A Black Woman’s Makeup and Fashion History


If only we had looked this good in the ’50s!



I’m in the process of revamping my wardrobe since I’ve reached another milestone birthday and it got me thinking about the makeup and fashion choices I endured when I was younger.

For instance, I very much remember having only one choice of lipcolor. A color, that in later years, I associated with Revlon’s Rum Raisin. But in actual fact, it was Max Factor’s Lipstick in Wild Blue.  The only other colors at the time were vivid bright reds, like the ones by Helena Rubinstein.

But Wild Blue Lipstick? No problem, since all Black folks, according to the makeup industry in the fifties, fell under the ‘Color Me Beautiful’ Winter category – right? They must have. Cause even the hair dye back in those days was blue or blue black as in Nice ‘n Easy Hair Color 124 in Natural Blue Black. I’m sure you or your mother can recall all those little old ladies with hair so black it had a blue tinge to it.

But not to worry, there were two choices of blue eye shadow to go with your Wild Blue lips and Blue Black hair. There was icy blue (white base) eye shadow or powder blue (gray base) eye shadow.

And now that we’re all made up. Let’s get dressed.

Pantyhose. Black women had that horrendous shade known as Pecan. Not the Pecan of today. Back in the fifties, pecan was an overly red brown color that looked like Alabama red clay. And unless you were shorter than a Pygmy, the waistband came up to mid-thigh and the crotch hung down around your knees. Or you could buy stockings and roll them down around your knees and knot them for knee-his.

If you were very fashion conscious, you just had to make sure you kept a lot of room between your blue black hair and your red brown pantyhose.

But there was consolation with our underwear. It came in two shades – white and black. That’s it. No nude. No beige. No blue! Just black and white.

We have come a long way, but just the other day while watching a rebroadcast of an old Oprah show where she was doing fashion makeovers, I was reminded that we haven’t come far enough.

The fashion stylist on the program was asked about those beigey-pink platform pumps that were all the rage last year. He said that because they matched the model’s skin tone they made her legs appear longer. When Oprah asked how she could get the same effect, he replied that she should match her pantyhose and her shoes.

Oprah, being a year younger than me and having grown up in the south, did not look pleased by that answer. So, thinking quickly, the fashion consultant recanted and said, for you gals of color, just buy bronze.

Back to one color again and I’m off to buy a pair of bronze ‘colored’ shoes.  Anyone know where I can get a pair of good quality bronze ‘colored’ pantyhose?

A Tiny Kitty With A Big Mouth.

P.S.  Mrs. Obama rocked that dress on Oscar night.   I’d tuned in just to hear who won for Best Actor and when Denzel didn’t win, I lost interest.  But when you came on, I actually woke up and sat-up.   Great job!