Ladies' hairstyles in the '50s

Written by adrianne glowski
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  • Introduction

    Ladies' hairstyles in the '50s

    Though thought of as a traditional time when men worked and women were housewives, the 1950s sparked many trends. Women's hairdos during this decade were ultra-feminine and glamorous and often required a lot of time to style and perfect. Many iconic styles continue to influence beauty and fashion.

    Hairstyles in the 1950s were all about glamour and femininity. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

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    The beehive hairstyle, also known as the B-52, was named for its resemblance to the shape of a beehive. In the 1950s, the hairstyle was complicated and time-consuming to create. Hairstylists placed rollers in their clients' hair. Then clients sat under hair dryers until their hair was completely dry. The stylist created the tall beehive shape by piling the curled hair on top of the head and backcombing, or teasing, the hair. Hair clips and hairspray were used to hold the shape in place. Celebrities today still select toned-down versions of the hairstyle for red-carpet events.

    Creating the beehive hairstyle was a multi-step process. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

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    Waves and Curls

    Many hairstyles in the 1950s were all about curls. Stars like Marilyn Monroe popularised the short curly hairdo that still embodies Hollywood glamour today. To get the look, women created finger waves or curls by hand and bobby pinned them into place. They used a generous amount of hairspray to ensure the curls held. Once the pins were removed, the hair was either gently brushed out to create waves or styled by hand to maintain the curls. Women who had long hair and fringe typically opted for subtle waves with barrel-curled fringe. Bettie Page, iconic 1950s model and pin-up girl, was known for her long wavy hair and dramatic fringe.

    A woman wears a short curly hairstyle, popular in the 1950s. (Stockbyte/Retrofile/Getty Images)

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    French Pleat

    The French pleat was a hair technique that involved twisting pieces of hair into small coils. The coils were bobby pinned into place and a generous amount of hairspray held the style. Sometimes decorative barrettes or combs were added. Typically, the hairstyle was worn for weddings or other formal events.

    French pleats were often worn at formal occasions. (David E Steen/Valueline/Getty Images)

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    High Ponytail

    In the 1950s, the simple ponytail was worn high on the head, with the hair styled into a single barrel curl. Some women opted to create more curls throughout the ponytail. If a woman had fringe, she usually barrel-curled them, too. Because this style wasn't as showy as other hairdos during this decade, women often tied silk scarves into their hair for a bit of extra drama.

    Ponytails and fringe often went together. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

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    The actress best known for sporting the poodle hairstyle in the '50s was comedian Lucille Ball. The style consisted of tight curls piled on top of the head. To create the look, women usually wore tight rollers and left them in overnight. In the morning, the hair was combed out and brushed upward so that the hair sat on top of the head. Curls were brushed out a bit to create a frizzy effect. Some women opted to get a perm so they didn't have to sleep with rollers in their hair.

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    The pageboy hairstyle was typically worn by young women or teenage girls. This simple style was created by cutting the hair into a short bob with fringe. The ends of the hair were curled toward the face to create a rounded shape. Bangs were also curled inward.

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