I’ve written a lot about my nerdy interests for xoVain. Even when I’m not specifically talking about Star Trek or Doctor Who, the references trickle in. I can’t help it. I love the things I love, and they influence everything around me--who I am, the kind of person I want to be and the way that I see the world.
But NOTHING has influenced me as much as Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. I am a Tolkien fan in the same way that Stephen Colbert is a Tolkien fan--which is to say, massively, incredibly, consumingly.
Anything that I say about these books will somehow not be enough to measure the impact that they had on my young life, and the place that they continue to occupy in my heart as I get older. They are road maps through adversity, showing (as the saying goes) not that dragons are real, but that dragons can be beaten. I read everything, from the Silmarillion through the Appendices, twice a year, and I always get something new out of them.
The second Hobbit movie is coming out on December 13th. I have not yet been able to watch the trailer without crying. These characters that have been part of my life since I was five, and I am so invested in them that they feel like real people. Seeing them onscreen feels like seeing friends that you haven’t seen for such a long time, you don’t even remember that you missed them.
I spent a lot of time when I was younger desperately wishing that I was a part of Middle Earth *slash* being terrified of Gollum. Because I’ve been 5’10 since I was 12, the only thing that I could possibly be was an elf.
And once The Fellowship of the Ring came out, the only elf I could possibly be was Arwen.
Arwen is descended from Luthien, the most beautiful elf of all time, and Melian the Maia, who was a minor god. Oh, and she’s Galadriel’s granddaughter. So there is already some serious genetic gorgeousness happening here.
Today I’m going to show you guys how to get a beautifully elven look that is authentic without being costume-y. Elen sila lumenn' omentielvo! Let’s get started!
I was at a bit of a disadvantage here, because I cut off all my hair. Ain’t no elves with bobs, which is a bit of a pity. I mean, elves could conceivably live until the end of time. I know I’d be switching up my cuts in a major way AT LEAST every couple hundred years.
In the movies, Liv Tyler’s wig is long and wavy--and made of human hair. My wig is a high-quality synthetic, which means that I can’t heat style it the way I would my own hair. So, unfortunately, I had to skip setting my lovely locks in loose waves, but you guys can check out how I would have done that here. You could also braid your hair into thick plaits and sleep in them, then curl the ends when you take them out for a romantic, wavy look.
So, although we get lots of glamour shots of Arwen in the movie, it usually focuses on her face or her jewellery or how longingly she gazes at Aragorn. (Who could blame her? Dude is FINE.) We don’t really get so many closeups of her hairstyles. But using my powers of deduction, I figured out a few things about it. Elementary, my dear Bilbo.
It is parted either in the center or slightly to one side. The sides are pulled back. From what I can tell, this seems to qualify as an “up” or more formal hairstyle, whereas hair unbraided and left totally down is a much more casual, intimate style. There are probably fishtail braids. The Firstborn of Ilúvatar freaking loooove them some fishtails, and you can see them in the hair of practically every elven character.
After some experimentation, I kept the style very simple but still distinctly Elven. I also recommend this for those of you with long hair who are looking for a fun holiday party hairstyle--curl it, straighten it, whatever, and then add the plaits. People will FREAK OUT over the fishtail braids!
First I pulled a section of hair up and away, leaving a small section by my ear to come forward. This is something you see with Arwen’s hair thoughout the movie, but it also hides the fact that the wig covers my ears.
Making sure to hold this section backwards as I braided so that the top didn’t slump and fall all over the place, I split it into two sections and began to fishtail the length of the hair.
I braided about three-quarters down the length of the hair, then clipped the end with one of my custom hairpins to stop all my hard work from coming out.
Repeat the process on the other side. Now you have two braided pieces of hair. Stylish!
Rather than leaving it like this--although I’m sure Rivendell would be enhanced by some glittery pink clips--I pulled the braided sections together so that they loosely met in the middle of my head, unclipped the barrettes and tied them together with a clear plastic hairtie.
I really like how the fishtail braids look from the side. Because my wig is so dark, the detail is hard to see; if you have light hair--Legolas, I’m looking at you--this will be much more apparent.
Feel free to accessorize with a circlet in silver, if you like. You can also pin a small silver necklace into your hair for sparkle, as Arwen is all about the royal head glamour.
I definitely rewatched The Fellowship of the Ring just to get closeups of Liv Tyler’s makeup, but alas, the lighting and soft filter meant that all I could see was “extreme beauty” and not “brown eyeshadow.”
Fortunately, the internet to my rescue by republishing an interview with the makeup artists from the movies as they talked about the products they used to create Arwen’s heavenly radiance, and this is what I used as my guide.
First, I evened out my skin with BB cream and concealed any spots or unevenness before setting everything with powder. Arwen may be over two thousand years old when we meet her, but you can tell she’s really been looking after her skin.
Next, I applied a very light pink blush to the apples of my cheeks only. The goal here was to look rosy and romantical rather than contoured.
Then I applied a little bit of NARS The Multiple stick in Luxor to highlight the bridge of my nose, the tops of my cheekbones and my eye sockets. I thought this imitated the dreamy glow of starlight that elves love so much.
In the movie, Arwen was all about Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey. Before I slathered that on, though, I had to change the shape of my mouth slightly.
Liv Tyler’s upper lip has a far less defined Cupid’s bow than mine does, which gives her lips a more circular shape. I used a lip liner in a colour that nearly matched my lips to trace around the outskirts, then lightly filled my lips in to avoid the dreaded '90s outline.
I applied two coats of Black Honey after that, and now I can only imagine that Viggor Mortenson wants to make out with me.
Then I got started on the eye makeup, which was super-easy but really beautiful.
First, I applied MAC Eye Shadow in Shroom all over my eye, from lid to brow. Then I defined my crease with MAC Eye Shadow in Wedge, a light matte brown, making sure that I blended it really really well.
I ran a tiny bit of Wedge under my lower lashes, too, to enhance the colour of my eyes and give my lashes a little added definition.
I put the thinnest line of black liquid eyeliner along my top lash line. As always I’m using LORAC Front of the Line Pro, because it’s the best ever. Even elves would agree.
I curled my eyelashes and applied two coats of black mascara the the top and bottom, then used an angled brush and some black eyeshadow to darken my blonde eyebrows. I made sure to keep the shape full and rounded, because Arwen’s brows don’t have much of an arch to them.
Here is how it looks in the end!
And here is the makeup all together.
Out of all the makeup I’ve ever done, and all the characters I’ve ever turned myself into, this is my favourite so far.
It’s amazing how a few simple changes, like doing your eye makeup a new way and not having bangs can make you look SO different.
But it’s kind of hard to be an elf indoor. Elves belong out in nature, right?
I don’t know, guys. It was 25 degrees outside when I took these pictures (there were more, but I look totally stricken in all of them). I am definitely not an elf, because I nearly froze to death in this outfit. I would never survive the Grinding Ice.
So what do you think? Did I do Tolkien (and Jackson) proud? Would you choose immortality in the most perfect land possible, or would you choose a long human life and death? Are you excited about the new Hobbit movie? I’m pretty tempted to dress up like this when I go see it. I feel like that would be a good choice.