1940s Hair & Makeup to Get the Vintage Hairstyle

1940 was an exciting era and world wide change (and hair). If you are going to copy a vintage style and feel empowered, this is the time period to go for!

By Amanda Hamilton
1940s Hair & Makeup to Get the Vintage Hairstyle

Iconic 1940 Rosie The Riveter Hair And Makeup Tutorial

1940 Rosie the Riveter Hair Backstory

This hairstyle works best for long hair. The 1940 "Rosie the Riveter Look" has some important historical context. After Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, the US decided to get involved in World War II. At the time, women generally stayed home and did not work a regular job. The first draft pulled men 21-45, which ended up being a majority of the workforce. There was a war going up no one to build the supplies, so into the factories the women went. We know that as women, out biggest critics are other women, and so did the Government. The iconic poster that is the base of the look was initially nothing more than a propaganda campaign, but it was so accurate that the look has come to define a generation.

This look is not just sexy, but functional! Building ships was hard work, but at the start of the time where women were expected to do it all, they were still expected to look good doing it. Hair styling tools have come a long way since WWII.mnay women would do their hair only once every two or three days due to the amount of time it took, which is why the bandana is such an integral part of the look. The bandana also protected the women who were building ships hair from being burned from sparks flying from their tools! There was little time in the day to do much else besides work and take care of your home/kids, so makeup was kept mostly natural looking. Most men were away fighting in the war, so this era was the start of the "single" working mother. After all, who has time to spend hours on their hair with a war effort to support?  

1940 Rosie the Rivetor Hair Tutorial

Depending on how fancy you want this hairstyle to be, it can be incredibly easy! Vintage hairstyles are always in and much easier to vibe with than you would expect. This look is great for picnics or bonfires!

For the simpler version of this 1940s hairstyle, you will need around hairbrush(or standard teasing comb) hairpins and/or a hair tie, a bandana, hairspray, and a curling Iron or hair straightener. You may also want some additional smoothing product if your hair is extra unruly.

First, start with dry hair. Take a small section of hair about the same width as the arches of your eyebrows and comb down. Try to tease the sides so that the hair on the outer edges are smooth. Next, take the portion of gathered hair and either using your fingers or a wide tooth comb smooth the outside of the "poof." Pin the teased portion of hair in place. 

Next, you will pull back the remaining portion of hair to be covered by the bandana. If you have long hair or medium hair, it would probably be best to roll and tuck your ponytail, or french braid and pin the hair going in the bandana to avoid a large bulge of hair at the back of your head. If you have short hair, or thin hair a low ponytail will probably be fine.

After you have the rest of your hair confined. You add the bandana.

Fold the bandana in half so that it is in the shape of a triangle. Drape the bandana over your neck/shoulders as if you were wearing a cape. The folded edge should be touching your neck. Next, pull the end of the bandana up to cover the back of your hair. Use the ends to tie the bandana in place. Tuck the "ugly" pieces of the bandana in. Use hair pins to fix the bandana in place, and Viola! You have created a vintage 1940 hairstyle for yourself!

If you would like a more complicated hairstyle, you can always go for barrel roll look, all you need to do is curl the same section of your hair as shown above. Rather than combing the curled hair out, simply roll and tuck the hair in place!

Match this hairstyle with a simple button up and high-waisted pants for a true 1940 look. Or give a modern spin during the summer and go for a white tank top and dark wash jeans. Toss in some converse, and you have a modern spin on a throwback style that has stood the test of time!

The 1940 era is the favorite of any "era style." Not only is it easy, but also includes a fun accessory, AND hides dirty hair, The 1940 Rosie the Riveter look represents the beginning of empowerment of women and moving away from the "yes dear" ideals. It would still be several years before women were truly making great progress, but the 1940s represents a great decade for the advancement of women's rights. During this period, more women enrolled in college, worked outside of the home and became more involved in world events happening in the decade of 1940.

Bonus:1940 Pin Up Tutorial for Short Hair

This short hairstyle is almost designed for women who hate using hair pins! One of the biggest advantages of having short hair is that most styles require little to no extra equipment.

You will need either hair rollers or a curling iron. The shorter your hair is, the smaller barrel or roller you will need, and as always LOTS, and LOTS of hairspray!

