Flappers were a generation of young American women in the 1920s who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles, and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms. Flappers had their origins in the liberal period of the Roaring Twenties, the social, political turbulence and increased transatlantic cultural exchange that followed the end of Word War I, as well as the export of American jazz culture to Europe.

One cause of the change in young women's behavior was World War I which ended in November 1918. The death of large numbers of young men in the war, and the Spanish Flu epidemic which struck in 1918 killing between 20–40 million people, inspired in young people a feeling that life is short and could end at any moment. Therefore, young women wanted to spend their youth enjoying their life and freedom rather than just staying at home and waiting for a man to marry them.

Political changes were another cause of the flapper culture. World War I reduced the grip of the class system on both sides of the Atlantic, encouraging different classes to mingle and share their sense of freedom. Women finally won the right to vote in the United States on August 26, 1920. Women wanted to be men's social equals and were faced with the difficult realization of the larger goals of feminism : individuality, full political participation, economic independence, and 'sex rights'. They wanted to be treated like men and go smoking and drinking. In addition, many women had more opportunities in the workplace and had even taken traditionally male jobs such as doctors, lawyers, engineers and pilots. The rise of consumerism also promoted the ideals of "fulfilment and freedom", which encouraged women to think independently about their garments, careers, social activities.

Society changed quickly after World War I. For example, customs, technology, and manufacturing all moved quickly into the 20th century after the interruption of the war. The rise of the automobile was an important factor in flapper culture, as cars meant a woman could come and go as she pleased, travel to speakeasies and other entertainment venues, and use the large vehicles of the day for their popular activity, petting parties. Also, the economic boom allowed more people the time and money to play golf and tennis and to take vacations, which required clothing adapted to these activities; the flapper's slender silhouette was very suitable for movement.