Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the 1930’s, specifically about 1930’s makeup and how glamorous the movie stars of that time were. I’ve been spending all my free time with my head in the thirties because of the show I am designing costumes for. This new show that has me swimming in 1930’s style gowns is called Painting the Clouds With Sunshine. The show focuses on a bright young hopeful, Alice, who comes to Hollywood with big dreams and admiring the power the movie musicals of the time had to lift people out of the desolation they were feeling because of The Great Depression.

When you look back at the real women of film from the 1930’s you can’t help but think how gorgeous they always looked. Always perfectly done, and never a hair out of place. No one would dare walk out of the house in yoga pants, Uggs and a ponytail in 1935!

Maybe it’s just the black and white photos (I might have to start taking all my pictures in black and white) but they were flawless.

The look of the 1930’s consisted of a fair and even complexion, pencil thin eyebrows, heavy mascara on the lashes as well as eyeliner, light blush and darker  lipstick in burgundy, red, and raspberry with the natural lip shape favored over the cupids bow of the 1920’s.

Check out the awesome website Glamour Daze for great tutorials and lots of information on vintage makeup looks from the 20’s to the 60’s.

Here are some of my favorite images of the women of Hollywood from the 1930’s.


Barbara Stanwyck by Vintage Gazette CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Barbara Stanwyck made 85 films in her 38 years in Hollywood before she traded the big screen for the TV Screen. She is probably best known for her role in the film noir classic Double Indemnity, in which she defined the femme fatale character. In 1944 the IRS claimed that Stanwyck was the highest-paid woman in the USA, with an annual salary of $400,000


Bette Davis by thefoxling CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Davis started her career like many actresses of the time on Broadway before moving into film in 1930. In her long career Bette David won the Academy Award for best actress twice, and had over 100 film, television and theater roles to her credit. Bette Davis’ name is well known to most because of the popular song Bette Davis Eyes by American singer-songwriter Kim Carnes.


Carole Lombard by twm1340 CC BY-SA 2.0

Carole Lombard was a great comedic actress of the 1930’s flexing her comic muscles in movies like We’re not Dressing with Bing Crosby and Twentith Century with John Barrymore. Tragically Lombard’s career was cut short when she died at the age of 33 in an aircraft crash while returning from a World War II War Bond tour.


Joan Crawford by Retrogasm CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Joan Crawford’s name might sound familiar because of the movie Mommie Dearest which was based on Crawford’s life as told in the tell all memoir penned by one of her five children. Crawford was a dancer first before signing a movie contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. She found her greatest success playing women who go from rags to riches, a theme that went over well with audiences suffering through The Great Depression.


Greta Garbo by quicheisinsane CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Garbo is one of the few actresses who survived the transition from the silent films of the twenties into the “talkies” of the 1930’s. Many critics and film historians consider her performance as the doomed courtesan Marguerite Gautier in Camille to be her finest. In 1941 at the young age of 35 Greta retired to live a quiet and private life out of the spotlight of Hollywood.


Jean Harlow by twm1340 CC BY-SA 2.0

Jean Harlow was the sex symbol of the 1930’s – often nicknamed the “Blonde Bombshel” and the “Platinum Blonde”. Her signature platinum blonde tresses were supposedly achieved by bleaching with a weekly application of ammonia, Clorox bleach and Lux soap flakes. Ouch! By the mid 1930’s Harlow was one of the countries biggest stars and has been credited with keeping MGM afloat during the depression while many other studios went bankrupt. Harlow also tragically died young at the age of 26 from severe kidney failure.

I hope you enjoyed looking at the amazing women and the glamorous 1930’s makeup as much as I did. Come see the glamour of the 1930’s recreated on stage in the WORLD PREMIER of Painting the Clouds with Sunshine at the Eureka Theater. The show opens April 2nd and runs until April  20th, 2014.

Featured Image: 1935 cutex by 1950sUnlimited CC BY 2.0