What To Wear Wednesday, Hair Styles

What To Wear Wednesday: Hair Styles

What hair to wear? Well, that can be complicated. Grab a cocktail and let’s begin this journey.

This can be a complicated topic as each decade, from the early to the later periods, varied widely. Also, in some of these decades were wars that brought much difference in fashion for those who were famous, serving in the military, or working in factories.

For a modern retro gal to match the right hair with an outfit, it’s really about separating the decades and knowing which hair style belongs to which period. So, for purposes of simplicity and time, I will focus on the most iconic and well recognized hair styles of each decade in question.


Let’s start with our favorite fashionistas from the 1920’s, the Flappers! The finger wave, or Marcel Wave (referring to the use of hot curling tongs to create the waves), is the most recognized style from the 1920’s. But, it was not just worn by the party girls with their outrageously short hair. By the late 1920’s, it was the style for all hair lengths. Hair was parted to one side in avant-garde fashion or right down the middle. Waves were in a downward fashion for shorter hair, or towards the back of the head for longer hair, then gathered in a bun or rolled at the base of the neck.

Today, many gals are seeking the stylish looks of Josephine Baker and Clara Bow.

Pair these hair styles with sack dresses, or mid-calf straight skirts (preferably pleated) with long sack style blouses or sweaters. Add some long pearls and you’re ready to Charleston the night away!



It’s all about the soft wave in the 1930’s. Hair was still finger or Marcel waved; however it was now brushed out, whether the hair was short or long. Since short hair was no longer wildly outrageous, the early 1930’s saw more bobs and shoulder-length soft waves.

At this point, the looser the hair, the sexier it was considered, wild even. Greta Garbo, Jean Harlow, and Carole Lombard are perfect examples of this look during this period.

So, brush out your waves, slip into that floor length slinky gown or a tailor high-waisted wide-legged pant suit, and be sure to add lots of bobbles and gems to match the champagne that you will be sipping all night long.



War was on, so ingenuity, utility, and convenience were very important during this period. However, this did not deter a gal’s desire to stay fashionable and feel beautiful.

The Victory Roll, or Liberty Roll, is the most well-known and iconic style. This style was based on the need to keep curls tight and pinned during working hours until the evening, or special occasions when the hair was styled into a collection of curls in the front or on top of the head, with the back and sides from behind the ears, brushed out and down.

It was also very popular at the time to pin the largest rolls to the top and sides, while wrapping the rest of the hair into a scarf or net, to keep it clean and out of harm’s reach while women worked with machinery or hazardous materials.

Often, this style looked like she had carefully slipped out the curler and then placed a pin in the exact spot from where the curler was. Curl placement was decided based on the shape of her face and the level of interest she was looking to create. For fancier evening looks, the hair that was normally brushed out and worn down was pinned up in the back to create an elegant neck line.

So, wrap your Victory Rolls tight, throw on your button-up floral print A-line dress (below the knees please) with plentiful shoulder pads to create that perfect 1940’s silhouette. Step into your patent leather continental heels and grab your short handled clutch. Be sure to include a broach and you are ready for a night of Swing Dancing at the USO.



Most of us think of poodle skirts and ponytails for this decade. The Big Bopper even sang a song about ponytails! With the birth of the term “teenager,” young girls were able to claim a style all their own: short straight fringes or bangs and long ponytails with a ribbon tied around the band.

For adults, or a more conservative and neat look, it was a short cropped style. Bangs were also short, but either swept to the side, or curled under.  Curls were brushed out and flipped up around the bottom length of the hair.

The 1950’s were really a period of exploration in fashion, styling, and pretty much everything else. Hair tools saw modern advances, as well as products such as perms and styling aids. So, hairstyles vary greatly from the “poodle look,” which was a right perm, to the Bouffant and shorter bubble cut. One of Jackie Kennedy’s signature looks in the early 1950’s was a Bouffant. The 1950’s even saw the popularity of the Pixie Cut for women. Audrey Hepburn sported this short cut in the 1953 film Roman Holiday.

So, grab your favorite circle skirt with a nice tight short-sleeve sweater, jump into your saddle shoes, and throw those locks into a ponytail. Brush those bangs to the side or curl under in one large roll for longer bangs. Grab your favorite Fats Domino record and hop off to the Malt Shop.



When I think of the 1960’s, I see Beehives, Up-Do’s, headbands, and flips. I tend to stay in the period of 1960-1964/65 in my head.

I think of the Flintstones episode where Wilma and Betty get their hair done in gigantic, elaborate beehives, and drive their car very slowly to protect their hairdos. Unfortunately, their ‘dos are destroyed after a fast-moving dinosaur vehicle passes by and blows them down. After lots of teasing and lots of hairspray, they take the Bouffant and tease it to high heaven in the shape of a bomb!

The most notable change in fashion from the late 1950’s to the early 60’s is hemlines, which went shorter and kept getting shorter as the decade went on.

Slip into your favorite Chanel inspired skirt suit and sunglasses, and tease that hair up high, ladies! Grab your husband’s credit card and head for an afternoon of shopping. Be sure to conclude your shopping event with a well-earned Manhattan while you read the latest Vogue.


So there you have it, my version of a look back at favorite hair styles from my favorite decades.

Xoxo – Sailor

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