Popular Hairstyles of the 1950s
It was the era of Peggy Sue and The Platters, James Dean and Jan and Dean. It was the magic and style of the 1950s, a time epitomized by great music, fast cars, and signature hairstyles. Women’s hairstyles were feminine and required maintaining. There weren’t Styling Salons; they were Beauty Shops. And they weren’t stylists; they were beauticians. Beauty shops flourished with the weekly housewife’s visit to "get her hair done." Once a week it was mother’s turn for a little pampering at the beauty shop.
Women of the 1950's loved curls. Straight hair was rare. Even younger girls who opted for a scarfed ponytail often curled their hair first. Pin curls were a fast solution for the soft curled look. The pin curls were sprayed heavily with hairspray, and after completely drying they were removed and the hair was styled into seemingly natural locks of loose curls. A barrette or small, stylish hair comb was often used for accent. Permanent waves were a huge success in the 1950’s. Women endured the smell and the long hours at the beauty shop for a permanent wave. Of course, products like the Toni permanent wave made it very easy for women to get their long-lasting curls right at home.
The Poodle Cut was all the rage in women’s hairstyles during the 1950’s. It was not an easy style to maintain, but in the 1950’s women went for chic, not convenience. It almost seems a shame that an era so in love with stylish, soft curls didn’t get to appreciate the ease of curling irons and blow dryers. Younger girls in the 1950’s were no different than young girls of today, in that they looked to the Hollywood stars for their fashion and style choices. Sandra Dee’s sweeping, teased curls, Elizabeth Taylor’s shining toward-the-face curls, and beach movie starlets with stay-put ponytails were all influential. Chiffon scarves were an often seen feminine touch, as were wide headbands.
Men’s hairstyles of the 1950’s were clean cut, classic and businesslike. The dads on Father Knows Best and Leave It to Beaver were typical of the conservative hairstyles. Hats were very common for men in the 1950’s. The styles varied a bit, but hats were simply a part of most men’s wardrobes. While the pompadour and "greaser" look were seen among some younger men, it was more often the Ivy League look, very similar to that of the older men, that was worn by the high school boys.
Certainly, the advent of Elvis had a tremendous influence on young men’s hairstyles, but the clean necklines and ultra-straight black-comb parts remained popular. The 1950’s hairstyles were indicative of the importance people placed on a keen sense of style. Women enjoyed the techniques and accessories that resulted in femininity, while the men found their comfort zone in the simpler, uncomplicated look. It took a lot of time, bobby pins, pin-up girls, and hairspray, but the hairstyles of the 1950’s helped make it one of the most unforgettable eras in American history.