Vintage hairstyles for beginners: Know your eras

All Things Hair | 06 September 2018

From flapper bobs to beehives, discover the most iconic vintage hairstyles here.

Coco Chanel once said: “a girl should be two things: classy and fabulous”. And most vintage hairstyles manage to encompass both, which is why they always seem to find their way back into the spotlight even now. Here’s a quick recap on the eras and styles that are still influencing our styles today. Ready for a retro throwback?

7 vintage hairstyles all retro lovers should know about


Vintage hairstyles: Runway model with a dark brown wavy 1920s style bob haircut
The ’20s was when many women dared to go short for the first time. Credit:

1920s: To bob or not to bob

After centuries of women pretty much exclusively wearing their hair long, in the 1920s, short hair sparked a revolution for the first time.

One of the most iconic vintage hairstyles from this era was the flapper bob, made famous by showgirl and actress Louise Brooks. Her striking blunt bob with sleek bangs inspired women everywhere with long locks to make the cut and dare to go shorter and challenged society’s perceptions of femininity.

See more flapper girl inspired styles here 

Vintage hairstyles: Close up of a brunette with bob length hair styled in vintage finger waves
Glamorous, exaggerated finger curls became popular in the twenties.

1930s: Making waves and curls

With the rise of Hollywood, pin curls and finger waves slowly started to make their way onto the scene. The classic hairstyles worn by silver screen starlets during this era were still bobbed, but with more of an emphasis on femininity. Jean Harlow’s finger wave hairstyle from the film Dinner at Eight best depicts this era’s focus on ultra glam and flirty, voluptuous waves.

Finger waves are currently coming back and even Cardi B is a fan! – Have you seen?

VO5 Firm Hold Styling Gel

Editor’s tip: To set your curls in place, enlist the help of a strong hold gel, like the VO5 Firm Hold Styling Gel. This provides 24 hour control and also contains an Aquascreen to weather-proof your style against humidity.

Vintage hairstyles: Brunette runway model with 1940s style victory rolls and an updo
Half-up or full updo, the ’40s was full of victory roll variations. Credit:

1940s: Victory rolls and updos

Popular hairstyles of the ’40s were still largely influenced by silver screen starlets like Rita Hayworth and Lauren Bacall. But while no one can deny the elegance and charm of Veronica Lake’s iconic and alluring long wavy hairstyle, with WWII looming in the background, hair during this time needed to serve more of a practical purpose.

Despite a lack of resources during rationing, women made do with what they had, creating perfectly coiffed styles that both looked stylish and kept their hair out of their faces. From Rosie the Riveter’s scarf-tied updo, to pin-up victory rolls, it’s easy to see why the ’40s’ playful and practical vintage hairstyles remain iconic to this day.

1 scarf, 4 ways: 4 ways to rock the head scarf trend today

Vintage hairstyles: Close up backstage shot of a model with a 1950s inspired pinup updo wearing a vintage floral dress
Pinup hair and red lips, it’s the stuff of retro dreams! Credit: Rex by Shutterstock

1950s: Sexy and sophisticated

With swing skirts and pin up beauty, the ’50s encapsulated the rockabilly movement. Signature looks of the decade included the pompadour and rolled bangs, both of which have quietly been making a comeback among celebrities and on the red carpet. Think Pink and Gwen Stefani with their pompadours, and of course, Dita Von Teese and her signature sexy yet sophisticated ’50s inspired ‘do.

See how stars like Scarlett Johansson and Gigi Hadid have channelled the rockabilly trend here

TRESemmé Ultimate Shine Hold Hairspray

Editor’s tip: Tempted to try out one of our vintage hairstyles picks? Set your look in place with a generous blast of the TRESemmé Ultimate Shine Hold Hairspray, to seal in your style and add an authentic retro shine.

Vintage hairstyles: Blonde with a '60s Brigitte Bardot style bouffant beehive updo with a black headband
Bigger is better when it comes to the beehive.

1960s: Beehives and pixies

With more flexibility in length and cut than ever before, hairstyles in the ’60s were all about ushering in change. The creation of the beehive hairstyle spurred the masses and stars alike to became fascinated with having towering heights of hair. The beehive could be worn with longer hair in a half up, half down style (as worn by Brigitte Bardot), or swept back into an elegant updo.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, another key look that defined this era was the uber short pixie cut, made famous by supermodel Twiggy and her elfin look. Whether sweeping and feminine or textured and edgy, the length may have been short but a great deal of attention was paid to achieving just the right look.

Not forgetting about the fringes, see how ’60s split bangs have been making their own red carpet return

TIGI Bed Head Oh Bee Hive! Dry Shampoo

Editor’s tip: Love the bouffant look? Try the TIGI Bed Head Oh Bee Hive! Dry Shampoo – the fine, matte finish powder will freshen up roots and give more height to your style.

Vintage hairstyles: Blonde runway model with long straight hair with '70s style hidden braids and natural texture
Flowing lengths and baby braids. Credit:

1970s: Natural and feathered tresses

Known as the hippie generation, ’70s classic hairstyles focused less on styling and more on enhancing the hair’s natural, lived-in textures.  At last, the spotlight was on long, straight tresses and natural afros, as though this was just how your hair had grown naturally. However, simplicity aside, these ’dos would be accessorised with vibrant headbands and flowers, or even braided. Sound familiar? Many of today’s bohemian festival hairstyles stem from the ’70s.

Another quintessentially ’70s hairstyle was what many dubbed the “Farrah”, made famous by Charlie’s Angels actress Farrah Fawcett. This timeless look was all about movement and volume: hair was layered all the way around the head and curls were feathered backwards for a permanently windswept look.

12 boho hairstyles perfect for festival season – and beyond!


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