Musings of a Woman Exploring the Vintage Magic in our Lives

January 28, 2011

How To Get a Modern Day Louise Brooks/Flapper/1920's Look

In anticipation of my Louise Brooks hairdo (the cut with a new hairstylist..yikes...., next Friday) I've decided to share with you how to get the Louise Brooks/Flapper Look from  Enjoy!

How to get a modern day Louise Brooks/Flapper/1920's Look,
Louise Brooks at the height of her fame.

You may not know her name, but you should recognize her photo. Louise Brooks is most known today for her innovative style. Though she was not the first to wear the bob hairstyle, she was the first to popularize it. In fact, Louise Brooks is listed as one of the top 10 hairstyle trendsetters of all time.. Louise Brooks is and was the quintessential flapper of the raging 20's

  1.  The most important part of the flapper look is your hair. Flappers were known for shearing off their long locks and wearing bobbed hair - thus showing disdain for acceptable behavior and showing their own new sense of freedom. So, you need to decide what to do about your hair. 

    Just remember that many flappers had bangs or fringe because the forehead was considered not sexy. To modernize it, you could add some side swept bangs or longer bangs - most bangs in the 1920's were cut at just above the eyebrow so you could modernize it by wearing bangs that hit below the eyebrow. 

    Do you have long hair - are you unwilling to cut it? Don't worry, you can get the look easily. You have a couple choices. You could try a wig. There are many wigs out there that are natural looking that are made to look similar to flapper hair. Or you could try a faux-bob. It's really easy to achieve! Just use a large barrel curling iron to make large waves in your hair - try curling the sections in alternating directions so they don't all blend together. Then, decide what you want the length to be - jawline to mid-neck is the most universally flattering. Grab a bunch of bobby pins and start tucking the hair under and pinning it. Tada!

    Are you thinking about cutting your hair short? Many women are going shorter these days. Short hair is so much easier to take care of and you can easily look more modern and put-together. And despite many opinions, you can actually do more things with short hair than with long hair. You may not be able to pull it into your old stand-by, the ponytail, but you can easily have a different look each day of the week. For a flapper look, you'll want to keep hair between the earlobe and mid-neck length. Anything longer than mid-neck won't be able to qualify as even modern day flapper. Bangs are also something to think about - most young women of the day had bangs. To modernize the look, you could wear them swept to the side or long and blunt cut. You could even try choppy or wispy fringe.

    Whatever you decide, remember to keep hair at least mid-neck length or shorter!
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    How lipstick was applied in the 1920's.
    How lipstick was applied in the 1920's.
    The next step to the modern flapper look is makeup. In the 1920's, a lot of makeup didn't exist and there were only a few colors available. Even though this is a more modern look that we're going for, you don't want to stray too far from the color choices or you'll miss the flapper look altogether. Most flappers were characterized by their pale, flawless skin; their dark lips; and their smoldering eyes. Some girls wore rouge (now called blush) on their cheeks - but only on the apples, not swept up to the temples like we wear it now. The only shades available were: red lipsticks (usually cherry scented), pink blush, black mascara (which was wax based and applied with a stick), ivory colored powder, and kohl eye makeup (no eyeshadows or other colors). Many women also shaved off their eyebrows and penciled them back on in the fashion of the era - it was considered fashionable to have very thin, downward sloping eyebrows.

    To modernize the look, start by cleansing and moisturizing your face. If you have uneven skin tone or lots of blemishes, you will need to apply a full coverage foundation that matches your skin. If you don't have uneven tone or lots of blemishes, you can probably get by with a tinted moisturizer. Then, use a concealer that matches your skin to cover up any blemishes that weren't covered by foundation. Brush on a translucent powder to set the look. If you must wear blush, try to go for a pink or pale peach. Put it on lightly, on the apples of your cheeks. If you're going somewhere special, a red or wine colored lip is mandatory. If you're going to work or it's daytime, try a berry colored lip instead. In the '20's, they applied lipstick to the cupid's bow area only - leaving the corners of lips bare. They also extended the lipstick past the line of the lips slightly to more define the cupid's bow - the final product were lips that looked like hearts. (See the added image!). To achieve a similar look in a more modern fashion, apply your lipstick with a brush making sure to define the cupid's bow. Start in the center of the lips and go outward - don't apply hardly any lipstick to the outer corners. You want the center of the lips to be the darkest and have more color than the outer corners. For the eyes, you'll want a volumizing and lengthening mascara. Curl lashes slightly and apply several coats until your lashes are super thick. If you're going out, you could also use black eyeliner to create a cat eye effect.
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    Fashion ideas
    Fashion ideas
    And finally, you need to figure out what to wear. If you're going for a retro vibe, you could shop at vintage stores and flea markets to find clothing from the 20's. If you're trying to be more modern, just wear your normal, everyday fashions. To mix the two together, try simple shift dresses that don't have a lot of shape to them paired with more modern footwear. You could even throw in a few cloche hats into your everyday wardrobe - they make straw ones for summer and wool ones for winter (try!). You can throw on a couple long necklaces to add a little retro flare. The best thing to do to figure out what works best for you is to do a google image search for "1920's fashion" and look at the photos to see what you like. Then, try to find similar pieces and incorporate them into your wardrobe. Chances are, you probably have many similar items. For example, t-strap maryjane's were popular in the mid to late 1920's - and they're popular today as well! You either have a pair or you can find a pair at almost any shoe store. Long strands of pearls were popular back then and long necklaces are popular now. Chances are you can easily find a vintage inspired one at your local Target. Also, try the menswear trend out a little bit. In the 20's, many women were just starting to wear pants and trousers for the first time. Many women were experiencing freedom for the first time - finally, no more restrictive hair, corsets, or long dresses! You could also try a vintage inspired headband - Etsy has lots! Look under the 'handmade' section. Good luck!
I found this article fascinating. The women of the 20s were indeed the first feminists and they did it in style. Stay tune for next Friday's post when I will hopefully morph into Louise Brooks albeit with a 'witchy' edge.!

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