Mad about Vintage: Get the ’40s look

Lucy Manley’s 1940s-inspired hair Pic: Olivia Campbell

On the first day of our Mad about Vintage series, we spoke to 1940s-style lover Lucy Manley, 22, who embraces the era in all facets of her life. The most impressive aspect of her look, is her meticulously groomed hair which she rolls everyday into curls.

Manley’s haircut, which she describes as “the classic 1940s horseshoe shape”, is cut specifically so her curls bounce up at the front and drop at the back. She describes her hair as “poker straight” when it is unrolled, which is why she sleeps in hair rollers every night to achieve and maintain her desired ’40s look. She says, “I use foam hair rollers, which you can buy easily in places like Poundland, with setting lotion on dry, clean hair.”

Although the process is laborious, Manley says she has to do this every night otherwise her hair “drops”. She says, “If you have naturally thick, wavy hair you could not put rollers in for two nights.” After sleeping with her hair in rollers, she then has to comb them out with two different brushes to achieve the desired style.

“I even get my hair cut by someone who works in film and television at House of Drewvid. I use its Marcel Spray as a setting lotion which is the best thing for my hair,” she says. The company also has a specific range tailored to “vintage girls and boys” which includes setting lotions and pomades

As well as wearing her hair in this classic style, Manley also piles her hair on top of her head in a scarf to create the classic 1940s pin-up girl style.

Women in the 1940s often put their hair up in a scarf Pic: Wiki

Another important aspect of Manley’s style is her make-up. Although she says her cosmetics are affordable high street brands, an iconic red lip, arched brows and black mascara are staple pieces when re-creating the ’40s.

Unlike the 1930s and 1950s, this era pushed towards a more natural image which favoured reshaping eyebrows and contouring the face with small hints of colour.

Here’s a quick guide to re-create the perfect 1940s make-up look:

Pin-up girl Betty Grable displayed the classic 40s look Pic: Wiki


A natural arch and shape with a hint of eyebrow pencil makes the brow look effortless and soft rather than drawn on. Eyebrows were only plucked to remove stray hairs and maintain the natural arch.

For those with lighter hair, using an eyebrow pencil a shade darker can be used to draw a line on top of the brow with hairs below left clean. If you want to be even more authentic, dabbing on petroleum jelly to smooth the hairs into an arch is the best way to achieve the desired look.

Lucy Manley’s 40s-inspired dressing table Pic: Olivia Campbell


Light eye shadow that matches the eye colour or a hint of gold or silver for an evening look is the best way to achieve a ’40s eye. Mascara is applied to both the upper and lower lashes, with eye shadows worn in neutral colours. Women with blue eyes should wear blue-grey shadow, green eyes should wear grey, and brown or hazel eyes should wear brown shadow.

Remember: do not contour! Eye shadow should be worn in a single colour from the lash line all the way to the brow in the evening, with just the top eyelid coloured for daywear. Eyeliner was only used nearing the end of the 1940s and then applied to the top lash line.

1940s eye makeup usually compliments a person’s natural colouring Pic: Pixabay


Foundations and powders should be as natural as possible with rouge – blusher nowadays – being used sparingly to give a natural colour. If you cannot find the right blush, try dabbing a light matte lipstick on your cheeks instead to achieve the same effect.

Lipstick was red and matte Pic: Flickr


Lipstick in the ’40s was worn in varying shades of red, with pinks not coming in until the 1950s. Blue, orange and darker tones of red were worn depending on a woman’s skin colour and the season.

For the most authentic look, wear something completely matte and make sure to moisturise your lips before you apply it. In the 1940s, women tried to plump their lips if their mouth was considered thin by applying lipstick outside their lip line. This made lips seem more even and was named the ‘Hunters Bow’ lip–a term coined by Max Factor and famously worn by Joan Crawford.

Women in the 40s wore red lipstick Pic: Wiki

Finish off the look with red nail polish and plenty of face powder to re-create your inner Joan Crawford and become a ’40s icon.

Follow our ‘Mad about Vintage’ series this week to find out more about the eclectic world of vintage fashion. #MadAboutVintage

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