Vintage Style #33: Big, Big Hair

The Annual Fooshba Award
It wasn't that long ago (April '11) that we talked about big hair. Yet, I feel a hankering for another round.  There's just nothing better than those big domes of hair, oftentimes appearing to defy gravity with vast curls spiraling into the upper reaches of the atmosphere.  The decades of the sixties and seventies were home to mighty swaths of hair curled and folded upon itself beyond reason and wigs that needed shanks of rebar to maintain their girth.

So what happened to the big hair? Well, it certainly has never completely gone by the wayside.  Indeed, the eighties had its fair share of hairsprayed cranial monuments.  But it gradually became looked upon as tacky non professional. “Today’s Woman” simply doesn’t presume the feminine vanity of gargantuan hair styles.  She’s got better things to do, dammit.

Plus, wigs have gone completely out of favor.  Wigs were perhaps the main culprit in the preponderance of beehive behemoths – just ask Dolly Parton.  Today, enormous wigs are the domain of scary televangelist dames.  (And please note that wigs were by no means exclusive to women – guys wore ‘em more than you might think.)

Let’s face it, in today’s fast paced world, who has time to manage a big-ass head of hair? Americans are so overworked and so preoccupied by sports, food, sex and celebrity worship we can barely squeeze in time to sleep and murder each other.  Hours spent doing one’s hair is simply off the table.

What’s interesting is mankind’s odd relationship with the hair atop their heads.  The powdered wig trend of the eighteenth century has to be among the strangest phases. After that, super-long hair suffered a dry spell until the counter culture movement in the twentieth century.  Of course, hippies were quick to point out that Jesus had long hair despite the older generation’s disapproval of it.  

In the seventies, long (often unwashed) straight hair parted down the middle was the style for women, while mighty afros for blacks were the standard cut.  

Twiggy not only inspired the skinny framed look in the latter half of the sixties, she also inspired many women to cut their hair short.  

Jackie Kennedy inspired thousands of women to sport the bouffant, and Jennifer Anniston, decades later, popularized the layered look...... but none will ever compare to the hair style craze inspired by Farrah Fawcett on Charlie's Angels.  Holy shit. Every girl was sporting one, and the style even became named after her: "The Farrah Do" or just "The Farrah".

Basically the style goes like this: (1) approximately shoulder length, (2) layered around face (3) feathered back, (4) flipped, and (4) bangs.  Blow dry the shit out of it (upside down) and hairspray. That's it.

It was everywhere in the late seventies and lasted into the early eighties. Speaking from a heterosexual male perspective - it is an extremely attractive look for a woman. They say it's coming back, but it's a much more modest, conservative, restrained version that doesn't even deserve the Farrah namesake. 

Well, I could ramble on and on, but I'll stop here (I'm hungry and the needs of my stomach trump the need to finish this post).  Until next time.


  1. Interesting, it seems that hair fashion like clothes fashion goes in cycles. The latest hair style amongst teenagers is to wear long hair on top of the head in a big-hair style.

  2. Maybe it's just me, but the short-haired gal in the green leather outfit looks like Patricia Heaton from "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "The Middle."

  3. Speaking as another heterosexual guy... I recall "The Farrah" hairstyle (or an exaggerated New Wave version of it) lasting well into the late 80's. I was born in the 70's, and went to high school in the 80's, so I pretty much spent my entire youth in The Age of The Farrah hairstyle. Almost every girl I knew, growing up, had that hair. I never knew different - to me, "big and feathery" was just "how girls' hair looked". In fact it was so normal back then, that I didn't even realize how sexy it was, until the 90's when girls started wearing their hair flat and boring. I think that was the moment I started longing for "the good old days". The photo you posted here, to illustrate "The Farrah" look, doesn't show the most attractive girls in the world, but it reminds me of "what turned me on" when I was young and impressionable and my hormones were raging.

  4. Is that Cybill Shepherd in the first pic?

  5. Yup, big hair is returning. Both the '60s style and the mid-80s "poodle" look. I always enjoyed both, and I'm glad to see them return.

  6. My mom used to wear a wig sometimes, but it was more because my dad loved blondes, but mom of course, wasn't blonde. You should do a post no those scary wig holders. Mom let us decorate them with markers or crayons.

  7. I often get accused of having "80's hair." Thing is, I don't do any of that stuff. I just put it in curlers while wet, blow dry, and at night sleep on sponge rollers. In the morning I brush it and maybe put a headband in. I don't use any hairspray or other products.

    For singing I'll sometimes put in a hairpiece to make it look a little thicker. Especially when my anemia was causing a lot of it to break. (Apparently low blood iron means you'll have thin, easily broken hair.) But now that I'm under treatment for it (my iron level was a 7, it's suppose to be at least 70) my hair's getting thicker and healthier. So I soon won't need the clip in fake hair.

  8. Some big hair didn't even look that good when it was in style, really, but there was also good big hair too. Look how nice that lady with the trophy looks! That's classy in any era, and our current era could sure use more class!

  9. Speak for yourself. I like hair to be natural (whether straight or curly). Overstyled hair is definitely not my thing. Hair moderately curled with soft rollers or an iron is fine. But anything that requires loads of hairspray, anything giant and frizzy (think Barbara Streissand, Tina Turner, anything typically '80s) or those really plastic-looking styles that were worn during the 1950s. Don't even get me started on any hair that has been permed (or chemically straightened). Having caustic, smelly chemicals poured on one's hair to weld it into place is just disgusting, one of the worst things about the 80s. I would give the inventor of hair perming the award for the most useless, counterproductive invention of the year it was invented.

    One of the more "styled" looks I kind of do like is the 1960s flip (think Mary Tyler Moore). But generally, I'm a fan of what you call "flat", I.E. hair that has been more or less left to its natural properties. As for the "Farrah", not the worst style, but not the best IMO either. I prefer hair worn more off the face. Nice brows should not be hidden.

  10. Oh yeah...I remember the Farrah! Everyone wore that at some point in the late 70s and early 80s! I have this wonderful photo of my aunt with a giant sweep of hair that made her look like Anette Funicello...gotta find it now!

  11. Different hair styles work for differences faces.
    The brunette in pic #7 lower left does the Farrah very well, IMHO.