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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Adventures in Vintage Hair-Pillow Soft Rollers

Recently, roughly 4 years after beginning my foray into vintage style, I'm experience something of a seismic fashion shift.  I was first drawn to vintage because of my love of 1930s styles.  Particularly the looks sported by Ginger Rogers and the fictional Miss Lemon on Poirot.

I sported 1920s and 40s looks too, but the 30s was my decade of choice.

These days the 1930s remains my favorite fashion decade but four years into wearing vintage I've realized that clothing from this era just might not be the most practical.  Authentic clothing that is 80 years old is extremely hard to find a very, very delicate. 

This dress only survived a few wearings before the seams became too fragile to wear

 Plus the repro options for 30s looks are limited exclusively to custom made which can be pricey and time consuming.   

So for those reasons I've recently been getting more and more into 1950s fashions.  Fifties clothes are fun and practical, there really is nothing more comfortable to wear then a full skirt, and both the genuine vintage and reproduction options are less expensive and more plentiful.    Plus the older I get, I'll be forty in two years, the more I'm drawn to fun fashion, particularly the whimsical novelty prints of the 1950s and the kitschy purses and accessories.  I guess I'm getting less mature with age.

This change has presented something of a hair crises.  I have absolutely no hair styling skills what-so-ever!   For years I had a pixie cut and didn't even own a hair dryer or a brush.    When I got first got into vintage I had a sort of short bob that could work with 20s and 30s looks and was very easy to style.

It worked for 50s looks to,  but I get  bored easily.  Lately  I've been looking at so many fun 50s fashion images that I'm really craving, curly mid-century hair.   My current dream hair is a 1950s style bob with bangs.  (Bangs are my gaur security blanket).

I love this ladies hair.  It's styled but not stiff.  

Vintage blogger Tasha of By Gum, By Golly has an amazing version:

What I love about this cut I think it could be styled for any decade from the 20s to the early 60s, and I certainly don't plan to give up my 30s looks completely.

I need to change my hair cut to get this look, and I'll need to grow my hair longer in the back then in the front, the reverse of what I have now.  However, length and cut is only half the bottle.  This look requires some styling skill and hair rollers.  I'm very, very new to vintage hair and my attempts are beyond amatuerish.  I joined the face book Vintage Updos For Modern Girls and those ladies are pros!  I've learned a lot but I still have a long way go to.

I began my vintage hair experiments with some pillow soft rollers I bought at the drug store.  I was hoping they'd be comfy to sleep in.  After washing my hair I just combed through some motions setting lotion and then twisted it up in the rollers (an interesting look).

I slept on it that night, not really all that comfy  but not agonizing, and this was the result the first day.

Not too bad, but not great.   Sadly by the afternoon the curls where seriously deflating.   I don't think the humidity helped.  

I don't wash my hair every night so that evening I just spritzed it with water to dampen it and then re-set it in the rollers.   The next morning  I was pretty pleased with the results.

It's a still a long way from perfect.  There is frizz going on and I don't quite have the curl height I wanted, but I'm going to keep practicing.  The curls don't seem to last long and I just don't love sleeping on rollers.  1950s ladies must have been slaves to their hair!  I'm determined to find an every day vintage look that will work quickly and well.   Any tips are appreciated!  


  1. Would pincurls give you a vintage 50 look. The hair is wound into a circle and held in place with bobby pins, so there are no curlers to sleep on.

    1. I do think they did them in the 50s and I have a pink curler tool from way back but then u have to sleep on those metal clips. I think those would hurt worse.

    2. I do think they did them in the 50s and I have a pink curler tool from way back but then u have to sleep on those metal clips. I think those would hurt worse.

  2. I imagine sleeping on rollers is pretty hard. But your hair looks fantastic!

  3. It did take a lot of work. No wash and wear back then.

  4. I love 1930s and 1940s fashions, but somehow I ended up wearing 1960s and 1970s. I am also getting less mature with age ;-) Would love to have the hair to experiment with but have to make do with my short hairstyle. I love your experiments and remember that practice makes perfect. xxx

  5. You might want to give a curling iron a try. As my hair has gotten longer, I found I could get a nice soft under curl with a curling iron and round brush. I think you just have to keep trying -it already looks nice though. My mom did pincurls a lot back in the 60's. Also: permanents became popular for this very reason. :)

  6. Maybe flat pin curls might be easier to sleep in? Secure them flat to your head with two bobby pins going opposite directions to form an "X". Covering it with a scarf while you sleep will help prevent frizz and also help keep the pins in place. I used to do a flat pin-curl set with good results when my hair was a little shorter.

  7. Have you tried talking to a hair dresser? There are some out there that do deal with retro styles and could help you learn the skills you need to recreate the looks you want.

  8. Yes, come over to the 1950s side, we have crinolines, novelty prints, and platter hats in spades! :D

    Seriously though, I think it's awesome that you're feeling a pull towards that decade all the more as time goes on and really like the hairstyles that you're taking inspiration from and trying to replicate yourself.

    In terms of curls, I used to (pre-wig days) use foam and pillow rollers a ton. I'd put them in slightly damp hair that I'd spritzed liberally with setting lotion (usually homemade from flax seeds, as my uber sensitive skin didn't like most store bought versions), then cover my head with a sturdy scarf, and sleep on my side (which, to be fair, I do naturally anyways most of the time) with one or two very soft, squishy (down or imitation down) pillows. Those things all helped to create strong curls the next day, even in my fine, bone straight hair. Getting an authentic 50s style haircut can help a lot on that front, too, if you can find a hairdresser who knows their way around such. Best of luck!

    Many hugs & happy Monday wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

  9. We seem to be doing the reverse, I started with the 1950s and have now progressed to the 1930s! They both have great looks that you can't help but love both.

    In terms of your hair, your second attempt looks great! It takes a bit of time to perfect any kind of curling, trust me I'm still working on it constantly. My advice for the frizz is make sure you wear a scarf over your hair once it's all set. It helps to stop the fine hairs being moved about in the night. Damp hair is better than wet hair when setting and if you do try pin curling, bobby pins are much more comfortable to sleep in than crocodile clips.

    Good luck with your vintage hair adventures! xx

  10. I think your hair looks great! I am totally useless with hair styling too, and that is making me think about the pixie cut option or going back to a bob. But I've only tried pin curls once, and haven't tried any other options, so maybe I shouldn't give up yet :P

  11. I commend you for venturing into hair styling! Like you, I feel completely hopeless at vintage hair styling and have no skills whatsoever. I do think your hair looks great though especially on the second day attempting it! I'm sure if you keep it up it will all seem easier as time goes on. Also, so glad to hear that you aren't giving up the 1930's style all together! I love seeing your outfits from this era! It's too bad there aren't more vintage reproduction companies that make 1930's style. I'd love to try 1930's style myself but wish there were more vintage reproduction out there for it.


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