Health & Beauty · Home · Vintage Hints & Tips

Vintage Hints and Tips – How To Look Like Mrs 1940

Keeping up morale was important during WWII. Everyone was encouraged to look their best, not just for themselves, but for the good of the country, and to show the enemy we were getting on with life. The following article from May 1940 shows how ladies were encouraged to look good.

YOU’RE looking at a smart, attractive figure in a fashion plate and “Why can’t I look like that?” you sigh. You can. You can probably look every bit a good as young Mrs. 1940 on the opposite page, provided you’ll take the trouble.

The first step towards her perfect grooming is a long, long look in the glass, and if you are aware of deficiencies – most of us are at this time of year – don’t put it off till next week, start right now with YOUR HAIR. Is it out of sorts? Are you almost due for a new perm? If so, book it now, and start to condition your hair with tonic rubs, oil shampoos and lots and lots of brushing. Is it the right length? Fashion decrees that it must not be longer than four inches all over and that the hair shall be well thinned to shape the head.

The signs of a 1940 hair-do are loose natural-looking waves or soft baby curls, hair swept up at the sides, and short half-curls or a swept-­across movement at the back. Above all, it must be slick, neat and shining. That means plenty of brilliantine, and do choose this carefully for brilliantines differ enormously. The brilliantine you pick must not cause the hair to go lank or greasy after a few days, it must not darken blonde or grey hair, and it must not clash with your own perfume. The one I have in mind fulfils all these qualifications and, more-over, contains nourishing vitamins.

YOUR EYES should still be the focal point of your make-up, though they are treated differently. The brows, though thicker and more natural-looking than they have been for years, must be tidied and emphasised, and a little attention paid to the brows will give a well-groomed look to your face more quickly than anything I know. To groom your brows you will need a magnifying mirror, a pair of tweezers, a tube of brow cream, mascara and eyebrow pencil. These can be had from the sixpenny store so that they will not be an alarming addition to your beauty budget. Spread the ointment over the brows – it deadens the smart of the pull – and while this is doing its work, comb the brows to see which hairs are growing irregularly and spoiling the line, and sterilise your tweezers in boiling water. When the tweezers are cool, remove the offending hairs, pulling them in the direction in which they grow. There may not be more than a dozen or so to remove, but these are more than enough to give a woolly, indefinite look to the brows. I advise you not to use an eyebrow pencil to darken the brows – it is apt to make them look hard – but if the brow stops short before the outer corner of the eye is reached it is becoming to prolong it. Study your profile with the help of two mirrors, and try drawing out the line of the brow, for even a fraction of an inch gives that finished look which we are out to get. To darken the brows, damp the mascara brush and brush against the hair. Brush them back into place with a second brush just damped with brilliantine. Though the lashes should be long, dark, and shiny they must not look spiky or artificial. A tinted lash cream – you can get this in brown, black and blue – is one of the best ways of getting colour and shine – length, too, if you use it regularly – or you can use mascara, one with an oil base, being careful to brush the lashes with a dry brush after the mascara has been applied.

Eye-shadow lends depth and bril­liance to the eyes, particularly under artificial light; but it must be used sparingly or it defeats its own ends by drawing attention to the lids rather than to the eyes. During the day, or whenever shadow is omitted, finger-print a touch of oil or cream upon the lids, for this gives the eyes an added brightness, and keeps the lids smooth and unlined.

YOUR FACE must be clear-­skinned and fair for the new Spring make-up, and the only way to achieve this is to cleanse, tone, and nourish the skin regularly, night and morning. If you are registering good resolutions on this point I will gladly send you a simple but excellent routine for skin care.

Orange, blue, and purple tones have disappeared from our make-up boxes and clear vermilion reds, soft rose-pinks, and red with just a hint of brown in it are the cosmetic colours we shall wear this summer. With the new greys, and gay pastel tints we are to see so much of, you will wear a soft natural rose lipstick with a matching cream rouge and a peach or rosy rachel powder. With the Havana browns, the green and the oatmeal shades now appearing in the shop windows, the recommended cosmetic colours are a magnetic red rouge and lipstick with a pearly powder. If, on the other hand, your new Spring suit is of the new bright navy, of purple or violet, a cherry-red rouge and lipstick and a warm, deep peach powder are suggested. It may be, however, that you wear only those costume colours which flatter your natural colouring – many experts will applaud you – and this makes your choice of cosmetics simple. You can have the powder, the rouge, lipstick and eye make-up which is the complement of your colouring. Wear them over a flattering pancake foundation.

YOUR NAILS will be shorter than they were a year ago. Long Chinese-looking points are no longer admired and varnish is paler and quieter (loud cheers from the men), the favourite shades being Petal, Laurel, Cedarwood, Nosegay, Regency, Dusty Rose and Shell, while for women in the Services there are Extra Pale and Natural. When wearing Natural varnish you can paint the entire nail from cuticle to tip, but when using the others, leave the moon white and draw a fine thread of white at the tips. The best way to obtain this thread is to varnish the nail to the tip then pass a tissue lightly over the nail edge.

Now that your eyes are travelling over YOUR FIGURE, let’s say a word about the 1940 spring version. Shoulders are square though not exaggeratedly so, and that means padded shoulders in coats and frocks. The bust is high and emphasised so lay in a stock of good uplift brassieres. The waist is trim neat and accentuated, the hips gently curving – note the gently – ­and the whole figure delightfully feminine. Make a note to have a fitting for a corset which will comfortably and inexpensively give your figure the feminine, flattering 1940 line.

Skirts are still short, swinging youthfully beneath the knee, and even if YOUR LEGS AND ANKLES aren’t quite up to stan­dard don’t wear your skirt longer than the fashionable length. This only draws attention to the legs. No, wear your short skirt, but resolve to beautify your legs and ankles and write to me for some helpful exercises.

If you have come thus far with me, and, facing your reflection frankly in the mirror, have jotted down the points which need attention, the chances are you will have quite a lot of homework. Never mind, the game is worth the candle, and if during your check-­over any special problem crops up, remember that I’m standing by to help.