Iconic Beauty Looks

Every vintage maven knows that your look is not complete without a retro beauty regime. Fashion trends may come and go but our favourite hair and beauty looks transcend time. We recount the most iconic beauty looks that still look stunning today.

The Beauty Spot

For over 600 years, many women have shown off their natural birthmarks as a sign of beauty, and just as many women have drawn one on to achieve the look. Beauty spots in various places were given different meanings. For example in the 18th century a beauty spot under the corner of your lip meant you were a flirt, one at the corner of your eye indicated passion and one closer to the eye meant you were irresistible. In the 20th century, they were bought back in to fashion by some of the most attractive celebrities from Marilyn Monroe’s beauty spot on her lower left cheek to 90s supermodel Cindy Crawford’s distinctive mark on the left side of her upper lip.

Red Lips

Synonymous with sex appeal, a red lip is another beauty look that has been around for a long time. Famously, Cleopatra crushed red beatles on to her lips and it’s still a look that’s present on the catwalks today, although thankfully we have more advanced lipsticks. Black and white film stars such as Clara Bow would use much darker lipstick on screen to imitate a red lip on camera, as red traditionally didn’t show up but they still wanted to achieve the glamorous beauty look. Lipstick became scarcer during the war but during the 1950s, sales rocketed once again, with 98% of American women wearing lipstick, thanks to Hollywood stars such as Rita Hayworth and Elizabeth Taylor popularising the look. New lipstick colours including popular nude shades came on to the market in the 1960s, and purple and black which became popular with punks in the 1980s, but nothing could stop the reign of red which has continued to pop up in the beauty regime of many famous faces: Madonna, Debbie Harry and Dita von Teese etc.

Victory Rolls

As implied by the name, this sophisticated hairstyle goes hand-in-hand with holding it all together in the wartime. Some sources suggest that the name comes from the ‘exhaust rolls’ manoeuvre that the fighter planes would do when they left, others suggest it comes from the V shape that is often created by the style. Although a feminine look, it also rose to popularity as women joined the workforces and needed to keep hair off their faces. Veronica Lake was a fan of the look, however, it mostly remains a symbol of the 1940s and wasn’t adopted again until the recent resurgence in vintage dressing (probably because it’s rather tricky to achieve). However, Paloma Faith and Scarlett Johansson have been known to adopt the vintage hair style on the red carpet in recent years in recognition of its glamorous and classic sensibilities.

Winged eyeliner

Cleopatra can also be thanked for starting the feline eye trend which has returned time and time again. The biggest catalyst for winged eyeliner shapes came with the introduction of liquid eyeliner in the 1960s and stars such as Brigitte Bardot began to show how eyeliner could be more creative. The bold and graphic fashion of the 1960s was reflected in eyeliner too and it helped to exaggerate lashes a la Twiggy. It was also made popular by the Egyptian fashion trend which came about when Elizabeth Taylor starred in Cleopatra in 1963. Following the more natural looks favoured in recent years, winged eyeliner has become less extreme, moving from a statement eye look to a subtle nod to vintage taste and a way to flatter the eye’s natural curve. Celebrities with a penchant for vintage such as Amy Winehouse, Adele and Alexa Chung have also helped raise its profile for modern day glamour kittens.


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