Throwback Your Hair: 22 Retro Hairstyles

Do you yearn for the days of refined elegance when ladies dressed in gorgeous frocks, dainty gloves and immaculately styled hair? Here’s your chance to relive the hair glory days with this collection of simple retro hairstyles. The key to success with many of these styles is massive volume, controlled curls and a polished finish. Remember, neatness counts! So break out your Sunday best, your favorite red lippy and some cat-eye-sunglasses for a stroll through the park. Are you ready for your close-up?

Classic Retro

Q&A with style creator, Martha Bass
Hairstylist @ PURE by gloss in Wilmington, NC

How would you describe this look?

This look is classic retro style. I love how the plum color melt makes her eyes look super green.

Any advice for someone considering it?

For those interested in a vintage look, this one is fairly simple and quick to achieve. I use a 1-inch curling iron or wand to roll each side away from the face, then brush, tease, and spray with a workable hold hairspray. My favorite is Kevin Murphy Session Spray. A larger barrel curling iron works great too, and red lipstick is a must!

Modern Marilyn Monroe

Q&A with style creator, Cristina Mazzei
Hairstylist / Make-up Artist @ Urban Crush Salon in Winnipeg, MB


How would you describe this look?

I would describe this look as a modern interpretation of the 50s Marilyn Monroe Hollywood glam style.

My favorite part of this look would be the exaggerated “swoop” of the fringe. The color choice provides an edginess to this classic style. The rockabilly/rockabetty versions of classic hairstyles have been around for a few decades. I love these classic hairstyles with a modern twist!

Any advice for someone considering it?

The advice I would give to a client that wants to achieve this look is to consider your hair texture. Someone doesn’t have to have copious amounts of hair to pull this off. The hair should be able to hold a curl and loads of backcombing.

I used a working hairspray while I curled the hair using a 1-inch barrel curling iron on dry hair, then let the curls cool before proceeding with backcombing and putting it into its shape. My client’s hair is quite long in the back, so I used a hair net to control and shape the curls in the nape area. This provides the hair stability and style longevity.

The beauty of the various pin-up styles is that they are complementary to various face shapes. This is why they are classic styles, they make women look and FEEL glamorous! Who doesn’t love to feel glamorous? When women feel this beautiful, they float into a room. Heads will turn!

If someone is considering doing this style at home, I would watch pin-up hairstyle videos and practice the look. Find a hairspray that you like working with and one that will provide a lot of hold to the finished look. Practice, practice, practice, and practice some more, especially before a big event. If it is an extra special occasion, consider booking a hairstylist. Take to Instagram and look for people in your area that specialize in pin-up looks. Or book me! I have a passport and will travel! I would be happy to glam you up.

Fun Vintage Upstyle

Fun Vintage Upstyle hairstyleInstagram @happyhaircloud

Q&A with style creator, Sarah Vollmar
Master Hairstylist @ Looks Hair Design in State College, PA


How would you describe this look?

I would describe this look as a fun vintage upstyle. I recommend this look for a special event and lots of hairspray.

Any advice for someone considering it?

This look works well for blondes because it shows more of the detail of the work.

Classic Hollywood

Classic Hollywood hairstyleInstagram @wilsphair

Q&A with style creator, Wilmary
Hairstylist @ Koi Spa Salon in Princeton, NJ


How would you describe this look?

I would describe this look as classic Hollywood. My favorite thing about this look is that it’s glamorous, vintage, and timeless.

Any advice for someone considering it?

The advice I would give a client about this look is to own it! You will look elegant and anyone can totally pull it off. It’s so easy to achieve this look on your own and it works on any hair type.

If your hair is curly, you’ll need to blow dry it smooth first. All you need is a curling iron, hairspray, and a smoothing serum for shine. The finishing touch will be a killer eye wing and red lips!

Old Hollywood Glamour

Q&A with style creator, Abigail Whitney Mills
Stylist @ Tease Salon MKE in Milwaukee, WI


How would you describe this look?

Old Hollywood glamour was my inspiration for this updo. Greta Garbo, baby!

My favorite thing about this look is the versatility. You can dress it up for a special occasion or keep it casual. Either way, this updo is chic and fun!

Any advice for someone considering it?

I always like to start updos with unwashed hair because it helps maintain an easily workable texture throughout the styling process. My favorite product is a light hairspray like No. 4 Mighty Hairspray to spray on each piece before I curl it. I then backcomb while using Puff Me texture powder at the base to anchor and completely secure the hair.

