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Hairstyles through the Decades
In the last 100 years hair styles have changed dramatically, not to mention the tools and products that were used to create them! Most trends in pop culture usually come back around and with hair there is no exception. The fashion and hairstyles that we see today are a clever combination of vintage ideas that have been reimagined to suit our current taste. Whether that’s a scaled down version of victory rolls from the 1940s or a whacky color blend inspired by the Punk era of the 1980s, each decade of hair inspires and influences the next and we can’t wait to explore how and why they were created!
We have showcased some of the most iconic hair styles from each decade in the last century and explained how they were first created. Have you ever wondered how they produced curls in straight hair before tongs or perms? Or how hair extensions were applied before all the easy applications of todays world were invented? US TOO! In future blogs we will also be choosing our personal favourites from each decade, taking a closer look into their history along with step by step tutorials so that you can recreate a up to date version of them yourself at home.
The Roaring 20s, what a time to of been alive! The original party period where it was all about Glitz, Glamour and indulgence. Well, “Flapper Girls” were the epitome of glamour and fabulousness, they were young women who broke away from the stereotypical image of what a woman should and shouldn’t be. They wore more provocative clothing, cut their hair short, used more dramatic make-up and partied better than anyone! These brave and magnificent women pushed the boundaries paving the way for the future generation of females to be free to live how they wish.
The Classic “Flapper Girl” hairstyle was a finger waved bob. Some women had short hair whereas others would skilfully tuck their length away into what was called a “Faux Bob”. The hair was usually waved by hand, soaking the hair in strong gum like gel and pinching into S shapes, before being pinned perfectly into place and leaving to set. This hairstyle was then typically decorated with embellished bands that were placed across the forehead with an almost broach like pendant on the side. We still see many variations of this style today which proves this look is a timeless classic and we are sure to see hints of this decade in our fashion for many years to come!
The 1930s brought “The Great Depression” which was an all-time low compared with the thrill and excitement of the 20s. As the decade geared up to the second world war it was a period of hardship to people all over the globe. For many, fun and extravagance was a thing of the past and this reflects in the fashion of this era! Despite this, woman still found ways to ooze elegance and charm in their style, however this time it was on a smaller budget.
In some ways, the 1930s provoked creativity! As most women could no longer afford luxuries like having their hair styled or high fashion outfits, they had to get inventive at home to create these looks.
Whilst short hair stayed a firm favourite amongst many women, the slickness of the finger waves that were put in the hair around the face were loosened. A softer more textured look was preferred and less accessories were used to decorate the hair. It was also very popular to have volume in the front of the hair but the curls still remained very tight and fluid on the mid-lengths and ends of the hair. The “Marcel Wave” was the craze in this time period which was mainly achieved at home using hot curling irons that were not all that different from the ones we use today!
A decade that, for the first half at least, was scarred by the world war. It wasn't all doom and gloom though as the 1940s also saw the war end, triggering celebrations through society. Its easy to see the effect that war had on fashion and pop culture, due to rationing and poverty women were forced to adapt to new styles and lifestyle changes. Military and masculine influences are seen throughout many of the outfits we would consider as classic 1940s wardrobe staples. With square shoulders, tailored shirts and long straight a lined dresses, frills and sequins were most definitely not the height of fashion in this era.
This also reflected in hairstyles, “Victory Rolls” are without doubt the most iconic hair do of this decade. There are many different theories of where and how they were invented. A popular idea is that it was created as a practical yet feminine hairstyle for women in the workforce to keep their hair away from there face. Another belief is that the rolls symbolise the spins aircrafts used to make as a victory celebration act during or after the war.
“Victory Rolls” had many variations, sometimes the entire hair was put into rolls or the front section was rolled and the remaining hair left down and usually waved. They were made with many techniques from backcombing, pinning, twirling and LOTS of hairspray was used. Some women even used rolled up tights for reinforcement!
The Golden Age. The 1950s were when Hollywood glamour really made its mark, although this started years before it was in this decade that stars like Marylin Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Elvis Presley rose to fame and changed the world forever! The war was over, spirits were high, economies were booming again, and people relished in the excitement. Middle classed societies had more money to spend than ever and they certainly made the most of the goods on offer.
Moving away from the almost military like practical fashion of former years, ultimate glam was back with a bang! Thanks to the evolution of various media outlets and technology it was much easier for audiences to copy their favourite stars look. Shorter hair still massively dominated the style stakes, but it was more feminine and demure. It had progressed from chin length to just above the shoulders with a far softer finish. Short fringes, high hair at the front and big voluminous waves were all the rage in this time. Heated Rollers were a girl’s best friend in the 50s, not to mention diamonds.
The Swinging Sixties. For me this is one of the most Iconic and influential eras of all time. Pop culture really took a new direction, it was a time where anything was possible and people were living their lives to the fullest! Fun was at the forefront of many peoples minds and the youth dominated the trends and party scene. Women were slowly gaining far more recognition and freedom in the workplace meaning they were able to enjoy and benefit from the independence they deserved.
Everything was bigger, bolder and louder. Material prints were more garish, people wore bright clashing colors and strong straight lines were a popular pattern of many clothes. This was most definitely echoed in the hair and beauty trends aswell.
