Get the Vintage Look: Clara Bow

Source: user xtina_badgirl

Source: user xtina_badgirl

I strayed from my unintentional ’60s theme for an ultra-vintage look from the roaring ’20s. For my last installment of Get the Vintage Look, I’m excited to detail the beauty secrets of Clara Bow.

Clara Bow was an actress in silent films and “talkies” from 1922 to 1949. In 1927, she starred in the film It, a movie based on a story by Elinor Glyn. In Glyn’s story, a character explains what “it” actually is: “It…that strange magnetism which attracts both sexes…entirely unself-conscious…full of self-confidence…indifferent to the effect…she is producing and uninfluenced by others.” As she truly possessed these qualities, Clara quickly became known as The It Girl, a nickname that would stick with her throughout her entire career.

Clara’s dramatic makeup look was common for silent film actresses. Luckily for us, it still makes an incredible nighttime look that’s perfect for special occasions or a night out with the girls. Clara’s biggest beauty secret was applying her lipstick in the shape of a heart. She became so well-known for this that women who imitated this application technique were said to be putting a Clara Bow on their lips!

Get Clara’s Look


  • Apply a full coverage foundation to the face and neck.
  • Conceal dark under eye circles and blemishes.
  • Set your base products with a lightweight loose powder.

Eyes and Brows

  • Apply a dark brown cream eyeshadow to the eyelids, creases and just above the creases, creating a half circle from one corner of the eye to the other.
  • Using the same cream shadow, line the lower lash line and smudge.
  • Apply a soft layer of a charcoal or pure black powder shadow shade to the eyelids, extending into the crease area. Blend the powder eye makeup shade into your cream shade to soften the look.
  • Line the inner part of the lower lash line (known as the waterline) with a nude-colored eye pencil.
  • Accentuate the eyelashes with black mascara, applying one to two coats to the upper and lower lashes.
  • The actresses of the silent film era drew on elongated, ultra dark eyebrows. This look is obviously not something that fits into the latest makeup trends. Instead, simply fill in your brows and set with a wax or gel. It is important that you enhance the brows to balance your look.


  • Using a deep burgundy-red lipstick shade and a small lip brush, paint the lips with an even, rich layer of pigment. To create Clara’s signature heart-shaped lips, place the emphasis on the bow of the lips by applying an accentuated v-shape.
  • Line the lips with a color-coordinated lip pencil, making sure to emphasize the heart shape you’ve created.
  • To make the lips pop, line the outer edges of your lip line with a concealer pencil or nude-colored lip pencil.

Clean up any dark areas around the eyes or lips by going over your skin with your foundation brush. Finish your look with a dropped-waist dress and a dramatic hairstyle. For shorter hair, a full head of voluminous, teased curls is the perfect way to bring out your inner Clara.

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