If you are using rollers, you will want to start with slightly damp hair. Separate your hair into sections. Starting with the section of hair at the top of your head roll a portion of hair down towards your scalp. Let the rollers set in your hair for at least 1 hour; you can spritz the rolled portion of hair with salt water to help hold the curl. 

Once you have all of the hair you want rolled done, remove the rollers and depending on the section of hair, either pin in place(barrel curls) or gently comb out for a vintage wave.

This particular hairstyle is great for weddings or special events. Depending on the climate, copying hairstyles from the 1940s is usually best done during the spring and summer months, as those styles are most functional during those times. For those with long hair, you will want to invest in lots of hairspray and hairpins if you want to copy this look. You will probably find that you have more frizzies and fly away hairs with long hair than someone with the same style but shorter hair.

Vintage 1940 Style Makeup to Match the Hair Style

Makeup was not nearly as involved in 1940  as it is today. The decade was heavily influenced by the focus on winning the war and Hollywood Glamour. There was little focus on beauty or fashion, and what little bit of focus there was, it was mainly placed on functionality and convenience rather than the glamour of the Roaring 20s. Hollywood actresses like Vivian Leigh, Joan Crawford, Bette Davis, and Olivia de Havilland all were major trendsetters. Lets also not forget Judy Garland, who likely started the obsession with the "color pop" with her magical bright red shoes!

Makeup in 1940 was supposed to look natural. The entire world was at war, and there was little respect in society for those who did not do their part to contribute to the Cause. Too heavy makeup was perceived as vain and selfish. Most women still wore makeup of course, but the hope was that the only easily discernible addition to the look was the fire engine red lipstick many women wore. The lipstick was typically a matte finish. Some women would take the time to draw own a beauty mark with eyeliner or a brow pencil, inspired by Marylin Monroe of course. 

Stunning Beauty Our Marilyn photographed by Frank Powolny, 1953 ❤💋❤💋

A post shared by Marilyn Monroe (@marilynmonroe_fanpage_) on

Vintage 1940 Style Makeup Tutorial

The 1940s fashion was not always feminine, but the makeup style was! 

With any makeup tutorial, you need to start with a clean face. Next, add a medium coverage foundation over the whole surface of your face. Blend well using a beauty blender; this prevents the foundation from looking cakey.

Next, we recommend focusing on The Brows. Any image of an Actress from the 1940s will have a very exaggerated arch. Start by using a brow brush to brush all of your eyebrows upward. Next using a creme based brow color, add some "hair" at the arch of your brows and fill in as necessary. Then you will want to add some length to the edges of your brows. Be careful here to follow the natural shape of your brow line.

After you have finished the brows, you will focus on the rest of your eye. This look is very subtle. Pick a nude tone that is 1-2 shades lighter than your skin tone, and brush from your eyelashes up on to your brow line. Take a darker brown tone and sweep from the corner of your outer eye in a C shape along the crease. The goal here is to create a sunken, sultry eye, not a full smokey eye. Subtly is key for the 1940s look.

Now on to the more dramatic aspect of the look, the eyeliner! Depending on how pronounced you would like the look, you can do a full wing line or just a subtle taper. Finish off your eyes with some mascara and a final touch up of eyeshadow!

Lastly, and most importantly, you will need some red lipstick. Now contrary to popular belief there is a red tone out that will go with every skin tone! You just need to put in the work to find the shade that works for you. (Life Hack: when you find the shade, STOCK. UP. Makeup companies frequently discontinue shades!)

This tutorial is just a guide. There are so many more out there by different makeup enthusiasts that if this tutorial does not quite fit your routine, you will be able to find another! Play around with different makeup manufacturers. Matte lipstick is critical to the overall look, so find a brand that you love before committing to making this look a daily occurrence.

