Easy '40s Hairstyles

By Roz Calvert

The war impacted every part of life in the 1940s, even hair styling. Women worked more often in blue-collar or farm jobs while men were at war. Styles had to be practical but pretty, too. Hair was as long as below shoulder-length and whether worn up or loose, big curls were part of most hair-dos. One style with large curls was called "victory rolls" and sported as part of the effort to support the troops.

Curls and side parts were a part of many easy '40s hair-dos.


Most 1940s hair styles had parts on the side, either left or right. Hair might be straight, but usually set off with curls at the top of the head, at the bangs or on the ends of the tresses. Curls were created with rollers or pins and held in place with pins. Barrettes and snoods, a crocheted net to hold long hair, and pins were used as hair accessories.

The Peek-a-Boo Bang

The sultry film star Veronica Lake wore this sexy style. This is one of the easiest 1940s hairstyles to create for long or medium-length hair. You can use a curling iron. Part the hair well off the center of the head, far to the left or right. Make large loose curls in the hair. After forming the curl, let it unfurl by opening the iron and letting it slide out. Support each curl with a pin until the hair cools. Then remove them and shake your hair. You should have curls cascading over one side of the face.


With hair at least shoulder length you can create the classic 1940s up-do. Pull your hair into a low ponytail at the back of your neck and hold it with a thin elastic band. Divide the ponytail in two parts. Tease each side of the ponytail then twist it around your fingers and roll it up onto your head and pin it. Create many versions of this by making ponytails anywhere on the head, splitting, teasing, rolling and pinning. Put in pins wherever it needs support and spray to hold. The classic up-do is Betty Grable in her iconic pin-up.

Pin Curls

The pin curl hair-do is accomplished mostly while you are sleeping. Wash your hair and part it on the left or right. Then part each side into small sections. Working within each section, grasp enough hair to roll around your finger and secure with a bobby pin close against your scalp. Make curls like this until each section is filled with pinned curls. Then tie a scarf around your head and go to sleep. In the morning take out the pins and gently run your fingers through your hair. Shake and go. Ginger Rogers often wore the classic pin curls hair-do.