Retro Revival: Vintage Coiffeurs Make a Comeback

As a longtime admirer of vintage hairstyles, you can imagine my delight in the recent resurgence of retro coiffeurs in fashion magazines. After so many seasons of unkempt updos, the return of polished hairstyles is truly refreshing. Below are just a few of the looks that sent me swooning, along with tips on how to achieve the looks yourself!


Veronica Lake photo via Flickr user Iconista, Lily Cole photographed by Anthony Maule for Vogue Russia via Fashion Gone Rogue.

FEMME FATALE — Veronica Lake’s iconic, swooping style is a sophisticated way for ladies with long hair to tame their mane. To get the look, part your tresses to the side and set your strands in hot rollers.


Audrey Hepburn photographed by Howell Conant via Flickr user Fred Baby, Susie Bird photographed by Thomas Whiteside for Elle via Fashion Gone Rogue.

TERRIFIC TOPPERS – Audrey Hepburn’s signature ‘do is accentuated by an oversized headpiece in this gorgeous photograph by Howell Conant. Whether you’re sporting a chic chignon or a closely cropped coif, adding a little something extra can take a vintage-inspired outfit from just OK to all-the-way. Try accessorizing your locks with a silk scarf,  vintage hair comb, or fake flowers.

CBrigitte Bardot via Flickr user Sarahhlove, Esme Wissels photographed by Adriano Russo for Fashion Gone Rogue.

AU NATURALE – Brigitte Bardot’s tousled tresses adds a hint of playfulness to an otherwise ladylike outfit. Muss up your mane by adding a bit of mousse to damp roots, blow dry upside-down, then flip over and tease the crown.

Hedy Lamarr via Flickr user Ondiraiduveau, Meghan Colson photographed by Ben Toms for Vogue Russia via Fashion Gone Rogue.

HIGH DRAMA —  Actress Hedy Lamarr smolders with chic style. Recreate this look with bobby pins and a heaping of hair spray — spray your locks with hairspray, set your bangs and ends in hot rollers, and then, once removed, secure them with pins.

Are you also excited about the return of vintage hairstyles, or do you think they should stay in the past? Which hairstyle would you try for yourself?

About Julie O.

A lover of all things vintage and vintage-inspired, Julie bought her first 1950’s frock in the fifth grade. Since then, Julie has become a self-described connoisseur of vintage and thrift shopping, which she shares on her blog, Orchid Grey. When she’s not scouring the racks for the perfect vintage skirt, this native New Englander can be found deftly navigating the slopes of a ski mountain, taking road-trips to the beach, and exploring new places with a vintage camera in her hand.

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23 Responses to Retro Revival: Vintage Coiffeurs Make a Comeback

  1. RBuccicone 01/05/2012 at 10:29 am #

    I’ve recently become obsessed with figuring out how to obtain the vintage look. It’s hard to do without being too outrageous and without making a statement. I always appreciate when ModCloth tells me how to acheive the looks.
    Last winter I figured out a 40s looking ‘do and was putting my hair in those sponge rollers every night and securing the front of my hair back with combs. I liked the look but it was hit or miss with whether the curls turned out nice or lasted.

  2. Eliza 01/05/2012 at 11:12 am #

    Ugh! Totally excited!

    My dad watches old football games as his hobby, and I love seeing all the vintage hairspray or fashion ads because they show such amazing ‘dos!

  3. livinginsong 01/05/2012 at 11:14 am #

    I’ve been trying my hardest to find a place online or a book that details how those lovely, vintage ladies did their hair. So far I’ve come up with nothing, so thank you ModCloth for posting this! I will certainly be trying these out!

    • Jill 01/06/2012 at 10:05 am #

      There are a lot of great tutorials on youtube! Try looking there!

    • Cherry 11/10/2013 at 3:44 pm #

      I have a “style me vintage- hair” book that has decent instructions. I think they even sold it on modcloth for a while. Also, if you have a specific retro hairstyle in mind, you can just search it on youtube and a few good results usually pop up.

  4. Beth 01/05/2012 at 11:19 am #

    Love the hairdos, I’m sure there is a style for everyone. Polished is pretty, and I;m excited to try some of these looks myself! P.S. Great blog topic!

