Thinking about different periods in history and their different women's hairstyles is a great way to think about the way women's hairstyles have evolved. But most importantly, different hairstyles through the ages are an excellent source of inspiration for hairstyle fashion in the present.
It's really worth thinking about different periods in history and the way they can be characterized by different women's hairstyles. For example there's ancient Greece and its braided hair, plaits and updos, the Regency period with its curls and of course the vintage period of bobs and finger waves, from the 1960s right up until Rihanna's undercut. Looking back on a history of women's hairstyles is interesting because you get to think about the way women's hairstyles have evolved.
But also, taking a trip through hairstyle history is a great way to find inspiration for the present. Many hairstyle fashions are reincarnations of classic styles of the past— the bob is a well known example and so is pretty much any retro vintage hair worn by Dita Von Teese. So, with a bit of careful analysis of history you might find something you like— something no one else is wearing— and perhaps even start a new hairstyle trend. Below are some examples of our favorite periods of history and some of the current celebrity hairstyles they've inspired.
Grecian Goddess Hairstyles
The Greeks can be thanked for a lot of things, and sexy braided hair is definitely one of them. There's a lot of great information about the various women's hairstyles worn in ancient Greece, and alongside loose braided updos and half updos, Beauty and the Bath also notes the popularity of buns and hair accessories like crowns, scarves and colored fabric. Check out Lena Heady's Grecian Goddess hairstyle in the movie 300 and for some more modern interpretations see our pictures of Diane Kruger's braided crown and Amanda Bynes' boho braids.
The Regency period (early 19th Century UK) was named that way because George IV was instated as Prince Regent. Popular hairstyles are said to have included loose buns, braids and flowing ringlets— many of which are also influenced by ancient Greece. Another popular look was to wear masses of curls drawn up at the back and parted at the front with ringlets left to hang over the ears. To see some “authentic” Regency hairstyles take a look at the 1995 film Pride and Predjudice, particularly Jennifer Ehle's hairstyle (Elizabeth Bennet). For a modern spin there's Alexa Vega's updo and Serena Williams' medium curly hairstyle (above). Don't forget Neo Regency men's hairstyles too.
Roaring Twenties Hairstyles
The Roaring Twenties refers to the buzzing cultural period just after the end of WWI and before The Great Depression of 1929. A hugely influential style worn notably in this period by film star Louise Brooks is the bob hairstyle. Some say the bob (thanks also to Vidal Sassoon) has since become a truly classic hairstyle. Louise's was a sleek and sharp bob and Katie Holmes kick-started the bob craze yet again a few years ago by wearing hers almost exactly the same way. One of the reasons the bob has been so influential is because of its versatility, a great example of which is Victoria Beckham's concave bob.
The postwar period is the Marilyn Monroe era of the late 40s and early 50s. This period has had a huge influence on women's hairstyles today thanks to the rebirth of burlesque performance— most significantly Dita Von Teese's brand of burlesque. Characteristic of the postwar are side parts, finger curls and medium wavy hairstyles like Ingrid Bergman's in Casablanca. Today, Katy Perry's hair does a pretty good impersonation of Marilyn Monroe's upswept wavy hairstyle, and Dita Von Teese is often seen with striking postwar curls pulled over to one side and complemented with perfect vintage accessories.
This is a selection of some of our favorite historical periods of women's hairstyles and their contemporary interpretation by some of today's most popular stars. Elements of the hairstyles shown can be traced back to these eras, and each proves how the past— especially fashion from the past— can be a great source of ideas and inspiration for the present.
Mod hairstyles originated in London in the late 1950s and 60s and gained massive popularity largely because of mod-inspired bands like the Beatles. Mod fashion was ultra stylish and ultra cool- kind of like the clean lines of the modernist post-industrial architecture of the period. Hairstyles were short, tailored and sleek, and popular examples were the bob (reinvented from the Roaring Twenties period of women's hairstyles) and Twiggy's crop. Today mod hairstyles have had a new lease of life in edgy bob hairstyles and sleek crop haircuts as well as the more Beatles-esque mop top hairstyles of Chace Crawford and Zac Efron (right).
The Flower Power era of women's hairstyles is the late 1960s and early 70s. Thinking back on this period you'd probably conjor images of Abba and the Vietnam war and of course... Farrah Fawcett's layered hairstyle. After nearly 40 years Farrah's hairstyle is nearly as popular as ever for women the world over, largely because of its versatility. For the best examples of today's interpretation of 70s layered hair check out how Beyonce Knowles and Kim Kardashian adjust their layered locks to suit their face shape by manipulating the placement of their part.
The 80s was a time of blow-dried bouffy hairstyles. Think frizzy Madonna perms, she-mullets and "new wave" asymmetrical haircuts. Some say that women's hairstyles of the 80s were largely influenced by the rise of TV soap operas and prime time dramas like Dallas. Elements of 80s hairstyles can be seen today in wavy hairstyles with plenty of volume and hairstyles with romantic curls. AnnaLynne McCord's layered curls (left) and Drew Barrymore's two-tone bob have "cheesy 1980s hairstyle" written all over them.
Many people are defining women's hairstyles today as the retro period of fashion. Retro means "relating to or reviving history" and if you take a look at popular celebrity hairstyles of the last few years it's quite clear how many of today's hairstyle trends are revivals of previous eras. (In fact this article proves exactly the same point since all of the examples in our hairstyles gallery are retro versions of past women's fashions.) Right now 1980s punk is coming back in a big way, especially obvious in Rihanna's undercut, as well as 1950s rockabilly- for example check out Sarah Harding's short trendy hairstyle.
Our selection of our favorite periods of women's hairstyles proves how the past can be a great source of ideas and inspiration in the present. Get inspired and try some of these hairstyles yourself using our Virtual Hairstyler.