Hey, Sailor! Testing 1930s Pinup-Glam Style

Giving good face à la Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable.

1930s pinup-glam style

Photo by Scott M. Lacey

There is glue in my eye. I’m attempting to affix faux lashes to my lids—hunched over a mirror during one of the Boston Vintage Factory’s pinup makeup classes—but my transformation from editor to starlet has hit a sticky snag.

Nineteen-thirties-era MGM-glam style has been trending lately. Everyone from Adele and Dita Von Teese to Kat Von D sports the look, and candy-apple-red lips are dominating the runway. The new Bettie Page boutique on Newbury, meanwhile, offers throwback frocks, pencil skirts, and sailor rompers to complete the effect. But what I’m learning right now is that the making of a silver-screen legend—including that va-va-voom pucker and those come-hither cat eyes—requires exceedingly precise cutting, pasting, and painting.

“Everybody looks good in it, everyone looks sexy and wonderful,” says Veronica Nunes, our instructor and makeup artist. “It’s all about finding the right red for your lips and good lashes.” She shows us how to blend dramatic eye shadows and how to expertly draw on liquid liner with a thick, winged-out edge, then walks the class through the false-lash application. Finally, we line our lips and paint on a slash of red and pink tints, dusting powder over them (filtered through a tissue) for a killer matte finish.

After a full two hours, I’m a knockout, as evidenced by the many glances and whistles of approval I receive as I pick up my dry cleaning. The next weekend, however, I give myself only 20 minutes to re-create the look for a holiday party. Big mistake—beauty takes time, after all. After an awkwardly protracted battle with the liquid liner, I finally give up. Glue and falsies? Forget it. However, I do manage to execute a hot-pink pucker that, paired with a very Mad Men polka-dot dress, garners compliments. I’m not quite ready for my close-up, but at least I can see out of both eyes.

“A how-to in pin-up makeup basics,” $115, Boston Vintage factory, 86 Joy St., Somerville, 860-508-1017, bostonvintagefactory.com.