  5. Elizabeth 01/05/2012 at 1:23 pm #

    It’s amazing. Just recently I was wondering about how to do the first look in particular. It’s so elegant, and I’m looking forward to trying it out once my hair has grown out again.

  6. Lydia 01/05/2012 at 2:26 pm #

    I have recently been experimenting with different retro inspired hairstyles, mostly variations on victory rolls and Bettie Page bangs. I really love vintage style (clothes, makeup and hair), so I am happy to see them come back!

  7. Lauren Mocny-Branum 01/05/2012 at 4:49 pm #

    Love that the polished look is coming back in just in general! Vintage inspired has always been my cup of tea and I am glad to see the effort put forth. Very refreshing.

  8. Emma 01/05/2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Anyone who wants to know more about vintage hair styling should check this book out:

    http://www.hrstbooks.com/vintage-hairstyling

    It is excellent!

  9. Lisa 01/06/2012 at 4:53 am #

    I’m still unsure about how to do the first hairstyle? My hair is not that long, it’s right above my shoulders, but I would still love to create that elegant wave at the top. I have wavy hair and a lot of it! So I’d probably have to do some sort of straightening before doing those waves for the first hairstyle? It’d be fun to see you all try these hairstyles! Maybe do some how-to videos as a follow up to this post? Would be quite helpful to a lot of us (especially me)! Thank you!

    • Jannette 12/23/2012 at 8:59 pm #

      That first look was done back in the day with pin curls on the top around the face, kind of a wave set with gel or mouse, and pinned in place. Then it was set with loose rag curlers around the bottom. Lasted for days. Even if your hair naturally will not hold a curl. trust me mine doesn’t. Great hair style!

  10. C 01/06/2012 at 5:56 am #

    I love the looks, but I struggle with the execution. I have thin, fine, straight hair and not a lot of time. My experiments with pin curls have been pretty disastrous. Sometimes I don’t even have time to blow dry my hair. That said, I’ll probably still try these out when I have time on the weekend and curiosity and vanity coincide.

  11. Brianne 01/06/2012 at 8:09 pm #

    I love these looks, but alas I don’t have the hair for them. My thick curly hair resists the straightener and simply refuses to do “polished.” I guess I’ll just have to admire these styles on other ladies!

  12. Lauren Helen 01/07/2012 at 9:33 am #

    One of my favourite vintage hair styles is pincurls – so genius, even if it takes forever to put in really long hair :P

  13. Jess 01/07/2012 at 10:48 am #

    These styles are absolutely timeless, thanks for all of the great ideas!

  14. ashes 01/07/2012 at 6:37 pm #

    Yes, LOVE! Ive been doing so many of these vintage hairstyles on my self (thanks youtube) and its so nice to see them getting more and more popular. I love doing all types of rolls and pin curls.

  15. Beth 01/08/2012 at 10:14 pm #

    I love vintage hairstyles. Sadly my hair doesn’t tend to stay even with hairspray. I love the fact that some of these styles don’t call for a ton a hairspray which has been the main thing many styling sites have said you need for these style. Will have to show this to my roommate too. She’s a theater major and I think this might be able to help her get the right look for some tryouts.

  16. Tracy 01/09/2012 at 9:41 am #

    oh, i’ve long admired the old fashioned lady movie stars and their look! So glad to hear that this look is coming back into style, as I’ve gotten tired of the stick straight trend, and have begun curling my hair again – nice to know i’m with the trends =)

  17. Brooke 01/09/2012 at 2:40 pm #

    Hot rollers have recently become my best friend. You can easily (and quickly!) achieve foxy 1970s body and curl, ’60s volume, that iconic ’40s wave and so on. Seriously, they’re awesome. I also love that I can leave my hair in them while I do my makeup, eat breakfast, or perform any part of my morning routine so it feels effortless. I just take them out and, voila! Movie star hair :)

  18. Ulia Ali 01/11/2012 at 5:03 am #

    People say that I look like Hedy Lamarr… And this is the most flattering complement ever :)

  19. Minda 01/26/2012 at 8:34 am #

    I love vintage hairstyles!!! That’s why I made sure I got my hair done with finger waves for my wedding! XD

  20. Liva 03/08/2012 at 9:46 pm #

    I have recently been invited to a party with a 1950′s murder mystery theme and we have to dress elegantly. this is a perfect hairstyle!!!!!!

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