The Most Popular 1950s Hairstyles

There were many popular 1950s hairstyles back in the day. People today have many misconceptions about hairstyles during this period. They often get the styles confused with those that were popular in the 1940s. Others may put a modern spin on these hairstyles without realizing it.

This post will explore some authentic examples of 1950s hair for women. We’ll also see why some hairstyles were so popular at the time.

Popular 1950s Hairstyles for Short Hair

Short hair was very popular in the 1950s. This trend was popularized by Italian actresses such as Gina Lollobrigida and Sophia Loren who donned uniquely short hairstyles. This was a departure from the longer, shoulder-length hairstyles of the 1940s.

Short hair was not only glamorous but also practical for housewives. Getting a short hairstyle of this type was also symbolic of a woman becoming an adult. This is because many teenage girls during this time had long hair pulled back into ponytails. These girls would get their hair cut short and style it in a more mature way once they became adults.

This change in hairstyle was, in a way, a right of passage. The Italian cut was the shortest haircut along with the pixie cut made popular by Audrey Hepburn. There were also curly bobs which were cut very closely to the head. These short hairstyles would help elongate a woman’s neck and bring more attention to her face.

The Italian cut

These short hairstyles worked well on those with longer and more angular faces. Women could also opt for slightly longer (but still very short) hairstyles. Short hairstyles were always curled either with pin-curls or rollers. They would then be brushed out and smoothed out with pomade to get a smooth, shiny look. These short styles also made it easy for a woman to top her head with an elegant hat.

Medium-Length Vintage Hairstyles

Medium-length hairstyles usually measured half way down the neck or down to the shoulders. A woman could pull off a soft bob with this length. This hairstyle still required curls that would then be brushed out. This adds more body to the hair and makes it easy to shape into different forms. Many women enjoyed this type of hairstyle if the shorter variations didn’t fit them.

Interestingly, some women at the time chose hairstyles based on their hair color. The Italian cut (which was short and shaggy) was reserved almost exclusively for women with dark hair. Most women of the era agreed that blondes and redheads had features that were too delicate and not exotic enough to pull off this unique hairstyle. They instead opted for the soft bob.

Soft bob

This can be seen in very fair actresses such as Grace Kelley or Marilyn Monroe. The soft bob of the 1950s was much shorter than today’s bobs. Most of them ended right beneath the ears. Very few dared to extend more than half way down the neck. The hair was often parted on the side, though some women preferred to part it down the middle with their curls framing their faces.

This short, clean look lifted the features and made the face look more feminine and elegant. Most women had their hair cut in layers. This made it easier to curl the hair and shape it once it was curled. The bouffant style became popular in 1957 and took over the Italian cut and other shorter hairstyles. This hairstyle was characterized by a very voluminous top and longer sides that extended to the shoulders. The bouffant could also be very short but still voluminous on top as was popular in the early 1960s.

This style required a ton of backcombing to achieve the extreme height of the bouffant. An extreme version of this was the beehive hairstyle which become very popular in the ’60s.

1950s hairstyles
The bouffant

1950s Hairstyles for Long Hair

Long hair was not very popular in the 1950s. Longer hair was mostly reserved for teenagers who would wear ponytails to keep their hair back. But some adult women also enjoyed their long hair. “Long” hair back then was rarely longer than the shoulders.

Most women would tie their hair up into an elegant bun. Very young women may still retain the teenage ponytail look. Women would rarely let their hair loose. This look was seen as too messy and not very elegant at the time.

1950s hairstyles

Many women with long hair often made their hair look shorter with curls and pins. Long hair could also be styled with bows and headbands. Chignons were another very elegant alternative. Many women wore fake buns to make themselves look more sophisticated. The pageboy hairstyle became popular in the late 1950s, but it did not really take off until the 1960s.

While there weren’t as many hairstyle options in the 1950s as there are today, there will still plenty of options available for women to express themselves.

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