The 1940s were a contradictory time for fashion trends. When it came to hairstyles, glamorous and formal looks were all the rage. These looks were usually achieved through hours at the hairdresser getting a fancy updo or a wave perm. However, the sober reality of World War II called for a time of sacrifice. Hairstyles had to be simplified and done at home. For children especially, hairstyles had to be inexpensive to maintain.
Girls' Short Styles
Short, chin-length hairstyles like the bob had come into vogue back in the 1920s, and although women's hair made a return to longer styles throughout the '30s and '40s, the bob style did become a staple for young girls. The style was neat and simple to maintain. One bobbed look for girls was a box cut, which came to the chin, with fringe cut straight across the forehead. Other styles were worn with the fringe curled under and the ends curled to flip up at the chin.
Girls' Medium-Length and Long Looks
A slightly longer version of the bob cut was often seen on girls in the 1940s. The wavy bob was a cut that fell to the bottom of the neck and had some body wave to it. Loose wave curls were formed either with wave perms or with large, soft rollers. Longer styles also usually had waves in them. Sleek, straight hair was not in vogue at the time. Trendy long styles for teenage girls usually fell to the shoulders and were parted on the side, with a loose wave, much like movie stars Veronica Lake or Rita Hayworth.
Ribbons and Curls
Ringlet curls were often worn by young girls in the '40s. The look was worn with fringe or with hair that was all one length and fell to the base of the neck or the shoulders. These curls were usually not worn all over the head, like Shirley Temple. The hair was usually straight at the root and curly from the ears down. To save money during wartime, this look was achieved by curling wet sections of hair around strips of rag and tying them off. Young girls wore ribbons in their hair to hold the curls off their faces.
Boys' hairstyles in the 1940s were quite masculine and no-nonsense. The boys most often appeared as miniature versions of their fathers. Their hair was cut short in the back and on the sides, so their ears were showing, parted on the side and slicked down on top. Another look that caught on for boys at the time was an extremely short cut that was shaved all over. Not surprisingly, this look became a trend with boys who saw soldiers wearing it.