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Why retro hair rules!

Meet Sarah Dunn, vintage hair stylist and owner of Sarah’s Doo-Wop Dos… a hair parlour dedicated to recreating retro looks and styles, based in Bedford.

retro hair style

How long have you been in the vintage business?

I started Sarah’s Doo-Wop Dos two years ago, although styling is something I’ve always had a big passion for – I’ve always been known as the girl with the big, colourful hair!

Which came first – wanting to work in hair, or your love for vintage?

I’ve always loved and worn vintage clothes. I used to wear 1960s mini dresses in my teens after my first shopping trip to Camden in London, and I guess it just grew from there. The hair styling is really just an extension of that, as I love the whole look of each era and like to carry them through to my own hair, as do my clients. There are so many looks to choose from; from the decadence of eras like the 1920s with striking finger waves, the elegant silhouettes of the 1940s with their carefully constructed rolls and curls, to the huge hair and way-out styles of the 1960s. Hair and vintage go very much hand in hand for me.

Do you think vintage styling is on the increase or is still only popular amongst men and women who live the retro/vintage lifestyle?

I do often style for people who live a very vintage lifestyle but also I do a lot of hair for people new to the scene and a lot for people who are attending weddings, parties or who are just experimenting with their look. Vintage styles are a great way to add a classic touch to an outfit and with so many people owning and wearing vintage clothing, it’s a great way to finish off a look.

retro hair updo

What’s your favourite vintage hair look and why?

I’m a real 1940s lover, so victory rolls and classic wave sets are a big favourite of mine. I love really glamorous styles and hair in the forties was often very intricate. As women couldn’t get new clothes easily during the war years due to rationing, hair styles became a way to make a statement and therefore the era has some really show-stopping looks.

Do you think all hairdressers could benefit from adding vintage styling to their skillset?

It’s a great service to be able to offer as vintage looks are very popular right now. A rockabilly styled rolled fringe or headscarf updo can be a great edgy way to dress hair and victory rolls and beehives are great looks for parties, proms and weddings. You can go for a full dramatic look or give just a little nod to an era.

What is the best way to start learning about vintage styling?

There are some great modern books out there but if you can, definitely get your hands on original books for accurate setting patterns and some really intricate and inspiring images. For me it’s about researching an era, as it’s something I really enjoy.

Want to recreate Sarah’s fave Victory rolls? Here’s how…

Step by step

  1. First, section the hair into front, sides and back sections and keep in place with sectioning clips. For victory rolls the side sections should be from the front of the head to roughly the back of the ear.

  2. retro hair how to 1

  3. Curl the front/fringe section with hair tongs (use a tong with a small barrel and make sure to spritz hair with heat protecting spray). Pin the now curled section with a grip at the front to keep it separate and leave it to cool. Taking the side sections create a victory roll on each side by rolling the hair up to the hairline and pinning in place with grips; you can curl the hair first with tongs to help it stay in place and backcomb the roots a little for hold. Next, unpin the front/fringe section and sweep it to the side of the face and create a flat curl detail. Keep in place with a hair grip and secure with a blast of hairspray.

  4. retro hair how to 2

  5. Now, focusing on the back of the style, split the rest of the hair into two sections horizontally. Secure the top section out of the way with a sectioning clip and roll the bottom bigger section up into a barrel roll – you might want to lightly back comb this as you go. You can roll it up as one or in several parts but the finish needs to be a smooth and even roll.

  6. retro hair how to 3

  7. Secure the barrel roll with hair grips at the ends and all along the length of the roll to keep it in place and spray with hairspray.

  8. retro hair how to 4

  9. Finally, let down the last section of the hair on the back of the head and carefully fashion it into a row of small flat curls along the length of the barrel roll. Pin each curl with grips being careful to keep them hidden, and finally fix it all in place with hairspray to help the style hold.

  10. retro hair how to 5

The final look...

retro hair updo style

First published in the Capital Hair & Beauty magazine.