There is a whole history of fierce femininity behind rocking a retro rockabilly or pinup look. The liberty curls hairstyle, sometimes called victory rolls or top reverse rolls, helped wartime women merge style and function in the 1940s. Long hair gave way to shoulder-length and shorter cuts curled high into trendy updos, leaving servicewomen polished and factory workers free from danger. No stylist needed for these vivacious, victorious hairdos — like the independent girls of the past, you can get gussied-up on your own with these tips.

Things You'll Need

Brush out next-day hair and separate it into 2-inch sections with a tail comb. Roll each section over a large hot roller and leave them in for no more than 15 minutes to create plenty of base volume.

Remove the hot rollers and brush the hair to fluff it. Part hair into a side or middle part with a comb.

Separate a 2 to 3-inch section of hair on one side of the part, at the front. Smooth the section with the comb.

Grasp the section by the ends and pull it straight. Roll the section upward, toward the part with your fingers. Keep the inside of the roll no larger than the width of two fingers.

Slide a bobby pin through the bottom of the roll at the part. Criss-cross another bobby pin over it to secure the roll to the top of the head.

Take another 2 to 3-inch section of hair on the opposite side of the part. Smooth, roll and pin it just like the first section.

Coat both rolls with a maximum hold hairspray.


  • Style the back section of hair or your bangs any way you like. Common styles include rolled-under bangs, back pincurls and a back updo.

  • If styling clean hair, add a dab of gel or pomade to give the hair more texture.

  • For cool rollers, dampen the hair before rolling and let the hair dry completely before removing the rollers.

  • The best haircut for liberty curls, popular in the 1940s, is called “the middy.” This cut features a shoulder-length U-shape and many layers.