Hairstyles of the 30’s

Elegance in the 30’s

  Under the hats of the 30’s emerged the new hairstyles. Gone are the very short Bobs of the 20’s. Longer hair ruled the next decade. This is the time of the soft, wavy look. As the 20’s bob transitioned into the 30’s long hair was in vogue. Now women had to figure out what to do with their long straight or wavy hair. Women would curl their wet hair around a finger and the style became known as the “finger wave.” After they took their finger out the curl dropped and never lasted too long. Another method used “The Finger Wave.” After a woman curled her hair around her finger she would then apply a wave lotion and then use bobby pins to make the curls secure. She would let her hair dry overnight and then In the morning took the pins out. If a woman wanted to have a dramatic appearance she left the curls in place. For a softer look, she would brush her hair so the waves were not so tight. For a tighter curl, the hair was curled using the “Marcel Wave.” This was done with a heated curling iron that made the wave lasted longer.

  Again, women wanted to emulate their favorite Hollywood film stars like Ginger Rogers, Greta Garbo or Marlene Dietrich. If a woman could afford it she went to a salon each week or styled her hair at home. If she did it at home the outcome never looked like a salon style.

  One of the most popular styles of the decade was the Pageboy. Greta Garbo wore her hair in a straight pageboy and Bette Davis and Katharine Hepburn had very long wavy pageboy styles. It was very easy to style just make a side part and then curl the ends of the hair.

  To make women’s hair seem more glamorous they died their hair with Henna. The preferred color was platinum blonde like Jean Harlow and Ginger Rogers. Anyone in the general public that colored their hair was thought of as a woman of ill repute. A funny phrase meaning that the lady was not a good woman.

  Permanent waves were also the rage during the decade. Women with straight hair wanted curls so that they could look like a film star. Permanents could also make curly hair straight. Many women went to the salon for a cut, set and style every week. Every three months they had their hair dyed and permed.

  Hair accessories were very common in the 30’s. Women wore silk or fake flowers, bows, headbands and hair clips in their long pageboys. Bette Davis wore a detachable braid across the top of her head. These accessories assisted women to look and feel different about their appearance. Barrettes were fashionable and useful. Small ones were used to keeping their hair off their forehead and large ones at the back of the head.  

Many people say I look like my Aunt Vicky. Maybe this is why I think of her so often. When she flew her plane in the 30’s her light blonde hair was covered by her helmet. The late 20’s and 30’s were the start of women air races. The first all-women air race in 1929 was a cross country race stopping at various towns. At these stops, city officials wined and dined them. I wonder what their hair looked like when they took off their helmets and appeared at these dinners. They never had time to fuss with their hair.   

  Women are foolish. You can’t go to a salon and ask to look like Ginger Rogers or other screen stars. You have to be yourself. Well, I guess, I can try a little. Maybe a wig would be the best solution for me.

  It’s amazing that 30’s styles can be found in vintage magazines and stores still sell vintage type hair accessories. If you go to a resale or vintage store you might find barrettes or hair clips. Of course, there’s eBay or Etsy.

  Each decade has its own distinctive fashion. I, personally enjoy the 30’s because it’s a duality of life. Women in abject poverty and the 2% still living a wealthy lifestyle. Both groups wanted to appear well groomed as possible. This was a way for them to survive during the dreadful Depression.

  The movies of the 30’s assist women to see how the “other half lives.” In this case, it wasn’t the half but 98% of our country. Film stars hairstyles could at least put a small smile on a woman’s face. Hearing her husband and children shout how lovely you look made life more bearable.

    After writing this post I think I might grow my hair medium length and buy some vintage hair accessories. I think that would be fun. I have very short straight hair so it would take a lot of time and effort. If I follow through I’ll show you results.












Reason for Head to Toe

Vicky in the 1920’s at the mansion Raymere. Wish I could see her hair under the hat.

