It was a thrilling time to be alive–a return to restore families and life as usual to Americans, right after WWII, when prosperity was being returned and once again there was such a thing as “disposable income.” Many women, just like today, styled their hair to copy styles they had seen on the big screen, where beauty was big business those days. With a wave of films made in Italy and with great screen stars like Sophia Loren, there was a strong Italian influence on hair styles. And as TV became more widely available, the star influence flourished even more. While the trend was to style hair to look more natural, for many women that actually meant using a lot of products and efforts like perms and coloring. And they were called “hairdos, rather than hairstyles, encompassing every length imaginable, but there were more short styles than at any time before. What follows are some of the most sought after styles of the decade:
Italian Influenced Hair
It was those gorgeous stars of Italian movies whom left American women undergoing major transformations to emulate big name stars like Sophia Loren and Gina Lollobrigida whose trademark hairstyles were short, fluffy and wavy, with shaggy ends. Larger hoop earrings and bigger chunky necklaces were paired with these styles with great impact. This was known as the Italian cut.
There was a wide variety of styles worn in the 50s, but shorter hair more or less came into prominence during the decade, with a couple of select styles typically featuring big waves and curls that were concentrated on the ends of the hair, with the hair proceeding from the crown being flat and straight. The curls or waves would tend to frame the face. Another couple of popular hairdos kind of predated the 60s afro, although the styles were sported by caucasian women. One was the bubble cut, featuring a bit looser curls, and the poodle cut had tighter ones.
Bobs and Pageboys
Bobs were the shorter versions of the two, and pageboys typically involved bangs. The hair had to be perfectly silky-straight, all the way down until it would loosely turn under, on the ends, as if naturally. Usually, “natural” didn’t have anything to do with it. There might be an occasional wave here or there, but only when purposefully articulated to look natural. A prime example was the Princess of Monaco Grace Kelly, whose pageboy turned under right at her jawline.
Longer Locks of the 50s
Still a good number of trendy 50s women, both in Hollywood and at “Small Town, USA” wore their hair longer. A huge trend among teens was the ponytail, typically worn with bangs worn straight. Short bangs were a thing more then than now, and generally, the younger the female, the higher the ponytail would be positioned. Many teens would secure their ponytail with a pretty scarf. Audrey Hepburn was certainly one of the most influential of Hollywood heads, and when she starred in Funny Face in 1957, her long ponytail surely inspired the trend that followed. Bouffants were the rage in the 50s, with its trademark volume and height. A whole lot of hair lacquer was necessary to pull this one off, and the style would last for days without washing. With this style, wearing hats was out, but sometimes accents were added directly, like feathers, bows and more.
Short 50s Hair
Audrey Hepburn made the “gamine,” or “elfin” look a 50s trend, which was also called the “pixie cut.” This cut was quite short and layered, and inspired many a fan to duplicate the look with a trademark high cut shaggy fringe.