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Bring Back Vintage Glam With These 1950s Hairstyles

Bring Back Vintage Glam With These 1950s Hairstyles

With the rise of mass media and more disposable income, the 1950s became a transformative era for women’s hairstyles. This decade saw a shift from conservative styles to glamour and experimentation in hair fashion.

Significantly influenced by the trends set by Hollywood stars, 1950s hairstyles were shorter, looser and more natural-looking compared to the elaborate hairdos of the past.

Innovations in hair products and styling tools made it easy to replicate these glamorous looks. Haircuts were tailored to each woman, personalized for her face and reflecting her individuality. Women still loved their weekly salon visits, but now these popular short styles could also be maintained at home.

Let’s explore the most iconic looks that defined this era.

1. The Poodle Cut

The poodle cut got its name for its tight, all-over curls that looked like a poodle’s coat. The curls could be permed or natural, and this high-maintenance look needed trims every two weeks and curlers every night. This hairstyle became famous thanks to icons like Jackie Kennedy and Lucille Ball and was considered the perfect match for the fashionable dresses of the early 1950s.

2. The Italian Cut

Drawing inspiration from the stars of Italian cinema, this shaggy but sculpted style had a chic, artfully messy look. Unlike the structured poodle cut, this style featured slightly longer, much softer curls that were tousled and framed the face. It was particularly beloved by brunettes.

3. The Pixie Cut

The pixie cut burst onto the scene in the 1950s, thanks to Audrey Hepburn’s unforgettable look in Roman Holiday. Her iconic gamine crop sparked a craze for super-short hair with delicate, wispy bangs. At the time, this was a daring, edgy look that quickly gained popularity among the fashion-forward crowd.

4. Soft Bob

The soft bob hairstyle of the 1950s was a longer, softer and fuller alternative to the poodle cut. Loose curls were brushed into waves to look like voluminous, naturally curly hair. Icons like Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Eartha Kitt wore this hairstyle. It could be customized to complement different face shapes, so it was very popular.

5. The Pageboy

The pageboy reached peak popularity in the early 1950s, but it continued to evolve into the ’60s, when it transformed into the iconic flip style. The length of this hairstyle could vary from bob to shoulder-length, and its main feature was sleek styling with ends curled under to create a U-shaped roll around the back and sides.

Grace Kelly often wore her jaw-length hair in a pageboy, and Marilyn Monroe occasionally styled her hair in this way.

6. Short Curls

Short curly hair became a hallmark of high fashion in the 1950s. Hollywood stars tailored their hairstyles to complement their face shapes, features and even their figures. Many women eagerly experimented with various curl patterns, shapes and lengths to discover the most flattering coiffure for their individual beauty.

7. Teen Cut

This charming short hairstyle was popular among teenagers. It had lightly tapered ends that gave it an airy look, while the soft half-bang made it look particularly youthful.

8. Curly Bob

The curly bob of the 1950s was longer and required less upkeep than the poodle cut and had more styling possibilities: it was worn swept back, parted in the middle or styled to one side with cascading curls as bangs. With a more natural look with flattering curls framing the face, this haircut has remained popular to this day.

9. The Pompadour

The pompadour, popularized by James Dean and Elvis Presley, was given a rebellious feminine makeover from young women of the era. This iconic style is defined by height at the front achieved through layering, teasing and brushing the hair back. It can be worn with slicked-back sides or as a feature with longer hair.

10. The Side Part

The side part was a short to medium one-length haircut defined by a deep part above the outer corner of the eyebrow. At the time, curls often relaxed quickly, so parting the hair this way would keep the curls near the face even as the roots began to flatten.

11. Pin Curls

In the 1950s, most women curled their hair using pin curls. Magazines and books often featured tutorials detailing the pin curl setting patterns used by Hollywood stars to create their signature looks. You can see one of those iconic styles recreated in this video tutorial.

12. The Bouffant

As the end of the decade was drawing near, short hairstyles began going out of fashion. A new trend was emerging: the bouffant. This style would evolve into the 1960s beehive, but it started off as a grown out Italian cut. At first, it was still tousled and only had more volume at the crown, but it gradually lengthened and became more sleek, with hair swept up and back.

13. Pastel Hair

Black and white photography is why the 1950s’ hidden gem—the vintage pastel hair color trend—isn’t widely known. It started with women intentionally leaving purple toners on too long to neutralize brassiness after bleaching. By the mid to late ’50s, some hair color brands expanded their palettes to include trendy hues like pink, lavender, mint, baby blue and peach.

14. Upswept Updo

The perfect 1950s upswept updo was created by sweeping the hair away from the neck and sides and gathering it at the crown. Bangs and front hair were curled and pinned to add even more volume on top of the head. Later in the decade, the trends changed and a sleek front or center part became popular.

15. Chignon

In the 1950s, the classic chignon—a bun at the nape of the neck—became the leading formal evening style. Clip-on chignon buns were a popular accessory for women with short hair who wanted to follow the trend. By 1957, the chignon was so popular that hat designers created chignon caps and pillbox hats to decorate and cover the bun.

16. Flat Bun

Women with long hair wore formal updos for glamorous evening events. Women with shorter hair who didn’t have enough length for traditional hairstyles nswept their hair back at the sides and added volume on top, creating various styles that served as a convincing illusion of an updo.

17. Hollywood Pin-Up

In the glamorous 1950s, wearing your hair half-up half-down meant pinning one side of the hair while leaving the other half loose. Hollywood actresses often wore these glamorous asymmetrical hairstyles to visually balance their features.

18. Bettie Bangs

Bettie Page wasn’t the first to wear her signature bangs, but they have immortalized her as a hairstyle icon. This full, straight-across type of bangs that goes all the way to the edges of the hairline will forever be known as Bettie bangs.

19. Pixie Fringe

If you want a 1950s-inspired aesthetic without committing to blunt bangs like Bettie Page’s, Audrey Hepburn’s classic fringe is another iconic look. This style of bangs flatters more face shapes and is much easier to wear and grow out.

20. Hair Accessories

Hair accessories like headbands, scarves, bandanas and ribbons were common in the 1950s, and wearing them with current hairstyles will give you a retro look.