10 Amazing beauty icons of 30s

Early 1930s style and fashion were heavily influenced by the Great Depression in the US and that meant that hemlines dropped back down to the ankles, and more feminine styles became the trend. The 30s were also the decade that the stars of Hollywood made their mark on fashion, and screen icons like Katherine Hepburn and Bette Davies were leading the way in glamour and beauty trends. From the casual sportswear look of Katharine Hepburn, to the more adventurous style of Wallis Simpson, fashion throughout the 30s was driven by what people saw at the movies and the newsreels. Here are ten of those 1930s beauty icons who set the trends in the years between the two world wars.

1. Bette Davis

Bette Davis is regarded as one of Hollywood’s greatest actresses and she was well known for her willingness to take on challenging roles in the movies. She was often thought of as not being beautiful in the conventional way for the time, but her blonde bob that she wore in the 30s became a fashion statement in itself. She was also something of a feminist hero and she once said “Hollywood wanted me to be pretty, but I fought for realism”.

2. Wallis Simpson

Wallis Simpson is better known as being the woman that Edward VIII abdicated the throne of England to marry, but she too was a major style icon in the 30s. Some people hated her and some loved her, but everyone took notice of what Wallis Simpson wore. She was well known for her daring style and she caused quite a stir with a Salvador Dali dress that had a lobster design placed in a position on the dress that was said to have had sexual connotations.

3. Greta Garbo

Swedish actress Greta Garbo was another of the Hollywood great’s of the 30s who many women looked to for fashion inspiration. Her favourite designer was Valentina Schlee, and she was best known for her slightly androgynous style of dress that managed to convey both practicality and elegance ay the same time.

4. Jean Harlow

Jean Harlow’s own platinum blond bob inspired many people at the time to follow the platinum blonde trend and she was even Marlin Monroe’s screen idol. Jean Harlow was also responsible for making the painted eyebrow popular, along with matching bright red lips and nails.

5. Joan Crawford

Joan Crawford was a real trend setter and she made a huge impact on fashion in the 1930s. She was one of the biggest stars of MGM studios and one of the highest paid actresses at the time too. In partnership with the famous designer, Gilbert Adrian, Crawford always looked immaculate both on and off screen. She was also well known for leading the way and was often the first person to be sporting a new style.

6. Marlene Dietrich

Whilst Marlene Dietrich looked stunning in a ball gown, she was also the first to be seen sporting tuxedo and she often wore masculine looking clothes. She was an actress who did not want to conform to Hollywood standards and she once said of her style choices; “I dress for myself. Not for the image, not for the public, not for fashion, not for men”

7. Katharine Hepburn

Katherine Hepburn was well known for her spirit and her independent nature and she was a Hollywood leading lady for an incredible 60 years. In the 30s, Hepburn was often seen wearing wide legged trousers and shirts which are still worn today. Hepburn was so influential in fashion that, in 1986, the Council of Fashion Designers of America gave her a lifetime achievement award for her contribution to fashion.

8. Vivien Leigh

Vivien Leigh will forever be remembered for her portrayal of Scarlett O’Hara in the 1939 movie Gone with the Wind. It wasn’t just her Oscar winning performances that caught the public’s attention, though; it was also her natural beauty and her choice of clothes. She was a big fan of the designers Dior and Balmain, and she always looked stunning, wherever she appeared.

9. Ginger Rogers

Singer, dancer, and actress, Ginger Rogers, along with her screen dancing partner Fred Astaire, revolutionised the Hollywood musical with elegant dance routines that took the breath away. Rogers used to wear sleek ball gowns that showed off her dancing skills and her figure wonderfully. She was also well-known for her constantly changing hairstyles.

10. Carol Lombard


Carol Lombard, who tragically died in an air accident in 1942, was famous for the energy that she brought to her roles on offbeat comedy films, as well as her romance with Clark Gable. She also had a fantastic sense of style and looked just as good in casual outfits, as she did in a full blown gown.

Stay beautiful!

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