Popular Hairstyles from the 50s to Today

Our hairstyle is a defining element of our personality, and we won’t be the first to use them as a way to make an impression. In a sense, hairstyles have been the symbol of many rebellions, movements, and several other important phases in human history. We all like to look after our hair and have our own style, but there are some trends in this area of fashion as well.

Some of the hairstyles of the past have made a comeback these past few years, so it might be worthwhile to know their origins. Check out some of the iconic hairstyles that history has witnessed in the past 60 years or so:


The Pompadour

Named after King Louis XV’s mistress Madame de Pompadour, this hairstyle consists of combing the hair back on the sides, but also pulling some of the hair up on top. 1950s rock legends like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash popularized a greased-up version of the pompadour. While it may not be in vogue anymore, there’s no shortage of Elvis impersonators rocking the same style night after night!


The Afro

Although the Afro is popular among African-Americans, it is also common among other ethnic groups with naturally curly hair. This hairstyle is created by brushing out a naturally curly hair to create a “cloud” of kinky hair.

In fact, afros have become a kind of African pride symbol, with more people choosing to grow out their natural hair rather than relax it with chemicals.


The Mop Top

Popularized by the Beatles during the 1960s, the mop top goes by many other names. You might know of it as the Beatle haircut or “Arthur” (by many fans). Growing this type of hair was a gesture of rebellion among the youths during that time.

This is because the mop top left males’ hair somewhat longer than the traditional cuts of the older generations at that time. The cut also provided a somewhat androgynous look to males, which was less threatening to teenage girls.


The Bouffant

This type of hairstyle is generally characterized by piling one’s hair high on the top of the head. It is believed that the US First Lady Jackie Kennedy (later Jackie Onassis or Jackie O.) popularized this hairstyle, which became dominant during the 1960s.


The Mullet

A mullet is characterized by short hair on the front and sides and long hair on the back. This hairstyle was particularly popular during the 1970s and the 1980s. One very well-known example is the mullet sported by Fonzie, an iconic character from the 80s sitcom ‘Happy Days’. However, women weren’t immune to the mullet trend during that time either.


The Beehive

A rather exaggerated variant of the bouffant style, the beehive consists of piling the hair up on top and shaping it in a conical form that mimics a beehive. This as another favorite women’s hairstyle during the 1960s, as the beehive was popularized by the girl group ‘The Ronettes’. The late English singer Amy Winehouse was a fan of the Ronettes, which is evident in her beehive imitation.



Synonymous with the Rastafarian movement and reggae music, the dreadlocks consist of braiding the hair and sectioning it. Brushing, combing, and cutting are not allowed in order to maintain the hair’s length and knotted appearance. Contrary to popular belief, people with dreadlocks do wash their hair and follow a regular hair regimen to maintain the locks.

Like the afro, some ethnicities might make use of the dreadlocks style to signify their pride. By knotting their hair in this manner, they can control it without having to compromise the natural look. It might take a lot of work in order to keep the look hygienic, but some deem it worthwhile in order to maintain their identity.


The Rachel Style

The bouncy, layered “Rachel” cut was popularized by Jennifer Aniston’s character Rachel Green in the hit NBC sitcom Friends. This hairstyle is often paired with color highlights to achieve that famous look. While it was one of the iconic hairstyles of the 1990s, Aniston herself said she hated it.

Of course, this isn’t the first time that a celebrity has made a certain fashion popular. We’ve already covered how movies can become fashion trendsetters here:


The Pixie

The pixie is a boyish haircut for women, characterized by short hair on the back and sides and short bangs on the forehead. Audrey Hepburn, Mia Farrow, and Twiggy helped popularized this look during the 1950s and 1960s.

The 1950s was a pioneering decade for women, especially when it came to deciding their own hairstyle. If you’d like to know more about the hairstyle techniques and glamorous looks from back then, a reference book might come in handy. The Westmore Beauty Book is a great place to start, as it guides us about vintage makeup, beauty techniques, and several hairstyles from back in the day.

As vintage cosmetics are coming back to the world of fashion, you might want to check out this work as soon as possible. It’s available here for everyone who’s enthusiastic about 1950s cosmetics:


Feathered Hair

The inspiration behind the “Rachel” cut is the feathered hair, aka the feathered flip or “Farrah-do”. This was then popularized by the Charlie’s Angels star, Farrah Fawcett, in the 1970s. It is achieved by parting the hair and teasing it back, mimicking a bird’s feathers. The result is a soft, bouncy and flowing appearance.


Buzz Cut

The menacing-looking buzz cut is for people who want a low-maintenance hairstyle. All you need to have for this style is an electric clipper. From there, it’s up to you whether you want to shave all of your hair or leave some short bristles on the scalp.

Although this is mostly a men’s hairstyle, a few women have also sported this. These include Irish pop singer Sinead O’Connor and American actress Natalie Portman (whose character has her hair shaved off during a scene in the movie V for Vendetta). This particular style is also known as “skinhead” or “crewcut.”


Hairstyles might change from one era to another, but they might have some interesting stories behind them. There’s no doubt that both men and women have used their hairstyles as a form of rebellion in some way. Even if we’re only sporting a fashionable hairstyle to look good, it’s still an act of confidence and style to pull it off properly. Choose your favorite vintage hairstyle and think about sporting it on the next special occasion in your life!