In the 30′s the depression meant that there was little extravagance in the design of fashions. The coiffure of 1930s hairstyles was essentially defined by shorter waves in an array of styles. There were few women who wore their hair longer than chin length because beyond this, it simply becomes much more work to set. Hair was clean and polished as 1930s fashion involved a genteel, ladylike appearance.
The wardrobe of women of all social classes became softer and more feminine during this era, influencing the gentle wave of many 1930s hairstyles. Skirts were often longer in the back with knee pleats and with improved fabrics like cotton, rayon and fine wool crepes, apparel was made to highlight curves and add an element of sophistication.
1930s Fashion Trends & Fads
Fashions moved away from the rather daring designs of the 20′s and started to look rather more soft and feminine. The boyish looks of the twenties were left behind and the new designs embraced a woman’s curves.
Here’s a few images (courtesy of Wikimedia commons) of stars from this era, from left to right, Tallulah Bankhead, Greta Garbo, and Claudette Colbert.
These pictures are from the early thirties, before the threat of war was on the horizon and life became more uncertain.
Deep waves in the hair were fashionable – always allowing for the addition of the latest must have – a hat. Hats continued to be popular during this era typified by curving styles with feminine trims.
Toward the end of the decade, the snood was popular for holding hair in place while women were now working.
Following the stock market crash of 1929, much of the glamour was only seen on screen idols, whilst the reality was hard times for the ordinary woman.
Popular designers included Elsa Schiaparelli and Madeleine Vionnet created stunning designer collections, including those which mirrored the surrealist movement.
Soft corsets and bodices on evening gowns became increasingly popular in the 1930′s and halter neck and cowl necklines were really in fashion. Glamour was in with stunning bias cut gowns being introduced for evening wear.
This was the era that saw “fads” such as Betty Boop, Monopoly and Mini Golf. The Empire State Building was completed in 1931. Artist Salvador Dali and movie star Marlene Dietrich enjoyed great popularity.
With more feminine looks coming in and perms being easier to manage – softer looks with curls were back in.
1930s fashion was taken to a whole new level by the end of the decade when nylon hosiery was created which essentially transformed the lives of many women who were previously bothered by baggy stockings. It’s amazing how much more feminine you feel in a pair of proper fitting nylons! The zipper was also introduced during this era. This simple tool made it easier for women to get into their clothes without messing up their glamorous 1930s hairstyle.
It is unbelievable just how many wave styles were created during the 1930s and the fact that some were reserved for special occasions while others were considered more casual for everyday wear.
- Saucer Wave – This 1930s hairstyle received its name by the way the wave of hair essentially formed a circle either centered around the crown or off to one side.
- Finger Waves – When many people hear the term 1930s fashion, they immediately visualize sensational finger waves. These are created by making sharp ridges at various intervals on the head. Finger waves take a lot of practice and are still worn for formal wear today.
- Water Waves – A setting lotion is used along with a comb to create a wave pattern. When the hair is dried, the special combs are removed.
- Wet May Murray – This 1930s hairstyle was reserved for evening wear and it is said that it was preferred by smaller women who wanted to appear a bit taller. This was a combination of finger waves around the face, along with an abundance of pin curls.
- Brush Curling – Those who had thin or very fine hair often wore this 1930s hairstyle instead of finger waves. Brush curling offers a softer, fluffy effect.
- Bias Wave – This was a popular look to wear underneath hats. This 1930s hairstyle offered one side straight with the other side being biased, combed with the wave created toward the middle of the eyebrow and curved around toward the crown.
- Straight Back Combination Wave – The hair is brought back into a pompadour and then the wave is created from that point, traveling across the head. The single-dip, double-dip and quarter are all popular varieties of this look.
Other 1930s hair styles associated with the era include the coronet, debutante wave, swirl/semi-swirl, conservative half-swirl and pin curling.