Great Vintage Haircuts

6 Decades of Hair

As far as hairstyles so, there's probably only so many configurations hair designers can come up without making us look totally absurd, so inevitably the fashion gurus will seek inspiration from the past for a new take on an old concept.

It's interesting to consider that up until the 20th century, womens hair was almost universally kept long and while there may have been a variety of elaborate styles, there was really no such thing as a woman's "haircut".

It seems only in the last hundred years, when women began to shake off the style shackles of the status quo did we begin to get experimental with hair cuts. Below are a few classic cuts emblematic of particular decades and the famous women who wore then-some of these styles have been recycled frequently and others have yet to be rediscovered...

 1920s Louise Brooks
1920s bobs have been been recyled in some form or other since their inception and were particularly fashionable in the 1960s as well at various times in the decades since. Actress and trend setter Loiuse Brooks was among the first to shear off her locks and is generally credited with popularising the bob cut for her generation.

Brooks's style here features hair cut to chin level and slightly higher at the back, a straight cut Cleopatra fringe and two emphatic points which follow the line of the cheek bone. Looks particularly good with dark hair and smoldering eyes.

The geometric bob can be quite severe and thus doesn't suit every head - the dramatic lines will tend to highlight a less than perfect bone structure....but if it suits, the wow factor is high.

Lousie Brooks -dramatic hair
1930s Marion Marsh
Marion Marsh - soft and feminine
1930s hair focused on a softer, wavier, more feminine bob that flattered most features. The Marcel Wave, a type of undulating curl that softened a woman's looks, was extremely popular.

Wonderfully pretty early film actress Marion Marsh's hair is a partly smooth, stylised version of the Marcel Wave with its contrived curls strategically placed to emphasize the eyes and cheeks. The salient feature here is Marion's neatly curled side fringe, snipped to brow level.

On screen, Marsh specialised in 'damsels in distress'...a persona that depended upon a sweet, vulnerable female charisma, rather than a pert, assertive look.

1940s Ingrid Bergman
Ingrid Bergman's glowing Swedish looks pretty much ensured any style would look swish on her...nethertheless the thick wavy just below chin length hair cut she wore in the 1940s showed her strong and sensual features off to full advantage.

Ingrid Bergman -thick and luscious hair
By the 1940s, the Marcel Wave was pretty much dead in the water and longer, bigger hair came into vogue.

The emphasis was on hair and lips and Bergman in particular cultivated a wholesome, healthy look which departed from the Vamp style of the 20s and 30s.

Ingrid's hair style is really just a well cut longer bob, curled into thick waves and pulled back off the forehead to create a sumptuous yet classic look.

1950s Jean Simmons
As the 1950s rolled around, shorter hair made a comeback and the rich glamour of the 40s gave way to to a still glamorous but edgier look - at least for those 50s gals who were hip enough to try the new styles.
Jean Simmons - short and sexy

The style favoured by perky British actress Jean Simmons reflected a completely new look for the era. Jeans hair is short but not severely so - it has height and wave and a tousled, casual look.

Jean's hair is brushed back at he sides but with a couple of carefully selected kiss curls pulled across the forehead to soften 
the effect on the face. Highlighted kiss curls were characteristic of the 50s - often hair would be short with two curls pulled out just above the eyebrows.

1960s Natalie Wood
Natalie Wood - simply sexy
Hair got looser and freer in the 1960s and Natalie Wood's long silky  bob reflects the casualness of the era. This is a style that could easily blend in to the 21st century...

The hair has height  and the ends are gently curled under, while a low low side-parting gives a sexy sweep to the style. Simple but effective.

The 1960s was the first decade where women could  be more relaxed about their hair. There was a diverse range of styles and if you so pleased, you could just wear it long, free and wild. Strangely, letting hair totally loose probably hadn't happened since we were living in caves.

1970s Jane Fonda
Alan J. Pakula's 1971 thriller, Klute is a memorable film, not least because of Jane Fonda's funky wash and wear shag cut. The feathered cut is a style that has been much emulated, with variations,  in recent times.

Maybe it's because Fonda's character Bree Daniels, was so coolly wayward but there's something about this cut that screams sex appeal. It's chief feature is the heavy fringe and angled, wispy lengths - everything on the head is moving forward toward the face.  At the time it was an innovative cut and ushered in a whole new era of shags.

Jane Fonda as Bree Daniels- the cut that spawned a thousand shags
 Long Hairstyles of the 1950s
Five 1950s Outfits
Ten Tips for Healthy Hair