As I said before, this look is amazingly versatile and isn’t for a specific face shape or occasion. I love being able to create and express myself through updos and I am lucky to be in an industry that supports such artistry.

High Fashion Rose

High Fashion Rose hairstyleInstagram @hairby_joeschmo

Q&A with style creator, Joe Szozda
Hairstylist @ Tease Salon in Milwaukee, WI


How would you describe this look?

I would describe this look as a high fashion and trendy look. High shine chic waves paired with the rosy pink make this a fun and flirtatious look.

Any advice for someone considering it?

Pastel colors like this don’t have a lot of longevity due to how diluted they are and life is short, so why not try it for fun? What’s the worst that could happen? This color lasts two weeks and then it’s gone.

If a client wants a more permanent pastel color, talk to your stylist about an at-home color regimen to help maintain the tones.

Soft Placement

Soft Placement hairstyleInstagram @megan.e.grimm

Q&A with style creator, Megan Grimm
Owner / Founder @ Style by Megan Grimm & Brides of Indy in Broad Ripple, IN


How would you describe this look?

This retro look was given a modern twist with a loose and soft placement. The wonderful thing about Hollywood waves is that regardless of how they are styled, the look always remains classic and timeless.

Any advice for someone considering it?

Because the Hollywood wave is so versatile, it is fitting for almost every hair length and every face shape. Its styling properties allow you to sculpt, shape, and discover softness around the face for framing. This styling does require proper setting to maintain the wave and curl. Depending on hair density and texture, certain techniques to achieve this style will differ. The distribution of weight within each curl and “S” pattern will determine the results of your finished look.

The best products and techniques to achieve this look include prepping the hair with a round brush blowout. I use my favorite styling line, Lanza Healing Haircare. Lanza’s dry texture spray is always my number one go-to for style prep. It provides light volume and texture and is great for all hair types.

This particular style was created with a 1 3/4-inch curling iron. The hair was wound back to its original curl position and set with a bobby pin for 20 minutes. Once curls are released, run your fingers through to create a loose, tousled look. Manipulate the waves of your curls to emphasize movement in the hair. I set this look with Lanza’s Design Fix Spray.

You can find Hollywood waves worn casually as an everyday look, or as an elegant formal style.

1960s Look

Q&A with style creator, Paula
Salon Owner and Director @ CHAIR in Georges Quay, Cork


How would you describe this look?

I adore this look because it’s reminiscent of the 1960s Woodstock era. To me, it celebrates the liberal revolution taking place during this time.

I’ve used a center part with a smooth, rounded blow dry to make it look effortless, while also allowing the client to recreate the look at home. This is something that is very important to us at Chair. The color was applied over a full head of highlights to create a multi-tone in this copper look, again lending itself to a natural depth. We adore vintage styling in a modern world!

Any advice for someone considering it?

What’s really important is to use a sulfate and paraben-free color-protecting shampoo. This client uses Bride of Gluttony from the Evo range which is all chemical and cruelty-free.

To recreate this look at home, I suggest rough drying your hair upside- down and smoothing the hair around a rounded brush in toward the face. This gives great volume on top and lovely sleek ends. Top it off with a bit of dry spray wax (we use Shebang-a-bang) so all you have to worry about is getting out of bed in the morning.

This look pretty much suits any face shape once you have the length to do it and the best advice I would give anyone wanting a hairstyle like this is to wear it with attitude. Love yourself and let others adore you! At Chair, we have no judgment policy and we are happy to celebrate you in all your glory!

Rockabilly 40s Victory Roll

Rockabilly 40s Victory Roll hairstyleInstagram @rachelnbettis

Q&A with style creator, Rachel Bettis
Master Hairstylist @ Ulta Beauty in Logan, UT


How would you describe this look and what is your favorite thing about it?

This fun loook is a little rockabilly twist to the 1940s victory roll hairstyles.

The icy lavender pastel color is probably my favorite thing about this hair because pastels are everywhere now. Plus, blondes can give more definition to upstyling. I also love the visual impact it gives, making the profile more interesting.

What products do you recommend to maintain and recreate this look?

Setting the curls is a must! I blew in Kenra Thickening Mousse for texture and hold, then sprayed Lanza’s Thermal Defense setting spray for heat protection and hold before I wrapped the hair around a 1 1/4-inch curling iron. I curled in the direction I wanted to place the pin curls.

