Dress to Impress (for Less), Gen DIY-er, Thriftster weddings

Improv, 1940s style

I read somewhere that I should be treating this wedding as a chance to learn new skills. While most DIY types take on this opportunity to learn the art of floral arrangement or how to crochet wedding toppers, I thought I’d spend my time (and mullah) learning how to do my own hair and makeup*. After all, isn’t that what Kate Middleton did?

Chrissy Keepence from the Lindy Charm School For Girls has been helping ladies achieve vintage glamour for years; I was fortunate enough to attend her three-hour workshop at the Vintage Emporium in Tyabb. Most of the three hours were dedicated to pincurls, victory rolls, do-rags, and snoods, but Miss Chrissy also spent some time demonstrating 1940s makeup and the importance of structured undergarments.

What I love about the 1940s is how natural and versatile the makeup is. The only ‘pop’ of colour is the red lipstick, allowing ladies to go from day to night, casual to glam without needing to alter their look or rely on a multitude of products. Super Kawaii Mama’s Candice DeVille has made an excellent video putting together the look:

Thanks to war rationing and women entering the workforce, another key feature of the 1940s is its make-do style. In between demonstrations, Miss Chrissy explained how beetroot and rhubarb were used to stain cheeks, while vaseline became instant shimmery eyeshadow. When there was stocking shortage, women stained their legs with gravy powder and drew seams up the back with charcoal**. Hair was curled with fingers/dolly pegs and beer. While we no longer need to resort to such measures, Miss Chrissy believes we can still adopt the resourcefulness of our 1940s counterparts, whether it be by saving buttons from a badly damaged dress, to buying $6 felt hats from KMart and paring them down to fascinator size. Her class was perhaps the most glamorous mustbethrifty pep talk I’ve ever been to, and I came out of it looking (and feeling) like a different woman:

That night, I brushed out the Victory rolls and the Gibson roll and tried redoing them again. Mine was not quite the same, but I managed to tame some of my fly-aways by using Miss Chrissy’s tricks:

Besides, practise makes perfect. Hopefully, by October, I’ll be a doo expert.


*Since the workshop cost $85 and I had to invest in some basic products (i.e. primer, foundation and a tail comb), I’m not sure that I’m saving money by learning to DIY hair and makeup instead getting a professional to do it for me. However, I’m hoping that my new skills will help me look more polished whenever I throw on a vintage dress. If you are looking for help from a professional, I’d suggest finding a place like Mecca Cosmetica; Mecca charges $90 for a makeup session, but you can get that reimbursed with store products. Shiny.

**Cargo Cult Craft has an interesting article about 1940s stocking substitutes here.

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