Retro beauty - get the look

Caroline Cassidy

Fashion often turns to the past for inspiration and retro style from times gone by regularly makes it onto the catwalks. From the flappers of the 1920s through the glamorous 1940s to the swinging 1960s, here's how to get the look.

Retro beauty
Retro beauty

Pic: Getty

The roaring twenties
The enduring do of the '20s is the finger wave. Popularised by 'It girls' of the time, Clara Bow and Marion Davies, this wave effect hair style was quickly embraced by the party-going girls of the '20s. To create the wave, take a flat iron to a section of hair and half-rotate outwards, the move down and half-rotate inwards and so on. These days, there's no need to cut off your locks to get the look - simply part the hair at the side, make a bun low at the nape of the neck and slightly off centre, and leave a section of hair free on the same side to create the finger wave.

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Authentic 1920s makeup created an almost doll-like effect, with emphasised lips, dark-rimmed eyes and pale, porcelain skin. A light foundation with a pale powder sets the basis for the look, though you can add a little pink or peach blush to the apples of the cheeks for a highlight.

The eyes should be the focal point in '20s makeup, with thin, arched eyebrows, and bold eye shadow in dark shades of green, purple or black, or choose a grey shadow slightly less strong effect, and sweep outwards. Dark Kohl eyeliner, and curled or false lashes with black mascara both top and bottom will finish this dramatic look.

Lips also get the 'doll' treatment, with a dark lip liner used to enhance the cupid's bow and to give points to the corners of the mouth, while lipstick adds extra fullness to both the upper and lower lip. The traditional lip colour was red, as this was all that was available at the time, but deep burgundies, maroons and purples work just as well.

The fabulous forties
Women in the 1940s looked to the glamorous stars of the silver screen for style inspiration, and a look at the likes of Veronica Lake, Rita Hayworth and Ava Gardner will give you a good idea of the hair and makeup trends. Soft waves, pin curls and pompadour up dos were very much the order of the day, but undoubtedly the iconic hairstyle of the time was the Victory Roll.

Bobby pins and hairspray are a must for this style, and it may take a little practice to perfect. With your hair parted slightly to the side, take large sections of the hair on each side and backcomb to add volume. Then tuck the ends of the hair before rolling from the back, moving slowly towards the front, before fastening with pins and a generous helping of hair spray before you begin on the other side. Though it's tricky to master, once you've got the technique, you can easily make it work for long or mid-length hair. Rolled back bangs are another way to achieve the look.

With life's little luxuries hard to come by during wartime, 1940s makeup was a slightly less dramatic affair than the styles of the '20s. The trend was towards a natural, healthy glow, which can be achieved by applying a warm foundation that is slightly darker than your natural skin tone, finished with a powder slightly lighter than your own skin. Rouge with pink or fuchsia undertones can then be applied to the apples of the cheeks and brushed up towards the temple for that rosy-cheeked look.

With eyeshadow in short supply, eyes were much more natural, with shades of brown often used on the lids, while eyebrows were plucked to create an arch. The drama in the eye department should come from lashings of black mascara.

The 1940s look focused on the lips, whether bright scarlet or pink or orange shades.

The swinging sixties
Style took a huge leap in the 1960s, with the mini, the pixie cut and the waif look suddenly the hot trends. While Vidal Sassoon's short, sharp styles are undoubtedly the iconic dos of the decade, thanks to the likes of Mia Farrow and Twiggy, not everyone is prepared to go down the pixie route.

If you have longer locks and want to get a '60s vibe, bouffant and beehive is the way to go, and that means plenty of backcombing. Once the hair is suitably 'big', the hair can be gathered up at the front to support this towering do, and moulded to create the height. Have plenty of pins and strong hold hairspray on hand. If you're not after the full Dusty Springfield but would prefer an easier DIY option, simply backcomb to add volume and use curling irons to create a 'flick' at the ends of the hair.
Just like the hairstyles and the fashion, makeup was all about being bold in the swinging '60s. Pale eyeshadow with a dark crease line a la Twiggy was one of the most famous looks of the time, along with heavy mascara or false lashes. If Twiggy's Mod makeup isn't for you, there's always the Liz Taylor alternative, with dark black eyeliner, flicked up at the ends, with shaped brows defined with a pencil.

By contrast, pastel and nude shades were popular when it came to blusher and lippy. Corals, pinks and peach gave a soft glow to cheeks, and lips were understated in pale pinks, browns and nude shades to finish the look.