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.