Monday, December 3, 2012

The Hair Style File--Elizabeth Taylor Sets 1950s Trends in Short Curls

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 HepburnAva GardnerGrace 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. 


Joel Williams said...

Very nice retrospective!

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thank you Joel! Glad you enjoyed it. :)

Kay said...

The precision of the hair styling in those days always leaves me in awe! I love the images of pincurled MM and Audrey. Beautifully done, Kimberly, as always! I'm currently pincurling actresses forf a 1955 play (The Desk Set) and BOY, it's tedious, but the results...pure sexy tousled curls. I've even convinced them to try curling their hair JUST FOR FUN themselves! Victory!

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thank you Kay! I'm tickled you enjoyed the post and love hearing how you've outfitted and styled your cast for THE DESK SET! How lucky they are to have you. I'm much more timid about curls myself and am tip toe-ing my way toward pin curls just like your cast. Those photos of Audrey and Marilyn were inspiring to me as well!

MC said...

Hi Kimberly,

This is so timely, since lately I've gotten interested in learning more about vintage hairstyles. I have zero skill when it comes to hair, so seeing how much time and effort went into hairstyling in the past is impressive. No wonder women in old movies always use washing their hair as an excuse to stay in or avoid an icky date. Washing and setting their hair was an all night affair!

I'm hoping to try a pin curl set soon and see how that turns out. I recently got this pin curling tool that's supposed to make the process a lot easier and can't wait to give it a whirl.

silverscreenings said...

I love the short curls, especially on Elizabeth Taylor. They exude feminine confidence.

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Melissa! It's so true that hair can take FOREVER if you get into styling it. I love that you're getting into trying vintage cool! Please share your experience with that tool when you feel you've mastered it. Really interested to hear how easy (or not) it is and what the effect looks like. Good for you!

Kimberly Truhler said...

I agree, Silver Screenings. I think more women should embrace short curls and Elizabeth is a perfect role model for how sexy they can be. Thanks for sharing! Happy holidays!

Eve Darnell-Smith said...

I had always admired the classic beauty of Liz Taylor and Audrey Hepburn. I love the way they bring everything from their clothes to their fabulous hair. Right now their looks have become icons. Most women are now having these hair styles in events. And I love seeing most of these hairstyles on the red carpet.

Paige Baldwin said...

Elizabeth Taylor reminds me of my mom so much because she had her hair styled just like hers. What an avid fan she is. Though I must say she gave Elizabeth a run for her money because my mom is as gorgeous as her! Truly a classic beauty.

Neil Ferguson said...

I'm always attracted to a woman with short curly hair. Maybe the reason why is because my mom has the same hairstyle and I really love the way mom looks.

Kimberly Truhler said...

Thanks Eve! I couldn't agree more. Back in the day, every look--whether onscreen or off--was thought through, from their heads down to their toes. Today's stars turn to Old Hollywood again and again for that inspiration.

Kimberly Truhler said...

I love that, Paige! Your mother definitely sounds like a great candidate for "My Mom, the Style Icon"--have you ever seen that site? I believe they also do it on the last page of LUCKY magazine now as well. She sounds gorgeous with a lot of style!

Makeover Videos said...

Wonderful sharing! I love all these celebretty pictures

Angela said...

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Angela said...

that is totally adorable! great idea! | Enigmas Hair Studio

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