Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hair for Victory: Pin Up Girl

The Movie
   Pin Up Girl (1944, directed by H. Bruce Humberstone) has always been one of my favorite movies for spectacular '40s hairstyles - the rest is pure fluff. The voluminous hairdos that star in the film sit on top of the heads of Betty Grable, Martha Raye and numerous extras.  Betty Grable is a canteen worker in her home state, a big tomato in a little pond.  She gets restless and, telling everyone at home she's off on the nationwide USO tour as a special guest, heads off to her new job Washington DC, as a stenographer. During a short stop in New York on the way, she meets a handsome war hero.  But work beckons, and finally she arrives at her destination, notebook in hand.  Who will be her new boss?

Wartime Hair
   The styles in this movie are the antithesis of those worn by the day-to-day Rosies, who went a-riveting and to war-time jobs in short hair and scarves (like Red's grandma on the swing shift or on the riveters shown below).  As one of the more popular hairstyles of the period that enabled a woman to go to work with out short hair or severe pin-backs, 'the victory cut' was about three inches long, permed, pinned down and combed into a halo of curls.  Think Norma Shearer in The Women.  However, no regular victory cut for our Betty; impracticality rules the day in Pin Up Girl.
   Hairstyling tools that were available around the time this movie was filmed were much more limited than they are today - no curling irons, hot sticks or hand-held blow-dryers - just a girl and her bobby pins, clips and rats (as could be used to get the 'bumper bang' above).

   ...and extra hair, lots of extra hair, especially if you wanted a Grable-like creation.  The look at the top of this post is from what is probably the most successful segment of the movie, where Betty - several months pregnant and made up as a New Orleans tramp in the opposite of her wholesome image - sings and dances with Hermes Pan.  The super-bouffant look is created with a hair accessory.  The front mass of bangs is held to the head with an elastic band, pinned in place, with the rest of the hair swept up over the band to hide it and curled to blend with the piece.  
   The more traditional 40s long styles in the movie are sported by Dorothea Kent as Betty's friend, by Martha Raye as the wicked witch of the picture, and sometimes even by Betty herself (at right).  The large rolls in the hair were called victory rolls, and were created by pinning wet hair into identical large pin-curls, letting it dry, then brushing the curls out into a large barrel roll and pinning it into place.  Styles with lots of height like this may have also been rolled around a 'rat', a roll of mesh that took bobby pins easily and was hidden within the roll of hair.  No hair stylist is credited on this picture.

Don't try this at home - please!

Links and Sources
Try it - victory rolls, Aubrey London
Try it - pin curls, Lisa Freemont Street
Many many other sites...

Great books out there on 1940s hair:
1940s Hairstyles by Daniela Turdich
Creative Hairstyling by Alfred Morris
Vintage Hairstyling by Lauren Rennells 

No comments:

Post a Comment