Top 40s Hairstyles of the 1940s

The 40s was an era defined by war, when women favored short styles that could easily be maintained and protected with hats. A popular style in that decade was the chignon, two hair rolls at the crown secured using “rats,” or old stockings or modern rats filled with stuffing material pinned and secured using hairpins.

Victory Roll

Victory rolls were one of the most fashionable hairstyles during World War II. Bound with soft waves, their voluminous curls framed the face perfectly while providing a glamorous retro aesthetic. Additionally, women working in factories supporting the war effort found this vintage style practical as it kept long locks away from machinery. According to one theory, its name may come from an airplane maneuver and how pilots’ visors would fall when they scored victories during combat – hence its moniker of “victory rolls.”

This elegant hairstyle looks fabulous on long wavy or straight locks and makes an impressive statement at special events and weddings. This retro style is easy to create and looks incredible when worn with red lipstick! To achieve it, the upper part of your hair should be combed upwards and rolled into small, symmetrical rolls using pins and hair gel before the remaining locks are styled into soft waves – finishing the style perfectly with a decorative bow to complete its retro appearance.


Women over 40 can look their best with this chic hairstyle highlighting jawline and cheekbones. A shoulder-length pageboy style works for all face shapes, while its shagginess creates full texture. Pair this look with caramel blonde highlights and face-framing side bangs for an irresistibly seductive appearance.

In the 1940s, working women often donned pageboys with tight pin curls as a practical workwear option that wouldn’t interfere with machinery or their hat while at work. This look also looked fantastic when styled with a pomade to add some flare. This classic short hairstyle debuted during World War II and is fashionable today. Easy to style and great on all face shapes, the look requires minimal upkeep. Add modern flare by adding layers or using techniques like balayage; add streaks of silver for subtler results.

Pin Curls

Perms may not be for everyone, but they’re easy to give hair that old Hollywood glamour. This 1940s hairstyle involves pinning up sections of hair and shaping it into little coils – an economical version of finger waves or Marcel waves from the 1920s.

The pin perm is an ideal style to sport at work, on dates, or at special events, while providing low-maintenance style options for women with shorter locks that don’t want to devote too much time or energy to styling their locks. Start by applying damp hair. Either leave pin curls to dry naturally or blow dry them with low heat settings until dry. Brush out for an elegant and sleek look; styling gel or pomade can add extra hold and shine if needed.

Mini Rolls

In the 1940s, small hair rolls became fashionable. Paired with the look of a classic chignon and secured to form an updo style suitable for brides or guests attending a wedding, this trend created an elegant yet traditional style of dress code for both.

Using a hair tool known as a ‘rat’ (think soft foam doughnuts or sausages), 1940s women rolled their hair using pins to secure it into shape. This was common practice among those without the money to have their perm done professionally and instead chose to permit themselves at home using this DIY approach.

Large bottom rolls were another fashionable 1940s style. Combed over the classic middy baby, middy, or middy plus haircut and combined with bangs, waves, fluffs, or pompadours for added drama, Ivan Anderson’s books 1940’s Creative hair Styling You Can Do and 1940’s Hairstyles for You detail various roll shapes created by stylists over this middy cut – reverse, forward or both!