21 Unforgettable Hairstyles

From Greta Garbo to Jennifer Aniston, take a look at the unforgettable hairstyles through the decades.
Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Wireimage/Getty Images

Some hairstyles stand the test of time while others do not. No matter what the latest trend happens to be, hairstyles are a reflection of who we are as individuals and as a culture on the whole. See the next few pages for a selection of hairstyles from the 1930s and beyond, complete with a few questionable choices like the mullet and mohawk along with celebrity cuts that started fads.





The finger wave style on Greta Garbo.
Photo by Clarence Sinclair Bull/John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

1. The Finger Wave: Curls and waves were in fashion in the 1930s. Often hailed as the most tasteful decade, the 1930s found women styling themselves after the stars of the burgeoning Hollywood film industry. Think Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, and Carole Lombard, who all kept their hair short to mid-length, wavy, and styled for maximum sex appeal.



Cary Grant's side-part style was popular in the 1940s.
Photo by John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images

2. The Veronica Lake: The smoky, alluring look of this 1940s screen siren was identifiable by miles of long, wavy blonde hair that covered one eye. This was the hairstyle of a star; everyday women opted for a shorter, shoulder-length version of the wavy style.

3. The Rosie the Riveter: Rosie was a popular icon during the war era when many women pinned their long hair back and covered it with a bandanna while working inside or outside the home.


4. The Cary Grant: The movies struck again, influencing the men's hairstyle of the time. This was a precise cut with a severe side part and a whole lot of styling wax to make it shine. The look was suave and debonair, just like Grant himself.


American actress Barbara Eden with a bouffant hairdo.
Photo by Screen Gems/Getty Images

5. The Bouffant: When the salon-sized hair dryer was unveiled to the beauty industry, the possibilities seemed endless. Updos and blow-dried styles were literally taken to new heights as the bouffant and the beehive created big, round silhouettes on the head.

6. The Bardot: The bombshell's film performances were only part of the reason women emulated Bardot's hairstyle -- a sexy mess of long, strawberry blonde tresses. Bardot was the antithesis of the beehive and other hairstyles of the era that represented the repressed side of women at the time.


7. The Pompadour: This was the era when T-shirts and jeans became the uniform of young men everywhere. And the pompadour, popularized by James Dean and Elvis Presley, was the haircut that went with it. Closely cut in the back, the top and sides were kept a little longer and combed up and back with hair gel for added shine. The look was masculine and instantly iconic.


The Beatles had a huge influence on popular culture, including this hairstyle called the Mop Top.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

8. The Flip: This spunky, youthful style was mega-popular among hordes of modern women throughout the 1960s. Shoulder-length hair was back-combed or teased slightly at the top, then the ends were curled up in a "flip" with rollers or a curling iron. Depending on the age of the woman and her willingness to push the envelope, the flip was combined with the bouffant, which meant that it got bigger and puffier. Mary Tyler Moore sported the classic flip on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Jackie Kennedy had her own more conservative version, too. Later, the style became so ubiquitous it was nicknamed "beauty pageant hair" or "Miss America hair," because for years nearly every contestant sported flip after perfect flip.

9. The Pixie: The pin-up figure went out of style when long, lean supermodel Twiggy came on the scene in the 1960s. Women everywhere tried to emulate her silhouette -- and her hair. It took a reported eight hours to create the style on Twiggy the first time, almost as long as it took to put on all those fake eyelashes. The pixie was cut over the ears, with slightly longer hair on the top of the head. The defining feature was the close-cropped layers that framed the face.


10. The Mop Top: The influence of The Beatles on popular culture was unlike anything the world had ever seen. Girls and boys alike mimicked the boyish charm of these Liverpool lads, especially when it came to hairstyles. Longer, over the ears, shaggy, and generally floppy on all sides, the mop top was also sported by another mega-band of the time, The Rolling Stones.


