Embrace the cringe: Reliving 4 decades of iconic hairstyles

Embrace the cringe

Reliving 4 decades of iconic hairstyles


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We can all relate. Looking back on that one photo where you thought you were rocking THE chicest hairstyle of the time. You were looking good, feeling on trend and no one could tell you any differently.

But now? Well, not so much.

Listen, experimental hairstyles are a part of all our histories. Let’s come together and share in the collective cringe as we take a look back at some of the most iconic hairstyles from the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s.

1950s

Pompadour and circumstance

The iconic hairstyle that sticks out from the 1950s has got to be the sweeping, greasy pompadour. Favoured by rockabilly superstar, Elvis Presley and sported to perfection in 1950s-set films Grease and West Side Story, this voluminous hairstyle was achieved with a generous helping of pomade paste used to slick back the hair.

Perhaps due to its charismatic sporters like Elvis, the pompadour is certainly a look that seems to exude a bit of swagger. It has also seemed to have made a comeback in recent times, check out fashion designer and stylist Tan France (shown above) rocking the style.

1960s

Revolutionary styling

The 1960s was the decade of revolution. Political, musical, sexual – this was the era of experimentation, freedom and rebellion and the hairstyles were no exception. They represented a revolt against the overly coiffed and structured hairstyles of the previous decade.

One iconic hairstyle of this decade that perhaps has not aged as well as some of the others would have to be the mop top.

Popularised by The Beatles and spread throughout the world as a result of ‘Beatlemania’, the mop top was a shaggy bowl cut worn just about the eyes.

Inspired by The Mods movement, the mop top soon spread throughout the world as fans wanted to emulate the style of their musical idols. Although the style may have suited the Fab Four, there are many who look back on photos of their mop-topped selves and wonder just what they were thinking.

1970s

Long and luscious                                   

Long, natural hair continued to be popular in the 1970s as the hippie movement got into full swing. The likes of Joni Mitchell and Stevie Nicks set the trend for luscious locks, as women reclaimed their sensuality with long layered hair in Hollywood and beyond. 

One of the more iconic hairstyles of this decade was the blowout.

Popularised by Farrah Fawcett in the hit TV show Charlie’s Angels, the blowout featured a centre part with thick shaggy layers flicked outwards, away from the face.

It took a lot of blow drying and roll brushing to look this good!

A second iconic hairstyle popularised in the 1970s which (unfortunately) cannot be ignored, is the mullet. Perhaps the most controversial of hairstyles, the mullet is the ultimate ‘business in the front, party in the back’ look and remained popular up until the early 90s and even today still lingers on.

A questionable choice when it comes to hairstyles we bet there are more than a few who feel a slight cringe when looking back on photos of themselves rocking a 70s mullet.

1980s

Bigger is better

The final decade on our list provides possibly the richest ground for hairstyle related cringe. If hair in the 1980s could be described in two words it would be: high maintenance.

From Cyndi Lauper with her exuberant half shaved, half crimped locks and asymmetrical pony tail, to Grace Jones sporting the iconic androgynous high-top fade, popular among both black men and women.

A particular style icon of this decade was none other than Princess Diana whose shaggy, voluminous hair was emulated the world over by women who wanted their own piece of the young, newlywed royal’s seemingly effortless chic.

Now, the time has come to address the elephant in the room. The 80s hairstyle that can be ignored no longer, the most iconic and quintessentially 80s of styles – the perm.

Oh, the perm. The old sticking your finger in the electrical socket hairstyle. A lot of work to achieve, a lot of work to maintain but the epitome of style – in the 80s at least.

Forty years on from the 1980s we can start to appreciate the perm for the product of its time that it was – but the cringe sure does live on.

What do you think of our iconic hairstyle selections of the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s?

Were there any of these that you sported yourself?

It goes without saying that we would absolutely love to add to this article with photos of your most brave and eccentric hairstyle choices.