designs gliding down a catwalk (especially since Fashion Weeks around the globe are currently wrapping up) to the latest on what the sixteen-year-old next door was most recently spotted gallivanting around in from Abercrombie & Fitch…but regardless of what fashion means to an individual, almost all designs and ideas came from a vintage style somewhere, at some time in our colorful past. Vintage garb certainly has a place in today’s style world, with multiple antique stores or vintage shops popping up like daisies and gracing their store windows and the streets they reside on with beautiful, intricate apparel and accessories from the past that might make one think, “They don’t make them like they used to…”

I’ve always adored these simple, yet detailed and well-made items from the past but never could see myself traipsing down the street wearing one in a casual manner. A flapper dress from the twenties could possibly fly during a night out to dinner, but it just, to me at least, seems like I’d be trying too hard. A costume party? Halloween? Maybe, but that seems so cliché…and I’d hate to degrade such a beautiful vintage item with a “costume” status.

I am certainly one for a visit to the big city from time to time…I really love ANY excuse whatsoever to jet up to San Francisco, especially. I suffer from a severe case of wanderlust, mixed in with a little bit of historical nostalgia. By that, I mean a memory from the past doesn’t even have to be something I actually experienced…I love history in fashion and entertainment…so much, in fact, that I can almost visualize myself as part of that time in history, wishing (or feeling like) I COULD have experienced a time, place, or event. So, when I received an extra tasty nugget as part of a PureWow email blast, I was glued.

I am sure the Tenderloin area in San Francisco is THE top item on everyone’s list when they visit the big city (/sarcasm), but this seems to make it all worth it: a little known fact is that there is actually a prohibition-era, illicit speakeasy hidden in its streets, its location being confidential until a person makes the required reservation to find its doors. Once you do find its unmarked doors, two knocks, a pause, then two more knocks lead to a greeting from a man in a three-piece suit before you waltz in to the sight of about forty cast members, all dressed the part, partaking in such theatrics such as cabaret dancers kicking up their heels in flapper dresses, bootleggers arguing over a casino table, along with singers and a myriad of other period characters making you feel like you just stepped into a time warp. The place is aptly named, The Speakeasy. Welcome to prohibition era fashion and theatrics in San Francisco.

Of course when I first read this, I immediately thought, now THERE is a good reason to buy a pretty vintage dress or two from the twenties…and lo and behold, visitors are encouraged to get dressed up as they wander through the speakeasy, exploring knooks and crannies and even playing fake craps while sipping libations from that era. PureWow suggests adding $10 to the $60 ticket fee to reserve a cabaret table, and taking a glance at a one-way mirror that peeks into a dressing room.

So this got me thinking…what are some good vintage shops online (because I’m a sucker for the ease of online shopping and there aren’t many vintage shops in my area)? I went snooping…

20s Fashion

From L to R: Royal Silver & Black Beaded Flapper Dress, Unique Vintage, $296.00; oaring 1920s Cream Beaded Flapper Gatsby Dress, Unique Vintage, $168; Smiffy’s 1920s Coco Flapper, Amazon, $49.99; 20s Inspired Boardwalk Empire Dress, Blue Velvet Vintage, $148.00

Royal Silver & Black Beaded Flapper Dress from Unique Vintage
Roaring 1920s Cream Beaded Flapper Gatsby Dress from Unique Vintage
Smiffy’s 1920s Coco Flapper from Amazon
20s Inspired Boardwalk Empire Dress from Blue Vintage

Read more about (or book reservations to) The Speakeasy in San Francisco here!

Original PureWow email (source)

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