Hairstyles for women evolve just as quickly throughout a decade as clothing fads do, a notion which holds true for looks of the '60s and '70s. These decades are remembered as times of upheaval and change throughout the United States, with struggles for civil rights and women's rights occurring in the midst of war. With the dramatic events of these two decades, the hairstyles for women reflect the changes as women moved away from the polished looks of the '50s and into more empowered styles.
Bouffant hairstyles represent an almost larger-than-life look for women. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy popularised the style, which then spread to women across the country as well as in mainstream Hollywood. Originally, the look consisted of combing the hair so it sat higher on a woman's head than usual, creating a poof that could be worn as an evening look. As the style evolved, bouffant styles grew larger and curlier. The look showed up on various television leading ladies, such as the women on "Bewitched" and "Gilligan's Island."
The bob hairstyle had its heyday in the 1920s, but with the rise of the women's lib movement in the 1960s, more women moved to revisit this short hairstyle. Women began to edge away from bouffant styles and embraced shorter, closely cropped hair. Particularly important during the 1960s was the five point cut. Vidal Sassoon, famed hairstylist, developed this cut in 1957. The goal of the cut was to create a geometric, asymmetrical look with hair. The style took off quickly and led to copycat five point cuts at salons across the country.
Women more in touch with counterculture during the 1960s and 1970s tended to shy away from the mainstream looks of the bouffant and the bob. Instead, they embraced a different, more severe hair look--ironed hair. Modern hair stylists use handheld flat irons for straightening hair. In the 1960s and 1970s, however, women used actual irons. To achieve the sleek look of long, straight hair, women laid their wet hair across an ironing board or other flat surface, put a towel down over their hair, then iron away any waves or curls. Women wore this look on hair that was shoulder-length and longer.
African American women during the 1960s often wore styles similar to white women, choosing to use hair relaxers to straighten their hair for certain styles. By the 1970s, however, African Americans of either gender made a move toward natural hair styles. As a result, the afro became one of the styles most synonymous with the 1970s. Women wore their afros in several different ways, such as putting hair into pigtails to create afro puffs. The afro symbolised a step away from conforming to standards and a return to the roots of their heritages.
The '70s produced another iconic hairstyle as well, known as the Farrah. Actress Farrah Fawcett showcased her hairstyle on the television show "Charlie's Angels" and it instantly became a hit. Women across the country flocked to salons to recreate the light, airy look. The Farrah style consisted of feathery layers curled back away from the face, with soft waves covering the rest of the hair.
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- National Public Radio: Vidal Sassoon: Fresh Hair on 'Fresh Air'; Feb 10 2011
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