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Hot Hairstyles of the 1960s

Updated on July 24, 2013
Mia's radical hair made it onto the cover of Life Magazine
Mia's radical hair made it onto the cover of Life Magazine

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.


Actress Jean Seberg. Still shot from "Breathless"
Actress Jean Seberg. Still shot from "Breathless"
Style guru Mary Quant
Style guru Mary Quant
Vidal Sassoon experimenting with Mary Quant's hair
Vidal Sassoon experimenting with Mary Quant's hair

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.


Twiggy wearing her trademark behind the ears boyish bob, cut by Leonard's hair salon in Mayfair in 1966
Twiggy wearing her trademark behind the ears boyish bob, cut by Leonard's hair salon in Mayfair in 1966

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)


Sophisticated flip worn by British actress, Dianna Rigg, star of "The Avengers"
Sophisticated flip worn by British actress, Dianna Rigg, star of "The Avengers"
Catherine Deneuve
Catherine Deneuve
The Flip was so popular even Mattel got in on the act with "Francie", Barbies groovier cousin. Image from Vintagedollsguide.com
The Flip was so popular even Mattel got in on the act with "Francie", Barbies groovier cousin. Image from Vintagedollsguide.com

What a Gas

Flipped

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

The ultimte 60's sex symbol, Brigitte Bardot
The ultimte 60's sex symbol, Brigitte Bardot
Singer and former girlfriend of Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull
Singer and former girlfriend of Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithfull
Trendsetter, Jane Birkin
Trendsetter, Jane Birkin

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 Herm├Ęs 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

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    • profile image

      giddy up 5 years ago

      this is a really good site

    • profile image

      Sidonie 5 years ago

      wow this is an interesting site but i just cant find what i want at all you need to put more fashions for men instead of just women

    • profile image

      men! 5 years ago

      Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club style!

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      I'm surprised Pierre didn't pick me up on that. Ah those French directors...how did I manage that gaff? Thanks.

    • profile image

      Alexandra 6 years ago

      Just a tiny correction! Breathless was directed by Jean Luc Godard, and he co wrote it with Francoise Truffaut. Also, it was released in 1960.

    • profile image

      HoneyShante 6 years ago

      I love hair and all things hair. The retro looks are so classic.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      arzrijohan..don't ask me for hub advice...I dont' know what I'm doing..:) Thanks for popping in.

    • azrijohan profile image

      azrijohan 6 years ago from Malaysia

      The flip!

      hahaha..what a memory

      so classic but yet still looks awesome

      p/s:i'm new here..need some guide from seniors ^^

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Yes, BB has great hair! Thanks yenajeon

    • yenajeon profile image

      yenajeon 6 years ago from California

      Who doesn't love Brigitte Bardot hair? And the "flip". Ah! Rated up & awesome!

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Hahaha..my hair does look a bit daggy in that photo. I should update...it's from last year.

    • profile image

      waxi 6 years ago

      You are welcome Jane Please remember I am also way honest to you ;)

      Your Fan

      Waqxi

      P.S hee hee when I first saw your pic I thought the dark shade on left side was a French cap then I realised I am mistaken lol ;))

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Thanks waxi. You're way too nice to me..:)

    • profile image

      waxi 6 years ago

      My German lady friend has the same hairstyle as Mia [meow ] Farrow

      You have a lovely hair style as Well Jane ;)

      Waqxi

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Pierre, yes definitely. The 1960's did borrow heavily from that earlier era. Look at 1960's Twiggy...she's a real flapper.

      It was a bit of an androgynous look, reminscent of those flat-chested, boyish women of the 1920's.In addition you had popular films like "Bonnie and Clyde", which promoted that style.

    • Pierre Savoie profile image

      Pierre Savoie 6 years ago from Canada

      I just remembered the movie TO SIR WITH LOVE where the schoolteacher (Sidney Poitier) was telling some sullen inner-city London kids that their hairstyles actually came from the 1920's and clothing dated even earlier, and proved it by going to the museum.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 6 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Thanks Charity Squid..it was a great era!

