All hen party groups are different, and finding a theme or activity to please everyone can be a tough job. One fantastic option for a hen do with a twist, that’s likely to accommodate for all ages and tastes is to focus on a specific vintage era for costumes and activities. You can shape outfits, activities and even your evening drinks around your favourite time from the past – perhaps you fancy pin curls and stockings or even some naughty burlesque?
From fun activities and food and drink ideas to styling tips for some favourite vintage eras, here are our inspiring tips for the dream vintage hen party.
Vintage Hen Party Activities
A Charleston Dance Workshop
The Charleston was one of the most popular dances of the 1920s, iconic for its popularity amongst flapper girls. A Charleston workshop like these arranged by Maximise is a great way to kick off a Gatsby-esque hen party by learning these moves for yourselves. This exhilarating dance includes moves like the shim sham shimmy, illusion knees and the Charleston walk – most of which involve bouncing hops, spins and arm and leg movements that will have your heart racing and all of the girls giggling. With a Charleston lesson, you and your fellow hens can head back to the roaring twenties and enjoy your very own Bugsy Malone moments on the dance floor.
Learn Burlesque Dancing
If you prefer your hen party activities a little more sultry, then why not give some burlesque lessons a try. Unleash your inner Dita Von Teese and get fun and flirty with this tongue-in-cheek dance style that’s filled with seductive moves and sexy poses. Perfecting a few of these vintage moves will set you up perfectly for swinging your hips on the dance floor at the wedding, or are simply a great way to have fun with your girlfriends. There are plenty of options for teachers and dance schools, including the House of Burlesque, that run fantastic burlesque classes, or you can even book a private instructor to teach you in your own hen apartment.
If dance classes don’t suit your group, then there are far more relaxing ways to enjoy a vintage hen – including taking sewing classes or holding a craft party, to hark back to the days of ‘make do and mend’. Perhaps you can help the bride make bunting or wedding favours for her big day, create fascinators to go with your wedding outfits or maybe you’d rather a more saucy option such as nipple tassels, knicker-making or garters.
Try Make Do Menders or Stitch Before You Hitch for some crafty hen options.
Wining and Dining
Food and drink form an important part of any hen do and can help perfect a vintage party. For example, an up-market, yet kitsch option is to go for an afternoon tea. Whether you head to a hotel or tea shop, you’ll love enjoying the twee cakes and cucumber sandwiches. Of course no afternoon tea is complete without champagne either! A few hours of tasty treats is an ideal way to keep everyone fed and happy before or after your other vintage activities.
If you prefer your party swinging, why not try a speakeasy-style cocktail or gin bar? The London Gin Club is a favourite for hen parties in the capital, or you could head to the Nightjar in Hoxton for a traditional, prohibition themed bar with theatrical cocktails to boot. Of course not all hen parties are in London and if you have trouble finding a bar that suits your vintage needs then you could consider hiring a cocktail professional to come straight to your accommodation to teach you everything you need to know about mixology.
Perfecting The Look
Once you’ve chosen your ideal vintage activities, it’s time to start focusing on your outfits. After all, a vintage hen do isn’t complete without stylish retro hairstyles and dresses.
If you’re all willing to chip in some money, a popular way to achieve the best vintage looks is to book a style makeover, many of which will also offer photoshoot options so you can capture your new looks. Whether you’d prefer victory rolls, pin curls or backcombed, there will likely be a stylist that you can all either visit or book to come to your accommodation. Likewise, you can test different make up styles to suit your ideal vintage era.
If you’d rather style yourselves for your hen do, here are our top tips for different era looks:
For 1920s glamour, think flapper dresses or long, lean, straight silhouettes with calf length dresses. Dropped waists in particular were popular throughout the decade, as were elaborate fringing and beading. Cloche hats, long cigarettes and feathered headbands are perfect for accessorising, as are the iconic long pearls of the period. Go for dark, smoky eyes and finger waved bobs to complete the look; and of course don’t forget the deep red or plum lipsticks with a classic cupids bow.
If the 1940s are your era of choice, you can choose between classic Hollywood glamour or wartime chic. If you prefer to borrow looks from the movie stars like Ava Gardner or Bette Davis, go for floor length silk gowns, plenty of embellishments or two-piece playsuits. Long glamorous, soft curls and red lipstick were hugely popular, or you could even opt for stylish turbans. In the UK, we favoured more austere wartime ‘utility fashions’ with fitted suits with square shouldered jackets and flat shoes. Wide-legged trousers or dungarees were also popular, with a head scarf to tie back hair. Try for wartime up dos with victory rolls and pompadours to finish the style.
Another fun vintage era for a hen party is the 1960s, with big, backcombed hairstyles and Twiggy-effect make up – so plenty of heavy mascara, cat eyes and nude lips. Mod clothes in monochrome were hugely popular in the mid to late sixties, with box dresses, mini skirts, turtle necks and go-go boots being particularly iconic.