In the Hollywood landscape of new, new, new, what really stands out is that today's starlets still emulate the looks of classic screen beauties, including Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth, who ruled the red carpet in the 1950s.
Funny, you don't hear that much about Cher, Sharon Stone, or even Demi Moore and Julia Roberts, all very popular stars of the awards-show circuit in more recent history. Could you imagine Angelina Jolie all done up as Sally Field?
But Jolie made most of the best-dressed lists from the Golden Globe awards earlier this month with her bright red lips and neat hair that complemented her glamorous gown.
"To reference the bygone era of past screen sirens, there's something about that genre that women gravitate to, men gravitate to and fashion gravitates to," says Jenn Karsten, director of education and artistry for the cosmetics brand Make Up For Ever.
"I think it's the essence of the real woman," she says. "If we referenced the '70s, '80s and the '90s even, the culture was shifting so much. It was a sexual revolution but with a strong androgynous look. It was, 'Don't look at me for my beauty, look at me for my brains, my power.' But if you look at Liz Taylor, Sophia Loren or Marilyn, they're all megastars that were proven talents and proven beauties."
Lori Taylor, global pro lead makeup artist for Smashbox, says Hollywood back in the day was more about crafting a lasting image instead of jumping from trend to trend. "The 1940s and '50s had a ladylike glamour. Everything worked! These women weren't testing anything out. If you look at the women of the '80s, it was more about pushing the edge -- and that's not as timeless."
It was a pretty rare occasion that the Monroes and Hayworths of the world would turn up somewhere without a well-planned outfit and full made-up face, adds Wende Zomnir, founding partner and creative director of Urban Decay. Their appearances were more staged than the paparazzi snapshots of today's stars, of course, but they also had fairly simple beauty routines, even if they wore a lot of product, she says.
Tips on re-creating those looks:
*Beautiful, full brows. "Pamela Anderson ruined brows," declares Zomnir. "Brows are hard to do right, but people are scared to let them grow."
She'd like to see more people take their cue from Elizabeth Taylor, or at least Brooke Shields in the '80s.
*A natural look. This isn't carte blanche to be natural, however, says Karsten.
The goal is a look that's simple but well-groomed, with flawless skin and a few big statements, such as a bright lip color and jet-black lashes. You might need foundation, you'll need a good skin-care routine, you might even need time-consuming false lashes to make it look like you barely gave it a thought.
Balance those one or two bold moves with neutral-tone eyes and cheeks, she says.
*Healthy lifestyle. Many ingredients commonly used in skin care today were virtually unknown 50 years ago, like antioxidants and peptides, said Charles Denton, CEO of skin-care company Erno Laszlo, but Laszlo, the company's late founder, was an early proponent of lifestyle approaches.
"He actively promoted a good diet, the idea of avoiding the sun and getting a good night sleep," Denton explains. "He supported antioxidants that do good when drinking red wine and eating dark chocolate."
*Clean canvas. Targeting skin blemishes will mean less makeup -- and less room for error, says Denton.
*Red lipstick. "Red lipstick makes you walk a little taller, stand a little straighter and you'll get more attention and compliments," says Karsten. "Why not do it?"
Lori Taylor says there is a right shade of red for everyone. Most people can wear a warm red, but you have to try it on, she says. If it doesn't work, move toward something with a little bit more orange. It'll have the same effect but be friendlier to both pale and olive skin tones, she says.
Elizabeth Taylor made candy-apple red her signature, and Hayworth wore the red that really looks like real red. Monroe leaned toward a really rosy pink. A berry-tone fuchsia also turns heads and is easy to wear, especially for daytime, says Zomnir.
*Highlighting instead of contouring. Contouring makeup that took advantage of staged lighting is clunky and cumbersome for a modern on-the-go lifestyle, says Lori Taylor. The modern version is highlighting (for example, by using bronzer), which adds dimension with just a few strokes here and there.
Kim Kardashian and Beyonce are masters, she says.
*Playing to type. A sultry star -- she has Eva Mendes, Megan Fox or Jennifer Lopez in mind -- can do Hayworth with a good glow on the skin, Lori Taylor says, while a blond can do the contrast of pale skin and highly pigmented cosmetics.