Every decade of The 20th Century has their own fashion staple depending on the zeitgeist of the era; The '70s had the au naturale, 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 favour of wavy bobs and pulled-back chignons, 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 voluminous bouffants and artichoke-style updos, a preview for the Beehive Hairdo that would be the definitive style of The '60s.
- 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.
- Short and wavy, what we easily characterize as standard 50s hair worn by A-listers such as Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor;
- The Italian haircut, which is shorter and curlier than the above; prominent wearer is Sophia Loren;
- Pixie cut, popularized by Audrey Hepburn;
- Mamie bangs, named after the First Lady Mamie Eisenhower;
- Bettie bangs, named after the unique hairstyle of Pin Up Girl Bettie Page;
- High ponytails, favoured mostly by teenage girls and is popularly worn by pre-pixie cut Audrey Hepburn and Brigitte Bardot;
- Bouffants, a very voluminous hairdo late in the decade which would eventually be more stylized in The '60s
- Poodle hairstyle, brought on by actresses such as Lucille Ball;
- Straight pageboy bobs
- Space Dandy has his eponymous character with a lot of references from The '50s, included his hair: a frondous greased pompadour with long sideburns.
- 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.
- 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.
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
- Grease: Despite some 70s anachronisms with Olivia Newton-John's feathered do during her bad girl makeover, the hairstyles are as 50s as it gets.
- Singin' in the Rain, while it is set at the end of The Silent Age of Hollywood, the cast's hairstyles are very 1952.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- Katy Perry would oftentimes draw inspiration from vintage pin-up girls —once or twice paying homage to Bettie Page— with a dash of You Gotta Have Blue Hair.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: 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.
- Johnny Bravo: With the eponymous character's signature pompadour and shades, echoing Elvis and The Fonz personality, he's irrecognizable without them.