1940 Style Outfits

Time for some Sunday morning coffee 🌾 What are you up to on this lovely day? We spent yesterday cycling through Leipzig's nearby beautiful forest and today there is going to be another bike tour. Though we have hot summer days, I am not the one who likes to lie in the sun at the beach, I'd rather be active and exploring. Wishing you a great day full of happy moments and adventures! 🌾🏕 . The photo was taken by one of Leipzig's best portrait photographers - @sophiamolek. ♥☕ . . . #Sunnyday #Sundaymorning #vegancoffee #cafebubu #40sfashion #coffeelove #Erholung #Entschleunigung #retrofashion #vintagefashion #vintageearrings #40shair #40sstyle #vintagelife #nostalgia #fromwhereisit #moodyportraits #retrofashion #40sinspired #thisisleipzig #madewithlove

A post shared by Vintagemaedchen Vintage Blog (@vintagemaedchen_by_victoria) on

The 1940s style functioned on functionality rather than fashion. This was a big change from the high strung fashion trends of the 20s when silk and lace we all the rage.

With more women entering the workforce, there was not much room for delicate fabrics or lace gloves. The US economy was struggling due to the war effort, so clothing needed to last, and be versatile.

Designers like Chanel and Dior recognized the need to merge the idea of fashion and functionality! The beauty of the 1940s is that most accessories and outfits suited long hair and short hairstyles! 

1940 Vintage Inspired Dresses

Source: https://www.modcloth.com

The flowing polka dot dress was THE go to "going out dress" of the 1940s. The free moving dresses defined the era. A major feature of 1940s fashion emphasized the waistline. Much of the goal of styling was to enhance feminity, as it was seen as "masculine" to work outside of the home.

Another key factor of this style are the shoes, it sounds drab, but if you choose a dark blue, grey or black based dress with white dots, it is always fun to use your shoes an accessories as a pop of color! This also makes it easier to switch the look around and keep it fresh.

Depending on the neckline, this style dress is fun if you have long hair, you can use the same techniques listed above to curl your hair. Put your hair into two sections. Roll or curl the top half and pin in place. Next, tightly roll the bottom half into horizontal barrel curls. After you have curled the length of your hair, gently brush the curls out. This should leave nice gentle waves, completing the look. 

1940 Vintage Style Skirt Outfits

Source: https://www.modcloth.com

Even today skirts are the staple of any fashionistas closet. High waisted A-Line skirts took off in the 1940s as a trend, and it continues through to this day. A modern twist on the A-Line skirt is nice button up or utility shirt!

Dress this style up even more with a wide belt, and matching pumps. Color coordination was also really big in the 1940s! Any color pop you have should always match on all of your accessories when trying to copy 1940s style!  

1940 Vintage Inspired Pant Suits

One of the"function first" styles, pants suits rose to popularity as women remained in office jobs after the end of WWII.

Pantsuits were typically two pieces, with a long jacket and loose pant legs. The waist, per the standard, was usually cinched in. Images of the 1940s usually show women sporting this style with either short hair, or their hair pulled back. Having their hair restrained was probably more of a matter of comfort than anything else. Having your hair get stuck in the collar of your shirt all day is never fun.

The vintage style pictured above would have been considered more scandalous due to the lower neckline, but the overall shape is exactly what was seen in the 1940s. The only key piece that is missing from this outfit is the boxy shoulder pads! Broader shoulders help accentuate a small waist, something we can all appreciate.

Bonus: Accessorize like its 1940!

1940s Vintage Style Shoes

Source: https://www.modcloth.com

While the regular "pumps" came to rise in the 1940s, many forget that Mary Janes also started to take off in the same time frame! Mary Jane style heels are always comfy and easy to walk in, because of the wider wheelbase. They also work well with a variety of outfits and add great detail to an outfit.

1940 Style Jewelry

Jewelry in the 1940s was considered just as important to completing an outfit as it is today. A necklace can completely make or break a look! Long, drapey pearl necklaces were THE piece to have. Pearls were the defining piece of the era. This was due to their simplistic beauty, as well as their versatility to be worn with almost any color, outfit or neckline.

Broaches, large chunky bracelets, and rings were also all the rage! Much of the jewelry worn by women during this period is considered "costume jewelry" by today's standards, which makes it very easy to find at your local thrift store for a steal! Just be sure to clean earrings well before wearing them. Large heirloom style earrings came into fashion as hairstyles got shorter as an easy way of "dressing up" a relatively simple ensemble without having to spend hours on your hair!  

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