The Memphis Glam Aesthetic Will Help You Channel Your Inner Priscilla Presley

The Memphis Glam Aesthetic Will Help You Channel Your Inner Priscilla Presley

Cailee Spaeny as Priscilla Presely


Grab your teasing comb, your liquid liner and your favorite high-hold hairspray, because we’re heading off to Memphis!

Beauty enthusiasts have been looking forward to Sofia Coppola’s new movie Priscilla, an adaptation of Priscilla Presley’s memoir Elvis & Me that depicts Presley’s initial meeting with the superstar and their courtship, marriage and divorce, as well as Presley finding herself as a woman and not just a wife. This cinematic event of the season—nay, the decade!— means that a fresh batch of beauty trends inspired by Presley and her Graceland-era glam will be popping up on the runways, red carpet and TikTok alike. 

When you think about Priscilla Presley and her Elvis days, you think of two things: hair and eyeliner.While Presley’s big bouffants and painted-on liner were the epitome of gorgeous in the ‘60s and early ‘70s when she reigned as Queen of Graceland, the look dipped in popularity for a few decades, especially in the super-minimal ‘90s. However, the advent of Priscilla paired with Coppola’s signature aesthetic means that all things Memphis magic are coming back in a big way. 

Here’s what you need to know about Priscilla Presley’s Memphis aesthetic, and how to bring the look to life in your own version of Graceland.

Kacey Musgraves wearing a large necklace and huge hair


The Aesthetic

Much of Presley’s look took root, pun intended, via the hair and makeup of country and rock singers of the day. Big hair was an absolute mainstay for women in the South in the ‘50s and ‘60s, especially country stars like Dolly Parton, Tammy Wynette and Loretta Lynn, but teased-up beehives and bouffants also appeared on the Ronettes, the Shangri-Las and the Supremes.

Keke Palmer wearing a bouffant and purple eyshadow


Hair was teased and backcombed to the heavens, pinned up with hairpieces, wigs, and falls, curled into ringlets and teased again, then shellacked with layer upon layer of Aqua Net to keep it all absolutely immobile. In the ‘70s, hair stayed big but evolved from curly updos to feathered Farrah Fawcett-esque styles, and Presley herself let down the updo and softened her style into long, thick waves.

Lana Del Rey in a bouffant and yellow dress

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Before actor Cailee Spaeny stepped into Presley’s pumps and piled on the black liner, musicians like Lana del Rey and Kacey Musgraves were all about the Memphis look. Think del Rey’s teased-up bouffants, frosty blue eyeshadow and bold winged liner circa her Born to Die period or Musgraves and her throwback country-girl glamour, including a polarizing super-teased bouffant from 2014 that was an ode to Presley herself. Though Musgraves sports a more toned-down and modern version of the classic country queen look, she loves a heavy liquid liner moment.

Ming Lee Simmons wearing a hair bow and dramatic eyeliner


How to Get the Look

When it comes to your hair, volume is key, so don’t be shy about taking things up a notch or ten. Hot rollers are a fun, retro way to give your hair that Southern beauty queen bounce, not to mention turning up the glam factor while you’re getting ready. Once your curls are cool, grab the teasing brush and get to backcombing, though you don’t need to hit Presley’s skyscraper hair heights. If you want to try your hand at a del Rey-worthy bouffant updo, we promise it’s not as intimidating as it seems; it’s all in the tease. “The more teasing the better with this look,” hairstylist JamieLynn DeSimone previously told Byrdie. “You can always take the height down after, but it will be more difficult to add height in once complete.”

You don’t have to eviscerate the ozone layer with hairspray like the glamour girls of yore, but you will need some hairspray for any Memphis-inspired looks. Grab the golden L’Oréal Paris Elnett Extra Strong Hairspray ($15) for extra-extra strong hold and extra retro vibes.

Clothes-wise, this is the perfect time to wiggle into a miniskirt and matching jacket in a pastel color or dramatic metallic jacquard print, or perhaps a form-fitting two-piece sweater and skirt set. Mini shift dresses and ballet flats or Mary Jane block heels also feel very on-theme without looking costumey. 

Gabrielle Union with a cat eye


For makeup, frosted or pastel eyeshadows are a must, enhanced with big, inky wings of black liquid liner on both the upper and lower lashlines, a la Presley herself. (A24 and Half-Magic’s Priscilla-inspired eye kit has the liner on lock.) False eyelashes, too, are an essential step to nailing that Southern glitz, as is a baby pink lipstick. (Glossier’s Ultralip in Lucite, $18, is a pale peony pink with a hint of shine in a sweet throwback pastel pink tube.) If you’re jetting off to Las Vegas, add some glitter to your lids to show those neon lights who the real star is.

10 Priscilla Presley Outfits That Embody Her Ever-Evolving Style


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