The 1960s were a decade of diversity and creativity. They were years in which hairstyles, fashion, and trends were influenced by music, cinema, but also social movements and what was happening all around from a political point of view. Mary Quant lead the so-called ‘Swinging Revolution’ while Vidal Sasoon gave Mia Farrow what would become known as the ultra famous pixie haircut. Here is where we take a look at the 60s hairstyles and what made them so iconic through the ages.
The Background of the 60s Hairstyles
60s hairstyles have now officially become the most well-beloved hairstyles of the century, according to a survey from 2014. They are followed closely by Marilyn Monroe’s blonde bob and Elvis Presley’s pompadour, both of which are in second place.
If you’re curious which decade of the century came in last, it’s the 80s, famous for the mullet and the furious perm, as well as the age of glam rock, with its gigantic manes of hair. But the thing that interests us here is that 60s hairstyles were voted the best decade hair wise in the entire century. Why should that be?
What influenced 60s hairstyles?
The most important thing when it comes to 60s hairstyles is understanding where they come from and what influenced them. The number one thing that had an impact on the haircuts and styles of the decade were the movie stars. But the most iconic actresses that had left a lasting mark on women from the 60s were not your typical Hollywood divas. Instead, women found inspiration in the silver screen sirens from across the pond, namely from Italy and the New Wave.
The most important face of the 60s was arguably Brigitte Bardot. Her hairstyles were copied by millions of women across the world. But American actresses quickly joined in and started a new trend in 60s hairstyles. Examples include the forever iconic Audrey Hepburn, Julie Christie, Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Catherine Deneuve, and Jane Birkin. The latter also inspired the now elitist Birkin bag. But each of these actresses cultivated a hairstyle that was entirely her own and which would become iconic in the decades to follow.
Another major influence on the women of that particular decade was the First Lady of the United States, Jackie Kennedy. Who could ever forget or mistake the gigantic bouffant she used to wear? On top of that, the beautiful Jackie would perch her signature pillbox hat. Elements of her distinguishable style are still discussed and copied to this day.
Hairstylists in the 1960s
When looking at 60s hairstyles, it becomes crucial that we talk about hairstylists and their work. The reason is that they created some truly magnificent haircuts that were not only groundbreaking, but that also stood the test of time.
One of the most easily recognizable hairstyles of the decade was the famous beehive. A hairstylist in Chicago invented it and even though women don’t wear it anymore today, everyone can still recognize it.
The beehive was quickly followed by the pixie haircut. Vidal Sasoon invented and popularized it. He was the one who introduced very short and geometric hairstyles to women’s fashion. Therefore, he revolutionized feminine looks forever.
But we can also mention some other equally important hairstylists of the decade. They created famous haircuts that have remained iconic throughout the ages. One such example is Louis Alexandre Raimon. He is the one who invented Elizabeth Taylor’s look in the movie Cleopatra. But he was also responsible for styling other famous actresses such as Audrey Hepburn and Greta Garbo.
One more perfect example of a famous hairstylist to whom we owe so much is Raymond Bessone. He is the one who trained the now even more famous Vidal Sassoon. But Raymond Bessone is famous in his own right for influencing the bouffant as we know it today.
The hippie 60s hairstyles
We also have to mention the influential part that music played when it comes to 60s hairstyles. Copying the haircuts and fashion choices of your favorite musicians and ‘rock stars’ as they were named in those times began as early as the 1950s. But it continued right through the 60s and even grew as a tendency. Music lovers as well as the teenagers of the time based their own looks on what their favorite musicians were wearing. As a result, they developed their so-called ‘street style’ or ‘street fashion.’
During this famous or rather infamous decade, hairstyles became longer and more carefree as musicians and actors reflected all the social and political changes that were happening throughout the country. Therefore, given the Peacock revolution for men, the gender revolution for women, and the sexual revolution for both genders, they started wearing carefree, long hairstyles. This, in turn, lead to what we now know as the hippie subculture of the 60s.
