Best Hairstyles From Each Decade
Looking for a little inspiration for your next trip to the hair salon? Sometimes, all we need to do is turn back time. From the 1930s pin-curled bob to the top knot of the 2010s, here are 50 of the best hairstyles from the last 90 years.
Whether your hair is long or short, super straight or tightly curled, you’ll find something to give your locks a hot new look.
1930s: The Marcel Wave
The electric curling iron, invented in 1924, allowed 1930s women to create their own salon looks at home. With the curling iron and plenty of hairspray, they could give themselves soft, full waves. Accordingly, the “Marcel Wave” was named after the inventor of the “hair waving” iron Marcel Grateau.
1930: Pin-curled Bob
Fuller hairstyles were all the rage by the mid-1930s, and pin curls were used to create volume. This involved curling a damp piece of hair, starting from the end and working toward the scalp, then using a clip to pin it to the base of the scalp and leaving it to dry. The simple technique resulted in a long-lasting look that was right on trend.
1930s: Detachable Braid
Braids were a big trend in the late 1930s, and nobody wore them better than Bette Davis. And if you didn’t have the time or inclination to learn how to perfect the technique, you could just go for a braided accessory. In fact, the “All About Eve” star reportedly once claimed that the detachable broad was “the greatest invention since the lipstick.”
1930s: Grown-out Bob
For those who didn’t want short hair, Ginger Rogers provided inspiration with her shoulder-length fluffy curls. It was, effectively, a grown-out bob with lots of volume added by creating curls at the ends. This made it the ideal trend to disguise split ends or less-than-successful, at-home haircuts!
1930s: Bottom-heavy Curls
If you had longer hair in the 1930s, you could still embrace the trend for tight rolls and curls. However, it could be a little difficult to do at home. Luckily, Hollywood stars like Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard and Joan Crawford often wore their hair longer with bottom-heavy curls, proving that you didn’t have to go short to be chic.
1940s: Long and Sleek
Veronica Lake bucked the short hair trend in the early 1940s. The young actress was known for her long, silky, golden blonde locks. When it accidentally fell over one of her eyes on a movie set, she created a whole new “peek-a-boo” style. In one memorable promotional shoot for Paramount, Lake posed with her iconic hair draped over a stuffed panther.
One of the most popular hair trends in the early 1940s was the pompadour, named after Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of the French King Louis XV in the 18th century. It was basically a tower of curls, piled on top of the head. Rita Hayworth, Ava Gardner and Ginger Rogers were some of the famous faces to model this look.
1940s: Victory Rolls
There’s no forgetting what decade was responsible for victory rolls — tight curls around the face and the crown of the head. Associated with maneuvers performed by World War II fighter planes, this style wasn’t the easiest to achieve, as it relied on a flawless finish (like all 1940s styles, in fact). Victory rolls could be single or double (with a roll on each side of the head), and stars like Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth wore this look with pride.
1940s: Bumper Bangs
Actress Lena Horne showed off impressive “bumper bangs” in the 1940s. For African American and Caribbean American women, hair lotion and hot combs were required to turn their naturally curly hair smooth and straight. It could then be styled the same way as white women’s hair. Wigs were also worn to avoid the hassle — and damage — of regular hot combing.
The iconic pageboy, perfect for medium-length hair, had a long, smooth, curled-under roll that carried from the sides of the hair right around the back. Like many 1940s hairstyles, serious amounts of hairspray were required to hold this one in place all day!
1950s: Poodle Clip
Named after the curly-haired dog breed, the poodle clip was seen on actresses like Peggy Garner, Faye Emerson and Lucille Ball in the 1950s. Apparently, three out of five haircuts in 1952 were the poodle clip. Jackie Kennedy sported this style when she married John F. Kennedy in 1953.
With lots of volume, backcombing and hairspray, the bouffant was a go-to for Connie Francis, Sophia Loren and Angie Dickinson in the late 1950s. This look was a precursor to the more polished 1960s bouffant. First lady Jackie Kennedy was one of the first famous women to adopt this hairstyle — hers had a youthful, relaxed vibe.
