Some hairstyles are just iconic. Ever notice how easy it is to date a photo of yourself when it includes a rebellious bowl-cut or a foot-tall wave of permed curls on top of your head?
Virtually every decade has had its own signature ‘do, despite the natural cycle and recycle of styles. Here are our picks for the top two most reproducible historical hairstyles and— bonus— how to achieve those looks in the 21st century:
1920s bob & finger wave
No, it isn’t a famous dance move (yet)— the bob and finger wave were the preeminent cut and style for women in the 1920s and 30s. The ultra-short length was a major departure from earlier styles, which emphasized high-maintenance up-dos and voluminous curls.
This classic look is notoriously difficult to achieve at home— at least if you’re in a hurry. For this simplified version, you’ll need a brush and comb, some small hair clips, hairspray, a curling iron (¾” barrel or smaller) and a lot of patience.
Begin by parting your hair deeply on one side and spritz with water. Use a comb to separate your hair into small, 1-1.5” sections and clip down.
Use hairspray, then curl each section beginning with the one closest to your ear. Make as many curls as possible, and be sure that they all face the same direction. Repeat on each side of your head.
Comb through the curls with your fingers to loosen them. Next, use your brush and additional hairspray to style.
In the ebb and flow that is fashion, style often speaks in response to itself. As such, the mile-high beehives of the early 1960s were a reaction to the tame, “old Hollywood” styles of the 1950s.
Stick to the high-volume ‘hives of old, or update the look to make it your own. You’ll need a comb and brush, some hairspray, and bobby pins. You may also want to use a curling iron to finish the ends.
Decide where you want your beehive to begin (at the crown of your head or behind your bangs). Tilt your head forward and begin teasing 1-2” sections of hair, starting around the middle of your head. Be sure to begin combing around the middle of the strand and downward, leaving the ends smooth. (Tease the back of your hair in similar sections next if you plan to do an updo).
Tilt your head back and separate your bangs from the mess. You can then begin smoothing the top layer of your hair with a brush. Be careful not to brush too hard, or you may lose volume.
Sculpt the smooth, separated hair in the front over teased hair and secure it with bobby pins. Straighten up the sides of your hair and style as desired.