Monday, 02 March 2015

How to Create a 1940s Updo: Monday

To celebrate the IWM exhibition, Fashion on the Ration, every day this week, vintage hair and make-up expert Sarah Dunn of Sarah’s Doo-Wop Dos will show you how to do elegant hairstyles from the era. Today we combine plaits and victory rolls.

Written by Sarah Dunn
Hair-Mar06-06-176Vintage hair styling requires several things; patience, nimble fingers and a few select styling products. In my line of work as a freelance vintage hair stylist, make-up artist and owner of Sarah's Doo-Wop Dos, I regularly create many different looks from different eras for my customers, so the tips I'm sharing in this article are thoroughly tried and tested!

This particular updo is inspired by women's fashions of the 1940s. During the war years, beauty products were in short supply due to factories being focused on producing products for the war effort. However, women where still expected to make an effort with their appearance and slogans like 'keep your beauty on duty' were used to encourage them to do the best they could with the limited supplies at hand. Woman turned to home remedies for help, and as new clothing became more and more difficult to acquire due to the introduction of rationing, hair styles became a way of creating a little difference to your look when little else was available.

1. To start this style you will need to make sure you have thoroughly brushed your hair, making sure it's tangle free. This sort of updo works best on day old hair as, when this style was first popular in the 1940s, hair would have been washed about once every two weeks due to the shortage of even the most basic products like soap and shampoo. So for the best styling results leave your hair a day or two after washing before trying this style. You'll actually find the hair is easier to work with and will hold the style better.


2. You will need to section off a decent amount of hair at the front of your head, running from ear to ear. This will be used to create the victory rolls later on. Split the rest of the hair (at the back of your head) into two ponytails and section them off with small hairbands, then plait each ponytail and finish with another small hairband at the bottom of the plait for a nice neat look. Plaited styles were a popular look during the 1940s and for a bit of added colour and authenticity you can add a bit of ribbon into the plaits.

3. Now take both the plaits and tie them together as if you are tying a shoelace. Pin the plaits securely in place with hair grips.


4. Once you are happy that the plaits are secure, wrap the rest of each plait around, one on top, one on the bottom, tucking in the ends for a neat finish. You will then need to secure with more hair grips, making sure the style doesn't end up too flattened when you pin it in place and spritz with hairspray to finish. It is worth noting here, however, that women in the forties wouldn't have had this product as the type of spray can 'hairspray 'we know and use today wasn't available till later on in the 1950s!

5. Now you can start creating the victory rolls. These require patience and practice so don't worry if it takes a while to get this part right as over time they will get much easier! The victory roll was a particularly popular style of the era as it was a clever way of rolling up long hair into a shorter style, perfect for those who worked in the factories and wanted to keep their hair safe and tidy while working around dangerous factory machinery, but didn't want to sacrifice their long locks by cutting them. The technique of backcombing plays a big part in vintage styling as it creates the structure needed for styles like victory rolls. To create the rolls, start by splitting the hair you had sectioned off earlier in step one into two parts of roughly the same size. Now backcomb the roots of each section with a rat-tail comb. Using a comb and working on a small section at a time will help keep the backcombing precise and creates real lift. For a little added help you can use dry shampoo on the hair at the root base to create texture and make the hair easier and less slippery to work with. Just be careful not to end up with white marks on the hair! To avoid this, work the product into the hair with your fingers.


6. Once you are happy with your backcombing (a good test is to see if the hair will stand up and out from your head on its own) roll one section of hair down to your centre parting, keeping the roll nice and tight. This may take a few goes so don't give up! Once you are happy with how the first roll looks, secure it in place with a few hair grips. You may want to close the roll at the back by pulling the end downwards, creating a tube like shape. The end can then be pinned shut with hair grips for added security and and tidied up with a little pomade (a grease/wax which is great for slicking hair) applied with the finger tips or a spritz of hairspray.


7. Now repeat the backcombing, rolling and pinning with the other section of hair till you have a second victory roll. Remember that the rolls don't have to be identical so don't spend hours trying to get them to perfectly match. For an added touch of 1940s glamour why not try adding a hair flower clip? As well as looking lovely they can help hide any problem areas. Once the style is complete you can set it all in place with more hairspray and then head off out to enjoy yourself, and the compliments you will receive on your hair.

Article, hair and make-up: Sarah Dunn, owner of Sarah's Doo-Wop Dos

Model: Nicki of My Favourite Things

Photography: Jez Brown

Nails: Keely Freeman

Hair flower: Rosadior

Location: Sarah's Doo-Wop Dos private parlour, Bedford.

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