Hairstyles through the decades

A month ago I guest blogged for The Vintage Festival, about hairstyles through out the decades. They added some awesome vintage illustrations, but if you fancy just having a read, here it is:


Just like fashion, hairstyles are often instantly recognisable as belonging to specific decades. Society may play with, adapt, and gather inspiration from the past, but it does seem able to keep a constant reinvention of how it wears hair. Vintage hair is not only seen on those who embrace the lifestyle, but is still revisited regularly for high fashion shoots, advertising and catwalk styling.

The 1920s

Gosh, an exciting time to be a young person, World War I was over, and women showed off their legs and arms while cutting their hair shorter than ever before. Lipstick really came into its own in the 20s, and women were happy to be noticed! The classic 1920s hair styles would involve pin curling the back and finger waving the front, which really suits shorter hair fabulously. Both of these techniques can seem a little scary at first, but both very possible with practice! Look for inspiration from Anita Page, Louise Brooks and Mary Pickford.

The 1930s

Traditional femininity hit back after the boyish shapes of the 20s, and longer hair, often in waves or curls returned. Hats were popular, and snoods became all of the rage! Hair dye and bleach really came into its own in the 30s, Clairol produced the first dye to actually penetrate the hair shaft, and apparently by the end of the decade 70% of women were dying their hair! Look for inspiration from Jean Harlow, Joan Crawford and Marlene Dietrich.

The 1940s

This really was a decade of two halves, with World War II being the overbearing influence on lives for the first half. Women were out of the homes, and working in factories, volunteering and becoming part of the infamous land army. Hair was still styled, but had to be practical before all else. The classic 'Rosie the Riveter' hair is covering your hair (often with rollers underneath) with a headscarf. However in other parts of the world, and later on in the decade, the stars of the big screen had a big influence on more glamorous hair dos, often with long soft curls. Look for inspiration from Judy Garland, Lauren Bacall and Rita Hayworth.

The 1950s

The war was over, and life was starting to feel a little easier again! Teenagers found their own fashion, and developed a culture of their own, away from the grownups – what an exciting period of time! Women were also back in the home, and wanted to look good while they did it. Hair was shorter, but well styled. Sleeping in rollers, or regular trips to the hairdresser for a weekly set were common, and hair was often quite solid, or helmet-like. Look for inspiration from Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day and Elizabeth Taylor.

The 1960s

In the 1960s hair was still pretty styled (unless you were a hippy of course!). Bouffant beehives, or short pixie crops were on trend, and hairspray was used in abundance! Ladies were still using rollers, although much larger ones than before, to create volume. Vidal Sassoon introduced the five point assymetrical haircit, which started the trend for more low maintainence hairstyles. The fact that more women were starting to work now, meant that they had less time to spend on their hair. Look for inspiration from Twiggy, Sophia Loren and Mary Tyler Moore.

The 1970s

The hippy hair of the 60s finally made it to the mainstream in the 1970s, and hair got a lot more free! It was longer, less structured, but straight was now in fashion....which without hair straighteners was harder to achieve. Ladies even used their iron to try and copy their favourite looks. Ladies were using less product on their hair, and going for a more natural look. Look for inspiration from Farrah Fawcett, Priscilla Presley and Cher.

The 1980s

Hair got big again, to symbolise the women who could truly have it all. Power dressing could mean big and backcombed, or cropped short and styled. The 1980s also saw hair like the mohawk grow more popular as punk hit the mainstream. Products began to get popular – anything to help give the volume! It wasn't about fixing the style into a set shape any more, hair had a bit more movement compared to the big hair of the 50s and 60s. Crimping also got popular – as hard as it to believe now! Look for inspiration from Cindy Crawford, Madonna and Cyndi Lauper.