You may not know her name, but you should recognize her photo. Actress 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 was the quintessential flapper of the Roaring Twenties. Here’s how to re-create the style without looking as if you stepped out of a speakeasy or a costume party.
Things You'll Need
Change your hairdo. 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 new sense of freedom. So, you need to decide what to do about your hair. Is your hair already short? You’ve lucked out. You can try learning how to finger-wave your hair to achieve the look. You could also try going for the sleek “helmet” look like Louise Brooks’. Many flappers had bangs or fringe because the forehead was considered not sexy. To modernize your style, you could add some side-swept bangs or longer bangs; most bangs in the 1920s were cut at just above the eyebrow, though.
If you have long hair and are you unwilling to cut it, you still have choices. Many wigs are natural looking. Alternately, you could try a faux bob. 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 midneck is the most universally flattering. Grab a bunch of bobby pins and start tucking the hair under and pinning it.
Are you thinking about cutting your hair short? Many women are going shorter these days. For a flapper look, keep hair between the earlobe and midneck length. Most young women of the 1920s wore 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.
Choose your makeup. In the 1920s, a lot of makeup didn’t exist, and only a few colors were available. 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 shaved off their eyebrows and penciled them back on. 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 ’20s, flappers 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 effect was lips that looked like hearts. 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. You want the center of the lips to be the darkest and have more color than the outer corners. For your 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, use black eyeliner to create a cat-eye effect.
Finally, figure out what to wear. If you’re going for a retro vibe, shop at vintage stores and flea markets to find clothing from the ’20s. If you’re trying to be 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 a few cloche hats into your everyday wardrobe — straw ones for summer and wool ones for winter. Pick up a couple long necklaces for retro flair. T-strap Mary Jane pumps were popular in the mid- to late 1920s, and they’re popular today as well! Long strands of pearls were popular back then, and are again today. Try the menswear trend a little bit. In the ’20s, many women were just starting to wear pants and trousers. Finally, no time-consuming hair, restrictive corsets or long dresses! You could also try a vintage inspired headband. Mall stores sometimes have great ones, with feathers and bows.
References and ResourcesGoogle Images: Louise Brooks
Internet Movie Data Base: Louise Brooks
Louise Brooks Society
Daily Mail Online; 100 Years of the Bob: Flappers, Twiggy, Katie Holmes, and Now Jessica Alba, It's the Style That Has Transcended Time; Jo Clements; Jan. 9, 2009