How to Dress Like a Vintage Cigarette Girl

The 1940s cigarette girl made her living by catching the attention of gentlemen and selling them tobacco, often in a nightclub. Dressing like a vintage cigarette girl requires putting together a costume with sexy, attention-grabbing flair in the classy style of the 1940s.


The Outfit

A cigarette girl could not afford to wear an overly modest outfit. Don't be afraid to show a little skin, but remember that “immodest” in the 1940’s was still more conservative than the more risqué outfits of the present day.

  1. Wear a dress with a short skirt that extends down to the mid-thigh. At the very least, it should go no lower than the knee.Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%201.jpg
  2. Find a skirt that uses tulle to create a full, “poofy” look, or buy a separate tulle skirt to wear underneath the skirt of the dress. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%202.jpg
  3. Look for a sleeveless dress or one with a halter-top. A strapless dress will also work. If selecting a dress with straps, choose wider straps instead of spaghetti straps to keep your look consistent with the fashion of the era. Avoid dresses with sleeves.Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%203.jpg
  4. Look for dresses with flirty, feminine details like ribbons and bows. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%204.jpg
  5. Don’t shy away from color. Bright colors, especially red and pink, are eye-catching and completely appropriate for this costume. A cigarette girl needed to catch patrons’ attention, after all.Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%205.jpg
  6. Wear a pair of peep-toed stiletto-heeled pumps, ideally with straps. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%206.jpg
    • Match the shoes to the color of your dress.
    • The higher the heel, the better. If you feel unbalanced in high heels, though, lower heels will still work. Just keep the heel narrow, not chunky.
  7. Tie your look all together with nylon stockings. Use fishnets or dark nylons to keep consistent with the look of a 1940’s nightclub.Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%207.jpg

The Hairstyle: Long Hair

Many hairstyles of the era made ample use of curls. You can search out a style specific to the 1940s, or you may opt for simpler, timeless curls. If you have long hair, create a seductive “peek-a-boo” bang.

  1. Wash and dry your hair, leaving it partially damp. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%208.jpg
  2. Part your hair deep on one side. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%209.jpg
  3. Use a 1-inch diameter curling iron to curl a small section of hair. Choose a section from the top layer of your hair, toward the front.Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2010.jpg
  4. Open the curling iron slightly and gently slide the curl off the barrel. Do not unwind the iron.Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2011.jpg
  5. Pin the curl in place with a bobby pin. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2012.jpg
  6. Repeat the curling process until your entire hair is curled and pinned in place. Take care of the top layers of hair first, moving from the front to the back of your head, before curling the bottom layers.Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2013.jpg
  7. Remove the bobby pins and unwind the curls after you’ve given your hair a few minutes to cool. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2014.jpg
  8. Use your fingers to loosen the curls into waves. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2015.jpg
  9. Reposition the waves as necessary using bobby pins. The deep part should naturally cause a wave to fall into a peek-a-boo bang.Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2016.jpg
  10. Use hair spray to keep everything in place. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2017.jpg

The Hairstyle: Short to Medium Hair

For short to medium hair, create simple curls that fall away from your face.

  1. Wash and dry your hair, leaving it slightly damp. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2018.jpg
  2. Gather a 1" section of hair from the top layer, toward the front. Draw the section straight out at a diagonal angle from the side of your face.Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2019.jpg
  3. Place a 1" diameter curler at the tip of the section. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2020.jpg
  4. Roll your hair tightly around the curler until the curler reaches your scalp. Roll away from your face, taking the section of hair as far back along the side of your head as possible.Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2021.jpg
  5. Use a bobby pin the clip the roller in place. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2022.jpg
  6. Repeat steps the curling process until all your hair is set in curlers. Start with the top layer, moving from the front of your hair to the back, before moving onto the bottom layer.Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2023.jpg
  7. Check that all the curlers are positioned to pull the hair back and away from your face. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2024.jpg
  8. Wait 30 minutes or so until your hair finishes drying and then remove the curlers, starting with the curlers you set last and finishing with the ones you set first. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2025.jpg
  9. Use your fingers to loosen and rearrange the curls. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2026.jpg
  10. Use bobby pins to keep the hair pinned back behind your ears, exposing the sides of your face. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2027.jpg

The Cigarette Box

No cigarette girl is complete without her cigarette box, from which she sells her wares. You can easily make one to go along with your costume using cardboard and paint.

  1. Obtain a long cardboard box with low sides. Boxes that contain canned goods or lids of larger boxes are good options to consider. The sides should only be two or three inches high.Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2028.jpg
  2. Paint the box black or white, depending on which color better matches your dress.
  3. Use a hole punch, scissors, or screwdriver to punch holes into two opposing sides of the box. The holes should be mid-way between the two ends.
  4. String a thick, glossy satin ribbon through the holes. Choose a ribbon color that contrasts with the color of your dress. For example, if you have a red dress, opt for black ribbon. If you have a black dress, opt for a red ribbon. The ribbon should be 2–3" length. It must be long enough to reach around the back of your neck, holding the mock cigarette box in place just below your bust and above your belly button.
  5. Knot the ribbon on the inside of the box’s holes to keep it in place.

Other Accessories

While not entirely necessary, there are a few other accessories you may wish to consider adding in order to take your outfit to the next level.

  1. Don a 1940s style hat. Look for a pillbox hat that matches well with your dress and keep it fastened in place using bobby pins.Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2033.jpg
  2. Consider wearing a miniature top hat decorated with a plume of feathers instead of a traditional pillbox hat. This option emphasizes the showy, nightclub origins of the cigarette girl.
  3. Wear white satin gloves. Keep the gloves short, only covering up to your wrist. Avoid long gloves.
  4. Fill your cigarette box with small items to make it seem more realistic. Chocolate cigars and candy cigarettes are good options since they mimic the real thing. You may also fill your box with playing cards and other similarly sized objects.


Draw attention with rosy cheeks, red lips, and doe eyes.

  1. Wear a matte foundation that matches your natural skin tone. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2037.jpg
  2. Layer on a powder blush to give your cheeks a bright, rosy hue.
  3. Use deep red or bright red lipstick—depending on which suits your skin tone better.
  4. Give yourself “doe eyes.
    • Use black liner to line both the top and bottom lids.
    • Run black mascara through your lashes or use fake eyelashes, if desired.

Where to Shop

Find the best dresses and accessories for an affordable price.

  1. Browse thrift shops for a vintage 1940s dress, satin gloves, and hat. Dress%20Like%20a%20Vintage%20Cigarette%20Girl%20Step%2041.jpg
  2. Check out nearby department stores, since many may carry 1940s-inspired pieces.
  3. Search party stores for cheap wigs or pre-made costumes.
  4. Shop for dresses and accessories online.


Things You’ll Need

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