Old Hollywood glamour style tips – become a silver screen goddess

vintage hollywood glamour style

They had style, they had grace. Rita Hayworth gave good face. Old Hollywood had a mystique, panache and, dammit, glamour that is sadly lacking today. Achieve the old Hollywood glamour with our style guide and ideas for glamorous ensembles.

Fifty years ago (before the days of the internet, the paparazzi, and Heat magazine) the Hollywood stars had mystique. Though the idea of “striving for perfection” permeated the lives of most women, the stars seemed to have it already. Not only did they have glittering careers, but they were always immaculate, with perfectly applied make-up and an effortless, unattainable glamour.

Well, Old Hollywood Glamour is no longer so unattainable.

To achieve Old Hollywood Glamour you will need:

  • At least one seriously awesome outfit (it can be vintage, vintage-inspired, girlish, boyish, or just plain stylish)
  • One showstopping accessory (you could plan your outfit around a handbag, a necklace, a hat… anything)
  • Your favourite lipstick (most colours are good as long as they are quite dark)
  • Eyelashes! (unless you are naturally blessed with amazing lashes, find some false ones)

Old Hollywood Glamour – The underpinnings

If you are a larger-breasted lady, go and get a bra fitted. Most stores do it for free. If you are in the UK, La Senza is good – or Bravissimo if you have uber-bubbies. Clothing is more flattering if you are wearing the right size bra- and seven out of ten women aren’t! It’s hard to pull off the glamour with that four-boobed look, achieved by wearing a bra that is too small in the cup and too big in the back.

Match your underwear! Apparently, surveys have shown that women feel more confident in matching underwear, so whether you wear just a bra and knickers, or go the whole way (stockings, suspenders, garter – the lot), make sure that if it isn’t a set, your underwear at least matches in colour.

Old Hollywood Glamour – The showpiece

This isn’t about pulling off the vintage look (unless you want to). This is about adding the Old Hollywood look to your outfit. Smart trousers are good, as are long dresses, lace tops, trousersuits and cocktail dresses. Are you going to a party or a picnic? Is it a hot summer or are you freezing? The only rules are: No trainers, no sweatpants and no T-shirts.

Inspiration – Old Hollywood Glamour style ideas


Go to the park with a picnic and a friend (or a book if you’re not in a companionable mood) wearing a Marilyn Monroe-style dress (full skirt and tight bodice) or an understated outfit with a fabulously big hat that will protect your beautiful skin as well as look glamorous. Don’t spill food down your outfit.


Go to the cinema or for a walk to see the Christmas lights, wearing a pair of tailored trousers and a beautiful top. Wear your most sparkling earrings and finish the outfit off with biggest longest furriest coat you can find. (I’m not advocating real fur here – there are gorgeous alternatives out there.)

Raise a hand, tomboys!

So you have short hair and haven’t owned a skirt since that yellow frilly thing your aunt bought you when you were too young to protest? Team shorts with high wedges and a headband, and dig out a pair of earrings for an outfit change without a complete wardrobe overhaul. Alternatively, if you’re far more comfortable in suits, take the Marlene Dietrich approach and go for F2M style.

Hair and make-up:

Make-up Artist Sam Chapman uploads tutorials onto her Youtube channel Pixiwoo. She says the Old Hollywood looks are some of her favourites! Here are a few of my favourite tutorials (linked with permission):

Vintage Hollywood Style video tutorial: Marilyn Monroe-inspired

Vintage Hollywood Style video tutorial: Brigitte Bardot

Vintage Hollywood Style video tutorial: Smoky, sparkling eyes

Final Hollywood Glamour ideas!

Don’t get all dressed up and have nowhere to go…

– Take a friend to a late theatre showing or to to a tragic opera (opera seria) if you’re that way inclined.

– If you’re taken with the idea of Old Hollywood and have a camera (or a friend with a camera), go to the city – or out to the middle of nowhere – and take some black-and-white shots. There are plenty of places that will turn them into prints at a low cost.

– If it’s warm outside, take a blanket, a parasol and a picnic basket to the nearest park!

Reporting from the local coffee-and-baklava bar while wearing trousers, a black lacy top and the biggest pair of earrings I’ve ever found,