Clara Bow (29 July 1905 - 27 September 1965) was a silent films star of the 1920s. Her autobiography is full of ups and downs, successes and failures. She was poor and rich, she was adored and not accepted. She had a lot of temperament and courage. Betty Boop, a Max Fleischer's cartoon character, was inspired by Clara. She became first It Girl after huge success of 1927 movie 'It'. She's perfect example to present a 'roaring twenties' fashion and life style. It was a time when the movie stars became fashion authority and their scandalous outfits were copied by their fans.
Clara had a short bob hairstyle as many women of her time. This hairstyle become a symbol of women's emancipation. It's not visible on the black and white movies but she had red hair. You can see them at the movie posters and the pictures on her website. She was often seen wearing cloche hats and wide silk scarfs. A hats were made from felt as they had to perfectly adhere to the head. They were deep, covering whole forehead and were ending just below the eyebrows. A women had to lift their heads high to see anything. A short bob hairstyle wasn't easily accepted by the older women but at the end of era became standard for all.
She painted her mouth in a heart shape. She also had her eyebrows plucked and then painted by black eyeliner in a tiny line. Because the actors couldn't show their feelings in a silent movie by the voice, it was all about the face expression so huge Bow's eyes were her trump. Below you can see how to make make-up in Clara Bow style. I tried myself and know that it's not easy to make a perfect heart shape on the lips. At the time when Bow was famous a cosmetic company, Max Factor, was becoming popular. It was firstly known as movie make-up producer and was founded by Polish - Maksymilian Faktorowicz. It was Max Factor who invented a heart-shaped mouth for Bow. At that time it also became popular to amend make-up in the public, especially painting the lips by the red lipstick and tiny mirror. To meet the women's needs a small compact make-up sets were produced.
CLOTHES AND LIFESTYLE
Bow was one of the best dressed women of her time. She loved expensive furs and elegant outfits. Her curiosity and scandalous lifestyle were often shocking. Her big time was a time of revolution in the fashion and mentality. After First World War the construction of female costume entirely changed. A boyish, slim figure was in fashion.
At war time women had to replace men at work. In 1920s they also became sexually liberated, they started to drive a cars, ride on a bicycles and going to the jazz clubs where they provocatively danced, smoked cigarettes, openly drank alcohol and snort cocaine (it was legal at that time). It's then understandable that the costume had to be comfortable. A huge hats were replaced by a small one, a dresses were simple and loose. It was a time when Coco Chanel became famous. Her designs revolutionized the way of dressing. A simple chemise dress became fashionable, its length was shockingly short - a women showed their legs first time in the history. A corset was replaced with a comfortable silk underwear. Only breasts were flatten by special bra - bandeau. A body had to be slim and athletic.
Below are short films showing everything what's best in that era.
Thanks to simplification of female dress and use of cheaper fabrics even poorer women could look fashionable. It became popular to make dresses based on patterns attached to the fashion magazines. They used natural fabrics like cotton and wool, and a new way to produce synthetic silk was invented - its first name was 'rayon'. With this invention they started to make nylon stockings. Also T-bar and Mary Jane shoes were the most popular. Because they were more visible under short dresses, women paid more attention to them.
1920s was a time of blending Old with New. A time before First World War with its deep social classification emphasized by the clothes and modern, vivid and joyful post-war years.
And for the end a short film with Clara Bow in the movie 'It'. In the background a song 'She Got It' wrote by Harry Reaser.