3 Iconic Eye Looks From the Last Century and How to Recreate Them Today

EYE-conic, get it?!
Publish date:
July 24, 2015
makeup, eye makeup, beauty icons, twiggy, clara bow, audrey hepburn, 60s, 20s, 50s

Several months ago, I put together a roundup of recreated, noteworthy lip looks and got quite a bit of positive feedback. I wanted to do something similar—but different, of course—and so here I am today with iconic eye looks.

Because it takes a bajillion times longer to do your eyes than it does your lips (in most cases, at least), I've got a total of three looks for you today. Perhaps a continuation into later decades in another post may be a hit? We'll see!

1920s: Clara Bow

I mulled my '20s inspiration pick over for a while, and ultimately I had to go with Clara Bow. I feel like she epitomizes the decade so well, and her look is truly iconic.

To create a soft and powdered finish, I used a matte foundation (Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup), and then applied a light dusting of finishing powder. Next, I did a little eyebrow concealing. This takes some work, but it's necessary if you want to recreate the weird, linear brows that were so prevalent in the '20s. I used brow wax to smooth my brows down, then applied concealer on top.

Next, I re-drew my brows, which, as you can see, are very different from the way we do brows today. The brows of the '20s tend to be much lower, so I started at the base of my natural brow and drew a thin line with near-black shadow and an angled eyeliner brush. The brows also extended much further than they do today, and curve slightly downward.

Eyeshadow application was also drastically different form the way we do things today. Instead of building up darkness at the outer corners of the eyes, women in the '20s built up darkness on the interior and even onto the sides of the upper nose. I used a dark brown (Faint from the Urban Decay Naked Basics palette) across the entire lid for this, then buffed Crave, a near-black, into the interior corners. Using a pencil brush, I also applied Faint on the lower outer corners of my eyes. The shadow was a little unkempt, as a rule, so I did a minimal amount of blending.

Finally, I finished up with a little bit of Urban Decay's Yeyo (white) eyeliner on my waterline, then lathered on several coats of mascara. Of course I went for the cupid's bow lips, too.

1950s: Audrey Hepburn

My bone structure is clearly nothing like dainty darling Audrey Hepburn's, but I still find this look to be so sweet. It's also very wearable today, unlike Clara Bow's look above, which would definitely earn you some glances.

The most noticeable difference between then and now is the brows, which were much thicker and more boxy in shape than what many people wear today. Still, those bushy brows wouldn't be that out of place in the 21st century.

To recreate Hepburn circa '50s, I applied a thin layer of Urban Decay foundation to mattify my skin. I also applied highlighter on the upper cheekbones, down my nose and in between my brows.

For the brows, I used Chella Tantalizing Taupe Eyebrow Color to create thicker and darker brows. Audrey had a high arch, so I overdrew my brows at the top to help recreate that shape. I also extended the brows more horizontally versus winging them down.

For eyes, I applied a neutral matte in the same color as my skin tone (Urban Decay Naked Basics Palette W.O.S.) and then used a crease brush to apply a slightly darker brown (from Urban Decay Basics Palette Naked 2). Next up was a thick smear of Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner above my eye with a slight wing extension to make my eyes look bigger. Finally, I layered on the mascara on my top lashes and then did a gentle sweep on my bottom lashes.

For lips, I applied a combination of NYX Butter Lipstick in Little Susie (pinkish) and Read My Lips Lipstick in Killing Me Softly (pale tangerine).

1960s: Twiggy

OH, TWIGGY. Again, I thought long and hard about my choice for a 1960s babe, and I had to go with Miss Twiggy for several reasons. First, she's unquestionably iconic. Second, I think this particular look is wearable today, permitting you're in the right place, and it's really not so hard to recreate.

For this one, I opted for a dewier finish on my skin via Etude House's Precious Mineral BB Cream. Next, I used NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk on my lid to just above the socket, then blended it out with my fingers. I then applied a pale blue from Karl Lagerfeld for Shu Ueumera's Shupette Palette on top of Milk. I kept my brows natural looking, but filled them in a little bit so they had more shape.

For the crease, I used a matte black shadow and an angled eyeliner brush within and slightly above the socket line. I also drew a baby cat eye with Stila Stay All Day liquid liner, and then applied gobs of mascara to my top and bottom lashes. Using the same liquid liner, I drew on Twiggy's iconic under-eye lines. For lips, I chose Hard Candy lip gloss in Candy Baby.

  • Favorite look from above?
  • How would you feel about a continuation of the series? '70s, '80s and '90s?
  • Would you dare wear the Clara Bow brows?