Vintage beauty comes in an array of styles, sizes and shapes! So this week our intern Alex has done us proud and created our very own A-Z of vintage beauty tips for us modern day ladies!
When your favourite era holds classic beauties such as Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Doris Day and Grace Kelly achieving their look might be daunting, or just downright impossible. But have no fear, we’re here to help, we’ve broken it down into a handy A-Z list of the important things to think about when it comes to looking like your vintage idols!
A – Accessories
It’s the little things that count, right? Definitely! It doesn’t need to be as obvious as a traditional string of pearls, something as small and delicate as a hair clip can add a subtle vintage extra to your look (struggling to find a special accessory? Then our fairs are guaranteed to get you excited!)
If you’re looking for more of a statement piece then go all Audrey Hepburn and get yourself a pillbox hat!
B – Beauty Spots
Although they were around before Marilyn Monroe, the beauty spot became one of her many beauty trademarks; this lead to them becoming all the rage throughout the 18th Century.
Those who weren’t blessed with a natural beauty spot resorted to velvet stick-on!
C – Coco Chanel
What can’t we learn from the queen of vintage beauty?!
She had endless beauty tricks up her sleeve but one of her most famous and recited lines is:
“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous!”
Her signature look was derived from neutral tones to compliment her natural colouring for a truly classic look that is 100% achievable!
Pop a Chanel natural finish pressed powder in your handbag for the Chanel look wherever you are.
D – Daily Cleansing
A flawless complexion is paramount to achieving the classic vintage look; ladies back in the day would wash with cucumber soap and snack on charcoal biscuits to fight bad breath.
Thankfully things aren’t so grim for us we and instead we can get Mae West’s glow and treat ourselves to a facial every morning with Proactiv’s 3 step solution to clear and healthy skin.
E – Eyebrows
Perfected eyebrows have made a comeback recently thanks to models such as Cara Delevingne, but they were also a huge part of vintage make up. German actress Marlene Dietrich achieved her perfectly shaped eyebrows by shaving them of and pencilling them back on with a kohl pencil.
This seems a tad extreme to us so instead, why not take a look at the new trend of HD Brows – this magical new phenomenon means that even if you’ve over plucked or just aren’t happy with the shape of your brows you don’t need to worry – specially trained stylists will put together a regrowth programme to help you achieve the perfect look
F – Flutter
Accentuating eyes has long been an important part of beauty regimes – so important in fact that Audrey Hepburn apparently painstakingly separated each eyelash with a pin after every layer of mascara.
Before you start rifling through your sewing box for a pin, check out Benefit’s bestseller ‘they’re real!’ mascara. It claims to lengthen, curl, volumize, lift & separate your lashes without a pin in sight!
G – Grace Kelly
Arguably one of the more subtle in her approach to beauty, Grace Kelly chose an extremely delicate and minimalist look. She managed to add slight definition with faint but specific dashes of colour.
Although Kim Kardashian has taken this to the extreme, it would appear that Kelly was the original queen of contouring; she would use two different shades of blusher to create the allusion of cheekbones but placing the darker of the two in the hollows of her cheeks and the lighter tone over the prominent bone area.
Now that contouring has become incredibly popular in the realm of beauty, there’s a plethora of products to help you along the way. To save you trawling the net we think the perfect combo is the Nars Contour Brush and Sleek’s face contour kit which is new to Boots and already has amazing reviews!
H – Hair
In the 1940s and 50s victory curls was the must have hairstyle for any fashion conscious lady. Originally this was only achievable through a laborious and painstaking method of pinning sections of hair into curls in rows around the head followed by hours of waiting for the curls to set. Before undoing and repining to fashioning into victory curls. (ahem!)
Not exactly a look you can achieve in a hurry for work we hear you say?
Possibly not back then but thankfully, boffins at BaByliss have blessed our busy, modern lives with the technology to get big curls in a jiffy with their new Big Hair airstyler brush – a rotating brush that adds volume and style. If this isn’t enough then there are hundreds of tutorials all over the internet, one of our favourites is this by Vintagious.
Failing that, we always have vintage beauty bars at our fairs, so pop down and get some brill tips!
