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Throwback Tresses: Hairdos on the Home Front

September 24, 2010

In the 1940’s, WWII took over every aspect of American life. Women on the home front were forced to give up a lot – including many of their precious hair and beauty products. Fortunately, ladies of this era refused to sacrifice that glamorous, silver-screen style that defined the 40’s.

Women styled their hair with simple rollers and pins to achieve the soft, romantic ringlets worn by famous Hollywood starlets. One popular hairstyle in the 40s was called a Victory Roll, in honor of the soldiers fighting overseas:

Dainty curls weren’t appropriate for factory work, though. With the men at war, women had to take over most of their jobs and were forced to improvise in terms of style. Following the lead of fictional icon Rosie-the-Riveter, women pulled back their long locks and turned colorful head scarves into a major fashion statement.

The chignon, a knotted style worn at the base of the neck, became hugely popular in the 40’s for its simplicity and elegance. The chignon is incredibly versatile, easy to create, and it works for both the office or on the red carpet:


Try this for a unique version of the chignon:

1) Pull your hair into a low ponytail.

2) Instead of wrapping the whole ponytail around the elastic as you would in a regular bun, split the ponytail into two sections.

3) Hold the first section, twist it, and wrap it loosely around the elastic. Use bobby pins to keep it in place. More pins create a neater style – use only a few to get that messy, natural look.

4) Take the second section of your ponytail and twist it. Wrap this section around in the opposite direction and secure with pins.

The separated ponytail and different directions create a more varied, interesting chignon. This style can be dressed up even more with braids and accessories, or left plain for a more classic look.

Women in the 40’s sacrificed countless luxuries they once enjoyed. They worked in factories, assumed the role of both mother and father, kept their families hopeful and created an unforgettable image that is still in vogue in the 21st century. 

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