Follow TV Tropes


'50s Hair

Go To
It's all about the curls.
L-R, top to bottom 

Every decade of The 20th Century has their own fashion staple depending on the zeitgeist of the era; The '60s was all about height, The '70s had the au naturel, The '80s emphasized volume, and The '90s favoured casualness. One such decade, with all of its focus on economic prosperity, domestic conformity, and scientific progress, emphasizes it in two keywords: prim and proper.

There has been little to no definitive template for '50s style hair, as the definitive hairstyles slowly developed to their own during the progression of the decade. Following the austere World War II years, hairstyles became more experimental and curl-heavy through the use of curlers, complex techniques, and hair-care products like pomade and setting sprays. By the end of The '40s and the early Fifties, women discarded the long hairdos characterized by victory rolls and pompadours in favor of wavy bobs and pulled-back chignons (with some styles even being throwbacks to the 1920s and 1930s), and men side-parted their hair or adopted a civilian version of the crew cut.

As the decade progressed, women over the age of 20 sported slicker short hair, while teenagers sported either juniorized versions of popular hairstyles, longer curls, or ponytails; fashionable men used gels and pomades more liberally, with pompadours beginning to become more prominent. By the end of the decade, women gradually favoured bouffants and artichoke-style updos, a preview for the Beehive Hairdo and other hairstyles that would be the definitive styles of The '60s.

See Delinquent Hair for hairstyles related to pompadours. See also '20s Bob Haircut, '60s Hair, '70s Hair, '80s Hair, and '90s Hair for decade-related hairstyle collectives.


  • The ducktail or the duck's ass, named after the combing technique that resembled the rear of a duck;
  • Pompadours, once a womens hairstyle during The '40s, then transplanted to men, mostly donned by greasers and juvenile delinquents; prominent wearer is Elvis Presley;
    • In Asia, the exaggerated variant style is called a "curry puff".
  • Jelly rolls, whose bangs are rolled and protruded at the front; popularized by James Dean and Elvis Presley;
  • Flat tops, a staple for soldiers and football jocks;
  • Crew cuts for the general public;
  • Sideparts, another general public hairstyle;
  • Facial hair for the majority sported moustaches; beards like goatees and soul patches, were exclusive for Beatniks and intellectuals;
  • Conks for African-American men.



40s Carryover

  • Poodle hairstyle, brought on by actresses such as Lucille Ball;
  • Straight pageboy bobs


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Josuke Higashikata from Part 4 of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure sports a pompadour, even though the part takes place in 1999. It turns out to be his way of honoring a man who saved his life when he was younger, who had the exact same haircut.
  • Space☆Dandy has Protagonist Title-guy with a lot of references from The '50s, included his hair: a frondous greased pompadour with long sideburns.

     Comic Books 
  • Betty and Veronica from Archie Comics wore "bettie bangs" during the 1950s. It wasn't until the '60s that Betty switched to her more famous Tomboyish Ponytail and Veronica's way of styling her hair also changed.
  • MonsterVerse: In the prequel graphic novel Godzilla Awakening'', Serizawa's grandfather Eiji has a conservative-looking haircut in the 40s and 50s when he's a young man.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: When a group of Holliday Girls was introduced retroactively for the Earth-One continuity their hairstyles placed them firmly in the '50's despite them being first published in 1960. Thelma had Bettie bangs and long hair with the ends curled, Tina had a pixie, Etta had a short and wavy haircut, and Lita wore a high ponytail.

     Fan Works 

     Film — Animated 
  • The Iron Giant: Set in 1957, all the characters have standard '50s dos. Hogarth and his friends have crew cuts; his mother Annie has short wavy hair; government agent Kent Mansley has cropped hair on the sides with a curly mop on top; resident Beatnik Dean McCoppin has stubble and a soul patch; and General Rogard has the standard issue flat top.

     Film — Live Action 

  • In Soul Music, when the wizards are being affected by Music With Rocks In, the Dean styles his hair into what Ridcully calls "a unicorn spike at the front and a duck's arse, excuse my Klatchian at the back". The Truth says that even after the events of Soul Music hadn't happened, the DA with extended quiff was still popular with young musicians in Ankh-Morpork, and also with the Watch's Igor.

     Live-Action TV 
  • 1000 Ways to Die has one segment of a double-date in the 1950s. One girl refuses her date's advances but only because she's most concerned about her Beehive Hairdo. She dies after she lights a cigarette which ignites her highly flammable hairspray and burns her alive.
  • In the episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had Grace Newman with her beautiful curly short hair that are so '50s. James also had his hair short like this.
  • Happy Days: Being a show set in The '50s, there's bound to be hairstyles like ponytails and Fonzie's slick pompadour. Though over the course of the series, there might be touches of retro-fied 70s- and '80s Hair around.
  • The first season of Mad Men is chock full of late 50s carryover styles with all of the men sporting side parts and crew cuts, and the women having diversity with Betty sporting the classic short and wavy, Joan with the artichoke, and Peggy with the ponytail and bangs.
  • In contrast to the '70s Hair which dominates The Brady Bunch (and evolves as the years wear on), the character of Alice maintains her dated '50s do throughout. Barry Williams even references this in a chapter of his book Growing Up Brady where he remarks that Ann B. Davis was the only cast member who never had any hair problems.

  • Katy Perry would oftentimes draw inspiration from vintage pin-up girls, once or twice paying homage to Bettie Page.
  • Madonna, in the 80s, would prominently homage Marilyn Monroe in her music videos, the most notable is Material Girl, paying homage to Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
  • Sia's "Cheap Thrills," features a very '50s retraux vibe reminiscent of dance shows like American Bandstand, down to the costumes and hairstyles. Only one couple gets the anachronism with both donning Sia's signature two-toned wig.
  • David Byrne sported a male variation of this trope during his time with Talking Heads, with a well-groomed and oftentimes slicked-back haircut that was very much uncommon among rock musicians at the time.
  • Morrissey's pompadour has been his visual trademark since his days in The Smiths, owing to his fascination with two other stars of the '50s who were also known for sporting this style: James Dean and Elvis Presley.

     Video Games 
  • Almost everything in the Fallout universe from the scavenged technology, to social norms, to pop culture, to hairstyles, remained stuck in the 50s and early 60s, even after America was stuck by a nuclear catastrophe two hundred years prior.
  • The Sims 3 features several mid 20th century hairstyles such as "bettie bangs" to go with the fact it takes place 25 years before The Sims 2. The base game and its subsequent expansion and stuff packs also feature many contemporary hairstyles as well.
  • Chuck from White Noise 2 has a pompadour.

     Western Animation 
  • The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius: Almost every resident in Retroville sports the typical retro hairstyles like crew cuts, curls, and sleek bouffants. Resident boy genius Jimmy Neutron's bigger-than-his-head pompadour, his friends, his parents, and Cindy are no exempt.
  • In Beverly Hills Teens, Chester had once demonstrated a device for instant 50s Hair (Elvis style, in this case).
  • Danny Phantom: Perky Goth Sam Manson's parents dress up like stereotypical conservative 50s parents, with the curls and bouffants and all, in reaction to their grandmother's Beatnik lifestyle.
  • Johnny Bravo: With the eponymous character's signature pompadour and shades, echoing Elvis and The Fonz personality, he's irrecognizable without them.

     Real Life