Oh, don't pretend like you don't have one!
There are a lot of clichés I could write about Clara Bow: she was the original It Girl, the epitome of a flapper, a dancing, drinking, wild party girl who conquered Hollywood in the silent era and then crashed and burned when talkies came around because her Brooklyn accent was not beloved by audiences. But from the reading I’ve done, it sounds like there’s an awesome woman behind the clichés. She worked her way up from poverty, and while the industry was cruel and exploitative, her natural charisma and charm seemed to shine through in everything she did.
Just look at her in this clip from It (1927), her most famous film:
The woman was a star.
Here’s what you’ll need to transform yourself into Clara Bow:
- Curly hair, obtained any way you like
- A long thin scarf
- A glue stick
- A full coverage matte foundation
- Eyebrow pencil or pomade
- Black eyeshadow
- Dark lipstick (I chose purple)
Clara actually wore her hair in all sorts of ways, from sleek bobs to massive piles of frizzy curls. I chose to replicate a look where she’s wearing a scarf tied low over her head with curls spilling out and under in all directions.
If you have short hair like me, then this look is really easy to recreate using rag curls. I started with this xoJane tutorial as my guide, rolling my hair when it was 95% dry and still warm from the blow dryer. As I unwrapped each curl, I gave it a good coat of hairspray and then gently brushed them out with a boar bristle brush to get wild, frizzy curls. I then sprayed on a bunch more hairspray; if you have straight hair like me, you’ll need loads!
Finally, I topped things off with a cute scarf I found at Forever 21. Once you have tied the scarf, take some time to arrange your curls for maximum adorableness.
Here’s where we get a little weird.
Full disclosure: this was my first time covering my brows, and I know I could have done a better job. But overall the effect works, I think!
I followed Tiye’s advice and used a glue stick, going back and forth and up and down over my brows to make sure everything was coated. Then I brushed them into place, allowed the glue to dry, and added another coat. Once all of that was dry, I dusted everything with powder and applied one layer of foundation.
I have very dark brows that were showing through the foundation quite strongly, so I took some advice from YouTube and applied an orange eyeshadow over the dark areas. When I reapplied my foundation, I found that the darkness from my brows was nicely cancelled out.
Once you have covered your natural brows to your satisfaction, you can start to map out the shape of Clara’s brows. She had very low, thin, downward-turning brows. I actually have a lot of space between my brows and my eyes, so this was a little difficult for me to get right. I had the best results by simply tracing a line along the bottom edge of my natural eyebrows, extending the tail way down in a low arch in line with the outer corner of my eye. I used NYX Tame & Frame Brow Pomade in Espresso, and then darkened the line with some black eyeshadow.
Looking closely at photos of Clara, you can see that she didn’t necessarily wear lots of kohl or eyeshadow around her eyes. The dramatically lit black and white photos do accentuate the contours of her eye area, though, so I decided to replicate that with some black eyeshadow.
First things first: apply an eyeshadow primer. Then dust your lids with some loose powder so that blending the black will be a little easier. I started by applying a teeny-tiny amount of eyeshadow into the hollow above my inner corner. This helped to create an illusion of deep-set, soulful eyes just like Clara had. I blended and blended, bringing the colour into my crease and across my brow bone, but not onto the lid.
I applied a whisper of black under the outer third of my lower lash line, again to give an illusion of a deep set eye. Then I carefully applied several coats of mascara. Again, if you look carefully at her headshots, Clara has very well defined lower lashes that really contribute to her doll-like look. I used my HG mascara, CoverGirl Clump Crusher.
The lips are everything! Dark, shiny, and painted to perfection. I started by lining and filling in my lips with GOSH lip liner in Matt Cherry. I accentuated my Cupid’s bow by slightly overdrawing the lip line there, as well as overdrawing for a pinched, round shape on my lower lip. I then went in with Tom Ford Lips & Boys lipstick in Wes.
- Have you done a silent era film star look for Halloween before?
- What other classic Hollywood starlets make great costumes?