Get the Old Hollywood Look: A Girl’s Style Guide

Get the Old Hollywood Look: A Girl’s Style Guide

March 4, 2022
By Cathy Nguyen

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There is a mystery and allure surrounding Hollywood days of the past that we all love. Between the tight-fitting gowns, to the beautiful curls and perfect winged eyes, we can’t get enough.

But how do we accomplish these looks at home? It’s not as hard as you may think. Queenly has a few tips to give you all the Hollywood glam you see in those black and white films. You’ll be channeling your inner Greta Garbo or Audrey Hepburn by lunch.

Stick with us and take a walk down memory lane.

What Does Old Hollywood Mean?

Old Hollywood encompasses a lot. We are talking about decades of fashion and actresses that it’s easy to get lost in all the details. There are a few styling points or basic rules, however, that can be learned and applied anytime you want to create that old Hollywood glamor.

The Gowns

Style was constantly changing and evolving; style points and cuts we love now were new and revolutionary then. But for gowns, there were two main points: tight and curve-flattering or the most cinched waist A-lines imaginable.

The important details here are simple ones. Gowns come in clean lines with simple yet beautiful silhouettes. Patterns aren’t too busy or bright, and only the best fabrics will do. If you really want to go full Hollywood, try to stick to gowns made of satin. It’ll have the right structure and support of past gowns and have the weight to the fabric that is required to emulate Hollywood glam.

The best styles for really exuding old Hollywood fashion in this way: mermaid gowns. or straight gowns. Mermaid gowns will hug every curve of your body, and give you the feminine appeal that those women created. A straight gown will still give you a great figure but in a cleaner more elegant way. Both are classy yet so different in style.

A-line gowns should have a decent amount of fullness to them, but not so much fullness that it looks like a ball gown. Jennifer Lopez really did this well at a red carpet event in 2020 in Palm Springs. The gown was a light pink floral pattern that was gorgeous but understated. The pattern emphasized the beauty of the silhouette without overpowering it. Another great style point to give a nod to old Hollywood: the high low feature of the gown.

Showing a heel ever so slightly with a high low gown as a big style point for old Hollywood fashion. As was the gorgeous train Jennifer’s gown offered.

Here's a little style inspo we know you’ll love:

Those Rebellious Women

Women of the time had very strict dress codes. A-list actresses were actually contractually obligated by their studios to keep a certain public appearance up. But that didn’t always sit well with certain actresses. So there were many actresses that utilized a tuxedo as their preferred fancy attire.

That’s right ladies, we have been stealing from men’s fashion since the very beginning! Blazer dresses and more figure-flattering women’s suits are evolutions from these original ladies who said no to the standards of the time. We love a woman who knows what she wants and doesn’t shy away from brave choices.

Jumpsuits and blazer dresses are great ways to pay tribute to these rebels of their time. Here are a few we love:

The Shoes

Gorgeous standard pumps are the way to go to channel Hollywood royalty of the past

Shoes are easy to achieve. Gorgeous standard pumps are the way to go to channel Hollywood royalty of the past. Solid color heels with about a three to four-inch heel are what all women wore at the time.

While we love the patterns and bolder textures that we get now with our shoe options, if you really want to go old-school Hollywood, you have to keep it simple. Lady Gaga, another style icon of our time that loves a good old Hollywood glam moment, has done this perfectly.

Dresses are tight and hip-hugging but all shoes are kept to one solid color to just play off the colors and patterns of her dresses. While she does take a touch more modern flair with bolder patterns on her dresses, the simpler cuts and silhouette of her looks keep it from straying too far.


Ok, if you haven’t done so before, now is definitely the time to invest in a good red lip color. If there’s anything that screams red lip, it’s old Hollywood. A red lip is bold and honestly, so feminine.

You will feel all that bold and sexy confidence just exude from your pores. It’s a head-turning choice and totally fits with all those mermaid gowns and simpler dress shapes of the time. When you keep your dress styles a little simpler, you dress it up and show off your personality in other ways. Cue the red lip.

