While we may think of outdated hairstyles as something to make fun of (the mullet, anyone?) they are actually an important part of popular culture and can tell us a lot about history – just as much as fashion can. We love our vintage hairstyles, so we thought we’d extend our love a little bit further to cover a few more popular vintage hairdos worn in the last century. So, sit back, relax and enjoy your brief history lesson in vintage hairstyles.

Vintage Hair

Most time periods can be easily identified by not only the fashions worn, but the way people wore their hair as well. We tend to think about this in terms of only recent history when throughout history men and women have been obsessed with hair and with how to cut and style it.

For example, the ancient Egyptians styled their hair elaborately and wore braided wigs and even used styling aids, like hair gel and curling tongs.  Red hair became so popular during the reign of the redheaded Queen Elizabeth I that many people turned to use noxious chemicals to change their hair colour.  Marie Antoinette popularized the “pouf” or “bouffant”, and which took hours to create and involved a padded wireframe that was intertwined with false hair Most hairstyles are rooted in the times. For example, the late 1960s were a time where social mores were being challenged and loosened. Hairstyles of the time reflect this – both women and men wore their hair in less structured, more natural and free-flowing styles.

The hairstyles of an era really do have as much to say about that era as the fashions do. I wonder what future generations will have to say about our pastel coloured, ombre locks of 2013? Maybe as society became more accepting of diversity, social mores on appearance were at their most flexible and allowed for a greater sense of empowerment and creativity in creating one’s own hair fashion statement.

So, if we are looking back at history, what were the important and most memorable hairstyles of the last 100 years?

Goodwood Revival

Goodwood Revival in the United Kingdom is a vintage festival showcasing classical cars and vintage hairstyles. You can get your hair done on-site and the atmosphere is second to none. On this occasion, you can see the Dior vintage catwalk.

Vintage Hairstyle 1 Gibson Girl

Gibson Girl

The Gibson Girl of the 1890s-1910s was the personification of femininity and feminine beauty during the turn of the century. The Gibson Girl was actually an illustration penned by Charles Dana Gibson and featured a tall, slender, yet shapely, woman, with a long neck and her hair piled up the top of her head. It was a soft and romantic hairstyle that bespoke the easy, breeziness of the Gibson Girl.

Vintage Hairstyle 2 Bob

Louise Brooks Bob

Actress Louise Brooks wearing a bob cut.

The bob was a particularly innovative style. For much of the history of western culture, women grew their hair long but were spurred on by advances for women’s liberation like women’s suffrage, which changed in the 1920s. Many women, particularly flappers chose to cut their hair into a bob or other short hairstyle. The bob is a simple cut where the hair is cut straight all-around to chin length and features straight bangs or fringe.

Vintage Hairstyle 3 Finger Waves & Marcel Waves

Finger Waves Marcel Waves

Popular in the 1920s and 1930s, finger waves involved rolling wet hair around the fingers and holding with a bobby pin or fixing lotion until the hair dries to create a wave look. Marcel waves were simply the same look but were created using curling tongs. Marcelling was less time-consuming and more permanent than finger waves.

Vintage Hairstyle 4 Victory Roll

Victory Roll

Betty Grable wearing victory rolls

Said to have been named after an aeroplane manoeuvre, the victory roll was the popular hairstyle of the 1940s. As a result of wartime rationing and scarcity of consumer goods, new clothes, makeup and fancy perfumes often had to be done without. As a result, women took to creating fanciful and feminine hairstyles. Long hair was needed to create the look, which involved forming two large rolls on the top of the head, which were set with bobby pins and hairspray. The rest of the hair could be left loose or formed into another roll at the nape of the neck.

Vintage Hairstyle 5 Bettie Page Bangs

Bettie Page Bangs

The 1950s star, Bettie Page, is remembered both for her career as a risque pin-up model and for her hair. Bettie had gorgeous jet black wavy hair that she wore long and loose, but it was her heavy rounded bangs that got all the attention. For those who want to recreate the look today, it’s a good idea to go to a salon and not to try cutting your own bangs.

Vintage Hairstyle 6 Beehive & Mini Bouffant

Bardot Beehive

Brigitte Bardot with a beehive.

Modelled after a fez, the beehive was invented by stylist Margaret Vinci Held in 1960 at a hair show – the rest, they say, is history. The beehive involved ratting the hair to create exaggerated volume, which was then piled on top of the head. Sometimes forms were used to create more volume. Famous beehives from the 1960s include those worn by Ronnie Spector of the Ronettes, Audrey Hepburn’s hair in Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Brigitte Bardot’s messy beehive. Here’s a great how-to for creating a modern-day version.

Retro Hairstyle 1 Flip

The Flip

Think of Elizabeth Montgomery in the TV show Bewitched or of Mary Tyler Moore on The Dick Van Dyke Show. To achieve this 1970s hairstyle, the hair was set with rollers and then backcombed for volume with the ends being curled up to create the flip.

Retro Hairstyle  2  Shag

Jane Fonds Shag

Jane Fonda in a shag.

The 1970s shag was a unisex haircut that involved cutting multiple layers on the top and sides of the head to create a messy, loose, shaggy look. Famous shags include those worn by Joan Jett, Rod Stewart and Jane Fonda. The shag later evolved into the Rachel in the 1990s.

Retro Hairstyle #3: Feathered Hair

Farah Fawcett

Farrah Fawcett.

Farrah Fawcett is most remembered in this style, but many wore the feathered look back in the 1970s and 1980s. It was another unisex style and could be worn long or short, but always involved layered hair being combed back to mimic the feathers of a bird.

Retro Hairstyle #4: Mall Bangs & Poodle Puff

Mall Bangs

Big hair was popular in the 1980s and we mean b-i-g. Many women (and men) permed their hair to increase volume. In addition, bangs were blowed dried, curled, hair sprayed and otherwise manipulated to increase their height as well. The effect was anything, but natural.

Retro Hairstyle  5  Mullet

The Mullett

Billy Ray Cyrus.

While it’s not really a haircut that we would recommend emulating, a history of memorable hairstyles just wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the mullet. The style consisted of hair that was cut short in the front and on the sides and was left long in the back. It was worn by both men and women, but Billy Ray Cyrus (Miley’s dad) is probably most remembered for the style.

Retro Hairstyle  6  The Rachel

The Rachel hairstyle

Jennifer Aniston wearing “The Rachel.” Image: Huffington Post

Created by hairstylist Chris McMillan for Jennifer Aniston’s character on the TV show Friends, “The Rachel” was actually an updated boxy, multi-layered shag haircut. Jennifer Aniston has since come out saying that she thought the cut was,

“ The ugliest haircut I’ve ever seen,”

even though it has been permanently cemented to her image and remains a popular cut almost twenty years later.

If you are seeking a more rockabilly hairstyle then have a look at how to do it.