Vintage Hair: Popular Hair Styles In The 1920S

Some of the hair styles of the 1920s.

The 1920's ushered in a new age, a new way of life. The hairstyles of the 1920's, in the case of women, reflected a revolutionary change in female fashions, which was itself a product of the significant changes in the role of women in society. Short hair, like the rising hemlines, were a sign of the new freedoms of lifestyle and movement that women were beginning to enjoy. Men's hairstyles, though not to the same degree, were also affected by the new era.

In the early part of the decade, bobbed hair came in among the younger set. Indeed, this shift was a source of great family upheaval, as it was often a great act of rebellion on the part of the young lady. The early bob cut was similar to a pageboy style, smooth and straight with the bangs falling within an inch or so above the eyebrows and the ears covered.

Variations on this style were many, with the back being shaped in a slight curve that was higher at the nape or in symmetrical points and even, as time went on, very modern asymmetrical sharp lines. New shaping brought the hair forward, with locks turned up to rest upon the cheeks. In addition to simple spit curls, new technologies in permanent waves, finger wave solutions and early versions of the modern curling iron added more variety to the basic bob cut. Side parts were popular with the curled and waved styles.


The increasing popularity of the styles that made use of the then-modern waving techniques offered an opportunity for those women who were hesitant to cut their hair to look up-to-date. By using deep waves on the sides and crown and pinning their hair, using the bobby pins that came into use during those years, into a chignon at the nape of the neck, the line of the waved bob could be imitated.

As the middle of the decade approached, more extreme versions of the bob cut became popular as the earlier forms of the short cuts became more socially acceptable and more commonly worn. These new styles, among them the Garconne and the Eton Crop, were inspired by boy's traditional cuts. Cut close to the head, shingled, shaped and even shaved, these were smooth and parted at the center or to the side. With these styles, if waves were used, they were controlled with hair creams to maintain a sleek look.

Those more reckless in their pursuit of fashion wore style that wouldn't be out of place among today's youth, with some curled, combed and shaped to resemble a rooster's comb. Hair dye came into use, though the chemicals were often strong, damaging to hair and even dangerous to the health. Short hair, in its more conservative forms, became fashionable for older women as well, with only the more matronly sort being immune to the new fashions.

Towards the end of the century, while the sleeker styles and glamour girl looks were still in vogue, there was also a movement among young women to more tousled boyish locks, a less contrived and more natural look, a reflection of a general style that was focused more on health and strength than glamour.

Men's hair during this time also underwent changes, though these were not as extreme as the changes in women's styles. With the new clothing styles, the fashionable male wore his hair smooth, plastered down and gleaming with the hair products that kept it in place. It was brushed back off the face, and most often parted in the middle or slightly off center. Cuts tended to be a bit long on the top and sides, and sometimes in the back, but short and shaved at the nape. It was during this era that short cuts for little boys, while solidly in fashion during the prior decade, became absolutely entrenched as the norm.

Because these hairstyles of the 1920s were so much a reflection of changing social mores and a newly blossoming youth culture, many started out as being specifically oriented towards the younger generation. As time went on, these new styles were adopted by older Americans as well and continue to influence the male and female hairstyles of today.

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