Farrah Fawcett in a photo taken in 1978.
Photo by Tom Wargacki/WireImage/Getty Images

11. The Farrah Fawcett: This iconic hairstyle, made famous by Charlie's Angels star Farrah Fawcett, came to a soft point at the top of the head, creating a triangular silhouette with long, feathered flips cascading down the sides and the back. This hairdo was revived in the 2000s as part of a retro '70s and '80s fashion trend.

12. The No-Cut Haircut: If you were a guy in the 1970s who didn't like getting a haircut, you were in luck. As the decade marched on, men simply stopped cutting their hair. Whether they were influenced by the free-loving culture of the hippies, growing antiwar sentiment, or just plain laziness, men's hair reached new lengths during this era.



Mick Mars, Vince Neil, Nikki Sixx (front), Tommy Lee of Motley Crue
Photo by Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Getty Images

13. Rock Hair: Many of the hairstyle changes and fashion trends in the 1980s had to do with the music of the era. "Hair bands" were so named because of their long, voluminous hair, which was often teased or permed. Heavy metal bands such as Motley Crue, Poison, and Bon Jovi helped popularize this look for both men and women.

14. The Mullet: No one can be totally sure when this notorious hairstyle originated, but its popularity soared in the 1980s. The mullet was achieved by cutting hair short and spiky or feathered on the top and sides of the head and keeping it shoulder-length or longer in the back.


15. The Rat-Tail: Popular with young men (and some women) of the '80s, this style was characterized by hair cut short all over except for a long strip of hair (usually 1/2- to 1-inch wide) growing from the nape of the neck and dangling down the back. Rat-tails were typically 4- to 12-inches in length and were often braided.

16. The Mohawk: The Mohawk had its roots in Native American culture but was popular with punk rockers in the '80s. Punk hairstyles in the UK and America reflected the attitude of these antiestablishment youngsters; hair was spiked, sprayed, shaved, and often multi-colored and sent a clear message: We're not like you.

17. The Meg Ryan: Immortalized by the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally, Meg Ryan's tousled, permed locks were all the rage for women everywhere. Hairstylists reportedly did very little else for a period of several years, since women seemed to only want the spiral curls, highlights, and layered cut made famous by elite hairstylist Sally Hershberger.


Jennifer Aniston's hairstyle became a hit in the 1990s.
Associated Press/Reed Saxon

18. The Rachel: Unless you lived under a rock in the mid-1990s, you knew about the group of Friends that hung out on the NBC sitcom for ten seasons. Jennifer Aniston's character Rachel spawned legions of hair clones. This long- to medium-length style was cut with many different layers in order to frame the face and give a woman's hair a full, healthy look.

19. The Fade: The early 90s brought hip-hop culture to the masses and the high-top fade haircut came with it. Popularized by rap duo Kid 'N Play, the fade was cut like a flattop but with the sides and back gradually fading from thickness at the top all the way to bare skin. Largely sported by African-American males, men of all ethnic backgrounds gave it a try, often with mixed results.



Actor Ewan McGrego sports a faux-hawk.
Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage/Getty Images

20. The Faux-Hawk: Want the edgy look of a Mohawk but don't want to go all the way? Welcome the faux-hawk! By slicking back (or close-shaving) the sides of the hair, a fake or "faux" Mohawk can be achieved. Scores of fashionistas, both male and female, have gotten a lot of mileage out of this look in the early 21st century.

21. The Chelsea: With roots in punk rock culture, this haircut refers to the Chelsea district in London, a popular hangout for punks. But in the UK, this radical cut is called "the feather cut." In the style of many of today's haircuts, this look is one worn by both males and females. This style is achieved by shaving the entire head, except for the bangs and a little on the right and left sides of the head.



Helen Davies, Marjorie Dorfman, Mary Fons, Deborah Hawkins, Martin Hintz, Linnea Lundgren, David Priess, Julia Clark Robinson, Paul Seaburn, Heidi Stevens, and Steve Theunissen


Lots More Information

Related Articles