  I never was a fashionista but since researching and writing my series of posts on the fashions of the 30’s I feel different. I never cared about clothes, hairstyles, jewelry, or shoes. Now I am fascinated by fashion. Today I couldn’t help look at a woman that had long hair and soft fluffy curls and I thought I’d l love it. Some say that trying to imitate celebrities is not beneficial. They say that staring at pictures on Instagram and other social media sites makes you jealous and anxious. Is it really wrong? I don’t know. Why not change your appearance if you can? Or should be grateful and satisfied with ourselves? Hard to answer. I do know that I am enjoying learning and writing about the styles of the 30’s.


Head to Toe: WOMENS Hats Of The 30’s

This is a beginning of a series of posts entitled From Head To Toe. Today, I am profiling hats…hence From Head To Toe.

Hats have been worn for centuries. Today few women wear hats except to church or weddings. The Royal Family still wears hats but that is changing too.


Vicky in her cloche hat and lovely fur


Some of the popular hats in the 30’s were the snood, cloche, beret, slouch, sailor, and the Juliette. Marlene Dietrich was known for wearing a beret every time she went out. The beret fits close around the head and is tipped to the side. It was soft to the touch and round. Women found it easy to make at home because it was knitted or crocheted with cotton fabric. 

   The cloche hat was made tight to the wears head size and was worn low on the forehead. Women wanted to imitate their favorite movie stars. Greta Garbo had“the look” that women loved with her slouch hat. The slouch hat had one side lowered and the other was pinned up. They sat somewhat below the wearer’s eyes and gave the women a mysterious look. They were usually very plain but sometimes had feathers. An unusual fact about the cloche was the message sent by wearing this hat. A ribbon in the shape of an arrow meant that the women were single but were in love with another. A tight knot indicated that said the lady was married.

 The center of hat making was Paris. Soon versions of these hats were found in stores in America. One of the most famous milliners was Elsa Schiaparelli. She made a crocheted mesh cap that was a comfortable style made to fit different ways for each wearer. It was called the madcap. They were an inexpensive way for women to look classy and wealthy women might make this hat out of silk to wear them to weddings and other evening events. Schiaparelli had an unbelievable imagination. She even made a hat shaped like a woman’s shoe. The heel was up in the air and the toe tilted over.

   The snood was a very popular hat in the 30’s. It was crocheted also easy to hold a women’s long hair in a small bag almost like a hairnet. It could be made of thick yarn, mesh or fabric. Many cover the forehead and fit behind the ears. In the 30’s a woman might be cleaning the house and want to keep her hair out of her eyes. 

    Many hats have an old history. The slouch hat dates back thousands of years. It was worn by royalty and upper-class citizens. It has one side that drops down and the other is placed high near the crown. The sailor cap dates back to the nineteenth-century naval uniforms. They were made of straw and worn at informal occasions. It was a good way to keep the sun out of their eyes. The Juliette hat was named for Romeo and Juliet. Many times it was worn with a veil that sometimes came down to keep the eyes from sunlight. It was fun to wear and made people laugh.  The Robin Hood hat caused women to be noticed and they were. It made women look taller because the top of the hat was pointed and had a feather pointing out of the hat.

   Hollywood screen idols influenced the types of hats women wore. Greta Garbo, Gypsy Rose Lee, and May West wore hats that related to the Victorian Era. The Victorian bonnet, the Cartwheel, and the Empress Eugenie hats were the most popular. These hats were worn in period dramas like the movie Romance made in 1930. It looked like the hat worn by the Empress when she went riding. It was made of felt and like most hats of the 30’s and had few decorations.

  Pillbox hats were invented in the 30’s. They were small and had no brim and had a flat crown. Clean lines added to the elegance its.  They were made of many materials like wool, organdy or mink. The solid colors made them look very classical. Jacquelin Kennedy popularized this hat in the 60’s.

Hats of the 30’s were identified by the wearers’ initials stitched inside the hat. This was a free service given to customers by many stores. That was a wonderful way to identify their hat.

  Hope you enjoyed a look at a long-ago decade. Incredibly, today you can buy these hat styles at stores like Macy’s, Nordstrom, Target or even at resale or vintage shops.  Imagine that you can look classy and elegant like the movie stars you admired.







The Rich Versus The Poor During The Depression


High Society women lived well even during the Depression.