For the rest of your makeup look, try going for something a little more simple. Wear the foundations and blushes you’re comfortable with, but keep it light. If you go for the red lip, try eyeliner instead of bright colors for eyeshadows. You will also want to make sure that you create a really strong brow moment. Brows were thicker in old Hollywood so make sure to help them stand out.


Ok, hair can be tricky but we have some tips. The biggest thing about copying old Hollywood glam is the big side part. You cannot part your hair down the middle and expect to really invoke that old Hollywood vibe. So a very big side part is the way to go. If your hair texture limits you on the stylings of old Hollywood actresses, utilizing the side part is the best way to still achieve those looks.

Pin curls are beautiful but can be really tricky. You need to curl pieces of hair into tight uniformed curls and pin them to your scalp to sit. You’ll be able to take them out later and brush them through in the back and sides to get the bounce. Or, for the strands that frame your face, hairspray them a little to keep their shape around your temples and cheeks.

If curls aren’t in the future for you, or they just aren’t something you’re into, try an updo. Many women kept their hair up and out of their faces all the time in old Hollywood. So a side-swept bun or low ponytail are great ways to keep that Hollywood glam without having to keep your hair down.


Just like with shoes, keep it more simple than extravagant. If you have a statement necklace that you want to wear, keep everything else minimal, or don’t wear them at all. Old Hollywood glam was about the natural beauty of a woman and the curves of their body, so don’t hide behind a lot of sparkly jewelry.

A fun idea: wear long gloves! Old Hollywood glam always included moments of elbow-length satin gloves so don’t be afraid to source a few in neutral colors to pair with multiple outfits. If you want some that work in a more casual capacity, try a few leather hand gloves!

Style Icons To Cherish

These are all great tips, but sometimes we also need visual cues. There are a few women we love that were fashion icons of the time and we want to take a moment to highlight them here. These styling tips are perfect to give you old Hollywood, but these are the ladies that created the trends.

Josephine Baker

Josephine Baker was a style icon of the 1920s. She was revolutionary with her loose-fitting skirts and short hair. She wore pearls and fur capes and marched to the beat of her own drum. Her style became some of the inspiration for the iconic flapper girl looks we know and love today.

Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor was the most feminine actress of her time. She exuded confidence and style and wore all the curve-hugging gowns she could find. Taylor wore all the trendiest looks of her time and took all the risks worthy of a style revolutionary.

Ava Gardner

Gardner was another actress of the time that helped put form-flattering gowns in the style hall of fame. She was a fan of a halter neckline and a low-cut corset style dress, something that is trending again pretty hard this year in fashion. Thank Ava for putting this silhouette on the market for years to come.

Audrey Hepburn

We couldn’t make this list without adding the champion of grace and class herself. Audrey Hepburn made the straight gown famous and has one of the most iconic little black dresses ever worn in Hollywood. That JLo dress we mentioned earlier? It was inspired by the Givenchy white gown that Hepburn wore for her role in Sabrina.

Katharine Hepburn

Fashion greatness ran in the family, except this Hepburn was all about androgynous looks and style. She famously wore pants when it wasn’t entirely acceptable for women. Katharine Hepburn also famously fought with her studio many times over masculine fashion. On the set of one of her movies, she actually walked around naked for an entire day when the production and style crew tried to take away her pantsuit!

Marlene Dietrich

Like Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Dietrich made masculine looks more feminine. For us, she was a style revolutionary, giving women the tools they need to argue that tuxedos are just as acceptable as gowns. At the time? She was a bit of a controversy, as women weren’t ever seen in these masculine styles before now.

You’re Ready for the Red Carpet

You are all set to have your own old Hollywood glam moment. These styling tips will give you the building blocks you need to find the outfit, accessory, and makeup inspo you need to recreate the Hollywood glam of the past. We are confident you will be ready for any black and white film debut. Even Audrey Hepburn herself would be wowed by your style.

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