Hair Accessories for 60s Hairstyles
All the hairstyles of the decade were big. This is probably not news to you. However, what you might not know is that most of those iconic hairstyles were achieved with the help of lots and lots of fake hair. Yes, that’s right, your great-grandma used a weave, a wig or extensions as well. Most likely a wig.
But the difference between modern day and the 60s is that women were not afraid to openly show that they were wearing a wig. This type of hair accessory was common knowledge. Almost every woman or girl who wanted to be fashionable and have a beehive owned one or even several wigs. They were usually made of real human hair and women would simply pull them on, much like you would pull on a beanie hat today. Some fastening would be done with bobby pins underneath.
Apart from wigs, women also wore hairpieces. You can think of these more like bulkier extensions. They would be placed at the back of the head in order to add even more weight and volume to the preferred hairstyle. In this way, the hairstyle would become as big as you wanted it to be.
Not only that, but women would use these hairpieces at the back of their heads to create top knots or intricate buns. The extension could come in your matching hair color or in a contrasting one.
Headbands and combs
What is the first image that pops into your head when you think about 60s hairstyles? Is it a large bouffant, maybe shoulder length with the ends sticking outward and a head band with a little bow on top? If that’s what you were imagining, you are completely right. Not only did girls and women wear headbands in the 60s, but they also attached even more extensions to the headbands, to make their hair even bigger and more voluminous. The headbands were usually made of velvet and had a bow on top and a comb underneath. It would go into your natural hair as means of attachment.
Speaking of combs, women wore those too, as much as possible. The combs of the decade were made of plastic but they were very intricately decorated with such things as more bows, rhinestones, geometric patterns, and very bright swirls. Some women even took to wearing Spanish mantilla combs. Not necessarily because the aesthetic was such a crowd pleaser. But because these hair accessories in themselves were large and sturdy enough to sustain the massive beehives that would otherwise collapse under their own weight.
Headscarves and flowers
The look of the decade with 60s hairstyles and a large scarf tied on top is equally iconic. Therefore, it deserves to be discussed here as well, for your benefit, in case you want to try it out or simply because you want to know more about it.
There was a logic behind wearing your head scarf in the 60s, as well as different trends. For example, young, hip girls would tie the knot of their scarf right where the point of their chin ended. This was done to differentiate themselves from their mothers who used to tie their scarves under their chin. As small as this may seem to us today, it was a sign of rebellion to them.
But women also used to tie their scarves at the back of their heads with the knot placed right where the nape is. This also meant that the scarf stood very high up as it would need to cover the entirety of the massive beehive.
In the second part of the 60s, the flower power movement took off and the world first took notice of the so-called hippies. That’s when flowers, leather bands, and feathers started to appear as a fashionable hair accessory for both men and women.
The Most Important 60s Hairstyles
As mentioned earlier, the 60s have been named the best decade of the 20th century in terms of hair. So let’s take a look at some of the most famous hairstyles and haircuts that came out of the iconic years.
This was a hairstyle that continued the big, bouffant haircuts of the late decade before. All through the 1960s, however, the bouffant varied in size and shape. It went from a rounded hairstyle to a vast one, that looks a bit over sized and curious today.
Still, back in that period, the bouffant was enormously popular and it was one of those updos that was worn by women of all ages. Not to mention that it was rather easy to create on your own, at home.
The first thing you needed to do if you wanted a bouffant was to set all your hair in rollers. This is what created the large volume as well as the iconic curl. You would then have to backcomb the hair away from the face and onto the dome of the head, toward the nape. The exterior of the hairstyle had to be as smooth and sleek as possible, but also very rounded.
The ends were a very important part of the bouffant. But you did have a choice. Meaning that you could flip them outward or smooth them in as for the pageboy haircut. Of course, a lot of women would add hairpieces on top of their bouffants to make the hair even bigger and bulkier, especially at the back.
Some of the most famous bouffants of the age include the one worn by Jackie Kennedy, Dusty Springfield or by the band The Supremes.
