Pretty From the Past: Get Clara Bow's Look

Recreate the first "It" girl's flapper hair, smokey eyes and doll-like lips.
Publish date:
May 12, 2011
shoppables, makeup, pretty from the past

The Backstory

Clara Bow (1905-1965) is my favourite flapper. The "It Girl" of the silent film era, Bow used her charm and sex appeal to capture the audiences of 1920s. She had the look of a naughty cherub, with her mussed up curls, doll-like smirk and sad, sooty eyes accented with penciled-in eyebrows (she shaved off her real ones) that allowed her to fully express herself with just one glance.

I fell in love with Bow's story and style one night when I watched a double feature of "It" (1927) followed by the fascinating Courtney Love-narrated documentary "Clara Bow: Discovering the It Girl." She embraced the frizzy wild locks on her head, accentuated her best features with wild abandon and wore outfits that I covet now, 80-plus years after they were first made stylish.

I thought, "So that's what an 'it girl' is," a term tossed around so often these day I had never really grasped its meaning until watching Bow on screen. She had "it."

Clara Bow's look is still appealing in the 21st century, though I decided to give it a modernized makeover so that any girl can fake "it."

How I Got The Look

The 21st Century Flapper's Hair

Since Clara rocked a bob, I pulled back the longer layers of my hair and left the short ones hanging down. Using a hot iron, I curled one-inch sections into loose ringlets. Once they cooled, I lightly teased the sides and crown of my hair with a natural-bristle brush, finely misted it with a bit of hairspray, and then popped on a bow-accented headband. I'd wear this on an evening when I was planning some mischief.

The Smoky Silver-Screen Eyes

Unless you want to, I'm not going to make you shave off your eyebrows. Instead, I suggest you do what I did and pencil in the existing shape of your brows to a longer, more curvaceous arch with Cover Girl's Brow & Eye Makers Pencil in Soft Brown.

Then I used Dior's 5-Colour Eyeshadow palette in Night Dust to achieve the Bow look. Using a fluffy eyeshadow brush, I applied the shimmery white shade from crease to browbone, the burnt copper shade to the entire lid, and the black shade was used as a smoked-out eyeliner on both the top and bottom lid, focusing mainly on the outer corners.

I finished up with two coats of Clinique's mega-lengthening Lash Doubling Mascara in Black on my top and bottom lashes for long, flapper-esque lashes.

The Doll-Like Lips And Cheeks

I decided to forgo the heavy lipstick of the era for a lighter version of the doll-lipped look. Concentrating the colour mainly in the centre of my lips, I used two layers of Stila's berry-hued Pomegranate Crush Lip & Cheek Stain. Then I blended a bit of this 2-in-1 product on the apples of my cheeks for a rosy flush.

Once your hair and make-up are finished, watch this scene starring a radiant and resourceful Clara in 1927's "It" for some going-out inspiration. Who knew you could turn a day-dress into an evening gown? Innovative, that gal.