I always love working with a versatile hairspray like Redken’s Fashion Work 12.

What type of client would you recommend this look for?

This style is great on many face shapes and hair types. It will all come down to how you direct the blow dry to manipulate any cowlicks and growth patterns. You can customize this look to fit your face shape by adding or decreasing height and/or volume. For someone like myself who has more of a rounder shape, I would definitely focus on the height and volume on top and be more sleek on the sides. This will help draw the eye up, making the face shape appear longer and leaner.

Super clean and fine hair can be a little more of a challenge, that is why I needed a thickening product to help give more texture on this particular client.

This look is great for weddings, parties, or just to vamp up your day job hair! It’s sophisticated and sassy at the same time.

40s-Inspired Victory Rolls

40s-Inspired Victory Rolls hairstyleInstagram @deanthestylist

Q&A with style creator, Dean Smith
Owner / Stylist / Master Colorist @ Sola Salon Studios in Highlands Ranch, CO


How would you describe this look and what is your favorite thing about it?

I love having the opportunity to do styles like these! This look is inspired by my favorite era because and is so feminine and glamorous. I learned from a teacher over 20 years ago whose big days were in the 40s and 50s.

Old school roller sets are the way to go, but in our modern salons it’s not feasible to have the time to do this. Backcombing and a solid roller set or hot curl set are essential for any retro style such as this.

What products do you recommend to maintain and recreate this look?

This client was attending a 40s Christmas Ball. I did victory rolls on the top and organized the curls through the bottom. I set her hair with a 1 1/4-inch iron in the front in the direction of the barrel roll. The front was parted on the side and from the back of the ear to the other ear.

In the back, I curled one section under the next section. Below that, I curled up and let the hair cool in hair clippies. I sprayed each section with MOP hairspray before curling. I backcombed to high heaven, then shaped and smoothed the rolls into place and pinned with bobby pins and hair pins.

Did I mention her hair was very long with very long layers and super heavy? It was a little daunting! She wanted to leave the back down, so I backcombed it all then smoothed. I brought two curls through the front that were smoothed and pretty. I finished by spraying with Kenra.

What type of client would you recommend this look for?

Shoulder length hair with layers is ideal for this look, but anything is possible! Any person who has that old school or rockabilly look to them would love this look.

Timeless Hollywood Glam

Timeless Hollywood Glam hairstyleInstagram @shell.vega

Q&A with style creator, Shellie Vega
Hair & Make-up Artist @ Urban Hair Studio in Austin, TX


How would you describe this look and what is your favorite thing about it?

This is a vintage-inspired Hollywood glam look. My favorite thing about this hairstyle is that it gives off such a timeless effect. The beauty of it all is that the classic glam will never go out of style.

What products do you recommend to maintain and recreate this look?

For this look, I used all R+Co products as well as Suavecito Pomade. The R+Co Death Valley dry shampoo will prep and freshen up the hair prior to starting the style. I used Grid as I curled each section to get a slight hold and heat protection.

Once brushed out and molded, I used Outer Space flexible hairspray to set and Suavecito to control any flyaways. I then finished with Vicious firm hold hairspray to shellac it all in place.

What type of client would you recommend this look for?

This hairstyle is extremely versatile and can be styled with many different hair types. It could work well for a variety of people whether it’s someone looking to be formal and classic, or for someone whose wanting to take on a pinup look and head out to a hot rod car show. The possibilities really are endless!

Elegant Victory Rolls

Elegant Victory Rolls hairstyleInstagram @bree_doeshair

Q&A with style creator, Bree Mutschler
Hairstylist @ 3 Little Birds Salon in Denver, CO


How would you describe this look and what is your favorite thing about it?

These are victory rolls! I love the elegance and timelessness of this style. It can be worn as a daily look or as a special style for a formal event.

Fun Fact: Victory rolls got their name from the maneuvers of fights planes in WW2.

What products do you recommend to maintain and recreate this look?

I used Kevin Murphy Hair.Resort spray to prep the hair before styling. I then used Kevin Murphy Session.Spray to control the style. I love the Session.Spray because it has a firm hold and memory to help keep the curls in place.

My secret weapon is a long rat tail comb. It helps me to keep my sections clean and create the backcombing that is so essential to this look.

What type of client would you recommend this look for?

