Swell & Groovy Hairdo's of the 1950s & 60's
Hair, clothing and footwear styles of 1950s (no sound)
Starlets 1950 - 1957
Who's That Girl With the Beautiful Hair? It's Barbie!
Swell Hairdo's of the 1950s
Ah, the 50's. James Dean, velcro, hula hoops, saddle shoes and Beatniks. Buddy Holly and Richie Valenze had their records on the jukebox, and the carhops roller skated around with trays of food. Meanwhile, the world was recovering from war and a surge of scientific and technological advances were taking place.
Though the hydrogen bomb was being born and there was a drive to round up Communists, It was also a time of innocence and censorship. Desi and Lucy slept in separate beds, Elvis could only be filmed above the waist because the way he moved his hips was scandalous. That wasn't swell, but they all had good hair.
Here in Canada, the birth rate was escalating at a furious pace like the rest of the free world. By 1955, our population had reached over 15 million. I can't speak for the rest of the world, but all of our fashionable babies were adorned with sausage roll hairdo's. My mother would have given me one....if I'd had any hair up until the age of 2. What were they thinking?
Yes, times were different, and naturally, the hairstyles of the day reflected that. They were swell.
Generally speaking, do's of the 50's were soft and they featured curls. A stark contrast to the dark and heavy make-up the ladies wore, and to those cat's eyes glasses that the vision impaired sported.
Naturally, the beginning of the decade was still dragging remnants of the 40's along. Hairstyles still reflected some of that look that actresses like Joan Crawford were known for - curly, poufy and often parted in the centre. Somehow, it managed to look that way, even when tied back and pinned up. They always had vertical hair. Perhaps they wanted to appear taller. In all likelihood, it was due to the popularity of 'Permanent Wave' hair treatments the women went to the hair salon for. Those who couldn't afford a professional used either the Toni or the Bobbi Home Permanent Kit, which included smelly, caustic chemicals and perm rods.
North America in the 1950's was progressing rapidly, and as morays became more relaxed, so did the popular hairdo's. They evolved, getting shorter and < ** gasp - spell it, don't say it! ** > s-e-x-i-e-r. While the ever classy and classic Audrey Hepburn managed to pull off both at once, Marilyn Munroe sometimes wore her hair at mid-length. Women like Bridget Bardot and Jayne Mansfield stayed with longer styles. The tight curls of 1950 had given way by the later part of the decade to a more relaxed and accentuating sultriness that transferred well to the screen. They also lost a lot of that high helmet-head appeal that carried over from the previous decade.
As North American women looked to the actresses and starlets of the decade for their style cues, they soon followed suit with their own hair, adapting the celebrities' styles as their own as closely as they could, ever changing to keep pace.
If you'd like to emulate any of the swell hairstyles of the 1950s, you will need to get a perm. Sorry ladies, but it's a fact. For women with curly hair or those who just want the pin curls, simply get a mountain of bobby pins, wrap individual hunks of hair around your finger and then press to head and pin securely in place. The tighter of curl you want, the thinner the strand of hair you should use, and the tighter you need to curl it. Keep working until the whole area you want curled is done. The curls hold best if the pins are crossing each other like an 'X'. You will likely be more satisfied with the outcome if you use this process on wet hair, and add some Dippity-Do to each. You may leave in overnight, or all day. When ready, remove pins and style. Don't worry about frizz, that's part of it.
You'll look swell!
How 1950s Women "Weatherproofed" Their Hair
Swell Hair Fashion
Vintage 1950's hair Tonic Commercial
Vintage Brylcreem TV advert US
Men's Swell Hairstyles of the 1950s
From the time of their first haircut, males of the 1950s went to a barber. There were no such things as uni-sex hair salons, they hadn't been invented yet. It is highly doubtful that they would have been used by men at that time anyway. Men and women were still a long way apart regarding equality. Each gender had specific roles that they were expected to adhere to. When it came to haircuts, men went to barbers.
That's not to say that the men lacked style when it came to their hair. They had the crew cut, the flat top, and for the teens, the ever popular duck tail.
I'm not sure what they call the style my dad wore. The back is cut regularly and the front has a big dippy wave in it. He trained it that way in his teenage years, and still wears the style today. He has never changed it.
Check out the movie, Rebel Without A Cause starring James Dean, if you need a visual reference of men's hair fashions of the 50's.
If you're thinking of emulating these retro styles, find yourself a retro barber and a bottle of Vitalis or a tube of Brylcreem.
Adorn Hair Spray 1960s TV Commercial
Vintage Dippity-Do Commercial
Groovy Hairdo's of the Swinging Sixties
Time to switch gears. Come out of that rock and roll age of swingin' chicks and glamorous hairstyles, and into the Age of Aquarius. Think peace rallies, mini skirts, go-go boots and hotpants, white lipstick, enormous hoop earrings. Groups like The Supremes, Herman's Hermits and of course, The Beatles, are all coming out of your transister radio. It's really neat, and later on in the decade, it will be far out! But mostly, it will be groovy. So, hoist up your bell bottoms, put Tiny Tim on the record player, and let's talk hair. After all, it was an important enough topic in the 60's that it spawned a whole musical.
Hairstyles changed with the times and fashion as they always do, and all the styles had names, with new ones cropping up with each fab change in the mod meter of the era - from neat to groovy to psychedelic.
The beehive, the bouffant and the pageboy were just a few of the stylish hairdo names. Updo's were big (literally), as were ponytails. All required work. In 1968, I used to scotch tape my bangs to my forehead every night so they would be straight in the morning. I would have red tape marks on my face all day, but at least I wasn't walking around mortified that my hair was not stylishly straight.
When styling your hair, sometimes you would set your rollers to make your hair flip up, sometimes to flip down. Enormous rollers were well used in the sixties. You could even use juice tins if you didn't have actual curlers large enough to give you the big, smooth hair of the day. Try it sometime. It's not as easy as it sounds. If that doesn't work for you, just iron it and go with the straight look, like we did.
To be hip, you usually needed to set your hair. For a beehive, you had to tease the bejeebers out of your hair to raise it up high enough. Good luck when it came time to comb it out. It would have been easier and a lot less painful to just shave your head. I'm sparing you exact instructions. You can thank me now.
People like Twiggy ushered in the anorexic fashion, complete with extremely short, straight hair. Meantime, people with hair like mine tried to hide behind shag haircuts. They were so pitiful. Luckily, Afro's came on the scene eventually, and I fit right in.
After a few years, the Flower Children and Hippies appeared, removing all need to be concerned about hairstyles....or hygiene. At this point, things were far out. Think Cheech and Chong. They would make their public debut as a team in the early 70's. I think society was getting ready for them.
Men's Groovy Do's of the 60's
The whole sixties decade was a time of constant, rapid change.
Men's hairstyles eased into the era still shorter from the 50's and growing into a Beatles' cut to match the wildly popular Moptops (influenced by The Beatles, natch!) of the day. While the women's hair got shorter, the men's got longer.
By the end of the 1960s, many men had hair below their shoulders and sometimes down to their waists. Many a parent complained that from behind, they couldn't tell the boys from the girls. In fact, it was easy - the girls had the short hair. It was all very groovy!
It's a HubMob Hub!
All the hairstyles that are in our world right now, will appear in a hub and be presented in a historical manner. To give it a polished look, it will contain photos and videos and other currently unknown mediums.
So take lots of hairstyle pictures and make notes. You'll be recording for posterity and future HubPages contributions.
An author's blessing - May you always have lots of swell and groovy hair. If you can't have lots of swell and groovy hair (no names, Jimmy) then may you have a swell and groovy bald pate with plenty of shine.