1950s: Pixie Cut
In the 1953 movie “Roman Holiday,” Audrey Hepburn started the trend of super short hair with soft, wispy bangs — and it has never gone out of fashion. Hepburn’s pixie cut is actually a crucial part of the movie’s plot because her character, Princess Ann, has her long hair cut short to conceal her identity. The haircut itself is one of the most memorable scenes.
1950s: Short Bangs
One of the key players in the history of bangs is 1950s pinup girl Bettie Page. Her playful, sexy mid-forehead fringe curved down slightly in the center and under at the ends. Other stars in the 1950s who rocked short bangs included Elizabeth Taylor, Joanne Woodward, Audrey Hepburn and Natalie Wood.
One of the biggest hair trends of the 1950s — one that’s never gone out of fashion — is the ponytail. It was popular with all ages, from kids to more mature wearers, such as music icon Billie Holiday. By the late 1950s, a long, sleek ponytail was a key element of her look.
Developed in 1960 by Illinois hairstylist Margaret Vinci Heldt, the beehive is one of the most enduring symbols of the decade. This distinctive hive-shaped, backcombed style was made to last — if you used enough hairspray. It was made popular by The Ronettes and seen on everyone from Aretha Franklin to Dusty Springfield.
1960s: Flipped Bob
For mid-length or shorter hair, the flipped bob was an easy but chic option. Women set their hair in large rollers to achieve the desired lift and flick up the ends, all the way around. Diana Ross, Jackie Kennedy and “Bewitched” star Elizabeth Montgomery inspired an entire generation of American women to try the flip.
1960s: Mop Top
When it came to men’s hair in the 1960s, the Beatles inspired many to stay away from the scissors — at least until they had a mop top. With its combed over layers and side-swept fringe, it was a world away from the short, sharp men’s styles that had dominated for decades. FYI, George Harrison named the style the “Arthur,” although nobody seems to know why.
1960s: Five-point Cut
The name Vidal Sassoon is synonymous with the 1960s. He was known for the angular bob in the early years of the decade, but in 1965, he went even shorter, giving model Grace Coddington his five-point cut. “It was an extraordinary cut; no one has bettered it since,” Coddington said of the helmet-style look, which had a point at each ear and a “w” at the nape of the neck.
By the late 1960s, the Afro was at the peak of its popularity. After centuries of smoothing and straightening their hair with products and heat, Black women began to embrace their natural texture. “In the 1960s, Black folks finally said, ‘To hell with that!’ After decades of subjecting ourselves to European beauty standards, we decided to take back our hair,” wrote Princess Gabbara for Ebony. “This newfound self-acceptance was widely known as the Black Is Beautiful movement, which sprang from the Black Power movement.”
1960s: Long Hair
Long hair was seriously en vogue in the late 1960s. Whether it was worn poker straight or straight at the top and wavy at the ends, it had to have a center part. Many women added headscarves or headbands for a hippie vibe.
1970s: The Shag
Jane Fonda’s androgynous shag hairstyle in the crime thriller “Klute” was a big change for the actress, who was known for her long blonde hair. But it was more than that. In an essay titled “Mug Shot,” Fonda told the story of police seizing her luggage on her way home from an anti-Vietnam War speaking engagement in Canada. They found vitamins and charged her with drug smuggling, telling her they were “getting orders from the White House.” Her mugshot, with her fist in the air, became an iconic image — and, according to Fonda herself, her “first hair epiphany.”
1970s: The Farrah
Actress Farrah Fawcett had a hair trend all of her own. The Farrah, with its feathered layers and statement bangs, is all about softness and volume. This bouncy shag style was the work of celebrity hairstylist Allen Edwards.
1970s: Long and Straight
Long and straight hair is a classic 1970s look. Born from the hippie movement, it was all about appearing natural — which meant naturally curly women had to do a little ironing to achieve the poker-straight effect. Celebrities like Maureen McCormick, Cher, Peggy Lipton and Ali MacGraw showed how it was done.
