Popularized by icons like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe.
The ‘50s was a dynamic era of change, including hairstyles. Marked by iconic women like Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Aretha Franklin, and Elizabeth Taylor, glamour was showcased through sophisticated bangs and voluminous 'dos, and hair care routines involved elaborate techniques that were avant-garde for their time. Even extra short cuts made a statement, showing that women could be feminine even without long, flowing tresses. Although it may be an era long past, you might be surprised to find that some of today’s hottest looks are inspired by this iconic period. Keep scrolling to see some of the best looks that are trending today.
Best '50s Hairstyles
Known as a bubble cut and recently been renamed pineapple hair, this hairstyle featured short, tightly curled hair resembling a poodle's coat. It was ideal for women with naturally curly hair and was popularized by actresses like Lucille Ball and Peggy Garner. To get the look, leave pillow rollers in overnight. Then, use a teasing comb and volumizing spray at the crown of the head, along with bobby pins to get the iconic curly updo in the front.
Victory rolls were iconic during WWII and can be seen in many '50s Hollywood films. The hairstyle is named after the horizontal rolling aviation maneuver that symbolized celebration or winning at the time. The rolls were created by splitting the hair into two even sections and then rolling the hair upwards on each side of the part. (They don’t have to be the exact same size on either side.)
One of the most iconic of the '50s, the bouffant is derived from the French word for puffed-out. Fun fact: The bouffant inspired the beehive hairstyle, which it is often mistaken for. The classic '50s bouffant had a tousled look resembling a shaggy cut but with hair raised high on the top of the head and covering the ears hanging down the sides. For this look, hair was put in large mesh rollers, air-dried, and backcombed or teased to create height on top and the sides. A lot of hairspray was used to keep the hairstyle in place.
The bee hive
The '50s were an era of wigs and volume. In both categories, nothing beats the bee hive. The look is known for gravity-defying height and structure, thanks to backcombing and an abundance of hairspray Similar to looks of the decade, this one also featured a crown with volume, a solid silhouette, and pinned-up sides.
Aretha Franklin and Jackie O. were seen donning the look. Now, modern-day celebrities like Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, and Adele have recently rocked this style on red carpets around the world.
Inspired by Italian movie screen sirens like Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren, this short and messy hairstyle features curls—like a poodle cut—only more loose. This versatile cut favors any face because the curls frame the cheeks and forehead. The back was highly personalized, with some women choosing to keep it shaggy at the nape of the neck and others preferring a bob instead.
There are countless variations on the bob, but back in the '50s, the Italian bob (sculpted curls that frame the face), French bob (flared at the ends), and faux bob (longer hair curled and tucked under to appear shorter) reigned supreme. Popular bob cut styles have since emerged, like the soft bob, which was wavy rather than curly, and the flipped bob, with its unmissable direction change.
Short hair made a name for itself in the fifties. Gamine looks were boyish or elfish hairstyles that showed that women could be feminine even with more practical cuts. The pixie cut is known for being short in the back and sides but longer in the front. Some people had bangs, while others went with a spikier look. Hair length for this look is typically less than 3 inches, but the curly pixie—almost a shorter variation of the Italian cut—could be longer if curls were neatly layered.
The hairstyle is the namesake of Madame (or Duchesse) de Pompadour, mistress of King Louis XV of France (1721 -1764). It regained popularity in the '50s thanks to pin-up girl Betty Grable and rock n roll entertainer Elvis Presley. This unisex style is versatile for styling and barbering, which is why it has never gone out of style.
This voluminous hairdo keeps the front of the hair long and then sweeps it back off the forehead to create a roll. Men achieved the look by brushing the front hair back, while women could use pads or other hair accessories to create the raised pompadour look.
Also referred to as glam waves, Hollywood waves, or Jessica Rabbit waves, this style involves curling hair away from the face and then brushing it out for a loose wavy look. This style works well with long hair (the longer the hair, the more dramatic and effective the look).
Many bang styles were popular in the 50s, including curly bangs, baby bangs (ultra short and sharp), Bettie bangs (a U-shaped bang inspired by model Bettie Page), and thick bangs. Paired with scarves and headbands, bangs could look more defined and distinct from the styles in the back of the hair, which could be as simple or dramatic as the occasion required.
In line with the gamine cuts, the pageboy hairstyle featured straight hair hanging below the ear, turning under. Inspired by the boyish look of medieval servants, the style is best identified by its fringe in the front. The difference between this cut and the bob is that the blunt cut edges are curved inwards and don't slant upward. The length can be anywhere from the nape of the neck to just below the shoulder.
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