    • Charity Squid profile image

      Charity Squid 6 years ago

      Great Hub! I remember all of those styles in the 1960s and those models. It brought back memories.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Thanks for reading brenna..

    • brennawelker profile image

      brennawelker 7 years ago

      I love it. Great.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Lol clara..lucky you! Thanks.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Suzie..I'm thinking of 'flipping' myself. Why wait? Let's be trendsetters and not followers!

    • ClaraN9 profile image

      ClaraN9 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      I think my hair is already quite like the long blazing hair as I never comb it!! :D Great Hub, very interesting! Voted UP

    • SUSIE DUZY profile image

      SUSIE DUZY 7 years ago from Delray Beach, Florida

      I love these hairstyles. Hopefully they will come back.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      drbj..yes, those French ladies had bags of appeal. Deneuve was so cool and untouchable and Bardot so...so, Bardot. 'Untamed' is a good word for her. Thanks for visiting.

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Rod, thanks. You're right about 99...she had a great bob.I

      ll try and slip her in somewhere.

      Twiggy was kind of emaciated but she did have fantastic eyes. Actually I think all those women were pretty attractive...and yes, Dianna Rigg was ring-a-ding-ding!

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Simone, you should..it would be liberating! Thanks for the comment.

    • drbj profile image

      drbj and sherry 7 years ago from south Florida

      We were very fickle about hair styles in the 60s as you pointed out, Jane. Couldn't decide if we wanted it short and classic or long and flowing. Love your photos - especially Deneuve and Bardot - always so beautiful. One very elegant; the other untamed.

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 7 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      By the way, with the wave bob maybe we could include Agent 99 from Get Smart. She was also a stylish dresser with a lovely personality on screen and off. Oh, and very MOD for a Yank.

    • Rod Marsden profile image

      Rod Marsden 7 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

      Not bad. Thumbs up and all that rot.

      I never really cared for Twiggy. She was just a bag of bones. A hair style reminiscent of the 1920s and made for tennis anyone can look good but maybe not on a skeleton.

      Bardot I liked not so much for her looks but because of her hidden qualities. She was an animal rights activist. She was firmly against cruelty to animals.

      Dianna Rigg was HOT. However she dressed and whatever she did with her hair was stylish.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 7 years ago from San Francisco

      Gosh, EVERYTHING was cooler in the 1960s. What a fun Hub this is! I'm rather inspired to give the long, blazing hair look a go :D

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Pierre, you are right - men are a lot more boring in their dress and style and therefore need only a few essentials to maintain their uninspiring standards...;)

      Of course we're generalising, as some men are peacock vain and some women purely sensible in dress and appearance.

      I can't help thinking it would be soul-crushingingly dull to wear the same outfit day after day for years, but I guess it would be a great equaliser...and certainly cheap.

    • Pierre Savoie profile image

      Pierre Savoie 7 years ago from Canada

      Women spend a lot of time and money emphasizing how different they are, that they are women. I heard this joke in French about why the pretty ladies walk so quickly in their high-heels? Answer: "Maybe they're following fashion." Then they think they have to pay the same fabulous amounts of cash to look like a man. Nope, a man is very easy, wears the same business suit or in China a Mao-jacket for years every day. He notices his hair is growing too long and it gets in the way to read his slide-rule and his engineering schematics, so he goes to a barber for a quick buzz-cut and a chat about the rising price of beef jerky. Simple. Cost: minimal. Accuracy of haircut: well, not so good...

    • Jane Bovary profile image
      Author

      Jane Bovary 7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

      Pierre, I bet you were a precocious little monster..lol. What amazes me is the price difference between male an female haircuts. I could go to a salon and basically get the same cut as a guy, yet pay more...why?

    • Pierre Savoie profile image

      Pierre Savoie 7 years ago from Canada

      Hahah, yeah I remember the "flip". Even young girls got that look. As an impish boy I would take a half-sized pencil and stick it in a girl's flip and she wouldn't even notice it was there, hahahaha. You experimented with storing other objects into the hair of the girl sitting in front of you. It could get you in trouble, though.

      Funny how all those expensive haircuts by snooty "fashion experts" could be had by young men at the barber's for two bucks.

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