1930s updo hairstyles

Written by tabitha harwell
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1930s updo hairstyles
Women of the '30s took pride in curling their hair. (George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

Recreate the simple elegance of the '30s by bringing back the glamorous coiffures that were highly popular during the decade. Following the Great Depression, women became more fashion-forward with their hairstyle choices and, even if they were wearing a hat, fashioned themselves daily to look their best. Look to Marion Davies for inspiration of the classic '30s hairstyles, according to Gladys Glad, a reporter for the Ludington Daily News in 1935, because she could pull off any style.

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Barrel Curls

Women began to set their own hair during and after the Great Depression, which lead to the invention of barrel curls. These curls are large and are placed strategically around the head to create a one-of-a-kind, classic look. To recreate the look, simply use large Velcro curlers or hot rollers to roll the hair around the frame of the head. Most women would leave the crown of the head and the back of the hair straight; however, you can make an up-do out of the barrel curls. Once the curls cool, remove them and leave the curls intact. Use your hands to pull the back of the hair upward to the crown of the head and pin with hair clips. Pull one or two tendrils out of the up-do, either in the back of the head or on the sides of the head, to hang down.


Women during the '30s were shying away from the fashionable short hair of the '20s. However, growing out hair was tedious and required a hairstyle to keep it stylish during the transition. The chignon became the perfect solution due to the simplicity of the style. To recreate, pull the hair back and secure it at the nape of the neck with a ponytail holder. Twist the ponytail hair until it starts to curl downward toward the scalp, and pin with hair clips to secure the bun. Curl the hair around the sides and top of the head using small sponge rollers or pin curls. Once the curls are set, remove the pins and style with your fingers. Most women of the '30s had side tendrils with the chignon; however, it is not necessary.

Side Bun

Similar to the chignon but slightly different is the side bun. Women incorporated the slick, shiny hair of the '20s with a new look for the '30s by slicking hair back, and pinning it into a bun on the side of the head. To recreate the simple look, part the hair to the far left or right side of the head and pull the hair to the opposite side. Secure the hair to the back of the head on the opposite side as the part. Create the bun by pulling hair outward and twisting until the hair starts to curl downward toward the scalp. Once it does, pin the hair with hair clips. Apply a straightening balm or pomade to the hair to control flyaways and give it a "slick" appearance.

Curly Up-Do

The curly up-do became a sensation for women who wanted curly hair, but also wanted to keep it off their shoulders and out of their eyes. Wash your hair the night before and towel dry it to a damp feel. Apply pin curls around your head, which are small curls secured with sponge rollers or end paper rolled up tightly to the head with hair clips, and sleep overnight. In the morning, undo the rollers or pins and release your hair. Use a comb to pull the back hair upward to the crown of your head and secure with hair clips. Pull the sides of the hair to the crown of the head and secure with hair clips. Leave the bang curls intact and spray the entire head with light-hold hairspray.

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