Most people lived in poverty 



The culture of the 30’s changed in many ways because of the Depression. It was a time of austerity and wealth.  Only a small % of the population lived in the high society. Most lived abject poverty.

Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh, and Katherine Hepburn represented glamour and women wanted to emulate them. The stars were pictured in many magazines but women could only stare at them. Most could never achieve the looks of these famous people. Women used accessories like jewelry, belts and appear like their screen idols.

There was an incredible disparity between the rich and the wealthy during the depression. Those in high society barely noticed the horrors of poverty that the average person endured. The rich lived in their own little world of excitement and fun. Many still had an incredible amount of money during the depression. Most people weren’t aware of the wealthy people because they were just trying to survive. They couldn’t imagine that they would ever that they could climb out poverty. Incredibly, this small percentage of rich people did exist. 

 Screen stars like Greta Garbo, Vivien Leigh and Claudette Colbert represented glamour and rich women wanted to emulate them. Even the wealthy used accessories to enhance their look. Belts, jewelry, and hats were used on a regular basis by those that could afford these extras.

  They were able to afford some of these expensive styles but women living in poverty could never imagine wearing those clothes or any accessories. These accessories made many women feel like they were wearing different clothing.

  Women found ways to be frugal by wearing two-piece suits. This would allow women to change tops or skirts for different occasions. Women felt they had new clothes. Women’s coats during the depression were perfect for the frugal. The wealthy wore detachable fur collars and made it appear like two coats.  Spring brought rain and high society women used clear umbrellas so their exquisite and stylish clothes could be seen underneath the umbrella.

  Wealthy men wanted to look like Cary Grant, James Stewart or Clark Gable. They wanted to dress like them, act like them or even imitate their talk. Men wore raccoon coats because they rode in open cars and had to protect themselves in inclement weather. These coats were the rage of the era while the men living in poverty were lucky to have a light coat.

  Men of great wealth always wore a suit. They were made to make men look more manly. The bought were very long to make seem strong and tall. Men who lived in poverty didn’t worry about looking more manly. Most of them didn’t even have any suits. They wore ill-fitting clothes because they never had the money to buy new clothes. They were just grateful to feed and clothe their wives and children.

  Men in poor families found jobs where physical strength was needed. They became dirty and needed strong clothes to be farmers, construction workers or minors. These clothes were called overalls.    

  Children learned to play by using their imagination. Rich families bought their kids Mickey Mouse dolls or even a Buck Rogers ray gun.  Boys and girls played with Tinker Toy Construction Sets, toy trains and Lincoln Logs. Poor families couldn’t afford to buy store bought toys for their children so they gave them old toys from siblings. These children played with finger paint, marbles and jacks.

  Children’s clothing depended on the parents’ monetary situation. If the parents were wealthy their children dressed as the child stars of Hollywood like Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and Shirley Temple. Poor families were not able to dress their children in the same way. It was common for them to make their children’s clothes. Sometimes they even used empty flour sacks for their children’s clothes.

  Wealthy Parents were able to buy their children’s shoes for play, school or church. Poor children usually went barefoot because the family couldn’t afford to buy their shoes.

   High society people continued to live as they had in the 20’s. Scions of industry like John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie came to see and be seen at the famous El Morocco and The Stork Club. The most famous socialite was Betty Hutton. She had the most lavish coming out party that cost more than $  60,000.

  Wealthy people could continue their lifestyle during the Depression where they could drink as much as they wanted. Those that wanted fun would travel by boat far enough from the shore line so prohibition laws wouldn’t apply. They partied, drank and danced to the best bands like Glenn Miller, Harry James and Jimmy Dorsey.

 The 30’s were the most unusual time in our country’s history. The wealthy and the poor never seemed to meet in the middle. Those who lived through the Depression era felt it colored their lives with riches or poverty. Not everyone was standing in line asking Brother Can You Spare a Dime. I don’t mean to diminish the horror of poverty during this era but we must remember both groups existed during the Depression. This reality was part of our country’s history.