I – Illusion
Make-up is all about creating the illusion of flawless skin, bigger eyes, fuller lips, arched eyebrows, blushing cheeks and so on. This was no different for old school Hollywood glamour stars – it’s rumoured that Marilyn Monroe’s beauty regime of hormones creams led to a layer of blonde facial hair which she was advised to shave off, but refused as it gave the illusion of glowing skin in photographs.
We don’t recommend trying to grow facial hair for that dewy glow, so instead you could try Stila’s All Over Shimmer Liquid Luminzer.
J – Jane Russell
American Actress and Hollywood sex symbol, Jane Russell perfected her vintage signature style with a very simple technique – coordination.
According to legend, Revlon founder Charles Revlon had his eureka moment whilst dining in a swanky restaurant when he noticed a ladies nail colour matching almost perfectly with her lipstick – and so Jane Russell’s influence took off.
Revlon continues to create lipsticks and nail varnishes which complement each other and will help you to re-create Jane’s style.
K – Kiss
Kissing apparatus in the 1950s and 60s was a big deal with stars such as Lucille Ball. Ball made a statement with her lipstick making an authentic pout a key essential to any vintage style.
In the 1970s Maybelline’s roll on Kissing Potion was a huge hit and allowed women to give their lips the taste of bubble gum, cherry and so on. (yum yum!)
Lush have taken this one step further by developing a range of delicious lip scrubs to buff your lips to perfection whilst also helping your lipstick stay on longer – genius! Take a look here.
L – Lingerie
As the era of the pinup girls, 1940s saw seamed tights, stockings and silk underwear take centre stage in vintage fashion. Pin up girls became exceedingly popular during the Second World War as soldiers pinned them to their walls – even if you’re not planning a new career as a pin up girl, vintage underwear was undeniably beautiful as proven by whatkatiedid.com
M – Marilyn Monroe
I might have already mentioned her quite a few times but as possibly the most iconic vintage beauty, I think she deserves her very own section. Everything about Marilyn’s look screams Hollywood glamour and has had a huge influence of even modern conceptions of beauty – so much so that MAC even dedicated an entire collection to helping us reproduce her distinctive look.
Her characteristic blonde locks and contrasting scarlet lips paired with a white flare dress are a common choice for fancy dress; however, given her continued influence on make-up companies, it’s easy to channel Marilyn into your everyday look.
There’s no need to ruin your hair with harmful chemicals to obtain Marilyn’s platinum hair! Instead why not try L’Oreal’s Extreme Platinum Power hair dye!
Boots’ guide to finding your perfect red lipstick means you can recreate her famously red lips whatever your skin tone. Have a go here
N – Nails
Nail art might not have been so popular through the 20th Century, but nowadays manicured nails are top priority for many during a salon visit.
So, how do you and a sprinkle of vintage to your nail care?
Well given that patterned nails are becoming increasingly common, whether red and white polka dots are your thing or you’d prefer a kitsch floral pattern – it’s all possible, have a look at these pictures for inspiration!
O – Olive Oil
As odd as it may seem, olive oil has long played a part in beauty regimes. And if it was good enough for Sophia Loren . I suppose we could we persuaded to give it a try?
Apparently, the Italian actress’ beauty was helped by her Mediterranean diet which meant that she consumed at least 2 teaspoons a day. Not only this, she was known to rub small amounts into her skin for a glowing and moisturised complexion as well as add a few drops to her bath.
It appears she wasn’t alone either, like many women of the era, Rita Hayworth owed her lustrous locks to the wonders of olive oil; she would supposedly wet her hair then smother it in oil, leave for 15 minutes and then rinse out with a combination of hot water and lemon juice.
P – Perfume
According to Elizabeth Taylor beauty is not only in the eye of the beholder but their nose as well.
She believed that scent was a principal requirement of femininity so she created her own fragrance range to help us all achieve a state of ultra-femininity. Not only is White Diamonds a personal favourite of ours, it’s also totally affordable!
Q – Quiffs
We’ve already talked victory curls but the quiff was a style that wasn’t exclusive to women. Synonymous with the British Teddy Boys, quiffs are an iconic feature of the vintage look, which saw men and women alike sleeping in rollers to achieve the perfect barnet.
