Retro Essentials: Makeup for Work

Since the idea behind this series of posts is to help people bring elements of the retro/vintage/pinup styles into their everyday life (without breaking the budget), I thought it might be a good idea to talk about how to pull this off at work. So, I’ve included three different makeup looks that I’ve worn to work and mentioned what I combined them with. These looks took <15 minutes to create. Why? Because I don’t like spending a lot of time on my face when I’m tired and stressed.

I’m basing this on what I would wear to the office. I’m interning for a small organisation and we share the office space with other businesses. It’s pretty casual for an office. The unofficial dress code for my male co-workers in this office space seems to be jeans or slacks combined with a button up shirt or a polo shirt. I aim to dress business casual as a general guideline but know that I’m allowed to take more liberties with what I wear to work than some people are. You might need to dress things up or down, make it more or less conservative, all depending on the industry you work in. Not to mention what you actually do for work.

Some general rules still apply, of course. Your clothes should still be clean and mended, your nails should be decently manicured, avoid clothes with ‘clever’ slogans, keep accessories under control, and wear something you’ll be fairly comfortable doing a full day’s work in.

For makeup rules for work I know they vary quite significantly depending on where you work. Overall, try not to use too many products. Skip the contouring, the dramatic eye, and glitter. Focus on clear skin (I usually have rather clear skin, these photos were taken at the beginning and end of my latest greyscale episode ) and either lips or eyes.

wpid-20150703_094008.jpgThis is something I wore a few weeks ago. A lightly tinted lip (one layer of Etude House’s Dear Darling tint in 02 and a lip balm on top), relatively discrete but still marked eyes. I tried out a new palette for this eye look and it has a very reddish colour to several of its shadows. It’s the Illamasqua Empower Palette (bought it on sale for 38 dollars, I wouldn’t ever pay 70+ dollars for four freaking eyeshadows) that really does not reveal to you that there’s gong to be anything red about it. So I had to adapt my entire look the very moment it touched my eyelids. The eye is slightly enhanced by a discrete eyeliner and mascara. I suspect it was my regular Clio mascara and perhaps even one of their eyeliners. The mascara is great for work as it’s both waterproof and smudge proof. It’s one of the best products I’ve ever tried. This is as bold as I go with eye looks for work and I would probably not wear it with a classic red lip.
Time: 10-15 minutes because eyeshadow isn’t what I do best.
This was worn with a black maxi skirt in a silky material and this red knitted short sleeved shirt. I normally don’t wear t-shirts to work, but the thick fabric combined with the more formal fit made me decide to go with it. I think I wore my hair in a bun.
Please note that this was taken just as my face really started flaring up due to allergies (yes, I’m nagging about it, it’s about 90% healed by now) and that’s why my skin looks quite red.

This was originally intended for a series of posts where I was going to challenge myself to come up with ten different casual makeup looks after noticing that I tend to fall back on borderline identical looks. We all seem to find certain things we favour or that are within our comfort zone so to speak, so this was just an attempt to get out of that routine. The eyeshadow is a part of that, I think it’s the only time I’ve worn red eyeshadow in my entire life.

Here’s another look that you will see on me fairly often. By this point you’ll also have noticed that I’m not very photogenic in wpid-20150705_152433.jpggeneral and that my right eye really does not look good in pictures. I don’t know why. These photos were taken whilst my allergic reaction was happening and thus my face looks a bit more swollen than it usually is. I know a lot of people only post photos of themselves that are retouched or that look freaking amazing, but we all have good days and bad so I try to include a bit of variation. No, they’re not the worst photos of me either, I want to spare you from that trauma.

This look is just really simple. No eye makeup, just foundation and a red lip. Red lips have a tendency to look really bold if you don’t tone the rest of your makeup and outfit down. However, it is still a vintage staple. I’ve worn this to work several times and there’s never been a problem. This is the TonyMoly lip tint plus a lip balm, but you can wear any classic red lipstick.
On this particular day I didn’t actually have work, so that’s why I’m wearing a Batman t-shirt. Don’t wear Batman t-shirts to work… Let your hair down or wear it in a low casual ponytail. Combine with dark trousers and a white blouse to make it more work appropriate. Add a blazer if you need. Time: <5 minutes


This is me on the day I’m writing this post. No, that’s not a filter, it’s sunshine. This is a pre-coffee photo and that’s why I look so sleepy. Chances are you’ll look sleepy on your way to work every now and then, so consider it realistic.

This time we also focus on a rather discrete look but with quite pronounced pinup elements. I’m wearing eyeliner that is smudged and not overly pronounced but still reminiscent of a smoky eye or winged liner. No mascara, this time because my Clio mascara is already packed for my trip.

On my lips I’ve stepped away from classic reds and instead gone for a more purple option. This is one of the flipsticks from Maxfactor that I mentioned in my Western Brands for Korean Trends post, but the other side of that same lip product.
Time: 5 minutes

I’m combining this with a high pony tail, a knee length pencil skirt, a plaid button up shirt, and a pair of black wedges. A high ponytail is great for everyday vintage looks as it’s quick and elegant. If you want to, tease the hair on the crown just a bit to add some hight and volume to your look.

wpid-20150620_161518.jpgFor reference. This is me without any makeup on a day when my skin was quite happy. I, however, was really freaking tired.
You’ll notice that my eyes appear to be several different colours in various pictures on this blog, they do that. Red makes them look blue, brown makes them look green. You’ll also notice that there’s this weird pale section of my hair that is visible in some of these photos. I’m not going grey yet thankfully, it’s just a section of my hair that is bleached by the sun very easily. I think I’m wearing moisturiser on both face and lips in this picture, that’s why I look so shiny. But yeah, this is my face. Thinking it might be helpful for people to know what I start out with so that they can compare and contrast the difference.


2 thoughts on “Retro Essentials: Makeup for Work

  1. Your blog is very cute and I like the effort you’re going to to give gals some tips. Can I just say, you don’t need to justify your face – it is beautiful and I’d be surprised if any readers notice your skin condition, your right eye, the swelling or your pale patch of hair. Honestly, you look great – own it! The caveats about the little details you’re worried about are a bit distracting from the great style tips. Look forward to future posts!

    • Hi, I’m not justifying my face. I’m explaining why they look the way they do so that people know why the photos might look the way they do. For example, if I mention that I’ve used a certain foundation or always use a certain foundation and my skin looks dry/cakey/patchy then I want people to know that it’s not because of the foundation but because of an allergic reaction. Same thing with the hair, I recently had it dyed and wrote a review about the salon, I don’t want people thinking they missed a spot.

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