1970s: Disco Curls
Former Supreme Diana Ross (a.k.a. “The Boss”) has pulled off endless incredible hair looks throughout her long career. But her disco curls were hard to beat. Teamed with a sequin jumpsuit and false eyelashes, it was 100 percent Studio 54.
Women who wanted bangs in the 1970s had options. There was the “French girl look” — a long, highlighted fringe that never looked overdone, as seen on Parisienne model, muse and singer Jane Birkin. And then there was the All-American girl Goldie Hawn with her feathered bangs.
1970s: Two-tone Platinum
Debbie Harry’s two-tone platinum dye job (bleached blonde in the front and brown in the back) gave the band she fronted its name. Writing for InStyle, the Blondie singer revealed that the only reason for her two-tone effect was her “inability as a colorist.”
“I always had a brown underlayer in the back, and it actually became a style,” she continued. “Back then, nobody was doing that — had to bleach the whole head. But my two-tone color gave me a look, something to talk about.”
1980s: Jheri Curl
Invented in the 1970s by hairdresser Jheri Redding, the Jheri Curl (also spelled Jerry or Jeri Curl) became a huge trend when Michael Jackson adopted it in the 1980s (including on the cover of the “Thriller” album). The glossy, wet look was created with a two-part process — first, the hair was softened, then the curls were set.
1980s: Hi-top Fade
The hi-top fade, a long Afro on top that’s shaped flat and gradually fades to super short sides, was made popular in the 1980s by emerging rap artists and hip hop groups like Salt-N-Pepa, Doug E. Fresh and Kid 'N Play. It was also seen on many NBA players. By the end of the decade, the style became a more structured and even longer shape.
The mullet had been around for a while — thanks to the likes of David Bowie and Paul McCartney by the time the 1980s came round — but it didn’t really catch on until the middle of the decade. From then on, it was “business in the front, party in the back” for both men and women, and it didn’t matter if you had curly or straight hair. If you had the right attitude to wear the mullet, you could make it your own.
1980s: Side Ponytail
The ponytail wasn’t an invention of the 1980s, but it was revived in a whole different way. The side ponytail became popular for all ages, from younger girls to adults. And it had to be secured in place with a scrunchie, a large fabric hair-tie typically made with bright neon colors and patterns.
The 1980s waved goodbye to the long, straight, sleek hair of the previous decade and let curls take over. If you had naturally curly hair, you were one of the lucky ones. And if you didn’t, the permanent wave was your best friend. This chemical process, commonly known as the perm, altered the hair to create small, tight curls. It was on every teenage girl’s wish list.
1990s: Messy Bun
The 1990s gave the classic topknot an undone look. It was loose, contemporary and still super chic. And no messy bun was complete without a few face-framing strands hanging loose, as seen on actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow.
1990s: Chunky Highlights
When it came to hair color in the 1990s, subtlety was out. Geri Halliwell — a.k.a Ginger Spice — was the queen of bold, high contrast highlights. Other stars who loved this look were Kelly Rowland and Cindy Crawford.
1990s: Feathered Bangs
Bangs were big in the 1990s — in more than one way. Whether you left them wispy or plastered them with hair gel, bangs had to be voluminous and feathered. Britney Spears, Kelly Buddy and Tiffani Amber Thiessen in “Saved by the Bell” provided the inspiration for this epic look.
1990s: Hair Accessories
The scrunchie may have been left behind in the 1980s, but there was no shortage of hair accessories for 1990s fashionistas. Gwen Stefani, Drew Barrymore, Alicia Silverstone and just about everyone else rocked the tiny butterfly clip — or, rather, several of them. Oversized bows were also popular, a la Karyn Parsons as Hilary Banks in “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”
Braids never really go out of style. But, in the 1990s, there were a couple of leading braid looks. Firstly, Brandy Norwood’s micro braids — her signature hairstyle on her hit TV show “Moesha” and in real life. And then there were Janet Jackson’s chunky braids in “Poetic Justice.” Paired with a newsboy cap, it was one of her most iconic looks.
