'Ladettes' are argued to be a sign, and product, of contemporary development and change; their fortunes are presented as inextricably related to the conditions of late modernity. Using the past to shed light on the present, this paper considers whether fears and claims about the behaviour of some contemporary young women in Britain are exclusive to the present. Two data sets inform the discussion: first, representations of ladettes in national and local newspapers from 1995 to 2005; second, materials relating to the 'modern girl' published in the popular print media between 1918 and 1928. Although there have been important changes in the conditions of girlhood since the 1920s, this historical comparison highlights continuities in the representation of 'troublesome' youthful femininities. We explore similarities and differences in the characteristics attributed to the modern girls of the twenties and the ladettes of recent years, and the dominant discourses that underpin popular constructions of troublesome young women.