The epic “Beehive” hairstyle was born in the 1960s. Made popular by Bridget Bardot, Audrey Hepburn and many more on screen starlets, it was mimicked all over the world and still is today. There was A LOT of backcombing and hairspray involved and it typically took the form of a cone shape on top of the head. Sometimes it was all of the hair or hair was left out and flicked into that retro style that we all know and love.
Peace, Love and Hippie hugs, this was a decade like no other. Protests for nature preservation, equality, world peace and freedom of speech were rife and people were more willing to fight for their rights than ever before. Everyone was more open minded and experimental in all aspects of their life creating a relaxed approach to fashion and style. Hair was messier, make up and clothes were used sparingly, life was about living and nurturing the earth you live in.
“Au Naturel” was the go to look in this decade a sharp contrast to the high maintenance and elegant trends of previous eras. Long layered hair, braids and texture were huge. Gone was the neatly polished up dos and perfectly drawn make up. Super long natural hair had finally made its debut in this decade and women lapped it up. The love for nature was also mirrored in the fashion as It was very common to decorate your hair with flowers, leaves and colorful string. This style is still heavily dominant in todays world with beachy waves, flares and braids making a firm come back.
The word to describe this decade would be WILD. If the 70s were colorful then the 80s were Fluorescent, everything was vibrant, crazy and loud. The 80s introduced the world to color in a way that had never been seen before. Unlike the former years where society would stick to the popular style of the time, there were many different themes influencing fashion. This era was much more about individuality and expression, some of the wacky style we still use today other trends we are glad to leave behind!
Technology immensely evolved in this decade which brought the people closer than ever to the music they loved, Walkman’s and tv sets were easier to purchase and no longer considered a high-end luxury. With all of this inspiration at their finger tips its no wonder the 80s was such a defining and experimental period.
Accessories and bold make up were at the height of popularity. Retro scrunchies, bows and lots of layered jewellery were wardrobe must haves. Its hard to choose one single style from this era as there are so many but we would say Crimping and Spiral perms were definitely the most Iconic look of this time. Crimping irons and perm solutions were the tools that were used to create these longs along with tons of accessories to jazz it up!
The 1990s. The era of the TV show and MTV. Mainstream Media absolutely boomed in this decade due to the speedy advancement of technology. From radical animation to the rise of the internet, people were spoilt for choice when it came to easy entertainment. The fashion was hugely inspired by Music and Tv in this period.
Groups like the Spice girls, Atomic Kitten and No Doubt influenced the nation. Hair was all about punky bold looks, whether that’d be bright chunky highlights or wild hair up styles. It was very futuristic and almost space like and still relied on the use of accessories like in the 80s however this time they were smaller. Tiny butterfly clips, hair gems and braids were very popular among the youth and celebrities. It was all about that adorable schoolgirl look with a grunge twist!
The modern world was 2000 years young and humankind celebrated in style. This was the dawn of a new exciting age of technology and the internet. Developments in these areas advanced at lightning speed giving birth to a new culture that would change the world forever.
Technology was not the only thing that had evolved in this decade. DIY hair and beauty products were easier to access, and new inventions were popping up left right and centre. We can all admit that it took us a while to perfect the art of fake tanning and were all guilty of stealing our sisters hair straighteners that took an age to heat up! The fashion and style of the 2000s had more of a chilled out and natural vibe than the 90s.
The “Quiff” was born in this era and had girls everywhere stocking up on Kirby clips by the dozen. A calmer version of the Bouffant from the 60s, a small section of hair was backcombed at the front of the head and secured with a clip. A lot of the time it was teamed with a Ponytail for an even more relaxed but polished look!
The Reality TV Takeover. Social media and Reality television rose to fame and it had never been easier to stay connected with friends and family, delve into celebrities personal lives and get instant news updates from across the globe. Advertising changed forever in this decade with brands and companies being able to reach their audiences in a powerful and more effective way.
It was the dawn of the selfie where people could not wait to show off their style and deepest thoughts with friends and strangers alike. Never have we known so much about the people in our lives and the ideals of reality have definitely been blurred at times.
A stand out hairstyle for us in this decade was the “Bun” whether it be messy, neat, high or low the bun in all its glory was a firm favourite for woman. Just like in the 1940s where practicality trumped over style this do is easy to create whilst still looking effortlessly chic. The hair is simply swept into a ponytail and the ends tucked under on the second tie, our personal favourite variation is the “Messy Bun” which is still very popular today and shows no signs of leaving.
What about now....
You can see in the evolution of hairstyles that themes manifest themselves later on in new and exciting ways throughout history. The way “Messy Bun” is a nod to the laid-back look of the 70s and the “Quiff” is a reimagined form of the “Bouffant” from the 60s. These styles are timeless and will continue to recreate themselves for centuries to come.
We are so lucky in today’s world to have an enormous variety of tools, products and guides at our fingertips to experiment with our hair and beauty style and express our individuality. Why not try using some hair extensions to create your own versions of these Classic looks to give the finished result the volume and length of your dreams! We cant wait to see your inventions, feel free to tag us on Instagram for a repost on our page :)