   New York was the center of the cafe society. The El Morocco and The Stork Club were the places to see and be seen. Socialities, celebrities and those from aristocratic families lived lives that the rest of Americans couldn’t even imagine. The Waldorf Astoria-Hotel and The Ritz Hotel held lavish parties often planned by hostess Elsa Maxwell. These parties were the most extravagant of the era. Socialite, Betty Hutton was the granddaughter of the Woolworth family had a coming out party that cost over $60,000 in 1933. The rich and famous were in attendance including the Rockefellers and the Astors.

Wealthy, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst was losing huge amounts of money during the Depression but he continued to spend extravagantly. His parties were known all over the country due to the gossip columnist Louella Parsons. 

 The 30’s would be remembered as the of excruciating poverty and incredible excesses. Most people today only relate with their extremely difficult lives. Most don’t realize that there was a segment of the society that still lived the high life. The 30’s were the most unusual time in our country’s history. The wealthy and the poor never seemed to meet in the middle. Those who lived through the Depression era felt it colored their lives with riches or poverty. Not everyone was standing in line asking Brother Can You Spare a Dime. I don’t mean to diminish the horror of poverty during this era but we must remember both groups existed during the Depression. This reality was part of our country’s history.

The Golden Age of Radio


In the 1930’s people found an escape from their difficult times as they listened to the radio. Most families had radios and it was their favorite pastime. It became a family tradition for them to gather around the radio and enjoy their favorite shows. They used their imagination and entered a different world from the sadness of the Depression. Imagination can be a very powerful method to use your mind. You can see and hear things you might have missed if you only watch television. You can cry, laugh or smile as you return to a different time. Remember the days of old-time radio doesn’t mean you’re old. 

 These shows consisted of exciting adventures, comedies, and mysteries. A radio show “War of The Worlds” even caused panic in the nation. It sounded so real that people thought the world was invaded by aliens. That’s the power of the imagination. 

The public’s favorites were: The Jack Benny ShowThe Shadow, Flash Gordon, The Goldberg’s, The Marx Brothers, The Lucky Strike Radio, Bing Crosby and Judy Garland. Many performers started in Vaudeville, then radio and then some became popular on television and in movies.

Chuck Schaden, a broadcaster and old-time radio historian hosted the radio show Those Were The Days from 1974 to 2005 when he retired. Steve Darnell is the current host and publisher of the Golden Age of Radio. He also writes about his favorite subject Old-Time Radio in the Nostalgic Digest Magazine  You can listen to Steve Darnell every Saturday live from 1 to 5 pm on WDCB 90.90 FM in Chicago and nationwide.  

Some of these shows are available at your local library. If they don’t have them librarians may be able to order them through Inter-Library Loan. This is a service where libraries can search other libraries that might have what you want. Groups of performers entertain at libraries so you can listen to them read scripts of your best-loved shows. Today’s technology allows you to learn interesting facts about the programs and the performers on podcasts. Podcasts are like videos without the pictures. Some retail stores also sell Old Time Radio CD’s or cassette tapes. You can also purchase them online or on Ebay. If technology isn’t “your thing” that’s okay just listen to the radio show I mentioned.

So sit back and relive your memories. Introduce these shows to your children and grandchildren and share your life with them. Maybe they will enjoy this new form of entertainment and spend less time watching television or texting. You might be surprised children might even learn to enjoy the shows. If they don’t like them find joy in them yourself.

Cynthia Florsheim


The Social History of the 1930’s


Aunt Vicky in the 1920’s

Vicky in the 1930′s

I haven’t written a blog post in a long time because I have been working on my novel. Now, I want to change directions and write about the cultural history of the 1930’s. This is the decade I when my Aunt Vicky was a pilot. I will write about the cultural trends of women, men, children, fashion, entertainment, transportation, living conditions, and leisure activities during the Depression. I will not write about the changes every year but the general changes of the entire decade. When they left that world they also changed.

 I wish I knew my aunt in that era but I wasn’t even born then. I rely on her memorabilia and believe that she would have easily adapted to the new norms. So many others in every field learned that change is not always bad sometimes it is good. How can that be true? People were without jobs, losing their homes and had a difficult time surviving. Maybe, the Depression might have made families closer together. They needed each other like never before.

