A 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes' Beauty Tutorial For Non-Blondes

Who cares what gentlemen prefer? Ladies prefer GLAMOUR.
Publish date:
January 16, 2015
marilyn monroe, clinique, curls, red lipstick, old hollywood, glamour, jane russell

Even though neither of us are currently blonde, we both love the 1953 Technicolor classic, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. It’s a cute, funny, stylish story of the power of diamonds and female friendship. So who better to tutorialize this classic than the two of us? We’re friends, and we love diamonds!

Kara As Marilyn Monroe As Lorelei Lee


I recently retired the ancient set of hot rollers I’d been using since 2003 and replaced them with Caruso Professional ProSet Steam Hairsetter rollers, which set your hair in great, tight curls without the damage of applied heat.

I parted my hair slightly to the left, then created sections and rolled each one up. I like to alternate rolling over and rolling under to avoid Shirley Temple sausage curls. I used a mix of the large and medium-size rollers, with smaller rollers near the top of my head and one for my bangs.

While I let the curlers set (15 to 20 minutes, longer would be even better), I set about Marilyn-izing my face. If you want to get Marilyn’d up, a really great place to start is Lisa Eldridge’s awesome video tutorial.


I applied my usual foundation and powder and contoured under my cheekbones with bronzer to create definition and added a subtle highlight to the tops of my cheekbones and the bridge of my nose with a shimmery powder.

I have my brows shaped similarly to Marilyn’s already, but to enhance them more I made them slightly pointed in the arch with powder.

I spread a shimmery white-beige shadow across my entire lid. I used MAC Marilyn Monroe Eye Shadow in Preferred Blonde, which is now discontinued, but you can use any shimmery Champagne shade you have on hand.

I blended a matte, flat, dark taupe shade--Bobbi Brown Bobbi's Essentials in Mahogany--into the crease to create a deep-set eye. Then I drew black gel liner--MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack--with a slight flick at the corner. Marilyn’s liner was often drawn downward to make her eyes look sleepy and sexy, but I really hate the way that looks on me. I want to look cheerful and party-ready! When all this was done, I drew a white liner on my waterlines to brighten, and added three coats of heavy mascara.

I overdrew my top lip slightly with Aveda Nourish-Mint Lip Liner in Fire Maple, then filled my lips in with Clinique Long Last Soft Matte Lipstick in Matte Crimson, a bright, retro cherry red. Marilyn often wore gloss over her lipstick on camera, so I added a bit of red Tom Ford Ultra Shine Lip Gloss on top for extra shine.

For a final touch, I drew a mole on my cheek with MAC Eye Kohl liner in Teddy. Oh, and the tiara!

After 15 minutes, I removed the rollers starting from the bottom layers and brushed them out gently with my fingers. You can use a gentle bristle brush if you’d like them more separated, but I wanted subtly-defined retro waves that still felt modern, not like an old school roller set. And voila! Glamorous, slightly old-school beauty that doesn’t feel costume-y.

Rachel As Jane Russell As Dorothy ShawHAIR

I parted my hair in the middle and curled it in tight, sausage-y curls all over. While the curls cooled down, I clipped my bangs down on either side about an inch from my part, leaving them a bit puffed up. After everything was cooled down, I brushed through it all with a bristle-brush and sprayed it to high heaven with some L'Oreal Paris Elnett Hairstyling Spray.


I went with a more heavy-handed foundation to achieve that '50s showgirl look, and then I set everything with powder for that matte retro look.

For my eyes, I grabbed Clinique All About Shadow 8-Pan Palette and brushed Brown Shade of Polar Blue Quad up into my crease and blended it slightly up and out. I applied a bit of Light Shade of Day Into Day Duo near my lash line and inside the inner corner of my eye.

Using a damp angled brush and Kevyn Aucoin Eye Shadow Single in Blackest Black, I drew a line across my upper lashes and extended it into a slight cat-eye. I filled in my bottom lashes softly. A couple coats of L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Butterfly Mascara and the eyes are done.

I filled in my brows with a dark brown powder. Jane’s brows have a rounded arch, so I avoided anything too harsh.

For retro looks, it’s fun to wear a bit more blush than you would in everyday life. I went with L’Oreal Paris True Match Blush in Spiced Plum swept heavily along my cheekbones and then blended.

For my lips, I layered two Lasting Finish by Kate Moss for Rimmel lipsticks-- #10 and #107. Aaaaand now for a costume change…

So whaddya think? Wanna take a cruise with us? If we can’t empty your pockets between the two of us, then we’re not worthy of the name “woman!”

  • Who’s your favorite on-screen BFF duo?
  • Are you a fan of diiiiiamonds as well?
  • Know any lonely rich dudes looking for company? Let us know in the comments!