For this look in particular, my client had hair past her shoulders. The beautiful thing about these vintage styles is that there are many ways to recreate them. Anyone can have a style that gives them a retro feel!

FLAPPER CURLS

Transform your little bob into a cute, flapper curl hairstyle.

Short Retro Bob Hairstyle with Curls Short Retro Bob Hairstyle with Curls Back View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Create a slight off-center parting and begin curling hair using large sections.
  3. Use pin curl clips to secure your curls as you complete them. Continue until all hair is curled and set.
  4. Once completely cooled, carefully remove the clips so as to not disturb the curl.
  5. Accent the fringe and face frame with a coiled finish.
  6. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy SESSION.SPRAY for flexible hold with anti-humidity protection.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for oval, square and round face shapes. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Accent with Kevin Murphy’s SHIMMER.BUG for that extra glow!

ROCKABILLY DREAM

Are you a bad girl at heart? This massive rockabilly-inspired ‘do will help you break some hearts along the way.

Long Updo with Curls Hairstyle

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Backcomb the underside interior of the hair all over. Sweep fringe and sides up and away from face. Create a slight twist at the back crown area for a side-swept look. Use a hair padding, extensions and/or gentle backcombing for extra support.
  3. Take remaining hair and backcomb a bit more. Next, take small sections and wrap them around for an accented touch.
  4. Curl the last few inches using a large barrel iron. Run fingers through curls for a slightly deconstructed finish.
  5. Finish with a hard hold, high shine hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try TIGI Bed Head HARD HEAD Hairspray for superior hold and high shine.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for oval, round or heart shaped faces. This style works best on thick hair.

Tip:

Sweep and wrap hair up to form a massive beehive look.

BRAIDED MAGIC

Blend the old with the new with this modern braided style interpretation that transcends eras.

Modern Updo with Braids and Curls Modern Updo with Braids and Curls Back View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold hairspray.
  2. Create a deep side parting and begin your braid on the right side. Use a large hair extension piece if you need extra support.
  3. Sweep the hair up in small sections, then wrap and twist strands around the extension piece. Gently weave through and around to secure. Use large hair pins or bobby pins to secure your style as you go.
  4. Finish off your braid with a bow-like effect by rolling and tucking ends in towards one another.
  5. Curls remaining ends and backcomb gently for a voluminous finish.
  6. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy BODY.BUILDER Volumizing Mousse for flexible fullness and hold.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for round, oval or square shaped faces. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Accent this look by weaving colorful ribbon through the braid.

SOFT FRENCH TWIST

The elegance of the French twist is gracefully transformed with a high volume finish for a truly retro-inspired look.

French Twist Retro Updo with Volume French Twist Retro Updo with Volume Side View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Take the fringe and side sections and pin away for now.
  3. Begin in the back by backcombing the base interior of the hair. Gather hair from the nape up, and twist to create your French twist.
  4. Next, move to the sides. Smooth hair, then gently twist and pin up leaving the ends out for now.
  5. Take the crown layers and gently backcomb for extra height. Take small crown section pieces and incorporate them into your look.
  6. Working with deep side parting, sweep fringe over to one side and pin up, leaving the ends out.
  7. Gently deconstruct the ends by backcombing to create your shape.
  8. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy ANTI-GRAVITY volumizer and texturizer for control with oil-free shine.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for round, square or oval face shapes. This style works best on medium hair.

Tip:

Accent this look with hair jewels.

PROM NIGHT

This radiant, retro-inspired updo is the perfect way to steal the ‘prom night’ limelight.

Radient Updo with Swirls Radient Updo with Swirls Back View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Create a side parting and begin curling hair in the fringe area.
  3. Take diagonal sections and curl hair using a large barrel curling iron. Secure with bobby pins as you go along.
  4. Next, divide the hair at the back and create two ponytails. Take the top crown ponytail and backcomb for maximum volume. Fan the surface out and smooth. Tuck the ends under to create the top bun.
  5. Then, move to the lower ponytail and backcomb the top side/exterior of the ponytail and flip up and over to form your second bun. Fan and smooth the surface area. Tuck the ends and pin as needed.
  6. Now, move to the side areas. Divide the sections into small pin curl pieces to accent your look.
  7. Finish with a hard hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy TEXTURE.MASTER Leave-In for big bouffants and beehives.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for round, oval or square shaped faces. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Accent with a small feather fascinator.

