1920s Fashion – Choosing your Style Type.

 From July 1928 – Carolyn Van Wyck’s Hollywood Beauty Shop discusses the problem of ‘choosing a fashion type’ for yourself  –

For the very tall or the very small girl, for the piquant brunette or golden blonde, the way to emphasize personality is obvious and easy. But for ” in-between” girls it’s difficult. On this page you’ll find my advice toward solving this problem.


DEAR Carolyn
I’m always reading ” discover your type and then makeup and dress accordingly,” but I’m no type at all it seems. I’m a demi-blonde, somewhere between gold and brown with fair skin and brown eyes. There is nothing distinctive about me. Five feet four, weighing one hundred and twenty pounds, I’m well constructed. I diet moderately and my skin is quite clear. My problem is that I’m so terribly average. Can i escape this and appear chic, charming, original and all the other pleasant things?


DEAR Marylou, with your deep longing to be “different” I am glad you have written me. I have wanted chat about this thorny issue of ‘choosing your type’ for some time now. I want to write through you Marylou, against the “type” so many of you girls seem to be becoming, judging by your letters to me. The new fashions bring clothes and bobs for Nordic blondes and costumes and coiffures for Latin brunettes. We have hats to match bags and bags to match shoes, ensemble coats to match ensemble dresses – and oh, so many ensemble thoughts and opinions!

True, this mode keeps girls from wearing an old hat with a new chemise dress or tan stockings with black satin pumps. It makes us all look more chic. But at that i don’t like it. I dislike this finding a type and everlastingly sticking to it, because it kills that most precious feminine characteristic of every girl’s – individuality.

Be ‘Varied’ rather than one ‘Type.’


You, Marylou, are one of the great average, an average girl in an average town. Your coloring is a little mixed up and you don’t know what to do about it. Marylou, be thankful. You are no poster of a girl with a black bob against a white face, or a Titian-haired flapper with troublesome freckles. You are no definite type. Therefore you are adaptable enough to become any type you wish. It’s only a matter of work and will.

Lets take stock of you first. A good height, an excellent weight, and obviously sensible as regards your health and appearance. What a fine start that is!
Brown eyes and gold-brown hair. very interesting, indeed. A blonde’s hair and skin, a brunette’s eyes. I’d emphasize those assets always.
Then if i were you, my dear, I’d start first by making a sort of Chinese box of myself – a girl within a grid, really.
No, it isn’t easy to do that. It’s much easier to let oneself go and be colorless. There i no royal road to charm but i can promise you this. Any girl who once experiences the fine bracing of her will that self-improvement demands, will have discovered one of the secrets of feminine happiness!

Work, Study and then shop.


To be more than just “any girl,” Marylou, you will have to use your imagination and brains. But fortunately imaginations and brains are not like arms and legs. they do not tire. The more you use them, the better they get!
I’d work, study and shop, too. When I saw interesting ways of hairdressing, such as the stars often display, I’d clip out those pictures that interested me and try them on my own bob. This means keeping your hair at an ‘adaptable’ length, which to me is so much better than an extreme – no way back – cut! this limits a girl to a single expression only!

Be daring with your Makeup.


I’d study fashion publications and cut out every frock that appeals to me. I’d study the colors called ‘becoming’ and the ones called ‘smart’ and know i could wear any one of them by clever manipulation of my make-up. In that particular, I’d have more than one make-up. it’s very naive and monotonous to always have one’s face pink and white. Be daring with your mascara and lipstick occasionally – especially when going out with friends or to a party, or even in to town to shop. there’s nothing more interesting than shopping at the new cosmetic counters which are popping up in many department stores. Just make sure you don’t leave looking a ‘fright’.

What to wear in daytime versus evening.


Now I’d determine that if I had to be crisp and businesslike during the day – and if you work, Marylou, please don’t try to make party frocks in to office dresses. Wear a nice pleated skirt and tunic, and leave the frocks and beads for the evenings. I’d be simple and feminine in the evening.

Vionnet -1920s evening frocks -Met Museum
Vionnet -1920s evening frocks -Met Museum

I’d discipline myself never, never to buy a hat or a pair of shoes or stockings, without knowing the exact relationship to the rest of my wardrobe they will have.

Clear your Wardrobe of Orphan clothes.

Do not keep ‘orphan clothes’ in your wardrobe – scarfs that match nothing – coats that don’t go with any dresses, fancy useless shoes. Use your brains in buying.

Go without Lunch to buy a good hat!

1920s-Fashion---Cloche-Hats -Glamourdaze
1920s-Fashion—Cloche-Hats -Glamourdaze

Shop constantly, sometimes to look, sometimes to price, never until your mind is made up – to purchase.
Then perfumes. Nothing so expresses moods and charm as perfume. Good perfume is expensive and cheap perfume is worthless. Save for the good perfume. A wise woman will go without her lunch in order to afford a becoming hat. For if a woman is wearing a becoming hat, no man will let her go without lunch! Ok – perhaps I exaggerate, but you get the idea.

Originally published in Photoplay – 1928
Many thanks to The Media History Project – for sourcing,scanning and preserving these wonderful articles.

THATS-ALL -Glamourdaze

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