Domestic Life in the 1950s

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What were the hair styles of 1947?

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Hair styles in 1947 America were a reflection of the major social transformations occurring in the United States in the wake of World War II and the return home of hundreds of thousands of military veterans.  The United States had emerged from the war a major world power for the first time and, combined with the post-war euphoria that swept the country.  War-era cultural restrictions on glamour – except in film – due to the rationing and austerity associated with the war-time economy gave way to what was called the “New Look,” introduced by designer Christian Dior, in which more opulent looks began to emerge.  Changes in hair styles reflected this trend.  While hair length remained somewhat constant, it was curled or rolled into styles distinct from those earlier in the decade.  Hair continued to be done “up,” but with stylistic differences, including the way in which curls were incorporated into the hair style.  A carry-over from the war years, when women had to be careful about containing their hair and preventing it from getting tangled in factory equipment, was the use of scarves to cover the hair, as well as the continued use of hats. 

The dominant, defining feature of 1947 hair styles for women, though, was the use of waves, curls and rolls.  Many women of that era wore their hair with prominent rolls front and center as well as in the back.  One popular style was referred to as “the victory roll,” in homage to the war’s outcome and America’s emergence on the world stage.  Others were copied from the glamour Hollywood actresses of the time, including Veronica Lake and Rita Hayworth.  Another feature of the period in question was the use of braids, usually rolled and set atop the head.

Hairstyles for men were, unsurprisingly, a little more subdued.  While men’s haircuts would evolve away from the military-style haircuts of the war years, the changes would mainly involve length – the buzz cuts required of military service no longer necessary – and the beginning of the incorporation of ducktails and thicker, slicked-back styles, although major changes in men’s hair styles would not become particularly noteworthy until the early 1950s, with the introduction of influences by entertainers and actors like Elvis Presley and James Dean.

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