REAR VIEW HAIR

Wow everyone with this gorgeously swept-up ‘do!

Gorgeous Formal Retro Hairstyle with Side Part Gorgeous Formal Retro Hairstyle with Side Part Back View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Create a clean side parting and secure the fringe away for now.
  3. Backcomb hair all over for massive interior volume, leaving the perimeter smooth.
  4. Take the back section and sweep hair up, then gently fold and tuck ends under. Secure with bobby pins.
  5. Move to the back crown area and create volume with gentle backcombing. Smooth the surface and twist slightly, then tuck ends under. Secure with bobby pins as needed.
  6. Next, take the fringe and sweep it over to one side.
  7. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Oribe Apres Beach for touchable waves with beautiful shine.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for square, oval or heart shaped faces. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Adorn with a pearl-accented hair pin.

DINNER PARTY DELIGHT

Play hostess for the evening with this delightfully coiffed retro hairstyle.

Formal Updo with Fringe Formal Updo with Fringe Back View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Create a slight side parting and begin curling using large two-inch sections of hair. Begin in the crown area and work your way down.
  3. Alternate curl placement with horizontal and vertical-shaped curls. Secure in place using bobby pins.
  4. Sweep the sides over and back and pin into place.
  5. Smooth the fringe and sweep over to one side.
  6. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try DermOrganic Windswept DEFINING WHIP for separation and definition with bounce and movement.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for oval, square and round face shapes. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Accent with a little red hair bow.

SUICIDE ROLL PONY

Glam up the hot rod flair with this polished pony.

Polished Ponytail with Roll Retro Hairstyles

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Create a deep side parting, then divide hair into two sections.
  3. Begin in the back by sweeping hair smoothly into a ponytail. Secure with a hair tie and wrap a small strand of hair around the base. Divide the ponytail into three strands and curl using a large or medium barrel curling iron to form soft spiral curls from mid-lengths to ends.
  4. Next, move to the fringe area and curl the section from the ends up using a large barrel curling iron.
  5. Brush through the fringe and divide into two sections. Take the front fringe section to form your suicide roll. Then, take the next section and brush through to form a soft curl shape in the fringe.
  6. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy YOUNG.AGAIN treatment oil for smooth, shiny hair.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for round, oval or heart shaped faces. This style works best on medium to fine hair.

Tip:

Sweep ponytail ends up to accent the crown area.

ROSY OUTLOOK

Accent a sleek retro updo with a rosette-inspired braided bun.

Rosette Inspired Braided Bun Updo Rosette Inspired Braided Bun Updo Side View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Create a deep side parting, then divide hair into two sections.
  3. Begin in the back by sweeping hair smoothly over to the left side of the head. Secure as needed, depending on hair length. If you hair is short, you can use hair extensions to create your braid and simply wrap it around to form a bun.
  4. Next, move to the fringe area and sweep hair over to the side. Accent with some small pin curls.
  5. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy STAYING ALIVE Leave-In Conditioner for added protection and flexibility.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for most face shapes. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Accent your braided bun with iron-on hair jewels like Hair Charmsies.

FUTURE PAST

This retro updo offers some spacey shapes that make it out of this world!

Brunette Retro Updo Brunette Retro Updo Back View

How To Style:

  1. Prep clean, dry hair with a light hold working hairspray.
  2. Take the fringe and side sections and pin away for now.
  3. Begin in the back by backcombing the base interior of the hair. Gather hair and fold it over from the right to left side. Secure with bobby pins.
  4. Take the side areas and sweep them up into the style and secure with bobby pins.
  5. Take the crown layers and gently backcomb for extra height. Take small crown section pieces and incorporate them into your look by tucking and folding the ends under. Exaggerate the design by deconstructing some of the ends.
  6. Take the fringe and gently backcomb. Sweep hair up and away from face. Secure with bobby pins. Fold and tuck ends under as needed.
  7. Exaggerate the design by deconstructions some ends to create your shape.
  8. Finish with a light hold hairspray.

Recommended Hair Products:

Try Kevin Murphy UNDRESSED to create a loose, undone, natural look.

Best Face Shape and Hair Type:

This look is suitable for square, oval or round face shapes. This style works best on medium to thick hair.

Tip:

Accent with a sparkly jeweled barrette.

‘Show them what you got’ with these glam hair looks! Pin these retro hairstyles to your favorite mood board for year-long hair inspiration.