If you fancy a go but find roller uncomfortable then try Sleep-In Rollers they let you ‘sleep like a princess and wake up with hair like one’.
And for the guys wanting a sky-high quiff but struggling to get the hold, try old school favourite – Brylcreem
R – Rouge
A staple requirement to every lady’s make up bag, a life without blusher seems almost incomprehensible. Well oddly enough, that was also the case for many men way back when in the Regency period. They used crushed beetroot and strawberries to highlight cheekbones and lips as well as rose petals.
Thankfully Benefit has released their version with Benetint – a liquid rose-tinted lip and cheek stain for a natural and sheer tint.
S – Skin, Skin, Skin
I’ve already mentioned how paramount flawless skin is to the vintage look, but I have to mention Queenie May’s Vintage skincare range.
Founder and director Claire Gormly, says it is her ‘mission to bring back romance into our bathrooms and dressers’. Their products are made from recipes of the 1930s and come in beautiful vintage-inspired jars.
Unfortunately, it’s not widely available in the UK – yet! So for now we’ve got the fabulous alternative of Soap and Glory skincare products!
T – Tights
I’ve heard stories from my Mum many times about how my Grandma, like many other women, would resort to gravy browning and eyeliner to create the illusion of tights when they were rationed during World War 2.
Thankfully in the 1960s nylon tights were mass produced and became widely available so we can leave the Bisto and the OXO cubes where they belong – in the cupboard! Pretty Polly tights have brought out a handy Vintage range too!
U – Uniform
Both the First and Second World War saw women being drafted out of their stations as housewives and into work to replace men that were away at war. Consequently, pinafores were overtaken by uniforms; from nurses to the Women’s Land Army, women up and down Britain were transforming the workplace with some amazing fashion.
Whilst I’m not suggesting you start turning up to dress down Friday in a Women’s Land Army uniform, you can still see some inspiration of vintage uniforms in work wear available today.
This ASOS flare dress is perfect for channelling the Army Air corps uniform, and we hear even Kate Middleton has been channeling the sailor stripes and emblems whilst in New Zealand! We love!
V – Vanity Cases
The epitome of portable vintage beauty; vanity cases are a must-have for transporting your precious beauty essentials safely and fashionably at the same time! (and boy do we see some gorgeous ones at our fairs!)
If you’re not on a budget or you feel like treating yourself, have a look at The Correspondent series by Streamline (Available at Selfridges). Click here to be blown away!
W – War
War and beauty seem worlds apart, but in fact as we’ve briefly seen already, war had a significant impact on beauty and fashion throughout the 20th century. Rations meant finding beauty alternatives, however did you know that nurses during World War 2 were apparently encouraged to wear lipstick in hopes it might have a calming effect on the soldiers!
X – XL
In an era or airbrushed-to-perfection models paired with pressure to be Size Zero from every direction, it’s almost impossible to believe that beauty guides used to provide tips for putting ON weight!
There were numerous advertisements from companies claiming that their yeast products would help to put on a few extra pounds, arguing that there’s ‘no excuse to be skinny any more’!
Vintage make-up tips have stuck around and if we’re following them, it only seems fair to follow their diets too… so, there’s yeast in pizza, right? Order yourself a Dominos ASAP!
Y – YOU!
Glamorous Hollywood starlets, Pinup girls and Marilyn Monroe all have one thing in common – confidence!
If there’s anything to learn from the previous point it’s that beauty really is in the eye of the beholder, it’s changed dramatically in the last century and will only continue to change. So learn a lesson in body confidence from these vintage stars:
Z – ZIP
ZIP was one of the first ever creams used by women to remove facial hair. But if you’re anything like Marilyn you might want to keep yours so that you can achieve the appearance of glowing complexion in pictures (if you’re fair-haired… I’m not sure it’d have the same effect for brunettes!)
Modern versions include ‘Fuzz Off’ by Bliss cosmetics available at Marks and Spencer to help you get rid of any pesky facial hair.
Let’s face it, there’s not many looks that top those of the Hollywood starlets, so hopefully I’ve helped show you how do-able it really is!
So there you have it guys – some fab vintage beauty tips! No excuses now (damn!)
We’ll be back soon with more pre-loved inspiration and humbling stories! Alex and Sam x
(and of course Gina)