Hairstyles have continued to evolve over the last century and every decade seems to have its own look. Just as the look now is straight and sleek, the look back in 1950s was more youthful. 1950’s was a time of innovative and flamboyant hairstyles, some of which even today continue to inspire hair artists. It was a time when there was peace and prosperity across the globe. The war had just ended and unlike the utilitarian look that characterized the 1930s and the 1940s, the look of this time was more glamorous.
Back in the 1940s, the predominant style was feminine and romantic. With soft curls falling onto the shoulders or long, wavy natural hair gently blowing in the breeze, the 1940s hairstyle was an invocation of the eternal feminine form.This however was the look for the people in the higher rung of the society or a look reserved for the evening parties. 1940s was a period when the world was going through a major economic crisis.
This economic scenario had forced many a woman to come out and work. The hairstyle of the time was thus practical and suited to workingwomen. At that time, women mostly worked in farms or factories and hair products as shampoo were tough to acquire.
In this scenario, the look was strictly utilitarian and women wore their hair usually in a neat roll around the nape and over the ears, often covered with a headscarf knotted. Styling lotions that held the hair in place was much in vogue.
This all changed in the 1950s when the look became more glamorous. The essential aspiration was to look like a domestic goddess, one who effortlessly did household work despite looking like a diva. In the early part of the fifties, the ponytail was the most popular hairstyle.
The casual yet chic look offered by the ponytail had many takers among women. In the early part of the fifties, the look for the evening party was a French pleat or chignon. However, in the later part of the fifties we see the origin of more elaborate and complicated hairstyles.
Every woman during this time aspired to look stylish and well groomed. This was the time when women were just returning to their homes after the demands of wartime. Because of this reason, women now could spend more time on their make up and hairstyles. This led to an era of heavier makeup and flamboyant hairstyle.
As we see eyebrows, mascara and eyeliner come to be applied more in the make up area, so also in the hair section, we see a lot of experimentation with hair. Straight hair was absolutely out and beauty meant having curly or wavy hair. In fact, fifties was the time probability when the regular womanly visit to the parlor for hair care and shampoo became must.
As hair setting achieved magnum proportion with hair being teased, sculpted, sprayed, permanently waved and forced into perfectly formed curls, more and more women started to spend a lot of money on hair care products that were essential to maintain the “well groomed hair look”.
For men the look was the greased back hairdo with heavy sideburns such as James Dean and Elvis had. Women on the other hand copied styles dictated by Hollywood divas as Elizabeth Taylor and even the young Queen Elizabeth II. Other popular stars whose looks were copied by almost all women were Leslie Caron, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot and Doris Day.
Among the most popular hairstyles of the time was the poodle cut which sought to frame the face in a round fashion offering it an youthful demeanor. In fact, by end 1950s, hairdressing was a big industry and there were about almost 30,000 new salons only in Britain.
Elaborate hairstyles and hair rituals were the order of the day. From gigantic back combed bouffants, beehives, and French pleats that were twisted in a fashion so as to form the intricate coiled hairstyles, the look late 1950s for sure was dressy.
Most of these styles are no longer in vogue now. Nonetheless, they continue to remind you of an era when there was prosperity in the world and people had enough time as well as money to think and spend on their hair.