60s Hairstyles – the Beehive
The beehive is arguably the most famous of all 60s hairstyles. And for good reason. It’s not just a hairdo anymore, but it has becomes more of a symbol of the decade. However, one should note that women wore the beehive mostly throughout the early years of that decade. This hairstyle was later replaced by the pixie cut and ultimately by longer hairstyles, as the hippie era rolled in during the last years of the 60s.
So what was the beehive? It was a very high and impressive hairstyle named thus because it resembled, you’ve guessed it, a beehive. This means that women would create a large funnel of hair right on top of their heads. It was cylindrical in shape but with a rounded top. Of course, the bigger and higher it could go, the better. This funnel of hair had to stand on its own. Therefore, it was doused in hairspray so that it could last for days on end.
Who invented the beehive?
Most specialists and historians credit a woman called Margaret Vinci Heldt for coming up with the beehive. She owned a hair salon called Margaret Vinci Coiffures in Chicago, Illinois. Margaret came up with the hairstyle after she was asked to do so by the Modern Beauty Salon magazine. The editors wanted a new look for women for the decade. Therefore, in 1960, Margaret proudly came up with the beehive.
But nobody could have guessed how popular the beehive would become. Everyone picked it up, from regular women in small towns to major celebrities in Hollywood such as Dusty Springfield and Audrey Hepburn.
The beehive was later crossed with the low ponytail and the half up half down was born. This was a pretty and feminine style preferred by the likes of The Ronettes and Brigitte Bardot who made it incredibly famous. The half up half down with a beehive can still be seen today on runways and the red carpet when certain actresses want to recreate a 60s look.
Short 60s Hairstyles
Let’s talk about pixie cuts! They might look modern, but they’re not. Pixie cuts, as well as an entire plethora of other geometric 60s hairstyles come from that decade.
Even though rooted a little earlier in the 1950s, the now ultra famous pixie haircut became world known as a 60s hairstyle mainly because that’s when hairstylist Vidal Sasoon pioneered it. He came up with the idea that he would like to give actress Mia Farrow a super short and architectural haircut to make her look very fragile for her movie, Rosemary’s Baby.
Of course, in hindsight, that was a stroke of genius on Vidal Sasoon’s part and a fantastic decision on Mia Farrow’s part for accepting. However, people in the 60s didn’t se it that way. Much later, in 1997, Mia Farrow wrote her autobiography. In the book, the actress revealed that she actually got the pixie haircut before the filming for Rosemary’s Baby even began.
At that point in time, Farrow was still filming for a show called Peyton’s Place. Seeing as she didn’t ask for permission, as would have been customary, and she got a haircut that was meant only for men, Farrow received a lot of criticism. As she recalls in her book, absolutely everyone hated the pixie haircut. Here is an actual quote from her autobiography on the matter of the hairstyle.
“I didn’t ask for permission because I knew I wouldn’t get it. It looked fine to me. But the hairdresser was aghast, and the producers were upset, and people with wigs were summoned, and there were stern lectures about responsibility, and I apologised a lot, but privately I couldn’t see a problem.”
The Ponytail Hairstyle
Another major look when it comes to 60s hairstyles was the ponytail. To girls and women all around the world today, the ponytail has become more of a utilitarian hairstyle. In the sense that we wear it because it’s basic and extremely easy to do. We also wear it when we have a bad hair day or when we haven’t washed our lovely tresses. Not to mention that the ponytail is, probably, the first ever hairstyle we learn how to create as little girls.
However, as far as 60s hairstyles go, the ponytail had far greater aesthetic purposes. Far from being just a go-to solution when your hair is a little greasy at the roots, the ponytail was a pretty and very feminine hairstyle that all girls loved. It was usually paired with a bouffant at the front or a beehive at the back. Girls also decorated their high ponytails with all sorts of bows and ribbons, as it was the fashion in the 60s.
What about you?
Are you just as crazy about 60s hairstyles as we are? It’s definitely true that retro hairstyles have a certain je ne sais quoi about them that makes them timeless. Let us know in the comment section below what you love the most about 60s hairstyles and why!