Norwich woman goes back to the 50s

Reader Laura Crossley was treated to a 1950s style makeover to celebrate her 30th birthday. Emma Harrowing reports.

Whether you like original vintage or vintage-inspired looks, the trend for fashions from days gone by is popular in Norwich.

Vintage groups have popped up from 1960s style Mods on their scooters to 1930s and 1940s style fashionistas who love the days of steam trains, pin-curled hair and swing dancing. There are also the student groups who love fashion from the 1980s and 1990s.

Vintage is big news so when we posted on the Life Matters Facebook page enquiring if anyone would like a vintage makeover we were inundated with requests. But there could only be one winner, and as it was reader Laura Crossley's 30th birthday this month how could we refuse her request to get a 1950s style makeover.

'I'm a vintageholic and I love everything from the 1950s,' says Laura from Norwich. 'I love how feminine vintage clothes make you feel and how the clothes can last forever as they are made to such a high quality compared to the throw-away fashion you get these days. I also find that I can wear a size smaller in vintage clothes!'

Laura moved to Norwich from Manchester three years ago and is impressed by the wide range of vintage shops and retro culture the city is becoming renowned for.

Says Laura: 'I work as a freelance heritage organiser and have worked on learning projects at the Cathedral. I'm currently working on a 1950s room at the Bridewell Museum which will hopefully be open later this year, so the 1950s is an era that I am passionate about.'

Most Read

Fashion in the 1950s included straight day dresses, pencil skirts and blouses, the shirt dress and the cinched in waist and full skirted prom dress.

We decide to give Laura a 1950s prom dress evening look.


All of Laura's styling takes place at Zaks in Mousehold; a vintage-inspired American diner with lots of 1950s memorbilia such as an original 1950s coke machine which is still operational. The machine was sat in a village hall in Oklahoma for 60 years until it came to Zaks and has never been repainted. It even has the original price stickers on.

To give Laura a prom queen look, Jolene from Retreat Vintage on Magdalen Street styles her in an original baby blue 1950s prom dress complete with mid heel court shoes, a original silver 1950s handbag and pearl bracelet.

Says Jolene: 'There are many looks we could go for including a pencil skirt with sweater or the 1950s candy stripe look, which would be perfect against the backdrop of the diner. However, as it's Laura's birthday a glamorous prom dress is a fitting look for her petite frame.'


Laura's straight hair needs lots of volume added to it to recreate a 1950s look. Emma from Hooloovoo hair salon on Pottergate was on hand to offer some advice.

Says Emma: 'You can create volume in straight hair by adding curl. Finger curls are a great way of easily getting a vintage inspired look and these are easy to create at home.

'Usually in the salon I would use rollers and set the hair first to create a natural looking curl, however it is possible to create the look in half the time by using hair straighteners.'

Emma begins by spraying heat protection spray over Laura's hair. She then creates curls all over her head by taking a one inch sections of hair and starting from the root twisting the section 90 degrees around the straighteners, pulling them through each section to the tip.

Parting the hair on the side, Emma splits the front section into three and takes the front section of the thinner side, sprays it with hairspray and then backcombs the section at the root. The section is twisted around her fingers to create a finger curl and pinned into place at the side of Laura's head.

This process is then repeated with the front section on the other side of the head.

Emma then takes the front top section of hair and backcombs it at the root to give lift. The section is curled over off the face and pinned into the finger curl on the thicker side of the parting so that it blends in with the style.

To finish the look Emma sprays the hair with hairspray to set the style.


The big eyes and big lips seen on many 50s film stars is a spring make-up trend this year. Beth from the Benefit Boutique in Debenhams finshes Laura's makeover with a lesson in creating a retro-inspired look.

For the base

After cleansing and moisturising your skin use an eye cream around the eye bone to create a wide awake look (Beth uses Benefit's It's Potent eye cream).

Next use a foundation primer over your face as this will make your make-up last longer and will help you achieve a flawless finish (Beth uses Benefit's The Porefessional Primer).

Use a primer specifically for under the eyes and over the eyelids to create a base for eye make-up and for under eye concealer (Beth uses Benefit's Stay Don't Stray).

For your base choose a foundation that matches your skin tone so that it looks invisible on your face. For Laura's fair complexion Beth uses Benefit's Some Kind of Gorgeous Lite foundation.

For the eyes

Create a high-definition eye worthy of a 1950s starlet by pencilling in your eyebrows to make them appear fuller and thicker (Beth uses Benefit's Brow-Zing brow wax and powder).

Define your eyes using a black liquid eyeliner across your top lash line (Beth uses Benefit's Magic Ink). Make sure that you draw the line as close to your lash line as possible. Take the line slightly longer than the outer edge of your eye to create a 1940s/50s inspired flick.

Finish your eyes with a coat of black volumising mascara on the top and bottom lashes (Beth uses Benefit's They're Real mascara).

For the cheeks

Add a natural flush to your cheeks using a peach/pink blusher. Apply it to the apples of your cheeks and blend upwards and outwards along your cheekbones towards your hairline (Beth uses Benefit's new Havana blush).

The verdict

Says Laura: 'I absolutely love my look. Everything from the dress to the hair and make-up is perfect. I really feel like I have stepped back into the 50s and wish I could keep my look like this. This is definitely one of the best birthdays ever!'