8 Iconic Hairstyles Through the Decades That Are Here to Stay

8 Iconic Hairstyles Through the Decades That Are Here to Stay

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Twist it, flip it, flaunt it…. a woman’s luscious locks are as good as the invisible crown she adorns. The global lockdown made countless folks use salon closings as an excuse to give way to their inner hairstylists – as they took the creative matters in their own hands by giving themselves bangs, layers, colouring with pastels and even cutting split ends. We all have been there more than once in our lifetimes. Haven’t we?

Having stayed at home for over a year has made us absorb massive amount of content in the form of cinema, series, documentaries, YouTube videos, Instagram reels and what not. While few of them boast of the millennial type trends, there are others who stick to the iconic trends from the past. For instance, during the 18th century, Marie Antoinette and other French royals and noblewomen piled their hair sky high with padding and extensions, then they would add up decorations, such as silk birds and flowers, into their huge updos. If we are correct, royal’s reminiscent series like The Reign and Bridgerton played the retro hair game right.

The story of evolution of hairstyles have been beyond fascinating. Did you know that the oldest known depiction of hairstyling is hair braiding which dates back about 30,000 years. Hairstyles, just like fashion of a particular era, have been visual expressions of the societal changes during the time. (Remember how the pandemic gave way to the basic buns?)

We love histories and we love the idea of how they play an essential role in defining the trends. While we could go on about the elaborate history of hairstyles, we chose to pick our favourite iconic hairstyles through the decades.

As you read through, you may spot some of the hairstyles that resonate with period-piece movies and TV shows…

  • Sharp and Short Bob of 20’s

In 1909, Antoni Cierplikowski, also known as Antoine de Paris, a Polish hairdresser who became the world’s first celebrity hairdresser, started the fashion for a short bob cut, which was inspired by Joan of Arc. Popularized by film star Mary Thurman in the early 1920’s and by Colleen Moore and Louise Brooks in the mid to late 1920’s, the razor-sharp short bob with a straight fringe took the world by storm. The decade’s fashion eschewed feminineness and was all about dresses with a dropped waist and androgynous looks for women and it was no exception for hair. Masculine hairstyles ruled. The trend came back with Madonna adopting the look in 2006 and Rihanna picking the look for the music video of “Umbrella”.

Our Favourite: Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby

  • Soft Curls of the 30’s

King Kong was one of the biggest movies of this decade, and while the theatre lovers had their eyes on the giant ape, the film connoisseurs knew who the real star was: Fay Wray. She rocked the not so done hairstyle that became a hallmark of the ’30s. Looser, more dropping waves. As Americans got through the Great Depression, the polished bobs of the 1920’s transformed into a less sleek, yet still above the shoulder hairstyle, seen not just on Wray but on plenty of other stars of the time, from Bette Davis to Jean Harlow. Films like “The Aviator” and “Water for Elephants” also showcased curly hairdos of the decade.

Our Favourite: Fay Wray in King Kong

  • Bouncy Waves, Half-Updo’s and Farrah Flip of the 70’s

Speaking of messy, carefree hippie hairstyles, undone waves were popular ‘do in the ‘70s. Most women as an expression for freedom embraced the long beach waves and it was during that very time that highlights made an appearance for this sun-kissed look. As for the half-updo, women in the ’70s loved their beehive, a trend that originally broke out in the ’60s, undoubtedly inspired by the iconic Bridget Bardot. The Farrah flip, on the other hand, is legendary. Fawcett became a star when she was cast in “Charlie’s Angels,” and as a result, everyone wanted this hair during that decade and that continued well into the 80’s, too.

Our Favourite: Farrah Fawcett in Charlie’s Angels

  • Cute Curls of the 80’s

Whether you are a 70’s kid or not, it doesn’t matter. If you have had a music geek at home, we are sure you would have spent hours singing “I Wanna Dance with Somebody” with that curling iron you just got or the hairbrush, trying to match Whitney’s epic curls with bangs. Not just that, being the fashion fanatic that you are would you have missed Carrie Bradshaw’s epic curls from the iconic Sex and the City? Played by Sarah Jessica Parker, Carrie is first and foremost idolised for her highly coveted wardrobe and obsession for footwear, yet, the New Yorker also has a very versatile repertoire of hair styles on-screen.

Our Favourite: Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman

  • The Rachel and Box Braids from 1990’s

Who would have thought that a sitcom could inspire a global hair trend? Maybe not Jennifer Aniston. The hairstyle she donned on the first season of Friends in 1994 practically defined the ’90s hair. “The Rachel,” as it was known (based on Aniston’s character Rachel Green) was a layered and bouncy shag, adaptable to many different hair textures and lengths; Meg Ryan’s shag was a somewhat shorter version of the cut. Janet Jackson’s box braids were also a hallmark of ’90s hairstyling, where four strands of hair were woven together to create a geometrical box-like shape.

Our Favourite: Jennifer Aniston in Friends

  • Straight Curly of 2000

Wavering and without goals, the fickle half straight and half curly trend from 2000 was seen in mostly every movie and teen dramas. The noughties made it completely acceptable to have curly, gelled hair on the bottom, and perfectly straight bangs on top. While the older generations might argue that it looks a little strange with the sharp contrasts, most of us were teens and we didn’t care but styled it with the in-vogue low-rise jeans and polo!

Our Favourite: Vanessa Hudgens in High School Musical

  • Ombre Hair from the 2010’s

Ombré hair was another big hair trend in the 2010s. The trend had colour lovers during the decade – why choose to have your hair in one colour, when you can have it fade from brown to blonde, or blonde to any colour. Celebrities with long and short hair alike dyed their locks with the gradient look, most often opting for a honey-blonde finish at the ends or the one with the aqua tone.

Our Favourite: Margot Robbie in Suicide Squad

  • Bangs of 2020

A little delicate, but the style looks good on pretty much everyone. No trend was having a bigger revival in 2020 than curtain bangs, the dainty, face-framing fringe with roots in the 60’s and 70’s. From celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, Halle Berry, Dakota Johnson, and Gigi Hadid to popular TV characters like Marianne, played by Daisy Edgar-Jones, in the Hulu adaptation of Normal People and Cassie, played by Kaley Cuoco in the HBO Max miniseries The Flight Attendant, they have been super sultry, because one can be coy with them.

Our Favourite: Dakota Johnson in Fifty Shades

As far as the iconic hairstyles from 2021 are considered, we are still counting on the sleek hairstyles, the short waves and yes, the effervescent buns and braids. If you are keen on experimenting hairstyles at home this season, be sure keep our list handy.

Aishwarya Menon

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