Screen legend Marlene Dietrich was one of the most sensuous and powerful leading ladies during Hollywood’s Golden Age. Once nicknamed the “best dressed man in Hollywood”, she was known for her “Bedroom Eyes”, smoldering sex appeal, and distinctive voice. She was also a fashion icon who wore pants and more masculine fashions on and off screen. Her androgynous sex appeal brought on new trends of women wearing men’s tailored suits, which added to her unique allure.
These are some of my favorite Marlene Dietrich-inspired items:
Follow these next steps to transform yourself into a Marlene Dietrich femme fatale-style pinup!
1. Moisturize Use a lightweight moisturizer about five minutes before applying your base, allowing it to absorb into the skin better. Then use a makeup base primer to smooth out flaws and keep your makeup looking fresh and lasting all day. Recommended: Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, or Chanel Base Lumiere
2. Apply a makeup base My favorite film quality foundations to help achieve Marlene’s velvety radiant skin are Makeup Forever HD High Definition Foundation and Chanel Pro Lumiere Foundation. Apply a small dime-sized amount all over your face with a foundation brush or sponge.
3. Translucent powder This is a must to set your foundation if you want it to last all night long! Using a powder puff, press the loose translucent powder firmly into your skin. (Just dusting it over your face with a powder brush will not set the makeup.) You must actually press it into the skin, and then sweep off any excess with a powder brush. Recommended: Makeup Forever HD Translucent Powder
4. Eyebrows Marlene’s eyebrows were very arched and dramatic. She actually used to shave them off and redraw them on higher than her natural brow line. An easy way to achieve this look without having to shave off your brows is to apply a light matte ivory shadow along the bottom of your brows. This with lightly fade them out a bit. Then using a very stiff angled lining brush, dip your brush in a tiny amount of waterproof cream and gently draw a thin line across the top following your natural brow line outward. (You are actually just accentuating the top portion of your existing eyebrows.) Remember: Use the smallest amount of the eyebrow cream…this stuff is very pigmented! Recommended: Mac Blanc Type eye shadow for the bottom portion of the brow, Makeup Forever Waterproof Eyebrow Corrector in no.0 or no.2 based upon your own hair color
5. Eye shadow To achieve Marlene’s smoldering glamorous eyes, apply a medium slate grey shadow over the entire lid. You can lighten the grey in the middle of your lid by using Mac Frost (shimmery white) over it. Then apply a dark grey shadow (silver ring) to the crease of your eyelid and blend up and out to the outer area below the brow. You may also want to softly blend the lid color slate grey shadow back over the darker shade of shadow in the crease for an all over softer look so it blends better. Last, blend the light matte ivory/ soft white shade under the brow bone. Recommended: Makeup Forever Slate Grey (lid), Mac White Frost (lid), Makeup Forever Buff (under brow), and Mac Silver Ring (in the crease blending outward)
6. Eyeliner Marlene Dietrich only applied black eyeliner and mascara to the top of her eyes. She believed that applying anything to the bottom of her eyes and lashes would cast shadows and make her eyes look droopy and small. Using a fine angled lining brush and black liquid of cake liner, draw a very narrow line going from the top inner corner of your lid at lash line and gently go outward to the end of the lid. Then with your eyes open, gently flick the liquid lining brush in an up and outward direction. This creates little cat eye effect. The Bobbi Brown gel liners are my favorite because they are completely smudge proof and long lasting. The Mac liquid eyeliner works well also. After you have applied the liquid liner to the top, you will then want to use a white kohl eye pencil to line the inside under your eyes. Use just a little bit! This will give you a very dramatic eye-opening look. You can see in her photos, she always used white to line the inside under her eyes. Recommended: Bobbi Brown Gel Eyeliner Black, Mac Black liquid eyeliner, and Mac Fascinating Eye Kohl Pencil
7. Mascara Apply a coat or two of black mascara to the lashes (both real and false). Remember to apply the mascara to just the top lashes. Recommended: Dior Show Black Mascara
8. False Eyelashes Always wear black. My favorite for Marlene’s look is the 747 Mediums. Any false lashes that are longer and thinner will work for the eyes; just don’t use something too thick.
9. Blush Think high drama and contour. Using an angled blush brush, apply a darker flesh tone tan color underneath your cheekbones brushing the blush at an upward angle and out. This will help define your cheekbone area. Then using a larger blush brush, sweep a softer light rose color across your actual cheekbones, in an up and outward motion. Make sure this color is two shades lighter than the actual contour color. Recommended: Makeup Forever Matte Fawn Blush (fair under cheekbone contour) Makeup Forever Matte Sienna Blush (option for darker skin tones contour), Makeup Forever Satin Indian Pink Blush for the cheekbones
10. Lips. For this time period, women usually wore wear deeper shades of berry, wine, and red on their lips. They also always accentuated their cupid’s bow. When applying your liner, line your lips slightly on the outside of your natural lip line top and bottom, making your lips appear fuller. Remember to draw a very defined “Cupid’s Bow” on your top lip, but do not over draw the Cupid’s bow above your natural one. Choosing the color “Brick” for your lip liner, this color is bold and goes well with many different red and wine lip colors. When applying the lip liner, completely line your lip top and bottom. (The lip liner shade should be only one shade darker than your lip color.) Then with the lip liner, gently brush the liner pencil over the entire lip (top and bottom), coloring in as much as you can. After that, gently brush translucent powder over your lips to set the color. You will then proceed with your lipstick color. Using a lip brush, brush the outer edges of your lips toward the center of your mouth with the berry red color. Marlene did have a bit of shine to her lips, so to finish off your look you can apply a dab of clear gloss to the center of your pout! Recommended: Mac Brick Lip pencil, Mac Lipstick: Viva Glam 1, Chanel Lipstick: Rouge Noir, and Ballet Russe.
Marlene Dietrich’s Hair
To achieve Marlene’s hairstyle, start off with a blunt, slightly graduated shoulder length bob.
First, wash your hair and then distribute a style setting cream throughout. Let your hair dry until it’s about 90% dried. Apply medium size Velcro rollers to your entire head. Start by taking the hair from the top of the head and wrapping it down around the rollers, not up and around. Always down. Once all your hair has been put into rollers, spray some volumizing hairspray over entire head, and leave it to dry. Then when your hair feels completely dry, use a blow-dryer on the hot setting and give it a finishing heat blast for a couple of minutes, just to really set in your curls. Spray it one more time, then take the rollers out and make a side part. Brush your hair for loose, sultry curls all on one side of the head. Finish by spraying the volumizing hairspray throughout and spritz in some glimmering shine spray. Marlene loved her hair to shimmer and shine! Remember she was ultra glamorous. Recommended: Kenra Styling Cream, CHI Magnified Volume hairspray, Moroccan Oil glimmer shine spray, Medium sized Velcro rollers, Hair pins, a round boar bristle brush for softening curls
Complete your look with some vampy dark red nails, glamorous jewelry, a fabulous vintage fur or a sexy tilted top hat. Just like these modern day Marlene Dietrich channeling ladies above, you’re now ready for a sizzling night out on the town Marlene Dietrich style!