 Those who lived through the Depression probably think I am definitely wrong. I did not live in that era and my parents never talked about it in front of me. I only remember a few things that they mentioned but the comments were sparse. I am a “baby boomer” so I knew very little about the Depression. As I researched I found glimmers of hope in this horrible time.

 I will not be talking about the sad depression but the way people escaped into a happier place for a short time. Not all people were standing in line “Brother Can You Spare a Dime.”

 The women pilots of the 1930’s wore flying attire but after they stopped flying some went back to a more normal life. Some married and had children and some went to work.

 Vicky must have been aware of the fashions she saw in magazines, newspapers and on the screen. Maybe Vicky and so many other women felt it was a time for a change in their lives. They wanted to look like the movie stars that they saw on the screen and in magazines. These influenced women to want to be different and live differently. Now life was more sedate than the excesses in the 1920’s.

 Some women’s fashions had stayed the same as in the 20’s but other fashions changed radically. Women wanted the look of elegance but finances prevented the average women from achieving it but they could enjoy the look from afar.

 Read and enjoy a glimpse of life in the 1930’s. If Vicky were here today we would possibly see a woman who embraced change. I am not asking you to embrace it but to learn about the social history you might not know. I hope your parents or grandparents shared stories about this important time in our country. I never had that opportunity so now I am reliving it with you.








Marion Florsheim: No Relation To Me

  Marion Foster Florsheim was a pilot in World War 11 but was not related to me or the Florsheim Shoe Family. It was believed she might have been an actress going by the name Foster and nicknamed “Faster Florsheim.” “Faster” maybe, because she was a pilot. I found her name when I was doing research for my blog about women pilots. Of course, her name caught my eye so I decided to learn about Marion.

  She married a businessman named Harry “Mickey” Florsheim. Marion’s, Harry was not the founder of Florsheim shoes. Another Harry Florsheim was the founder and he wasn’t related to my family either. 

  Marion was a member of the Women’s Flying Training Detachment that was merged into the WASPS. No one knows why she left the training program.  After being discharged Marion continued to fly as a private pilot.

 Besides being a pilot Marion raised, exhibited and judged Afghan Hounds. In my aunt’s memorabilia, I found a picture of a lady with an Afghan Hound. Maybe that woman could have been Marion. The picture was taken on the grounds of Raymere the estate of William C. Durant.  The women in the picture is more likely Catherine Lederer Durant my aunt’s sister-in-law. 

  She exhibited these dogs in many kennel shows and was photographed with an Afghan next to her plane. Marion brought a Fairchild Cabin plane and flew on a two-month tour of kennels and shows with her mascot Afghan Hound. Marion opened the window when the dog begged to stick his head out. 

  In September 1942 The Afghan Hound Club of America held a fundraiser for the United Nations War Relief in Darien, Connecticut on the estate of Harry and Marion Florsheim. The sanctioned match Afghan show rings took place near Florsheim Lake.  

 I started researching about my Aunt Vicky in 1987 and I found the address of Anne Lindbergh in a local public library. I wrote her but I never expected to receive an answer but her nurse said that she did remember my aunt. The return address was Darien, Connecticut. I mention this because it was also the hometown of Marion Florsheim. I don’t know if any of this is connected but my mind drifts to thoughts that Marian and Anne Lindbergh knew each other. Different eras but the same toney community where people might have been aware of their famous neighbor.

 Marion was a follower and a fundraiser for the activities of Meyer Baba, an eastern mystic. She helped arrange his speaking trips in the United States and meetings with many celebrities like Gary Cooper, Maurice Chevalier, and Mary Pickford. She often asked him about funds for events but he usually replied that he’d talk about finances at another time.              

  Marion was a very unusual woman who hid her work as an actress, her real name, age and even her reason for leaving the WASPS. Maybe, she was terminated from the service because she lied about her age. Today, society rules have changed somewhat but age discrimination still exists as it did when Marion was in the WASPS.