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Big Hair
American Decades. Ed. Judith S. Baughman, Victor Bondi, Richard Layman, Tandy McConnell, and Vincent Tompkins. Vol. 7: 1960-1969. Detroit, MI: Gale, 2001.
Copyright: COPYRIGHT 1994-2001 Gale, COPYRIGHT 2005 Gale, COPYRIGHT 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning
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BIG HAIR

The Full of It

Hair for many women of the early 1960s was supposed to be full, and they spent many hours with hair lacquer, combs, and curlers to help it reach its desired height and body. The late-1950s beehive, thus called because of its final shape, was one of the most popular styles well into the middle of the 1960s. It was also, by far, the fullest.


Jacqueline Kennedy arrives at the National General Armory to attend a Democratic fund-raising dinner on 20 June 1962 wearing a modified bouffant hairstyle, where her hair lifted off her crown  UPI/Corbis-Bettmann.

Jacqueline Kennedy arrives at the National General Armory to attend a Democratic fund-raising dinner on 20 June 1962 wearing a modified bouffant hairstyle, where her hair lifted off her crown © UPI/Corbis-Bettmann.

Beehive Construction

How was a beehive made? First, the volume was created. Wet hair was rolled in curlers and then dried. Some women had their own salon-type dryers that came down over the top of their heads. After the curlers were removed, the hair was teased. After being thoroughly teased, the hair was ready to be shaped. The top or front layer was lifted, not brushed, over the entire mass and then heavily sprayed with a powerful hairspray so that the rat's-nest part was hidden from view.

Beehive Upkeep

The entire process was not repeated every day. Hair was washed only about once a week. In between full settings, the volume was maintained by wearing strategically placed curlers at night and teasing and spraying each morning. Curler caps were an important fashion necessity for most young women, and satin pillowcases were marketed as being easier on the hair.

Bouffant

Not every young woman could or wanted to achieve the formidable beehive. Hair was still worn full but in a bouffant style. The setting and teasing were still done, but the hair was not pulled back into the beehive. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wore a moderate bouffant hairdo, the hair tastefully lifted off the crown. Many young women finished their bouffants with curlicues called "guiche curls" over each cheek. In order to have the perfect curl in the shape of a C, girls would tape down the locks of hair onto their cheeks at night, sometimes going as far as to paint them with clear fingernail polish. Bouffants often looked immobile, but not as stiff as the bee-hive.

Hat's Off!

With such full, fragile hairdos, women often opted to go hatless. When hats were worn, they were either large enough to accommodate the entire do, or they were small pillbox hats that crowned the top. Many women simply went without—a relatively new look in women's fashion.

Reaction

In the mid 1960s young women—influenced by folk singers such as Joan Baez—began rejecting bouffant styles in favor of long, straight "natural" styles, even ironing thier hair to achieve the right "look."

Source:

Ellen Melinkoff, What We Wore: An Offbeat Social History of Women's Clothing, 1950 to 1980 (New York: Morrow, 1984).

Source Citation   (MLA 8th Edition)
"Big Hair." American Decades, edited by Judith S. Baughman, et al., vol. 7: 1960-1969, Gale, 2001. Gale Virtual Reference Library, http%3A%2F%2Flink.galegroup.com%2Fapps%2Fdoc%2FCX3468302265%2FGVRL%3Fu%3Ddenver%26sid%3DGVRL%26xid%3De3035be4. Accessed 23 Jan. 2019.

Gale Document Number: GALE|CX3468302265