1920s Hairstyles: Vintage Curls, Bobs & Updos

January 24, 2021
1920s hairstyles authentic
Discover 1920s hair inspiration.

We are living through the Roaring Twenties all over again, so what better time to bring back the style of the 1920s? One hallmark of the time, beyond the flapper dresses, was, of course, the distinctive hairstyles. The 1920s represented a turning point in history for women and their hair. “The New Woman” as she was called, cut her hair into a short bob inspired by popular actresses of the time such as Louise Brooks and Colleen Moore. Interestedly enough, some women reportedly went to barber shops to get their hair cut short since female salons were used to styling and curling long hair.

Related: Elegant Waves | The 1930s Best Hairstyles

We will take you through some of the most popular 1920s hairstyles for short, medium, and long hair.

1920s Short Hair

For those with short hair, the Eton cut was popular in the 1920s.
For those with short hair, the Eton cut was popular in the 1920s. Photo: Shutterstock.com

The Eton crop

This was the most extreme of the new shorter hairstyles of the time. It was called the Eton crop because it resembled how Eton schoolboys wore their hair – slightly longer than was fashionable for men at the time.

The Eton crop involved cutting the hair above the ears and sometimes even shaving it at the back, but with some free curls or waves at the front and sides to make it more feminine.

Medium Hair

The most famous hairstyle of the 1920s was the bob cut. Here it is with chic bangs.
The most famous hairstyle of the 1920s was the bob cut. Here it is with chic bangs. Photo: Shutterstock.com

The bob cut

Bob cuts were a huge deal in the 1920s. Women who got bobs were symbolically throwing away the old ideas of femininity that were tied to long, flowing hair. Bobs were a statement, and they told the world about exactly what sort of modern woman you were.

This blonde woman wears a curly bob hairstyle.
This blonde woman wears a curly bob hairstyle. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Bobs were either worn straight and sleek or wavy/curly. Women often wore bangs with them, either straight across or heart-shaped. Some women wore strip curls, which were sections of hair that were tightly curled and held stiffly in place against the side of the face with gel.

The bobs’ lengths varied from so short that the ends of the hair scraped the cheekbones to jaw-length.

Sleek and chic finger waves were a popular look in the 1920s.
Sleek and chic finger waves were a popular look in the 1920s. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Finger waves

When you picture classic 1920s hair, you probably imagine finger waves. These types of waves have a truly distinctive look that was so popular that they continued into the 1930s and 1940s. Additionally, they even came back into fashion as late as the 1990s.

Finger waves were created by taking sections of wet hair and forming an “s” shape. These shapes were held in place with gel or special wave clips. Once the hair dried, the hair would fall into even waves that framed the entire head.

Another way of achieving a similar look was to use a Marcel iron. This option was quicker, but the heat could damage the hair.

If you want to create finger waves at home, there are plenty of tutorials online which will help you achieve the look in no time.

Long

A pinned bob hairstyle in the 1920s was an easy way to get a short look for those with long hair. Photo: Shutterstock.com
A pinned bob hairstyle in the 1920s was an easy way to get a short look for those with long hair. Photo: Shutterstock.com

Faux bob

At the beginning of the 1920s, many women wanted the bob’s shorter look without committing to cutting their hair. These women came up with ingenious ways to make their long hair look like a bob. This usually involved arranging the hair at the base of the neck or putting into a bun. and pinning it underneath the top part of the hair to hide it. Women usually styled the sides of the hair with curls or finger waves.

Long hair was also popular in the 1920s. Here's a woman with waves and braided pigtails. Photo: Shutterstock.com
Long hair was also popular in the 1920s. Here’s a woman with waves and braided pigtails. Photo: Shutterstock.com

If you want to create a 1920s look but aren’t willing to sacrifice your hair’s length, this is an excellent option. Not only does it look just like a bob, but it is also totally historically accurate!

Final thoughts

If you want to bring a taste of the 1920s to the 2020s with your hairstyle, there are plenty of options. It doesn’t matter the length of your hair. From Eton crops to bob cuts, finger waves, to faux bobs, there is a 1920s hairstyle out there for everyone!

1920s Hair Now

Singer Demi Lovato channels 1920s hair with a short finger wave hairstyle.
Singer Demi Lovato channels 1920s hair with a short finger wave hairstyle. Photo: Tinseltown / Shutterstock.com
Actress Charlize Theron wears her hair in tousled finger waves in a modern, 1920s inspired updo.
Actress Charlize Theron wears her hair in tousled finger waves in a modern, 1920s inspired updo. Photo: Everett Collection / Shutterstock.com
Anne Hathaway wears a weighty bob haircut for a retro influenced look.
Anne Hathaway wears a weighty bob haircut for a retro influenced look. Photo: Jaguar PS / Shutterstock.com
This sleek updo hairstyle features a wavy front for a 1920s look made modern.
This sleek updo hairstyle features a wavy front for a 1920s look made modern. Photo: Shutterstock.com

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