Saturday, January 21, 2012

FAQ haircuts

A few days ago I recieved an email from the lovely Shannon asking about my haircut. I've had a few questions about it in the past, so I thought I'd share the information here on my blog for all to see. After all, us vintage girls got to stick together!
To paraphrase Shannon asked:

Hello Sarah,

My question for you is about your haircut.  Would you please share a little information about it?  I am looking to get my hair cut soon, and I love the way your hair takes the sets.

Thank you,

And my reply...

Hi Shannon!

Thank you for the lovely compliments and thank you for reading my blog!

As to hair, I cannot say I am an expert by any means. (If I had a dollar for each time I left the hairdresser's in tears... but that's another story). Basically, I have had some trouble finding a cut that worked.
My hair is particularly reluctant to hold any curl (it’s naturally poker straight), so I have to wet set it. I found that cutting my hair a lot shorter, for example reducing it to above the shoulders really helped “lighten the load” per say, and hold the curls throughout the day.

For cut, I asked for something similar to a “middy” style (though not as short). A middy involves quite a lot of distinct layers and a “U” shape on the bottom (instead of straight across).
Here's a diagram of a longer length "middy" style, nicknamed the femme fatale. I took this image to my hairdresser to explain the basic shape I was aiming for.
I sourced this image from, however I think it's orignal soruce was from the out-of-date book  "1940's Hairstyles" by Daniella Turdich.
Important to this style is the "U" shape where hair gets shorter to frame the face. I think this helps create that beautiful curve seen in most vintage hairstyles. I've drawn pink arrows on the pictures below to show you what I mean.

The purple arrow represents a long "fringe or bangs" section I had cut, which is completely optional. I quite enjoyed the fringe as it gave me a bit more variety when curling, but it's length meant I could pin it back or brush it into the sides when I was bored of it.

My main tips when it comes to getting a "vintage cut" are
  • Bluntly tell the hairdresser NOT to razor the ends. This means that when you pick up a section to pin-curl at home, the ends finish at the same place and don’t fall or fray out as you curl.
  • Explain to the hairdresser that you will be using vintage techniques (like pin-curling or hot rollers) so they understand how you are going to style it
  • Bring in photos that represent how you'd like your final style to look
  • Ask them if this look is possible for you (considering your hair type and condition, the level of care you are willing to put in, etc.) For example; while I adore vintage looks, I don't always have time to curl my hair. So ontop of all my other requests (yes, I am a demanding customer) I asked if they could please cut my hair so that it looks okay even I don't have time to style it.

To learn more about the "middy" and other vintage hairstyles I suggest going to the Fedora Lounge, where there are literally hundreds of posts about cutting and styling

Other links:
Beauty is a thing of the past is a brilliant blog for finding authentic vintage haircuts and styles
Casey from Elegant musings shows off her middy 'do
Vixen Vintage and her rag curls and 1940's hair
An excellent sponge roller set tutorial from By Gum By Golly's late 30's/ early 40's post
Or perhaps you can try the Bright Young Twins Lazy Pincurls
Or you can see one of my hair sets here

I hope this helps! I certainly don't claim to have any expertise in the area, so please feel free to add to the conversation, with queries or tips, in the comments below.



Miss Tallulah Porkchop said...

Oh, this is a FANTASTIC post. As you know, I'm shit at vintage hair. I expect hairdressers to just KNOW what I want and need in a haircut, ALWAYS resulting in tears whe I get home with a razored mullet. I'm printing this out andtakingitot my next hairdressers appointment. Thanks, Dolly. xx

Harlow Darling said...

Ohh this is so useful! I actually have a perpetual fear of the hairdressers as a result of what has been done to my friends hair over the years. Don't you wish they had a chain of Retro Hair hair dressers in Australia? Also, I'd love to see what your hair looks like unstyled, just for reference. The only person I trust to cut my hair is my boyfriends sister, and your hair is right about perfect for the length I'd like to get mine cut to.

Rachel said...

This is really useful! I haven't gotten my hair cut in a retro style before, but it's something I've been thinking about and would love to try! With these tips I'd feel much more confident explaining to my hair dresser what I want too!

Shannon said...

My hair is also very, very straight. I've considered a long middy cut similar to the diagram, but have been concerned that it was too serious a commitment... that is, it couldn't possibly look good on me when not curled and that I wouldn't be able to curl it often enough. Are you happy with the middy when it's straight? It's hard to tell from diagrams how an uncurled middy really looks. Thanks, Sarah!

w.s. said...

look at you inspiring everyone :)

i'm so proud of you and miss you so much.

Anonymous said...

Looking forward to a new post

Zoé said...

Great hair tips! I am having my hair cut soon and will strongly consider this. :) said...

Great hairstyle.

Urban Butterfly said...

Great post, I've been trying to find out what a 'Midi' cut is. In the picture of your hair beautifully rolled up, how long is your hair there without the curl? UB x

Melissa Esme said...

This is exactly what I've been looking for! Great post, thank you so much! And you look so beautiful in your picture too! -xxx-

Luke Forsyth said...

Hairstyles can be different and attractive. But make sure that if it is for the kids make it more simple.
Kids Hairstyles