From beaded drop-waist dresses to flapper girl bobs, arched brows to impeccably styled Marcel waves, the 1920s were one of the most glamorous decades of all time. It’s no surprise then, that it’s an era that Hollywood can’t help but return to (in films like Baz Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsby, The Aviator and Woody Allen’s most recent effort, Café Society) – and one that we’re keen to channel off-screen, too.
The defining make-up look of the decade was a strong smoky eye, rose-coloured cheeks and deep blood-red lips - think Elizabeth Debicki’s striking style as Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby and you’re there. As for 1920s hairstyles, there are plenty to take inspiration from – even if you don’t have a Twenties crop. Whether you’re off to a Prohibition party and want to authentically off-set your costume, or just want to bring a touch of the Twenties to your everyday look, read on for our take on how to put a 2016 twist on 1920s hair and makeup.
1920s hair: Marcel waves and finger waves
Joan Crawford and Dorothy Sebastian in 'Dancing Daughters'
Immortalised by screen sirens like Joan Crawford, Greta Garbo and Anita Page, the Marcel wave is possibly the most iconic 1920s hairstyle. The heated curling iron pioneered by French hairstylist Francois Marcel in the latter end of the 19th century made waves longer lasting and easier to achieve for ordinary women. Another way of pulling off a similar effect was the humble finger wave technique, which were created on wet hair using just a comb and fingers: hair would be ridged backwards and forwards to form the signature wave shape, then left to set and dry.
How to achieve 1920s hair - Marcel waves
Amy Adams and Taylor Swift channel the 1920s on the red carpet
If you have the patience, you can get the look by arming yourself with a good, wide-barrelled curling tong; tong hair in small sections, clip back, leave for as long as possible and once released, spray with hairspray to secure the curls and pin back once again to frame the face. Seek inspiration from A-listers like Amy Adams and Taylor Swift for a modern, softer take on this classic 1920s hairstyle.
How to achieve 1920s hair - finger waves
For authentic finger waves, invest in some styling clips and hair gel (yes, really). Comb it through from root to tip, part your hair to the side then pull it towards the left to create the first ridge of the wave, pinning it in place with a clip to form a groove. Pull hair the other way to create another wave, then repeat around the head and leave to set. We'll warn you now - it's not an easy style to pull off, but with practise, you'll doubtless become as adept as one of the lady's maids from Downton... Failing that, you can always throw historical accuracy to the wind and pick up your trusty curling tong (Lady Mary woudln't judge you too much). Check out the tutorial below for some hints and tips....
Short on time? Don’t fret - you can always add a little flair to your hair with a pretty headpiece- bejewelled hairpins, feathery headbands and sequinned headpieces were the go-to accessories for flapper-era femmes.
Clara Bow and Greta Garbo demonstrate a 1920s lip
Did you know Max Factor launched his first lip gloss in 1928? A cupid's bow painted in darkest red is one of the most striking 1920s make-up looks, with a stylised, heart-shaped upper lip balanced with a thinner lower lip creating a rounded, almost doll-like mouth.
To get the 1920’s cupid’s-bow mouth as perfected by the decade’s it-girl Clara Bow, it’s best to start by covering lips with foundation (or a dedicated lip primer) to ensure a super-smooth base. Using a dark lip pencil, feather in colour in light strokes following the lip shape. Then, using a lip brush, colour in the lips with a similar shade- stick to deep-reds, plums and browns for the ultimate 20’s throwback.
1920s eye makeup
Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby
Think super-smoky. In the early 1920’s, King Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered, and everyone went crazy for everything Egyptian, including Cleopatra’s infamous kohl-eyes. Arm yourself with a smudgy black pencil (we’re obsessed with Urban Decay’s Glide-on Eye Pencil in Zero, £14) and you’re sorted. In terms of lashes, think big. Either go false or curl and apply at least two coats of intense black mascara. You can’t go wrong with Lancôme’s Hypnose Black mascara, £22
This one is certainly not for the faint of heart or strong of brow... The classic 1920s brow was highly sculpted but much thinner than the arches we tend to covet today. Swedish actress Greta Garbo was the Cara Delevingne of her era, lauded for her strikingly arched, jet black brows. To get the look, darken and turn eyebrows slightly downward with an eyebrow pencil that is darker than your natural colour. Best reserved for fancy dress? We think so...
For beauty inspiration from the It-girls of the 1920s and ways the A-list have worn the trend on the red carpet, take a look at the gallery below.