Updo hairstyles inspired by the 1930s

Written by nancy hayden
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Updo hairstyles inspired by the 1930s
Large curls and waves are reminiscent of '30s hairstyles. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Women found creative ways to look beautiful in the 1930s. The nation was in the grips of the Great Depression, and many women rarely spent money on extravagances like the beauty parlour. On their own, women re-created the glamorous updos of the Hollywood starlets of the day. Those styles are still lovely today and add a finishing touch of vintage glamour to any dressy look.

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Chignon with Finger Waves

In the 1930s, many women grew their hair out again after the chin-length bobs of the 1920s. A simple chignon bun was an elegant updo for women with medium length hair that was in the process of growing. For this do, the hair only has to be about as long as the bottom of their neck; gather it into a soft chignon at the base of the neck. Style the sides in soft finger waves which are easily achieved by placing hair clips in wet hair, leaving indentations once the hair has dried.

Barrel Curls

Women began setting their own hair in curlers during the Depression and barrel curls were larger and required fewer curlers and less time than many small curls. Barrel curls are created when the curlers are removed but the curl is not combed out, leaving a large, perfect curl. The rest of the hair is left straight. Create barrel curls and pin them in place at the base of the neck, on the sides of the head, and even place a single large curl right in front for an authentic '30s feel.

Piled Curls on Top

Smaller and tighter curls were trendy with updos as well. Comb and sweep the hair straight up and pile it on top of the head, with no loose hair hanging down. Arrange small sections into many individual curls and pin each curl in place. This look was worn for formal occasions and often seen on Hollywood stars like Bette Davis. Women can either have an updo like this done at a salon or can achieve the look at home, as women did in the '30s, with a curling iron and a lot of hair clips and patience.

Slicked Severe Side Part

Not every updo in the '30s involved curls. Women wore their straight hair up as well, often in dramatic side parts inspired by celebrities like Marlene Dietrich. For this look, style hair when damp. Part the hair in a severe side part and apply enough product to help slick it down, with no fly-aways, but not enough to make it look wet or gelled all night. Pull the hair into a tight bun either in the middle of the back of the head or at the base of the head. Finish off the look with dramatic eye make-up.

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