Story of Us, 1920-1930: The Hollywood Factor

There’s a reason why they call it ‘star power.’ The impact that Hollywood has on our daily lives is undeniable. Entertainment news shows, magazines, websites and social media report daily on celebrity style, and the influence on beauty culture is astronomical. How many women ran to their salons with a photo of Mia Farrow after her iconic pixie cut in the ‘60s or Jennifer Aniston after she debuted ‘The Rachel’ in the ‘90s? How many women got dye jobs to capture Marilyn Monroe’s bombshell blonde in the ‘50s or reached for their hair dryers to get Farrah Fawcett’s fabulously feathered hair in the ‘70s?

Just as celebs influence our beauty trends today, it wasn’t much different back in the 1920s. Silent film stars Louise Brooks and Colleen Moore popularized the bob, as did designer Coco Chanel.  No doubt about it, the bob was as big a trend in the 1920s as it was in the 1960s, when Vidal Sassoon reinvented it. In April 1928, we ran a story about actress Mary Pickford—who was known for her long curls— with the attention-grabbing headline, “Mary Pickford Bobs Her Hair!” Underneath her new look was a photo of America’s sweetheart holding “lovely, golden curls” she had just shorn. 

The bob was all the rage, but other short styles were popular, too. Silent Era actress Anna May Wong wore the shingle cut, which was a bob with a tapered back. Jazz Age beauty, Josephine Baker, sported a short, slicked back style known as the Eton crop. Gloria Swanson, the Lady Gaga of the Jazz Age, was famous for her extravagant draped turbans and bejeweled headbands. Silver screen starlet Doris Hill was frequently seen wearing a cloche hat, which became the defining hat of the ‘20s. Browbands were worn by practically everyone and emerged as the signature look of the decade.

The 1920s marked a turning point for women and their hair. The decade was defined by social and cultural rebellion, and ladies said goodbye to their long Victorian locks. Short, sculpted hair was a visual marker of the “new woman,” and Hollywood actresses were a prime symbol of this bold trend. As Chanel once said, “A woman who cuts her hair is about to change her life.” 

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