How to Dress Like Lucille Ball
Lucille Ball, star of “I Love Lucy,” was an icon of the 1950s and 1960s. While she played a housewife on TV, she was an inspiration to many women, as one of the first televised female comediennes. Ball was known for her red hair, impeccable outfits and iconic makeup, looking flawless all the time. You can channel Lucy by emulating her clothing, makeup and pin-curled hair.
Picking 50’s Clothing
Search local vintage stores or thrift stores for swing dresses and other 50s clothes. It is hard to find a dress worthy of Lucille Ball in a regular department store. You may want to devote a day to browsing vintage racks.
Opt to buy a swing skirt or dress from a vintage-inspired clothing line, such as eShakti, Pin Up Girl Clothing, Modcloth or Tatyana. They create similar looks; however dresses can run between $65 and $150.
- Most of these stores don’t have physical locations, so you will need to shop online.
Look for a classic button up shirtdress with gingham, polka dots or another patterned fabric. Lucy often wore patterns that popped in black and white. Ensure it has a full swing skirt.
Pick a more casual look by finding pedal pushers and a button up gingham shirt. Both should be form fitting. The gingham shirt can be tied at the natural waist.
Look for kitten heels or pumps to complete the outfit. Sling back or patent flats can also work.
Invest in a crinoline if your swing dress doesn’t have enough body. Chiffon fabric is the most comfortable, and you will need to measure it to the length of the dress. Lucy favored knee or just over the knee-length dresses.
Creating the Iconic Hair
Purchase some temporary red hair dye or spray. Although I Love Lucy was in black and white, she was well known for her red hair. She was likely to have been a natural brunette, but the red hair matched her trademark lipstick and outfits.
Start on the pin curls the night before you want to dress as Lucille Ball. Section the top of your head in a rectangular part along the sides and back. This will be the bouffant-like section.
- It is recommended that your bangs be at least three to four inches long to pull off the pin curl look.
- Tie up the rest of your hair so that it doesn’t get in the way.
Separate the top section into three rows. Twist one-inch (2.5cm) sections onto your head and pin them in place along each row. You should have three to four pin curls in each of the three front rows.
- Secure with two bobby pins placed like cross hairs. Try to make each of the bobby pin pairs identical on each pin curl.
Start on the side of your head. Pin curl a bottom row going clockwise. Pin curl a top row going counterclockwise.
Repeat on the other side. Cover the pin curls with a scarf. Sleep on them and wait until you are getting ready the next day to take them out.
Wait until your makeup is done to do your hair. This way it will be out of your face.
Gather the back portion of your hair in a bun. Take down the sides first, one at a time.
Comb through the pin curls with your fingers and not a brush. Wrap them up into the bun and pin them in place, leaving a wave at the side. Repeat on the opposite side.
Take down the top section. Comb through the curls gently with your fingers, leaving them mostly intact.
Secure three groupings of curls onto the top of your head. Roll them so there is a ringlet in front. Pin them in place, taking care to hide the pins.
Spray to secure completely. The curls should come out slightly over your forehead.
Channeling Lucy’s Makeup
Start with a foundation. If you are going for the full black and white star look, remember that she wore heavy makeup to get a flawless complexion. If you are going casual, this is not necessary.
Add in well-arched brows. Use a brow pencil to accentuate the arches. Lucy had fairly heavy, distinct brows.
Use eyeliner to accentuate the eyes. You can also use fake lashes to get a more dramatic look.
Curl your eyelashes and coat them with several layers of volumizing mascara.
Draw a nude line around the outside of your lip line. Lucy arched her lips slightly bigger at the top and bottom, between the creases.
Outline with bright red lip liner. Fill the lips in with matching red lipstick. Powder the lips slightly to set them.
Powder your entire face. Have someone help you into your dress at this point, so that it stays free from powder and hairspray.
- If you don’t have time to create the bouffant with pin curls, opt for a red Lucy wig, which is available from costume stores.
- For a casual Lucy look, find a solid or polka dot scarf and tie it mid-way through the bouffant in a simple knot.
- Add some pearls or costume jewelry to the outfit.
Things You'll Need
- Swing dress
- Pedal pushers
- Tailored button-up shirt
- Kitten heels/pumps
- Red Lucy wig/red temporary hair dye
- Bobby pins
- Hair pick
- Costume jewelry
- Foundation/powder in your shade
- Red lipstick/lip liner
- Brow pencil
- Volumizing mascara
- Fake lashes (optional)
- Nude lip liner