Vintage Hairstyles: 30s vs. 40s vs. 50s vs. 60s

Since the dawn of ‘fashion’, or what we know it to be, there has always been one constant: we all love vintage fashion.

Every so often, a so-called new trend will appear, and more often than not, it is a trend that came from our grandmothers, or even our mothers.

Vintage Hairstyles: 30s VS. 40s VS. 50s VS. 60s

So, this begs the question: what is vintage? When you say that you’d love to try out a vintage haircut, for example, what do you really mean?

Would you like a pixie cut from the 60s, or a 1930s-style Marcel Wave?

In this article, we have listed iconic hairstyles from the following decades: the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.

With each hairstyle listed, you will be able to see how fashion has altered over the years, while, at the same time, remaining the same, and even inspiring the trends that are around to this very day.

The 1930s

In the 1930s, ladies loved short waves in their hair, or small curls or ringlets, and this fashion statement continued into the decades that followed. 

The curling iron, which was made widely available to the public during this decade, was employed to produce softer, thicker waves that hid any outgrown haircuts.

Along with the use of hair rollers (Also check out How To Create 40s Hair With Hot Sticks), short curly hair was officially in fashion.

The Pageboy

The pageboy gives the initial haircut, which was widely utilized in the preceding ten years, a feminine dimension by taking inspiration from the shorter, straighter-cut bob.

It was based upon the cut that would have been used on young boys in the late 1800s.

The Pageboy had a side part and a flat top, with tips that were rolled underneath at the shoulders for a sophisticated appearance. In order to frame the face, the hair was typically trimmed at a small angle all along the face.

Although this hairstyle was first popularized in the 1930s, it later returned in the 1970s. This, however, was when the style first made its official appearance.

This hairstyle was created first with a side part, before sweeping the hair down. The bangs should cover the eyes ever so slightly, and then each end would be curled to gently fall just below the chin, framing the face.

The Marcel Wave

This particular style bears Marcel Grateau’s name, who created the ‘hair waving’ iron. Without this revolutionary invention, the Marcel Wave may have never come to be. 

Despite being initially introduced back in the 1870s, the tight curl did not become a truly popular style until the 1930s, when women began using curling irons at home in place of salons.

This was greatly aided with the invention of electric irons in 1924.

The curling iron, as well as some hairspray, are all that was needed to achieve this effect.

A little portion of hair was squeezed into a waveform and set with hairspray, rather than looping the entire piece of hair completely around the iron. 

This hairstyle substantially shortens hair and increases fullness by starting at the top of the head and gradually working your way downwards.

The Chignon

The regular haircuts required to keep a shorter haircut were too expensive for a woman on a limited income. She would have required a curling iron, hairspray, in addition to some prior knowledge of hairstyling.

A chignon style could be used by a woman with long hair to give the appearance of short hair. She could easily maintain her hair with this style, preventing loose locks from falling onto her face.

They would have started by smoothing the hair into a ponytail, then separating it slightly above the knot to form a chignon.

The remainder would be twisted through the opening, which would then be fastened to the tail’s very end to establish a new, smaller tail.

The 1940s

Despite the fact that the world was greatly affected by the conflicts at the time, the 1940s proved to be timeless for hairstyles. The war gave many women a new outlook on life, as well as a fresh sense of style.

Women during this time didn’t have a lot of money to spend at salons, therefore hairstyles had to be very practical and simple.

However, despite the small changes that were being made in fashion at this time, their hair remained feminine and delicate.

The Victory Rolls

The 1940s brought both triumph and destruction to the world. 1945 provided the triumph that many nations, including the US, had been hoping for, along with positivism and hope.

The triumph roll was the era’s most popular hairdo. Although it was primarily worn by people with long hair, people with short hair were also included because this hairstyle could be worn by people with hair of almost any length.

To create this incredibly iconic style, the under surface of the hair was merely curled and pinned up, while hair accessories were typically utilized to complete the look.

For those who adored the victory rolls, there was later a style introduced called the ‘Double Victory Rolls’, which requires a lot more patience (and hairspray).

Bumper Bangs

In the 1950s, bumper bangs were the ‘it’ hairstyle. While bangs had been gradually making their way into fashion since the 1940s, voluptuous, thick bangs only became popular in the following decade.

The finest thing about this haircut was that bumper bangs produced a shorter, more controlled appearance on the hair, so you didn’t have to cut your hair short to seem fashionable.

The bangs are curled inward, giving the appearance of being shorter.

They can be created during a curling iron, but those who did not own this device could use simple hair curlers to pin their hair upwards at the front, leaving it to set for a couple of hours.

When taken out and set with hairspray, the bumper bangs would be complete.

The Pin Curls 

Many women’s hairstyles from the 1940s were based on pin curls. Considering that abundant hair was the supreme vogue at this point, curls played a significant role in every 1940s style—possibly even more so than they did in the 1930s.

The most popular hairstyle at the time was the pin curl because it was simpler for ladies to get and keep them. Once more, this hairdo created the illusion of shorter hair without actually cutting it.