1990s: Sky-High Pony
The ponytail was higher than ever in the 1990s. Supermodels Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell, Sporty Spice and Madonna (on her Blonde Ambition tour) showed how it was done. If you wanted to make it even more '90s, you curled the ends of the pony and gave yourself a sweeping fringe.
2000s: Asymmetrical Bob
One of the most requested hairstyles in salons during the 2000s, the asymmetrical bob was shorter in the back and longer in the front. Sometimes, one side was longer than the other — basically, you could take it as far as you dared. Victoria Beckham was a big fan of this look, along with Rihanna and Katie Holmes.
2000s: Pulled-back Pouf
One of the unique ways the Noughties added volume to hair was with the pulled-back pouf. Bangs were teased, teased and then teased some more before being pinned back. The rest of the hair was usually poker-straight thanks to a serious flat-iron session. Add eyeliner and a fake tan, and you have a look Lauren Conrad, Hillary Duff and Nicole Richie would be proud of.
2000s: Colorful Highlights
Long before dying your whole head of hair every color of the rainbow was, well, normal, celebrities couldn’t get enough of colored highlights. Avril Lavigne, Hillary Duff and Christina Aguilera showed their punk rock side via stripes of bright colors in their hair. Any color was fair game, but pink, red and purple were the faves.
The must-have hair styling tool of the decade, straighteners made pin-straight hair a possibility for even the curliest heads. And if you wanted to mix it up a little, it was perfectly acceptable to only straighten part of your hair. Avril Lavigne, Mya, and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were some of the many stars who experimented with part straight/part crimped, part straight/part waved and part straight/part curled hairstyles.
2000s: Zig-zag Center Part
The center part was a mainstay of Noughties hair. But if you were creative (and patient), you went for a zig-zag. As seen on Mandy Moore and Christina Aguilera, this gave the illusion of more volume — and was much more interesting than the regular center or side part.
2000s: Light and Dark
Jessica Simpson, Britney Spears and Nicole Richie were known for their blonde hair, but they all experimented with a different dye job. Think brassy bleach blonde on top of dark brown (or, in Richie’s case in “The Simple Life,” black). Bold color contrasts were seriously on trend in the 2000s.
2010s: Faux Bob
If you didn’t want to cut your hair off, you could fake it with a faux bob. Kerry Washington showed how to do it right at the 2015 Emmys, and Catherine Zeta-Jones did it at Mipcom in 2017. The simple tuck-under gave the illusion of shorter hair without going for the chop.
The bun hairstyle is cute and practical. Whether you go for a top knot like Whitney Port, Vanessa Hudgens and Olivia Wilde, or keep it low at the nape of the neck like Uma Thurman, it’s an elegant way to keep your hair away from your face. It's perfect for parties and hot summer days.
It’s hard to find a celebrity who didn’t dabble in ombré during the 2010s. It was so hot, it lasted an entire decade. Alexa Chung, Chrissy Teigen, J.Lo, Miley Cyrus and Jessica Alba are just some of the many A-listers who followed the trend of natural roots gradually fading to lighter ends — and an entire generation of young women followed suit.
2010s: Natural Texture
An appreciation of all things natural grew during the 2010s, and hair was no exception. Whether your hair was short and curly or long and wavy (or somewhere in between), this was the decade to show it off with pride, a la Ciara and Sandra Oh.
If you weren’t a natural redhead in the 2010s, you faked it. And the beauty of this trend is that there’s a huge spectrum of tones — from Rihanna’s fire engine red to Emma Roberts’ more muted choice. Meanwhile, flame-haired beauties from birth, like Nicole Kidman and Julianne Moore, embraced what was naturally theirs.
2010s: Side Angle
A simple, elegant way to add interest to long, one-length hair was to push it over to one side of your head. You could do this with straight or wavy tresses, using pins to keep it in place if necessary. It added softness and, of course, showed off a single bare shoulder beautifully. Other “side” styles during this decade included side braids (see Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games”), side ponies and side bangs.