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Forties Make-up and Fashion

Forties Make-up and Fashion

The 1940s era redefined women and set the stage for later feminist thought on the history of women.

For the first time in the country's history, the average woman was expected to lead two different lives; home-maker (wife of a man at war), and factory worker. Before now, women didn't step foot into factories, but with the majority of men at war, women were England's only hope.

It didn't take long for the government to realise that women were the only way to produce the equipment and supplies needed to run a war. Some women were delighted to enter the workforce realising that for the first time in their lives they could achieve economic independence. Other women, however, believed that it was unfeminine to work outside the home. Many refused to go to work, but using cajolery, flattery and outright threats, the government had their way.

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Forties Clothing Fashions

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During the 40s, fashion for women followed function and form. Women were 40s morale-boosters; dresses had small waists, tight busts and full skirts. Women were expected to tighten their belts, silk stockings disappeared (when silk was used for parachutes and other wartime items), and women drew lines up the backs of their legs with eyebrow pencils to simulate stocking seams.

Thin figures were in and Shoulder pads made their first appearances on the female figure.

Women's jobs were male jobs such as welding, soldering, building and production, so at work, they were wearing costumes like coveralls and denims. Many women discovered the comfort and ease of wearing pants and actresses like Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davis made trousers for women into lasting trends.

Forties Make-up Trends

Make-up was affected by the war, which turned many women's thoughts away from romance and towards simplicity. Lips were a true, patriotic red, creamy skin was powdered and smoothly pink. Mascara had found its place on a woman’s face, although more often worn after work hours.

Romance and practicality fought each other on the home front, where women wanted to look beautiful even whether swing dancing or working shifts at a shipyard or factory. To make up was a way of maintaining one's feeling of femininity in a world that was challenging women to take on more of the man's role than was ever allowed before.

The Make-up Tutorial

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Make-up Artist, Amanda Sharkey tells us:

"The creative direction behind the shoot was inspired by the modern look with an underlying vintage 1940s feel. The theme has strong resonance with the current trends in fashion and make-up, especially coinciding with popular theatre shows such as Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire.

Working with this brief I aimed to perfect a flawless, glowing complexion using a mix of Illamasqua Satin Primer and Cream foundation. I then worked to build a sultry, soft smokey eye using Bobbi Brown Eye Shadow (in Bone), layered with shades of Woodrose and Cocoa.

I added more depth with MAC Eye Shadow (in Carbon), blending into the outer edges of the eyes. I shaped the brows and filled them to create a strong frame, go for Illamasqua Eye Brow Cake (in Dark Brown) for striking definition.

I finished this with highlights using Illamasqua Pure Pigment (in Furore); a metallic, high-shine, pure-colour powder that highlights eyes, cheeks and brows. Add a slick of black liquid eye liner to create the perfect 40s flick!

Finally, no 1940s lady (modern or vintage) would be found without her red lippy; the Chanel Rouge Allure lipstick (in Passion) is the perfect blend of red."

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Photographer: Lee Malone

Model: Alyson Boyle @assets

Stylist: Sara O’connor

Make-up Artist: Amanda Sharkey

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