This style merely required using bobby pins and water to shape the hair, then waiting for the hair to dry in place. It didn’t require many supplies.

The final stage just involved removing the pins, brushing the hair, and sometimes adding hairspray to keep the curls in place for longer.

The 1950s

Women’s hairstyles in the 1950s underwent yet another transition as the decade progressed, bringing shorter, softer looks that involved less maintenance than the waves, coils, and Victory Rolls of earlier decades.

Although women continued to throng the beauty parlors for regular styling, many now had the option of an at-home beauty regimen, thanks to the trendy, shorter ’50s hairstyles.

The Faux Bob

This haircut is still used and worn now, in keeping with current trends. Another hairstyle that people with long or short hair can adapt to give the appearance of having a short, shoulder-length cut is the faux bob.

The faux bob is not only a stylish, adaptable style that flatters every face shape and hair type, but it’s also a terrific way to make thin hair appear larger.

It slightly lifts the hair to give the appearance of additional volume.

A hair dryer, curling iron, teasing brush, and a lot of bobby pins could be used to style this hair. Again, using hairspray wasn’t necessary, but it would make the hairstyle last longer.

Poodle Hair

As you may have guessed, the tight, these permed curls strongly resembled the natural curls of a poodle, which is how the poodle cut earned its name.

Three out of every five haircuts, according to salon reports from 1952, were given this style. 

Betty Grable pioneered the pattern in the 1940s, with her long hair firmly coiled and up swept onto the crown of her head.

Lucile Ball carried on the trend into the 1950s, and Jackie Kennedy even wore it on her wedding day in 1953.

Women who opted for the poodle curls, or the ‘curly bob’ as it was also known, had to use countless curlers to arrange their hair each time they washed it.

Every two weeks, hair had to be chopped again. It was a hairstyle that demanded maintenance. 

The Bouffant  

Women’s haircuts remained generally tidy and condensed before this decade, even when they were making a statement. As the 1950s came to a close, more voluminous hairstyles, like the bouffant, started to become popular.

The bouffant, which ultimately gave way to the exaggerated ‘beehive’ style of later decades, may have been one of the most popular looks of the 1950s. It featured exaggerated volume, backcombing, and liberal amounts of hairspray.

The result would appear more fashionable and striking the more hair there was.

A heap of matted hair on the top and sides of the head was created by backcombing the hair on the top of the head.

It would then be brushed over and covered by untouched hair to give it a sleeker, smooth appearance. 

The 1960s   

The subculture revolution began in the 1960s, when established societal conventions in every sphere—from entertainment to fashion—were questioned and redefined.

Hairstyles that were more flamboyant and edgier took the place of the decade’s smoother cuts.

As women went for shorter haircuts and abandoned the socially acceptable standards of what it meant to be ‘feminine’, hair became a symbol of social upheaval.

The Beehive

The most recognizable style of this decade is certainly this haircut. Anybody who was anybody sported their own beehive hairstyle at some point during the 1960s, as this was a style that truly took the world by storm.

This towering hairstyle was created in 1960 by Illinois-based stylist Margaret Vinci Heldt, who undoubtedly took inspiration from the bouffant.

Unsurprisingly, the style’s resemblance to a beehive is how it acquired its name.

Hair was piled on top of the head and secured in place with a large quantity of hairspray to achieve the accentuated appearance. The goal was to give the hair the biggest, voluminous appearance that was humanly feasible.

The Afro

African-American communities saw a revitalized sense of belonging as the African-American Civil Rights Movement gained ground in the 1960s.

In the 1960s, the Afro gained popularity, marking a deliberate break from earlier trends that required African Americans to try to style their hair after those of white Americans.

The Afro, often referred to as the ‘fro’, was worn by civil rights activists and leaders, and became a symbol of African-American power.

This hairstyle, in contrast to the others on this list, came about as a result of African-Americans using their natural hair and letting it grow freely. 

The New Pixie Cut  

Despite our exclusion, the Pixie cut was quite well-liked from the 1940s onwards all around the world. This consisted of a short haircut that reached the chin.

The biggest actresses and models in the world, most notably Twiggy, adopted the ‘new’ Pixie cut in the 1960s.

This quickly rose to prominence as one of the most popular haircuts in the entire globe, and it is still in demand today.

This form of the pixie cut was significantly more sleek than the original because it was meticulously combed back into a neater style.

It gained popularity as women started to deviate from society’s culturally prescribed, ‘feminine’ ideals, since it was significantly less womanlike than the original.

Final Thoughts

So, those were the biggest hairstyles that reigned fashion trends during the 1930s through to the 1960s.

There were so many iconic hair dos in this list, and several of them are still considered fashionable to this very day.

Many of them have inspired modern hairstyles that we wear today in the 2020s, and we have no doubt that they will continue to inspire us for years to come. 

In fact, we bet many of them will come back into fashion trends at some point, if they haven’t already done so.

We hope you found this article informative.

Willa Price