One of the most beloved aspects of the 1950s is the bombshell beauties that emerged during the decade. After the more austere 1940s, the country experienced an economic boom with the end of World War II and women were finally allowed to indulge in a little frivolous fashion. The styles switched from much more serious separates to fit and flare dresses that indulged in yards of extra fabric in those full swinging skirts. The curves of a woman's body were celebrated and sexuality started to become much more overt. Yet what's fascinating to me is that most of the style icons of the 1950s had short hair.
Today long hair is everywhere...falling lock in step with the fashion set who all seem to be sporting long Brigitte Bardot waves. Short hair is something that somehow seems daring. For some silly reason, it's news whenever celebrities like Michelle Williams or Katie Holmes cut their hair. Though I love both of their looks, I find this a bit crazy. As someone who personally prefers short hair--anything above the shoulders--I encourage you to take another look at all the possibilities, especially when you incorporate waves and curls. After all, it's been on trend in every decade:
Then there are the 1950s. The one who seemed to be leading the way was Elizabeth Taylor. The child star had grown up in the 1940s and burst into the 1950s as a bride both on and off screen--playing one in Father of the Bride (1950) and soon after her first marriage to Nicky Hilton (both dresses by costume designer Helen Rose). She was feeling confident as a woman and cut her long hair to mark her new maturity. Then year after year, from the closest of crops to volumunious curls, Elizabeth showed how short hair should be done. Ever the trendsetter, other stars who soon followed with short sexy curls of their own included Audrey Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, and Marilyn Monroe. Enjoy the photo inspiration below and check out the hair How Tos after the jump!
At the beginning of the 1950s, Elizabeth had very short cropped cut with curls
for pictures like Father of the Bride (1950)
Audrey Hepburn was also known for her short cut...
she often added texture with pincurls like in Roman Holiday (1953)
Audrey Tatou is famous for her Audrey-esque cut and curls
One of her best known looks is this short slightly more grown out cut
that she wears throughout the 1950s including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)
Ava Gardner also was known for sexing up the short 'do in The Barefoot Contessa (1954)
and Halle Berry does the same with one of the many manifestations of her short cut today
There was also more demure side to Elizabeth as she shows with this looks with a center part and soft curls
Grace Kelly was famous for her short hair which she wore both wavy and curly...
Dita Von Teese in one of her many looks inspired by Elizabeth Taylor
Toward the end of the decade, Elizabeth possessed longer locks and bigger curls
for movies like Butterfield 8 (1960)
Marilyn Monroe was famous for her interpretation of this look (as in The Seven Year Itch)
that came as a result of a range of techniques--whether curling iron, rollers, or pincurls
Katherine Heigel in Marilyn Monroe-esque curls
Want your own curls like Elizabeth (or Ava or Marilyn)? Whether you're lucky enough to be born with natural curls or have curl-challenged hair that is nearly stick straight (like me), there are now great curl enhancing products on the market to help. A few months ago Paul Mitchell gave me their Truth About Curls line to try, which includes a shampoo, leave-in conditioner, and wave and curl enhancers. Here's how to use them (or another curl enhancing system) together to build frizz-free curls:
- Wash hair first with the Spring Loaded shampoo and follow with your favorite conditioner.
- When your hair is still damp, rub in a dime-size amount of the Full Circle leave-in conditioner. This maintains the moisture in your hair, which helps prevent frizz.
- For the strongest curls, finish prepping with the Twirl Around. Rub a dime-size amount of the cream between your palms, then work both products through your hair with a wide tooth comb to make them evenly distributed.
- For smaller, looser curls that add texture on short hair, pincurls are a great way to go. Reach for clips or bobby pins to hold them in place while you use a diffuser or allow hair to air dry.
- For a variety of sizes and longer lasting curls, heated rollers have made a big comeback. Ones today are inexpensive and super easy to use. Clip in after you dry your hair. The bigger the roller, the more volume in the hair.
- Use a curling iron to correct any curls, then finish with your strongest hairspray to set the style.