For one of the more “synonymous with seduction” retro hairstyles, Rita Hayworth’s sexy toss of lush locks in the iconic “Gilda meets Johnny” scene would have to be at the top of the list. Though the film was made at an end of the forties loosely waved and skillfully tousled hair and a beginning of sleeker and more sophisticated styles, Gilda’s hair remains a classic.
I remember Mama pin curling her long auburn hair and tying a chiffon scarf around it until it dried. After she loosened the curls, she began to briskly brush the tight curls out and with a couple of quick flicks of the brush, it lay softly curled about her shoulders. Just like Gilda’s.
Mama rouged her lips with Theater Red lipstick, plucked her eyebrows into thin arches, and used a tiny brush to apply Maybelline mascara from the small rectangular box. She was a fifties beauty that never made it to Hollywood.
While Mama may have been a natural, her attempts to make me look like a star met with much resistance. No matter how many Tonette home permanents she applied to my hopelessly straight hair, the next day she was either pulling it back into a ponytail or plaiting it into the long braids we called pigtails.
Sleeping with dampened hair wrapped around strips of cloth resulted in Shirley Temple ringlets the next morning. We called them rag curls.
Sometimes Mama lopped my hair off for a popular Audrey Hepburn pixie cut. Just as Audrey’s short and chic do set the standard for fifties style, Twiggy’s side parted sixties interpretation, Mia Farrow’s spiky seventies crop, and the twenty first century’s Keira Knightley and Halle Berry pixies made for trendy tresses.
With her long, golden blond, and thickly curled hair, it is no wonder Bogie fell for the very young Lauren Bacall. The softly curled finger waves beautifully accented her sultry eyes. Popular during the thirties, finger waves were easily created by pinching wet hair between the fingers and combing the hair in alternating directions that form waves when dry. This retro hairstyle experienced a revival in popularity during the 1990s.
Probably the most common of 1950s hairstyles was the bouffant. It was an attractive style Joan Collins re-frequented throughout the years.
The bubble cut was a bouffant variation my first and only Barbie doll sported. Even though Mama said I was too old for one, I loved my brunette bubble haired Barbie. Elizabeth Taylor’s spit curl in the forehead style was ever so much more sophisticated and sexy than Barbie’s though.
I don’t think Lucille Ball’s tightly permed poodle haircut is one of the retro hairstyles that will experience a resurgence in popularity. With the sides swept up into a little curly pouf at the top of her head, it was actually a quite flattering style for Lucy and many others from that era.
For today’s celebrities looking for a classy hairstyle to authenticate her vintage couture gown, the 1950s has much to offer.