The Small-Head Silhouette

Summer is coming, ladies! … Get in style with this small-head silhouette.

Big-head silhouette? So passé!

Side bangs with bob, circa 1922

A showgal’s dramatic ‘do … Anastasia was one of the the Ziegfeld Girls for five years running… all the talk of Broadway.

A lustrous wave

Divine––the line of her lips coincides with the wave of her hair.

A closer look:

Ingrid Bergman, Notorious, 1946

Did I say that Hitchcock only used blondes? Turns out he used a brunette too, and what a fine choice. Bergman (Alicia Huberman) is such a wonderful leading lady, she makes this film sparkle despite its mostly mundane plot. Her hair is wonderfully, elegantly, unwaveringly 1940s. What a joy to watch! I counted seventeen different ‘dos throughout the film!

Oh, if I could still get my hair to do this! Gracious, it is an elegant upsweep. She uses several hair pieces, hats, barrettes and accessories throughout the film. Seen above is a fabulous black sequined … well, I’m afraid I just don’t know the name of it, but it sure is a sight! The many accessories were very typical of the time. The fact is we just put more into the looks of our hair back then. Now it’s all gone to pots.

The most show-stopping ‘do in the film is this one:

She’s rolled it upwards on both sides, sleeked it back through the middle section, pinned it at the nape in back with a diamond barrette and added pin curls to each side of the back bun. Nothing short of a momentous sight!

My favorite look comes in the second scene of the film, Miss Huberman’s “perfectly hideous party” in her Miami bungalow. I think it really is most flattering.

"Don't be silly––the important drinking isn't started yet."

I don’t want to spoil the film, for you really must see these hairstyles in action, and it’s available for viewing online. However, I suppose I really mustn’t neglect Bergman’s leading man, Cary Grant (Mr. Devlin). His hair is neatly parted and gelled in place throughout the whole picture–– a real upstanding man of the ’40s, he is. He keeps a razor to that square face, doesn’t even let his sideburns down. It’s quite surprising that the good-timing, good humoured Miss Huberman falls for such a straight arrow. I oughtta just let you watch the rest, though.

A Memorable Quote:

Miss Huberman: “What does the speedometer say?”

Mr. Devlin: “65”

Miss Huberman: “I want to make it 80 and wipe that grin off your face.”

Doris Day, The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956

In Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Day wasn’t too ornate. She was sensibly dressed, moderately adorned. Her hair maintained the same practical style throughout the film, much to my disappointment. It isn’t a very feminine look. Most of the top hair is short … shall we say, “The Hairstyle That Knew Too Little”? Her short bangs fall just at the top of the forehead.

She also wore this short flat hat on the top for much of the film. In my opinion, the look is not too flattering for Doris’s full moon face. It’s hard to see in the above shots, but she also has a tight bun at the nape of her neck, no flair, no pretty pins or bows. You can see it here in this shot from behind.

Hitchcock only used blondes, you know. Day is one of the least interesting of the whole slew in my opinion, but she has two great moments in this picture. The first is an unforgettable scream at the opera house. You really must watch it just for this. The second is her distressed performance of “Que Sera, Sera” at the height of the film. She does such a lovely job at singing beautifully and expressing affliction at the same time. She made a record of the song, which you might have if you’ve kept your record collection and can get your grandchildren to come dig around in the attic for you. 

Mary Pickford’s Ringlet Curls

I told you we would get back to more of Mary Pickford.  America’s first “Sweetheart” was known as “the girl with the golden curls.” No one could top the things.

Let’s look at an early photograph of her during her Broadway days:

Photo taken by Broadway photographer Ira L. Hill

Her ringlet curls and large, wide hat were common during the early 1900s, but ringlet curls had also been popular during the 1800s and before. In any case, Pickford was well known for her “sausage” curls. Let’s just take a look at several photographs of her great curls.

Sausage curls whet your appetite?

So adorable!

"Does this hat make me look fat?"

Pickford was a star of the silent pictures, but, more than that, she produced over thirty pictures and did a little directing too.

"Give me melancholy."

Around the time her career was going down the tubes thanks to the advent of talkies, Pickford’s mother died and she chopped off her curls in response, shocking the nation and making headlines.

The sad end of the story is that she started getting zozzled more often than not and became a ragamuffin hermit. Damn those talking pictures!

Published in: on 26 February 2010 at 18:27  Leave a Comment  
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Civil War Hairstyles

A Southern Belle or a Connecticut Yankee?

Women left to tend their homesteads (or parlors) during The War of Northern Agression were forced to find practical, timesaving ways of doing up their hair. There are some similarities between WWII hairstyles (see my post “Longer ‘Dos of the 1940s”)  and these of the American Civil War, which makes me think that times of scarcity call for certain measures in keeping up appearances.

One similarity was this business of making rats. Fanny & Vera’s helpful hints and timely tips for Civil War reenactors say that, “Almost every Victorian lady had a hair receiver on the dresser, and would place the hair gleaned in daily brushings into it.  A lady could use this resource to construct rats for her hair. …Rats were used to add volume to the hair at the sides of the head.  Hairstyles that accented the width of the face were in style, so hairstyles were low on the crown and wide at the sides.” Anyway, they can tell you more about that here, if you are so inclined to find out.

Yankee??

The main goal was to have a very wide appearance to the hair, which adds roundness to the face. It’s just a thought that this hairstyle emerged while men were gone because the women were forced to take a more masculine role, and thus, a more masculinized appearance.

