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Timeline Tuesday: Roar into Style with Vintage 1920s and 1930s Hairstyles

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.

Much like the past few decades, the 1920s and 1930s were a period of boom and bust, big spending followed by hard times, a “high life” and then a low period. However, in the face of both the better times and the worse, women managed to stay stylish. In fact, this era saw some of the first real innovations in hair and style for women. So let’s take a look back and see what inspiration the era has to offer.

Strong Silhouettes

It may be hard to believe for many younger ladies, but American women didn’t officially get the right to vote until 1920. This landmark moment in U.S. history didn’t immediately fling open the doors to equality, but it did start paving the road for many more freedoms for women. And what was one of the first things these newly enfranchised ladies started to do? Cut off their long locks and go short and sassy. From the famed “flapper” hairstyles of the 1920s to the tight, head-hugging curls of the 1930s, women started opting for bold, short hair styles with sharper angles and more pizzazz. At the same time, though, these short hair styles also became simpler, with fewer ornate curls – freeing up more time for work and play!

More Than Just Hair

In addition to spicing up their hair styles, Jazz Age women started getting more creative with their headwear. In fact, many of the hairstyles of the period were designed so that a woman could easily wear a hat or head wrap without crushing her coif. Stylish ladies of the period donned a variety of floppy, feathered, and even geometric-shaped hats out on the town, and also experimented with jeweled head bands, scarves, hair nets, barrettes, clips, and other adornments.

Finger Waves

One of the signature styles of the 1920s and 1930s was the finger wave. Women of all colors, ages, and incomes sported it in all sorts of ways. Some preferred the looser, curlier version of the finger wave, with longer locks in the back, while others liked theirs harder, shorter, and cemented in place. Either way, the ease and glamour of this style appealed to many women, making it resurge in popularity again in the 1990s and 2000s.

The Inimitable Ms. Baker

One of the era’s most stylish women was American expat and singer Josephine Baker. Known as the Black Venus for her sultry performances in Paris, Ms. Baker was a daring performer and even Resistance fighter, once the beginnings of World War II started rumbling in Europe. Her short, shiny, shellacked locks were always the epitome of classy cool, even when only swept to the side with a few face-hugging spit curls. Not for the faint of heart, Baker’s stylized short hair styles can only be pulled off with the utmost attention to detail and confidence. (A gorgeous and well-made-up face paired with great accessories doesn’t hurt, either.)

Want to try a 1920s or 1930s hairstyle for yourself? The good news is that you don’t need a lot of products or time. All you really need is a few tips – so stay tuned!

Take care of yourselves,


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