The severe hairstyles of the 1920s were replaced with softer styles between 1930 and 1945. Men and women grew their hair out slightly from the short styles popular in the previous decade. Men abandoned their slick, flattened styles in favor of clean, loose hair. Women, for the most part, wore their hair cut neatly above their shoulders, but some experimented briefly with longer styles inspired by glamorous movie stars such as Veronica Lake (1919–1973).
The most characteristic look of this period was waved hair. Both men and women encouraged any natural wave their hair might have or visited hair-dressers for permanent or temporary waved styles. Men might not admit to professional help, however, as fashion trends favored natural waves for men. Women could freely wave their hair in many different ways: naturally, with the help of a variety of curlers, or with a professionally styled permanent.
Most men were clean-shaven, except for older men who could not bring themselves to part with their beards. Negative attitudes about beards during this time were vividly described in the New Statesman and Nation in August 1935 and quoted by Richard Corson in Fashions in Hair: The First Five Thousand Years : "a bearded man in America enjoys all the privileges of a bearded woman in a circus." The sentiment seemed to be true throughout the Western world. Although men shaved regularly, many kept neat mustaches, which they waxed, ironed, or trimmed daily. Eager for any way to make shaving even easier, men quickly embraced the electric shaver introduced in 1935, which allowed them to shave without water.
Both men and women wore hats during this period. Men continued to wear fedoras, a soft, crowned felt hat, but in many more colors than before. Felt hats came in a wide variety of colors: brown, dark or light gray, grayish blue, green, and even lilac. The most unusual colors were popularized by the flashy outfits worn by gangsters, members of criminal gangs, who were prominent in the news of the time. Women's hats remained small but not as close-fitting as the cloche hat of the 1920s. Women wore small brimmed hats or flat berets perched at an angle on top of their heads.
Corson, Richard. Fashions in Hair: The First Five Thousand Years. London, England: Peter Owen, 2001.
Lister, Margot. Costume: An Illustrated Survey from Ancient Times to the Twentieth Century. London, England: Herbert Jenkins, 1967.
Trasko, Mary. Daring Do's: A History of Extraordinary Hair. New York: Flammarion, 1994.