Retro Essentials: Short Hair Styling Tips

Back in the day, I used to have short hair and I remember the struggle it can be to style it. As my hair is currently working its way down my back, you’ll be spared photos of me this time.

In general, vintage styles tend to favour a hair length that sits around the shoulders, with the 1920’s favouring really short hairstyles. So if your hair is below your jaw-nearing your shoulders, you might actually benefit from looking at genuine vintage styling tips as opposed to more modern pinup/rockabilly ones.

Let’s step through this in terms of hair length.

Shaved to really short – if there is one single time when you can get away with wearing those vintage turbans, this is the time. It is also a good opportunity to use scarves to play around with illusions of length. When your hair is long enough where you can attach clips and bobby pins properly, decorated clips and pins are a good option to those full on hair flowers that are as big as your fist. I’d recommend using hair bands that resemble fascinators. In short, focus on accessories until your hair is long enough to do more things. You might want to give finger waves a try, but they can be quite difficult. Let your head be where you wear your jewellery.

LisaFreemontStreet runs a youtube channel that focuses on vintage hair tutorials, you might want to have a look at her video about accessories for short hair.

You can now use hair flowers and hair combs a lot easier, keep drawing inspiration from the bobs from the 1920’s. When your hair is approximately jaw length or at least below your ears, you might want to try pin curling for variation. You can also try vintage hair rollers for shorter hair, they tend to be thin and hard and require a bit of dedication. For hair this short these are the most precise option and the ones that are the easiest to work with. Pinning the hair one side of the head back and attaching it with a small-medium hairflower/clip should be doable about now. Diadems & hairbands are still your best friend and you can add accessories to them to make them look more vintage (embroidery, feathers, flowers, bows, anything). Make pin curls in strategic places (near your temples or forehead) and wear them with decorations for a fancy look. Think of it as very scaled back victory rolls that don’t create volume.

Medium – aka nearing the shoulders.
This is where you turn to genuine vintage advice, look up a haircut called the midi or middy. This is a very specific hair cut that requires a lot of dedication. But even if you don’t commit to the full midi, you can still take inspiration from this era. Again, pin curls or thin-medium rollers is the way to go, you can even try foam rollers with good result. Forget most of the modern era pinup tutorials that involve a ton of teasing and heat styling, if hair at this length gets damaged it will be seen immediately. You can use almost any accessory at this point.


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