1930's evening hairstyles

1930s hairstyles were inspired by the look of famous Hollywood stars like Ginger Rogers, Bette Davis and Jean Harlow. Everyday '30s hair and dress was more formal than it is now, but Hollywood starlets were the ultimate in glamorous chic. They sported dressed-up hairstyles that are just as perfect for an evening occasion now as they were then. You can wear a retro '30s-style for a modern take on a classic look, or use genuine vintage hair styling techniques to create authentic 1930s evening hair.


Fashionable hairstyles in the '30s were longer than the blunt bob of the previous decade, so up-dos became popular again for evening. Create these with pin curls or by using rollers to make ringlets suitable for pinning tight. Keep the front and crown flat, and secure curls so that individual ringlets stand up. A cheats way to do this on longer hair is to make a high, tight ponytail. Then arrange ringlets around this, hiding the band. The round circle that the curl makes is the focus of this up-do, so keep hair sleek and free from flyaway strands with a smooth styling cream.

Finger Waves

The most enduring image of 1930s hair is the finger wave. The formality of this style makes it perfect for an evening look today. Finger waves are exceptionally hard to fashion at home and many hairdressers today cannot do them, so seek out someone experienced in vintage styling. Soak damp hair in setting lotion, then use a comb to sculpt deep waves in the hair from side-to-side, holding and pinching each wave with a finger as you go. Then dry the waves under a net. Anyone interested in hair should find this process fascinating because today's modern tools make it easy to effect polished celebrity style with little effort. Creating finger waves, by contrast, is a highly skilled practical craft and having this process done on your hair is sure to make you feel as glamorous as a 1930s Hollywood starlet.


Women back then created most styles using setting lotions or a thick styling cream, and people used to wear a hairstyle for several days. But you can use '30s styles to inspire a totally modern evening look, created with today's tools and products. This looks different to classic Hollywood hair, and makes an interesting fashion-hybrid of modern polish combined with a retro style. Straighten hair, then use ceramic tongs to create perfect curls. Arrange them over the head as you would pin-curls or scoop into an up-do. Hair in the 1930s was generally worn above chin length and often parted at the side. So you could also scoop styled hair sideways and pin underneath for unmistakably '30s length. Fix styles with hairspray and polish with serum, or spritz over a very fine glitter spray for opulent ballroom elegance.


Embellish your regular hair with a 1930s style hair-clip such as black Jet beads. Try placing a striking vintage-style hair comb to the side of short hair. Styles to look out for include fans, anything Art Deco and feathers. You could also wear a fine headband around the front of the forehead. If you team any of these hair accessories with '30s inspired make-up, you will have an instant vintage evening look.

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About the Author

Shefali Choudhury is a qualified make-up artist and nail technician, with more than 12 years experience of professional makeup in beauty, film and theater. She graduated in fine art from Central Saint Martins and has been writing professionally since 2007.