Popular Hairstyles of the 1960s

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The 1960s was a decade of major change--changes in attitudes, dress, style, politics, and beliefs--and in hair. People felt freer to experiment with their hair, incorporating colors that before had been the domain of movie starlets or radically changing lengths with the help of wigs and falls. Hair became more than just a standard adornment--it created a statement, often telling others who the wearer was in an instant. Hairstyles helped shape movements, politics and ideals. In short, 1960s hair told stories about the wearers. Take a look at how the dominant styles of the time period helped shape the world.


The pixie cut, made extremely popular by British supermodel Twiggy, was a sleeker, more feminine version of a man's haircut. Hair was kept slightly longer at the top and tapered at the back and usually was worn straight, slick and shiny. The women who wore this cut appeared to be making a modern statement, "I get up and go. I'm not a slave to rollers like Mom!" Many stills and photos from the 1960s showed pixie-haired women sporting the brightest clothing and doing the grooviest dances. Another example of a famous 1960s pixie wearer is Goldie Hawn, who rose to fame starring in "Laugh-In", the era's prime variety show.


Bouffant came in many shapes and sizes during the 1960s but they all had large rollers in common. Bouffant were generally worn by more conservative women of the time. Housewives, secretaries, and the nice girl next door usually sported this style, which could be as short as a pixie cut, or as long as back-length--but with major height and volume at the top and sides. People of African descent and those with curlier hair used straightening combs and lye permanents to straighten hair before applying rollers. Bouffant were usually achieved after a shampoo. Hair was then set with styling solution and the person placed under a large hair dryer for an hour or more. Bouffant could be made sexier by slightly teasing the hair for a fuzzy look. Examples of the different bouffant wearers of the time include actresses Marilyn Monroe, Doris Day and Raquel Welch.


Bone-straight hair was usually the domain of hippies, flower children and the last of the beat generation. Straight pageboys (blunt bangs and long sides) were extremely popular during this period. Many people who preferred this style could just wash and go, but those with curly or wavy hair needed help. They used hot "straightening" combs or irons. For those without straightening combs, there was still hope--they often used the same irons with which they ironed their clothing to straighten out hair. One of the most famous bone-straight hair wearers of the time was Cher.


During the late 1960s, Afros were worn primarily by people of African descent. Afros came to represent a highly active period in the black power movement. The Afro basically consisted of naturally kinky or curly hair that was combed up into a ball-like shape around the head. Afro- wearers normally used "picks" or spaced, vertical combs to style their Afros. Hair spray helped to tame unruly or fly-away hair. Though African-Americans and other people of color were most likely to wear the Afro style, many Caucasians with curly hair adopted a similar look. An example of the 1960s Afro wearer is outspoken black activist Angela Davis.


When the Beatles blew into the United States in 1964, they not only ushered in a music revolution, but popularized a hairstyle, as well. The shag, sometimes called the mop top, was quickly taken into pop culture as the "in" hairstyle. Men grew out their short cuts, and women had their longer locks chopped off to join the trend. Shags were more of a shape than a style, in that they came in varying shapes and lengths. Shags were worn neat or ragged, blunt-cut and layered and were the domain of music lovers and hipsters around the world.


Crew-cuts were popular with family men, those who had office jobs and of course, military men. Crew-cuts were basically the shortest hair cut one could get without being bald. Most crew-cuts left a few inches at the very front of the head, hair that depending on texture would either spike, or wave. Many crew-cut wearers of that time considered themselves the last true men, since many opposed shag cuts and longer hair on men.


Chignons (French for bun) were popular with the sophisticates, society dames and career women of the time. A shiny chignon on a smartly dressed woman meant business, hence the chignon-wearing librarian stereotype still alive today in movies and television. Chignons were achieved with pins or bands to pull the hair away from the face and to the nape of the beck. 1960s icon Audrey Hepburn is often depicted wearing a chignon style.


By the 1960s, wigs were worn by everyone who wanted to change their look, not just by those who needed them. Many women of the time loved being able to change their hair from one day to the next, from short to long, straight to curly, blonde to black in an instant. Movie starlets and pop groups like The Supremes utilized wigs like they did wardrobe changes and the women of that era took notice.

Styles and attitudes change to reflect their time periods. The 1960s is a prime example of how hairstyles can mirror the changing societal landscape. Hair wasn't always just about fun. Hairstyles represented change, hope, growth and faith in an exciting future.

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