Women’s Hair Through the Years at LSU

Daniel Magee, Brooke Yelvington, Hannah Passman, and Bridgette Ryan

Over the years in LSU’s history, the hairstyles of women have vastly changed. Considering the cultural changes along with historical developments that occurred in each decade, it is easy to notice how the changes in women’s hairstyles relate to each time period.


Women’s hair in the 1930s was generally curlier and shorter in length. The overall look  displayed a softer, more feminine appeal. This style contrasts from the boyish looks of the 1920s as the economic situation in the United States drastically changed. The country faced its worst economic crisis, suffering an unemployment rate of twenty-five percent. Americans left the luxuries of the previous decade and took on new styles that represented the mood of the time. Hollywood actresses such as Gene Harlow and Bette Davis displayed their short hair on Hollywood red carpets and photo shoots, which left some impact on the hair style choices of the LSU women.

Figure 1: Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 1937.

1940s “Women and War”: (132)

Women’s hairstyle in the 1940s was generally long or shoulder length longer. Some women choose to layer their hair and most did not wear bangs. During the early portion of the 1940s, the country was at war and the government rationed household items, leaving a shortage of accessible beauty products. The lack of resources available forced women to look to other alternatives which led to the use of pipe cleaners as a means to roll and style hair. The application of pipe cleaners created a trend which led to the name of victory rolls. This hair style grew popular among common women as well as famous actresses such as Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable. LSU women incorporated this trend with their hairstyle as many of the images depict women lightly curled hair.

Figure 2: Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 1945

1950s “The Housewife”:

Women in the 1950s predominantly had short hair.  With thousands of soldiers returning from war and starting families the idea of the “Ideal Family” or “ideal life” took hold of America. With the exception of jobs such as nursing and elementary school teaching, a woman were mostly confined in the household. Sitcoms such as Leave it to Beaver and I Love Lucy displayed how the “ideal wife” should look. Television first becomes commonplace  in the American household and these ideal left an impact on young women going off to college and the hair styles. This style of hair was popular in the LSU community.

Pictured below is the Italian cut that was popularized in the 1950s.

italian cut
Figure 3: The Italian cut

Bubble and poodle cuts were also popular hairstyles in the 1950s.

bubble and poodle cuts
Figure 4: The poodle and bubble cuts were more “around the town” looks. Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 1958.

1960s “From the 50s to the Hippies”:

The hairstyles in the first half of the 1950s were largely influenced by the previous decade.The culture at the start of the decade still revolved around the “ideal lifestyle” demonstrated in the sitcoms of the late 50s. As the decade progressed in social

Figure 5: Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 1964.

acceptance, so did the hair. Hair Stylists in Chicago did the first “beehive” cut. Big and symmetrical was the name of the game in the mid 60s for everyday folks and celebrities. Although the housewife lifestyle was still the norm, women were slowly gaining their influence and individuality in society. By the end of the 60s women started to stray away from traditional norms, taking on a different look altogether. Women had Longer feathered or straightened hair. The look was were laid back compared to the previous decade. LSU was no exception to this look and is even evidence that this look was taking hold with college kids at the forefront of the movement.



While the “hippy” and “bohemian” style emerged in the late 60’s, it became more popular and evident in the 1970’s. Women’s hairstyles varied from long straight hair and short and edgy. College students in the 1970s participated in protests and other rebellious acts and the edgy and experimental time period was reflected in women’s hairstyles on

1970s 3
Figure 6: Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 1973

campus. Some hairstyles were considered unisex, like the Shag or Gypsy cut, where both men and women had a “no” frills cut that involved evenly-progressing layers with graduated sides and a full fringe. Straight hair that was parted down the middle was popular among women. Another common style was the flicked fringe, also known as “wings“. Straightening iron were made popular for hair. This look is especially popular among women in the LSU community.



Popular hairstyles in the 80s included “big” hair, which was heavily influenced by the time period. The 1980s was a decade filled with materialism. People were influenced by many popular blockbusters such as Hairspray, and shows such as Dallas, which influence women’s fashion throughout the decade. Short, asymmetrical haircuts reflected the rise of New Wave Music as well. Women during this time believed that the bigger the hair, the

Figure 7: 

wealthier the woman. MTV, a popular music T.V. channel, began airing in the 80s as well. This impacted the way women would portray themselves. Women would cut and dye their hair with vibrant colors,  to express an artsy, enthusiastic, musician look.


Much like the eighties, the nineties was full of big hairstyles. Iconic TV shows like Friends and Full House either embraced the decades styles or participated in creating them. Jennifer Aniston, who played Rachel on Friends, had a hairstyle everyone was dying to have. A short shoulder length cut with highlights and layers. In Full House, the girls on this show had long hair that was straight until the end where it was left slightly natural. But their bangs were cut and thinned to create a “feathered” look. Other styles included crimped hair and pixie cuts. Women were also using more hair accessories in their hair like butterfly clips and bandanas.

big hair
Figure 8: Big hair, Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 1995.

Early 2000s to Today

Hairstyles in the early 2000s heavily reflected trends set by celebrities. Britney Spears, a popular singer, rocked the crimped hair style. Hilary Duff, star of hit T.V. show, Lizzie Mcguire, set a trend for bangs. Women in the early 2000s also wore their hair in natural

present day
Figure 9: Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 2001.

styles, verses previous decades where crazy big hair was popular. As the 2000s have progressed, women have continued to wear their hair in seemingly natural styles, whether curled or straightened. Recent years have given rise to celebrities that emphasize originality but also flair with hair styling. This is representative of today’s society because women have been following more sensual, rebellious trends than in the previous decade.

Work Cited

“1930s Hairstyles: Elegant Waves for Women.” Fashiongonerogue. 26 Feb. 2015.  

Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 1937.

Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 1945.

Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 1958.

Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 1964.

Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 1973

Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 1985.

Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 1995.

Kappa Kappa Gamma Louisiana State University. Baton Rouge, 2001.

“The History of the 1940s Victory Rolls Hairstyle.” Hollywoodnoir. 9 June, 2012.

“Women’s 1970s Hairstyles: An overview.” Hair and Markup Artist Handbook. 11 Jan. 2013.