Short Vintage Hair

July 9, 2014

Every vintage era has at least one iconic hair cut or style that defines the period. Some decades are known for short hair and some aren’t, but the truth is: some women have always preferred short hair whether it was trendy for their time or not. Though I have been known to don a long wig and feel pretty glamorous in it, I’ve always preferred short hair on myself because it’s so easy and carefree. As a vintage lover and general history nerd, I’ve been wondering if any women of the past felt the same way as I do about short hair. I’m excited and surprised by what I found!


There are quite a few photos here so I’ll just list the basic details and let you focus on the hair! If you’d like to know more about any of these amazing women, just click the links to visit the original sources.

Shown left: Lucile Blanch – Artist – photo taken in 1930. Credit: Peter A. Juley & Son Collection at Smithsonian Institute.

Shown right: Charlotte Gower Chapman – Ethnologist, Author, and US Marine – photo taken in unknown year (my guess is 1930s). Credit: Acc. 90-105 – Science Service, Records, 1920s-1970s, Smithsonian Institution Archives


Deseronto Ponies, girls’ softball team – photo taken in 1929. Credit: Deseronto Archives


Unknown factory worker spinning silk at William Skinner and Sons in Mt. Holyoke, Massachusetts – photo taken in 1936. Credit: U.S. National Archives


Matilda Moldenhauer Brooks – Botanist, Harvard Graduate, and researcher (discovered an antidote for carbon monoxide and cyanide poisoning) – photo taken before 1927. Credit: Julian Scott via Smithsonian Institute.


Helen Richey – pioneering female aviator, WWII pilot, and the first woman to be hired as a pilot by a commercial airline in the United States – dates of photos unknown (my guess is early 1940s). Credit: San Diego Air and Space Museum Archives


There isn’t much listed about this photo unfortunately, but it appears in an album titled “Jewish American Women and WWII“. Credit: JWA Commons. (The two women on the far right have really short hair!)


Shown Left: Judy LaurentSarasota High School Sailor Circus acrobat – photo taken in 1955. Credit:State Library and Archives of Florida.

Shown Right: Mildred Adams Fenton – trained in paleontology and geology – date of photo unknown (my guess is mid 1920s). Credit: Smithsonian Institution Archives.


Unknown catalog models – Sears and Roebuck Spring 1954.

Amazing, right?!
If you’re interested in building a library about vintage hair (long or short), I highly recommend both of these books by Daniela Turudich.


Both books are excellent resources, though Art Deco Hairstyles is significantly larger than 1940s Hairstyles. They include all kinds of information on popular styles and trends of the era, cutting diagrams for authentic vintage haircuts, and styling tips to finish off your look.


I was surprised to read about the super short Shingle haircut of the 40s which was a popular for factory workers and women in the service. The 1920s version of that super short cut was called The Eton, and if you know anything about Josephine Baker, you probably know she’s the one who made it famous.


The classic 1920s bob might be the most recognizable short vintage cut you can get, but as you can see, that’s definitely not your only option. So if you’re like me and love early vintage hairstyles but don’t have the patience for roller sets, or any hair that reaches past your chin: Rejoice! Women have been rocking the Pixie cut for a long, long time.

What do you think? Is your short haircut more “vintage” than you thought it was? Mine is!