Getting The Vintage Look

A month or so ago, I booked myself onto a burlesque dance course, and also a vintage hair and makeup workshop afternoon, as well as a few other day trips and so on. I am really glad I did, as so far I have enjoyed everything I have done, and it is lovely to see looked-forward-to dates come closer and closer!

On Saturday afternoon, I took myself off to Make Do And Mend in Chelmsford http://makedomend.com/ for a vintage hair and makeup workshop. We had been given a list of things to bring with us – rat tail comb, hair spray, hair putty, hair pins, black eyeliner and red lipstick- so I did a little shopping before I went. There were an amazing array of hair pins on sale, so I hedged my bets and took the slight v-shape slightly open kind, and the tight-together kind. I was joined by the lovely Carla, and her equally lovely friend Lou.
When we arrived, several tables had been pushed together to make one large table, and there were seats all around the edge. At each setting was a mirror on a stand, and a pretty vintage cup and saucer. In the middle of the table there was a stack of books about vintage fashion and beauty, and several tea pots. There were ladies of all ages around the table, and as the afternoon unfolded, I couldn’t help but thinking that it is a real shame that this kind of afternoon isn’t commonplace. Wouldn’t it be lovely if as a young teenager you had sat around with friends, favourite auntys and your Mum and learned how to take care of your skin and whip up a face mask? And then how to fix your hair and makeup?
I know that this isn’t how ladies learnt in the 40s and 50s, but the communal nature and sharing of tea felt very nostalgic somehow. Although experimenting in your bedroom can be lots of fun, it was lovely to have one person sharing their tips and techniques with us. It was extra nice that we got to use our own things so we could recreate the ideas at home, and there was nothing to buy so there was no retail pressure.
First we learnt how to pincurl our hair, and pretended that we were just going to bed. We took out a section of hair at the front to save for our victory roll, and the rest of our hair we sprayed first with water to damp, and then setting lotion. Then we took strands of hair, wrapped them around our fingers until the curl was flat against our head, and then pinned in place with two hair pins in an ‘x’ shape. We used up all our hair doing that, and then tied on a silk or chiffon head scarf while it dried. Just tying on that scarf made me feel like a vintage lady! I believe it was about now that the afternoon was punctuated by the first of many cups of tea! We made up our faces (foundation, red lipstick, black eyeliner and mascara) with the focus being on how to apply the liquid eyeliner for the perfect forties flick. The lovely Hannah who was running the class had the foresight to have lots of cotton wool and eye makeup remover to hand so when we did not succeed at first we could try again!
The hair we had reserved for our victory roll was dry by then, so we learnt how to prepare the hair by working a little putty through it and then rolled it up, pinned it and sprayed it a lot to keep it in place. We had to make sure our pin curls were dry before we undid them, as if they were damp they would just fall out straight. Having brushed out our hair, it was ready to play with and put up. Alas, my hair just would not behave at all. Every victory roll I tried to put in fell out, and it just got frizzier and wilder by the moment. I think it was a combination of a headache that had crept on, and not being familiar with how to work with my hair like this, and I just need a lot more practise. I was a bit worried though, as we were due to leave almost immediately after class finished to have dinner with my sister-in-laws, and it became apparent that I would really need to wash it before we left!
I think there were about 12 of us in all, and everyone did look so stunning with the black eyeliner, red lipstick and vintage hair. So many different interpretations of what to do with the pin curled canvas of hair, it was really inspiring.
The class is being run again, so if any of you live close enough to be able to attend, do book up. I would love to do this kind of thing more often! As well as having a really fun afternoon, you learn some great new skills! It has made me really want to sit down at my mirror to do my hair and makeup from now on, although that could be a bit tricky, as I use the top of a tall chest of drawers as my dressing table!
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One thought on “Getting The Vintage Look

  1. Oh Mimi–this takes me back…I can still see my grandmother sitting at her dressing table with a rat tail comb, bobby pins and a glass of water, dipping the comb and wetting each strand of hair before wrapping it into a pin curl held in place with a bobby pin. And yes it would be a wonderful communal thing to share. It sounds perfect to me.My mother did that roll thing on the top/front of her hair when she was in her 20's and 30's. I'd never heard it called the Victory roll.Scarves–back in the day I always wore one over my curlers if I had to leave the house. It's been years since I've rolled my hair. These days I blow it dry…and iron it.As a teenager I used the black eyeliner. It was a trick to get it on thinly back then.Ah…I do love nostalgia and the past, especially the 40, 50's and 60's.

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