How to Get That 1940’s Boudoir Look

December 20, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

Before boudoir photography fully embodied the sensuality and sexuality of the female form, would you believe that it entered a period where experimentation of light and shadow, natural charm, appeal, and full clothing? This is what characterized boudoir, or glamour photography, as it was called back in the 1940s.

Classic Boudoir

George Hurrell, the so-called “Grand Signeur of the Hollywood Portraits”, and his muses such as Rita Hayworth, Jean Harlow, and Mae West, proved to the world that boudoir needn’t be trashy, but classy and elegant. The period and style for glamour may be long-gone, but this classic art form made an indelible mark in today’s photographers and stylists.

If you’re interested in achieving that 1940s boudoir appearance, then look no further. Today, we’ll give you tips on how you can achieve that with these easy steps.

Tip #1: Make-up

1940s Makeup

The Hollywood actresses Hurrell used as his muses used make-up to enhance their features and cover up blemishes that would otherwise detract from the overall glamour they were trying to achieve. If you take a look at some of their pictures, they looked very darling, spotless, and absolutely perfect. Remember: Don’t use too much make up. An overabundance of lipstick, blush on, eyeliner or foundation will ruin what you’re trying to accomplish. For super awesome makeup tutorials, check out the Vintagemakeupguide.

Tip #2: Dress up. Really dress up

Rita Hayworth Boudoir

Nope, not Audrey Hepburn, but I think Rita Hayworth wore this ‘little black dress (LBD)’ pretty well too.

Another tip in going “glam” with boudoir photography is to pick your outfits and really be particular about them. Your choices are very limited to gowns and dresses, with the occasional silk top. Why? The reason it’s called glamour photography is because the subject is to exude elegance and sophistication. Also, a common technique used in this kind of photography is “soft focus”, where the contours of the subject and other elements in the background are very warm and pleasing visually. Only certain gowns and dresses with material such as silk, can achieve that effect. A timeless dress you can use as your peg is the LBD (or Little Black Dress) popularized by Audrey Hepburn.

Make sure that your outfit is tailored according to your measurements so it properly emphasizes your…uh…assets. Try not to wear something with a complicated pattern or too much sparkle. The star of the photo is you, not your outfit. Once you’ve got the perfect dress/es, it’s time to…

Tip #3: Accessorize

Women's Accessories 1940s

Take your glamour shoot one step further by accessorizing. Wearing gloves and jewelry in the right places (one wrist, the neck, and both ears) go a long way in further improving your appearance in the photoshoot.

Tip #4: Get to the salon.

1940s Hairstyles

Even before going to your shoot, be sure to get your hair did in the salon. Get it curled or straightened or even in an updo if you like. Hollywood actresses of the 1940s made sure everything, even their hair, was in pristine condition.

Tip #5: Project. Project. Project

 Rita Hayworth Boudoir

So you’ve got the dress, the accessories, the make-up, and even the hair down to pat. Now it’s time to exude that aura of confidence, grace, and subdued sexiness during the shoot. One reason why Hurrell preferred Hollywood actresses as his models was because they already had the air of class and sophistication. You may have the looks, dress, and accessories, but if you can’t project for the camera, the glamour photoshoot will be a flop.


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