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Victory Rolls Through the Years – The 1940s Style that Lives On

by akesha / last updated August 7, 2019

This week the Hair Historian looks back at Victory Rolls…

Today, this retro style is a pin-up girl favourite, but once upon a time it was a way of injecting some glamour into a war-torn world, and bringing some style into working women’s life in the factories.

The Second World War saw women across the country tasked with taking over traditional male roles in factories, farms and transport. While the trend was very much still for Hollywood-inspired long, elegant, curled hair, this was absolutely impractical for the busy, dangerous world of work.

With war looming large, practical work by women was crucial and any downtime caused by hair getting caught up in machines and moving parts was at best, expensive, at worst, unpatriotic.

Women were forced to wear hairnets, snoods and other protective headgear – all of which was very well, but it was hardly glamorous. That’s when women started getting innovative, and curling the hair that was still visible – creating rolls at the front of the head for a style that felt elegant, but which was still practical and didn’t get in the way of their work.

Setting your hair in these curls during the day also allowed for hair with a nice loose wave at the end of your shift, when you could go out dancing looking your glamorous best self.

One of the most inspirational style icons of the 1940s was Veronica Lake, who was best known for her long waves and peekaboo style, worn with a long sweep of hair covering one eye.

This was obviously an extremely impractical style and, such was her influence, the US War Production Board recruited Veronica for a 1943 film called “Safety Styles”, in which the actress demonstrated how hair could be styled into rolls for a more practical, but still elegant, style.

When it comes to the name, there are plenty of different theories around the Victory roll. Some claim it is because of the V-shape that the hair forms in rolls, others suggest it was named for a patriotic hope of victory. However, the most common theory is that it was named after a manoeuvre performed by pilots as a sign of celebration – the aileron roll, better known as ‘the victory roll’.

Lead Image via Rex Features

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