Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Century of Hairstyles for Women

Hairstylist Appreciation Day is April 30th. Here is a look back at popular styles and fads throughout the decades.

1890’s: Hair never cut; curls meant sweet temperament; young wore braids or tied in ribbons; womanhood symbolized by hair on top of head, considered rite of passage; Marcel wave named after man who developed it; gray and white hair attractive because it looked soft and young.

1900’s: Opulent coiffures; swept-up long hair; large waves; huge hats; Gibson Girl look; top-heavy hair could include hairpiece; hair washed more often due to larger bathrooms; gray and white hair still popular.

1910’s: Hair became short, controversial, and followed lines of simple clothing; short hair seen as expression of grief and later, emancipation after WWI; popular for practical reasons; center parts, jeweled or feathered headbands; henna used; women with long “Madonna” hair seen as saintly and vulnerable.

1920’s: “Eton crop” most popular style; Anita Loos’ little boy cut; bangs (also called fringe); shingle cut layered toward neck; hair was playful and more exciting; hairpieces for versatility (abundance of real hair due to mass cutting); turbans and cloches popular.

1930’s: Sensual clothing meant softer hair, relief from short, severe styles; slightly longer, curled, waved, grooved; pageboy, Marcel wave again popular; foreheads reappeared; dyes, especially platinum blonde; Marlene Dietrich look sought.

1940’s: Veronica Lake and Lauren Bacall styles; long waves, grown-out pageboy; topknots (doughnuts); rolled hair with service uniforms; Hollywood a big influence on how women wanted to look; Ingrid Bergman’s “Joan of Arc” short cut; individual choice, practicality, and femininity of war years; set own hair in pin curls; hats worn all the time.

1950’s: Constant change throughout decade---dyed, teased, razor cut, upswept, pulled back, short, bobbed, pin curls, bubble cut; bangs like Audrey Hepburn’s “gamin” look or Shirley Jones’ “butch” cut; large rollers, hairspray, at-home dye kits; harsh, artificial color; Elizabeth Taylor black or Gene Tierney red; earrings popular; hats disappear.

1960’s: Long, straight hair; the natural look; Twiggy’s short, urchin cut; Vidal Sassoon’s geometric shapes from London; false hair (called falls); Revlon’s Flex, the first protein shampoo; long hair appears on boys and brave men; for the first time, models, celebrities, and singers look like ordinary young women; unisex fashions and long hair create the sometimes humorous/sometimes mean-spirited question, “Are you a boy or a girl?”

1970’s: Innovative and varied; perms, Afros, tiny braids, crimping (ethnic looking); low maintenance “wash and wear” styles scrunched with fingers; highlights more common; Jane Fonda’s short shag in Klute; Farrah Fawcett’s cut (layered with “wings” on the sides) became one of the most popular hairstyles ever.

1980’s: High-maintenance hair returns; expensive coifs for professional women; blonde bouffants for older women; Ivanna Trump; Joan Collins and Linda Evans from Dynasty; long and loose for young; gelled, spiky, sharp ‘dos, thanks to punk influence in Europe and New York City; all kinds of color including red, blue, purple, etc.

1990’s: Back to individuality; condition and sleekness more important than sculpted look; redheads popular; hair extensions for immediate length; shaved heads for women (Demi Moore in G. I. Jane); Meg Ryan’s tousled mop-top; Jennifer Anniston’s layered cut from Friends.

Information from Creative Forecasting, Inc., April 2003

In the 21st century, colorful hair crops up in various guises; for color lovers, it is a lark.

Happy Hairdressers' Day!


  1. I failed to mention that my dear grandmother, Mama Jeanne, wore her hair in the Gibson Girl Style when she was a teenager. Wearing one's hair up was a rite of passage to womanhood.

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