Hairstyles and History

Life is too short to have boring hair.

Throughout the decades, the impact of hairstyle trends is an entertaining aesthetic to contemplate.

Local Hair Lore
The oldest family-owned hair salon in the country is Gould’s Salon Spa of Memphis. Today, Gould’s boasts ten salon spa locations across the Midsouth that offer, of course, salon and spa services as well as a training academy with 340 current students and a Luxe Salon Suites concept for stylists, their newest venture. The company is currently led by second- and third-generation family members. In 1932, Sam Gould opened a small hair salon to bring an upscale, Hollywood-inspired experience to clients.

30s, 40s and 50s
Hollywood starlets such as Lucille Ball, Ava Gardner, Jane Russell and a young Elizabeth Taylor influenced hairstyles of the 30s, 40s and 50s. For women, the trend throughout these decades was to have a soft look, featuring either pin curls or stand-up curls.

In the 1950s, for men, Elvis Presley was a major trendsetter with his jet black, slicked back look referred to as the Ducktail, the Jelly Roll, the Rocker, the Greaser or simply, “the Elvis cut.” You’ve been patient, so here’s the answer. Gould’s was Elvis’ salon of choice!

Many people know that Elvis Presley's barber Homer Gill. What many do not know is that Mr. Gill was an employee for Gould's Salon Spa of Memphis. Sam Gould didn’t just introduce Hollywood luxury to Memphis, his salon ultimately played a part in creating one of Hollywood’s best-known trends. Elvis always flew Mr. Gill to his shows to be on hand in case a hair touch-up was required. Mr. Gill was responsible for converting Elvis's hair from its natural brownish blond color to the iconic jet black.

60s and 70s
The 60s and 70s represented an age of counterculture. The soft wholesome look became edgier to match the desire for social change. First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was immensely influential in the 1960s. Her flipped bob became extremely popular and was copied by celebrities such as Diana Ross and Elizabeth Montgomery. Right before this trend came on the scene, the beehive was popular in the late 50s, early 60s. This was the sky-scraping style that inspired the oft repeated phrase “the higher the hair, the closer to God.”

60s stylist Len Lewis was credited for giving the Beatles their mop tops and Twiggy her pixie cut. Vidal Sassoon created the wash-and-wear cut, freeing women from endless hairstyling, teasing and weekly hair setting appointments. His styling product launch featured shampoos and other products for the everyday woman. The 70s brought a straighter, longer trend in hair, with lower maintenance requirements. Middle parts were also popular. 

80s and 90s
Moving into the 80s and 90s, more purposeful and high maintenance looks were on trend once again. Perms, mullets and other over-the-top looks were all the rage in the 80s as was the side ponytail, bangs and Aqua Net hairspray that helped put that hole in the ozone. Banana clips, headbands, scrunchies and more were abundant in the 80s, the decade of excess. In the 90s, hairstyles calmed down a bit. “The Rachel,” boomed in 1995 when actress Jennifer Aniston sported this look on Friends. Alicia Silverstone’s straight blond hair, made popular by the movie Clueless, was also booming in the 90s.


The early 2000s included long curly 'dos popularized by Debra Messing in Will and Grace. Also, popular were glossy pin straight dues and lustrous bobs. Hair extensions were popular. Think Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. Another add-on was the reemergence of a crimped look, although instead of all over crimp, this was used sparingly and as an accent. 

Movies like Bring it On and Mean Girls had a great deal of influence. The cheerleader look, synonymous with the girl-next-door, was desirable. In addition, the 2000s brought on adding flair to your hair! Butterfly clips, glitter, headbands, and even feathers were in and celebrities like Tyra Banks, Rihanna, Amanda Bynes, Beyoncé, and J.Lo. were immensely influential.

Historically, some of our favorite styles make their way back around, while others – aside from a few incriminating old photographs – will respectfully (and hopefully) remain in the past.

“The higher the hair, the closer to God.” (trends of the late 50s, early 60s)

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