I spent my last few hours of 2010 and initial hours of 2011 at a 1940s fancy-dress Blitz party in an outfit that would have done my grandmother proud (www.theblitzparty.com). At first my friends and I decided we weren’t too bothered about having our hair done professionally and were fairly relaxed about our outfits until the day before NYE, when we started to panic! On closer inspection our dresses weren’t “Pearl Harbour” enough, shoes weren’t retro enough and don’t even start us on the Youtube videos of recreating a “Victory Roll” in our hair! Suddenly, we were sifting through charity shops scouring the shelves for fur collars, brooches and trying to book last minute hair appointments. Thankfully we went ahead with the latter and it made ALL the difference! We had to go to the salon in shifts as only the owner was able re-create the 1940s look… And as I was in the hot-seat first my second friend had the benefit of seeing two trial runs so she could decide if it was worth it or not going through all the trauma of extensive back-combing and serious hair-spraying… thankfully we were all thrilled with our newly-quaffed barnets (please note: the next day I can’t tell you what my hair looked like after I’d removed all the pins and brushed out the back-combing, I looked like a crazy person and have never seen volume like it!!).
Anyway, back to NYE… I put on my make-up (fake-eye lashes, red lipstick etc) and got dressed, when I looked in the mirror I barely recognised myself, I was my Granny (I’d never worn red lipstick before as I’ve never found it in any way flattering, but with the rest of the look complete it seemed to work)! Getting the tube to the party was hysterical because we stood out so much and everyone kept chatting to us. I’ve been to fancy-dress parties before, but this time it was bizarre as everyone’s outfits and the location (kitted out with sandbags/bunting/a Red Cross tent etc) seemed to really recreate the scene. So as we walked through the door I felt as though we’d almost gone back in time – as though we were on a set of “Goodnight Sweetheart” or a movie or something and that Nicholas Lyndhurst (I was actually hoping for Josh Hartnett in Pearl Harbour preferably) was going to appear…
Apart from the weirdness of feeling like we’d just entered another era, it hit me how everyone looked so glamorous and how much of an effort women made in their appearances years ago. When I was researching hairstyles of the 1940s, I discovered that women went to town with their hair and make-up because they could only have simple clothes due to the war and rationing. It made me think about how different decades in the Twentieth century had such iconic looks; there were flapper dresses in the 20s, tea dresses in the 40s, prom-style full dresses in the 50s, flares in the 70s, leggings in the 80s etc. And that by adding the right hair and make-up from each time period, you can almost be sent back in time. But what will the Noughties be remembered for – how can we create an iconic look that in years to come would take us back to 2005 for example? I’m not entirely sure.
However, no matter what is “en vogue” in 2011, my money’s on the fact that we will want it to be easy… when we go to the hairdressers what do we ask for? “Low maintenance please!” Actually these days we want clothes, make-up and hair to be as simple as possible – which is fine for everyday but how much effort do we really make when we “go out”? To be honest I liked the fact that I’d had to properly “glam up” on New Years Eve – my friends and I felt that we had to be more “lady-like” in our 1940s feminine outfits and actually, it was rather nice. I wonder was it due to the events of the time? People wanted to forget about what was going on around them so they made an effort to make the most of themselves, as best they could. Fingers crossed we will never know the horrors of war first hand or rationing but with continuing financial woes hanging over us and general January blues, maybe we should seek some inspiration from our grandmothers, grab some red lipstick and black eyeliner and generally glam up!
INSIDER INFO: if you’re in London and wanting a fab “up-do” go to “W2K”, 65 Bedford Hill, Balham, 02086750151.