We look back at the retro hairstyles we loved - including beehives and feather cuts
Just as much as clothes, a hairstyle can announce to the world that you’ve grown-up and want to be taken seriously. That it’s you – not your mum – who is now in charge. That first happened for me with a feather cut, aged 14. Remember those? Very layered hair – preferably fine-styled with a razor – as sported by Suzi Quatro and the girls from the New Seekers. Even better, a new, unisex hairdresser had opened up in town. No chance of your mum going there for a shampoo and set – so it was where we all got our identical cuts.
There was only one problem… we were still at school, where tied-back hair was an iron rule, so ended up sporting an unflattering rat’s tail beneath layers clamped in kirby grips.
Allyson Curtis would sympathise...
“In 1973 I decided, two days before I was due to begin work as a 17-year-old cadet nurse, to home-style my hair à la David Bowie. On duty I was required to
tie my hair back and, as cadet nurses didn’t wear caps, the look I achieved was akin to Mr Hedgehog in nurse’s uniform”.
It should have worked out better for independent-minded Heather Moulson, “Everyone else was sporting feather cuts that autumn of 1971, but I wanted the glamour of a perm. It was the overpowering smell of ammonia I remember most during that grueling, three-hour session. The smell stayed with me for weeks. Meanwhile, I resembled a poodle being groomed for Crufts. I couldn’t get a brush or comb through my hair. All the girls at school laughed at me. It was truly traumatic.”
Perms! So many of you got in touch with total recall of the smell, the singe and the resulting unspeakable frizz. Yes, perms have been traumatising Yours readers for many years. “In 1950 I begged my mum to let me have a perm,” writes Janet Taylor. “The machine for the perm was a massive thing with long wires and on the end of each wire was a big metal clip which they attached to each roll of hair. The girl fixed the clip and then left me in a cubicle with curtains round. After a while the clip near my neck started burning my skin; I was in agony but kept quiet. The next day I had a massive blister across my neck and I didn’t have another perm for years.”
Helen Gale however, begs to differ. “I loved my shaggy perm. It was such low maintenance. Just a visit every few months for a trim and a perm, then I could wash and leave it. I have never had another hairstyle that was as easy to care for.”
Which you could never say about beehives. Wendy Lucey recalls with admiration her friend’s perfect up-do. “Her sister was a hairdresser and she’d drive a 40-mile round trip to style it for her. She slept with a rolled towel under her neck so the shape stayed in place and she didn’t comb it from one Saturday to the next. But her hair never looked untidy as there was so much lacquer on it, I don’t think it would have moved in a Force 10 gale.”
Yep – you have to commit to a beehive. “In 1960 when I was 16 I plagued my mother to let me have a beehive hair do,” remembers Glennys Wood. “She was reluctant as I had naturally curly hair. Anyway she gave in and off I went to quite a posh, expensive salon in Derby town centre. On my way home on the bus I kept looking at my reflection, hair straightened and piled high. It looked awful! As soon as I arrived home I covered my hair in Nivea cream to flatten it down. When my mother arrived home from work she said, ‘Let’s have a look then.’ I had made such a mess of it I had to have it washed out. I never had a beehive again.”
At least Glennys could just wash the mistake away, unlike poor Mrs Ball.
“I had beautiful waist-length hair and decided to get my highlights done at home by a supposedly professional hairdresser. She put the bleach on my hair and all seemed to go well. Eventually I leant over the bath to wash the bleach out. I looked down and there was my waist-length hair lying in the bath. She had left the bleach on too long. It was awful. I cried for days and sadly my hair would never grow that long again.”
Rosemary Lake was a big Helen Shapiro fan and her friend was a trainee hairdresser, so how would that turn out? “I agreed to let her cut short and style my long, thick dark hair and she wouldn’t let me look until it was finished. She had given me Helen’s backcombed bob and I was delighted. I’m now 69 and I’ve had many different styles, but I will never forget how great that felt back in 1962.” Yay!
For more nostalgia, pick up the latest copy of Yours magazine