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Roaring 1920's Fads
and Trends in Makeup and Hair
The Roaring Twenties decade saw jazz and women's
liberation in education, behavior, dress and makeup.
Pancake makeup was invented in 1914, women got the vote
in 1920, and as far as many conservative folk were
concerned, the world fell apart. Women were dating
without chaperones, necking unreservedly at parties,
dancing lewdly and drinking hard liquor in nightclubs
Fashion statement of a 1920s party girl.
Controversial short hair and heavy makeup of the twenties.
1920s Shocking Beauty Trend:
The Flapper era began with the look called "comme
le garcon" (or, "like the boy"), straightening and
shortening skirts and dresses, slimming figures and—most
shocking of all—cutting the hair of the nation's
fashionable young women. Short hair was a big deal: nice
girls kept their hair long, as a metaphor for
maidenhood. For a woman to chop her hair short was to
practically admit she was no longer a virgin. But women
went more than a step further than a boyish haircut and
tendency to party; they began smoking in
public—something no "lady" did. They outfit themselves
with silk robes embroidered with vintage inspired floral
motifs. They discarded the restrictive girdles and
corsets and bound their breasts flat to achieve an even
more "masculine" appearance in their costumes. And they
wore lots and lots of makeup.
Cutting Off Your Hair Said "Party Girl"
Makeup & Eyebrows
Before the '20's, women wore cosmetics, but nice women hid their rouge pots and
powder puffs away from fathers and husbands, who heartily disapproved.
Discretion was imperative. But when the '20's hit, young women went for makeup
in a big way: stars like Theda Bara and Clara Bow made paper-white skin, blood
red lips and insanely made-up eyes into must-haves for every fashionable woman
who ever rolled a stocking below the knee.
Became the Accepted Style for the 20s
Eyebrows: Plucked and Redrawn
Makeup was in its rawest form, because the market was just beginning to grow.
Early mascara was a cake of wax that was melted and applied in a gluey mass to
the lashes with an orange stick. The trend in lipstick was the reddest red—no
other color options were available—and smudgeproof lipstick was mandatory for
would-be vamps who wanted to neck without leaving a trail.
Eyebrows were painfully thin; in a fad, women plucked out the entire eyebrow and
penciled it back on higher than it had been in the first place. Eye makeup
consisted of kohl, which might be made of ingredients as strange as soot, lead
and goose grease. Kohl went all the way around the eyes, turning the whole
orbital area into a deep-stained smudge reminiscent of vampires. For a dramatic
touch, some 'vamps' drew a line of kohl from the corner of the eye outward,
simulating a slightly Asiatic look that was deemed sexy and bad. (Even today,
imported kohl may contain lead: substitute black eyeliner instead). Powder
(usually rice powder) was vital to the Flapper look: skin looked white to the
point of near-death; one author called it, "the pallor usually associated with
innate vice". Themes in makeup as in dresses were based on the Orient.
Along with other 'unfeminine' behaviors, Flappers didn't hide their makeup any
more than they did their legs; lipstick was applied at the dinner table and
powder compacts made public appearances at parties and speakeasies. Portable
makeup containers—compacts and lipstick tubes made of precious metals and
encrusted with jewels—became ideal accessories when cosmetics left the boudoir
for the banquette.
Hair Styles & Cuts:
The bobbed haircut made the nineteen twenties Flapper movement what it was, and
sent many young women to their rooms in disgrace "until it grows back!". The Bob
hairstyle was a blunt cut worn halfway between cheekbone and chin. Bangs could
be worn cut straight across or swept to one side. Like the made up face, hair
didn't look "natural"; it was slicked down, glistening with brilliantine. The
Shingle, which followed the Bob, cut the hair at the nape in a V-shape, exposing
the neck. Shingles were accompanied by marcelled finger waves or spit curls at
the temples. The most drastic version of the Flapper hairdo was the Eton crop,
cut very short and close to the head, with a curl plastered tightly above either
Short, Sexy & a Sign of the Times
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