They had an uncompromising part in the middle, with no bang. The unbudging part down the middle could be seen as a parallel of the two sides of the Civil War, although I will say that the hair surely stayed a lot more in place than most anything else during those times. Perhaps due to an inability to control political affairs, the women controlled their tresses relentlessly during the War, not letting them get whimsical or out of place. It was very improper for a lady to let her hair down in public (a difference between these war hairstyles and those of WWII). You would be hard-pressed to find a tintype of a lady with her hair down between 1861–1865.

Who is this lady, and which side is she on?

However, it was permitted, at balls or dances, to wear ringlet curls. Often, women would confine their hair in buns at the nape of their neck with a knitted snood. Going to church or town, or riding horses or in a carriage, a lady may’ve worn a bonnet. Miss Vera’s Millinery has a great collection of Civil War bonnets.

Mississippi Woman Fights the Confederate Blues with a Bonnet

The last characteristic of Civil War hairstyles was a lot of grease, if it could be spared. That brings us to the end of this post and to the beginning of our next topic, Civil War hairstyles of the men in battle.

Until then, tout a l’heure!

Published in: on 16 February 2010 at 13:26  Leave a Comment  
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Flowers in their Hair

Isn’t it sensual to have the soft petals of flowers adorning your tresses? Isn’t it fabulous to pin on the scent of sugar that all the honeybees are drawn to? Ladies, I tell you, flowers are nature’s adornment, and we should wear them any chance we get! It’s been done throughout history in all different nations.

In the 1940s U.S., blossoms gave Lady Day an untouchable glamour on the stage.  She always wore hers on one side––a little sassy, she was, and very feminine. She preferred white hibiscus, although she wore other kinds too. In the 1930s Mexico, Frida Kahlo, boldly creative, always wore hers right on top of her head with a part in the middle. She preferred bright, tropical blossoms. Kahlo said to her lover Josep Bartolf, “I paint flowers so they will not die.” If we pin them into our hair, we can reclaim a little youth, too, before it wilts away.

Now I’m thinking of my youth wilting away like a flower, and I’ll just indulge this bout of melancholy. Lovesick Ophelia drowned herself in the flower of her youth, for she could not turn the head of the boy who made her heart leap.

She put flowers into her long, straight tresses just before she laid herself down in the river, probably ’round the 12th century in Denmark–– fictionally speaking, of course.

“There is a willow grows aslant a brook,
That shows his hoar leaves in the glassy stream;
Therewith fantastic garlands did she make
Of crow-flowers, nettles, daisies, and long purples
That liberal shepherds give a grosser name,
But our cold maids do dead men’s fingers call them:
There, on the pendent boughs her coronet weeds
Clambering to hang, an envious sliver broke;
When down her weedy trophies and herself
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old lauds;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with their drink,
Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay
To muddy death.”

Ophelia was a deep-thinking and poetic young girl, so she pinned the flowers for deliberate meaning. The willows stood for forsaken love; the nettles for pain; daisies for innocence; pansies for love in vain; violets for faithful chastity and death of the young; and roses round her face, for she had been called the rose of May. What a poor young girl, but smart for dressin’ up so pretty for her death bed.

Long live Ophelia and Frida and Ms. Holiday; they’ll always be remembered for the flowers in their hair.

Short bang ‘do, circa 1929

LuLu showing the gents a smooth pour of brown plaid in Pandora’s Box

Unreal! Louise Brooks hits on all sixes as LuLu with her cheekbone-short, black, sleek bangs style in the 1929 German silent film Pandora’s Box. The bold cut commands attention from every Dick, Tom & Drugstore Cowboy–– and LuLu’s happy to have it, long as they cough up some dough. What a vamp she is. A real bearcat.

A lady can spend the whole film envying this ‘do and watching it move. LuLu shakes her head back and forth, back and forth, over and over  when her lover shows up with his fiancée at LuLu’s cabaret just before she is to dance. I declare she casts a real kitten! Is it her tousled bob, then, that convinces her sugar daddy to dump his heiress fiancée (and her perfect golden finger waves, I might add) and marry a vulgar stage performer?

This film caused quite a ruckus back in my day. They wouldn’t show it at the local theatres, of course. When I finally got my stickies on it, I could see why. LuLu makes her fair share of whoopee, and isn’t sorry for it either.

It’s also said to be the first screen portrayal of a lesbian, who is stuck on LuLu, and can you really blame her?

The groom cuts in on broad & bride

Longer ‘dos of the 1940s

Marguerite Chapman staying glamorous on the home front

The longer ‘dos of the late 1930s and the 1940s just had to have luscious waves or big curls. I remember it well, making my curls bigger by stuffing rats into the middle. Oh dear no, I would never let varmints rummage through my locks. We would make the rats by simply pulling out all the loose hair from our brushes and balling it together. During the war we were innovative, see. And we were still glamorous even though our men were away.

Bonus!:  A Slip of the Lip by Duke Ellington

Was it Loretta Young’s long ‘do that turned the eye of Clark Gable?

All the women were doing rag curls, which required only the rags that we had, cut into strips. A rather good tutorial exists, created by an unusually classy lady for this day and age. If it’s anything like the old days, all the men who are not in the war abroad  will be knocking on your door in hopes of taking you dancing, so you really must practice your lindy hop.