Hot Hairstyles of the 1960s
The Urchin Look
When actress Mia farrow had her hair cut by Vidal Sassoon during the filming of Roman Polanski's wonderful film Rosemary's Baby in 1968, powerful ripples of shock reverberated among the style-conscious. Sassoon received $5000 for the job as well a seriously good plug in the film. and fortunately for him, both hair and film were a hit.
Although the urchin look wasn't new, Mia Farrow made it seem so. Ultra cool New Wave actress Jean Seberg had already worn the style with great aplomb a decade earlier and it had been featured in Jean Luc Godard's's trendy 1960 film, Breathless. Across the Atlantic, shorter hair in general had been popularised in 1966 by British fashion icon, Twiggy, though hers was more a variation of a bob than an urchin cut. Mia however, brought the very short urchin look into the mainstream and it was soon featured on the gritty windows of suburban hair salons around the world.
Alas, the ultra short layer was only for the fortunate few as it's not a style that everyone can carry off - for many, it meant too much exposure of less than harmonious features. When it works though, it's perhaps the most striking of all the 60's styles. Looked good on Jean and Mia anyhow.
Second Wave Bob
England was the epicentre of trendy sixties fashion - the Mod movement had emerged from there and it was home to the Beatles, Stones, The Who, Kinks and many other influential bands.
Not only were British bands taking the world by storm - Carnaby Street was the throbbing pulse of swinging sixties fashions and Vidal Sassoon was to hair what British designer Mary Quant was to clothes. In fact, it's hard to talk about 1960s hair without Vidal Sassoon entering the picture - he was the most influential hairdresser of the decade.
Sassoon re-invented the 1920s bob look in 1963, and took it to new geometric levels in 1966. Together with Mary Quant, the pair helped form many of the the iconic stylistic elements of the sixties.
Sassoon's bobs were precision cut into the hair so when the wearer moved, everything fell back nicely into place. They were low maintenance and didn't require, pins, tongs, rollers and setting lotions - it was the beginning of the blow-wave.
Variations of the Sixties Bob
Sixties bobs came in various shapes and sizes, from fringed and pointed to long and sweeping, heavy and bulky or short and tucked behind the ears.
London Model, Twiggy's hair, which was not cut by sassoon but by Leonard's in Mayfair, ushered in a combination boyish/gamine look, reminiscent of the 1920s. Hers was one of the defining looks of the middle sixties - androgynous, lean, innocently sultry and with clean-lined clothes and heavily made up, black -ringed eyes.
Bobs were also dramatic and suited the tailored, mod fashions of the day; particularly Mary Quant's classic sixties dress - black, with white collar and cuffs.(see video below right)
What a Gas
The gravity defying upward flick was hugely popular in the early to mid 60's. Hair ends were curled on jumbo rollers and the top was teased to create a kind of hump over the crown. It was a flattering, uplifting style and the hair bounced fetchingly while you danced.
Older women tended to wear their flips shorter and bouffier, while the younger set went longer and looser. The style was a general winner and worn by such diverse figures as Jackie Onassis and a young Olivia Newton John.Unlike the urchin and even the bob, the flip was a universally flattering style.
Other sixties styles, such the bouffant, the bubble and the beehive were growing less popular as the decade wore on; certainly for teenagers. For one thing they were just a tad too contrived, on top of which, they were very high maintenance. Although the flip did require some effort, it coud also be worn more casually - with movement rather than stiffness.
Although hair extensions were yet to be invented, wigs and wiglets rose to new heights of popularity; if you had short hair or couldn't be bothered styling your flick you could add a pre curled wiglet for bounce and height.
By the close of the decade, artifice, both in hair and in makeup, would lose ground, as hair began to get longer and styles less obviously contrived. Prior to the sixties, long hair hadn't really been seen since the pre-1920s and even then it hadn't been let loose.
Long, Blazing Hair
- How Retro.com: Top Actresses of the 1960s
When you're hot, you're hot and in the 1960s there was no-one more sizzling than these female movie stars...
Toward the end of the 1960s there was a move away from structured hairstyles toward a more flowing, natural look. Liberation was the catchcry of the era and the call to freedom extended to hair. The stylish were expected to set their hair free and let it grow and go wherever and however it wanted. At least it should give off that impression, even if it took some serious styling and a clever cut to make it appear so.
Few celebrities embodied the sexual and hairy freedom of the 1960s more than sexatomic French film star Brigitte Bardot. Bardot's hair, like her persona, was wild and free and always looked suspiciously mussed up - like she might have been rolling around the bed five minutes earlier in a passionate embrace.
Professional girlfriends like Marianne Faithfull, whispery singer and girfriend to Mick Jagger and Jane Birken, sultry pouter and girfriend to Serge Gainsbourg, provided liberating images for the magazines and gossip columns and were role models to aspirational youths seeking glamour and notoriety. After a rocky road, Marianne Faithful would later be reborn as a gutsy gravel-voiced, nightclub singer/recording artist and Jane Birkin earned the distinction of having a Hermès handbag named after her.
In 1968, the musical Hair opened in Broadway and long hair was offically declared a metaphor for free thinking, anti-establishment values. In a kind of culmination of sixties cultural trends - sex, profanity, nudity, irreverence and drugs were laid out on stage. To the conservative forces, it meant the world was going to pot but to others, it meant it was being liberated.
Let your Hair Down
- Ponytail Tales
Audrey Hepburn has long been touted as a role model for style and her 1950s sleek ponytails, chignons and topnotches have made a comeback...or so they say in the style section of my morning paper in...
- Beehive Hair
The original 'big hair', the beehive style, also known as the bouffant and the B52, was invented in the late fifties, possibly as an antidote to the mundanity of the pageboy and ponytail, which had dominated...
- Mod Clothes
Described variously by some as a movement spawned by "working-class dandies", a "Jewish middle-class movement" and a "Beatnik extension", Mod culture began in London in the late 1950s and reached it's...
- Top Models of the 1960s
The 1960s were an explosive time, musically, culturally and particularly fashion-wise
More by this Author
Described variously by some as a movement spawned by "working-class dandies", a "Jewish middle-class movement" and a "Beatnik extension", Mod culture began in London in the late 1950's and...
Since the style pundits have declared the straight look tired and are predicting the return of the curl, perms might be back on the fashion agenda.
Post-feminist revolution, 1950's housewives carry a certain amount of hip kudos. Now that we have equality (or a facsimile thereof) we don't have to be on the defensive anymore. We can wear a stiff, full skirt, vintage...