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Timeline Tuesday: 40s and 50s Hairstyle Flair

Timeline Tuesday is a continuing series, looking back at hairstyles and trends of the past, to draw inspiration for the future. Check in every Tuesday for style ideas that build on retro looks to create new profiles, and get how-to instructions and tips every Thursday.

Want to sport some of the most glamorous, yet manageable hairstyles ever worn on stage and screen? With World War II pushing more women into the workplace, the beginnings of the Civil Rights movement chipping away at old barriers, and televisions invading more and more households, the 1940s and 1950s were a time of great upheaval in America. Things were changing, and the groundwork for the revolutionary 60s and 70s was being laid – and the hairstyles of the era definitely reflected this. Check them out!

1940s Pee-a-Boo Bangs

Glam movie stars like Lauren Bacall and Veronica Lake popularized long, wavy locks, parted and swept to the side so that bangs fell over one eye for a sexy, com-hither allure. Not unlike the much-in-demand waves sported today by celebrities like the Kardashians, this look is the ultimate in simple style that somehow never fails to stun.

The Victory Roll

In the aftermath of the Allied triumph in World War II, almost everything in America was a “victory” something, but nothing was more popular with women than the 1940s victory roll hairstyle. Loosely defined, a victory roll is a large, almost pompadour-like section of hair that has been rolled and pinned upward. Twin victory rolls can be created on the sides of the head, or one large roll can be placed in the bang area. There is almost no limit to how creative you can get with this style, so look out for update ideas on Thursday.

Short to Medium-Length, Fuller Curls

In the 1950s, efficiency became the new buzzword, and everyone was looking to save time. This especially applied to new mothers, having given birth to several babies during the “Baby Boom” era of the 50s, as well as widows and women managing families on their own while their husbands fought in the Korean War. Shorter hair became all the rage as busy ladies sheared off their long 40s locks in favor of the medium-length, bouncy curls sported by the decade’s biggest sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe. Hair became more playful, as well as easier to roller set, making more time for work and child care.

Cropped Bangs

Another enormously popular 50s hairstyle was the shortened bang. Made popular by pinup girls like Betty Page, this look showcases the face with thick, bumped bangs that stop at just about mid-forehead. You’ve probably seen megastar Beyonce rocking this kind of fringe in her retro-housewife roles in Lady Gaga videos.

Inspired yet? We hope so, since 40s and 50s hairstyles are among the most versatile, easy-to-wear, simple to style, and practical retro hairstyles out there. After all, women have not stopped being mothers, working, or wanting to be glamorous in the past 70 years – so why not cop a modern-day version of one of these coifs?

Take care of yourselves,


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