The Dark Origins of Glamour

You may associate glamour with 1940s Hollywood starlets but did you know that it comes from an old Scottish word for witchcraft? 

Without going too far down an etymology rabbit hole, it derives from the Latin grammatica which in the Middle Ages meant study and learning including occult practices. In Scotland this then evolved into glamour, which was more specific to the casting of spells or magic. 




As we know, women were accused of witchcraft because others were often nervous that they were too independent, too intelligent or in short, too powerful. God forbid! They were often used as scapegoats or accused of 'seducing' others into misdeeds. 

It may seem like quite a leap from witches to glossy pages but perhaps these dark roots are what make the concept of glamour so evocative. It's not just about creating an illusion of beauty but power too. Of course in the times of witch burning this was  very negative! But there is also an other-worldly aspect to it, a sense of fantasy. 

The awe surrounding female enchantment in Scottish folklore is extremely evident. Whether they are witches, sprites, mermaids or fairies, those considered glamorous were to be revered as much as feared. 

By the 18th century glamour became more widely associated with charm and beguilement - a more acceptable form of enchantment! During the Second World War it was synonymous with the spellbinding heroines of the silver screen and what made it so popular was that anyone could partake. You didn't have to be a natural pin-up but with a dash of red lipstick, you could feel like a star. It was an illusion for yourself as much as anyone else, an escape from dreary wartime. 

I'm going to glide over for now government campaigns to make 'Make Beauty Your Duty' as part of morale boosting for soldiers. (Yes, I know that's problematic.) Here at Revival Retro, indulging in a bit of glamour is for ourselves rather than anyone else and I'd like to think that was the case for women before us. 

While standards of beauty and fashion constantly change, usually to the exclusion of those who can't afford it or weren't born a certain way, glamour continues to be about creating a fantasy. Glitz goes with glamour because glamour goes with magic. 

So this Halloween, don't assume you have to don a pointy hat to be bewitching. Find your favourite silhouette or add a little sparkle to feel your spellbinding roots.


Need some inspiration? Cast your eye on these... 





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