Category Archives: Vintage Master Class

Vintage Master Class :: Prof. Gitte on the 1960s Slumber Party

About the Vintage Master Class:

My mother has always been very stylish and taught me everything I know. Back in the 70s when most of the moms around the playground were wearing polyester stretch pants, my mom looked like a million bucks! This series started our as a great email exchange between my mom and I on hair in the 60s and I asked her if she would mind if I shared it with you. I know you all love vintage as much as I do, so I thought who better to tell us about it than someone who actually lived through it!

Today’s episode? The 1960s Slumber Party.

Back in my days, girls rarely had sleep-overs. Unless you were stranded by bad weather at a friends house—which actually did happened to me one year. I was a freshman at the local JC and we were preparing for winter finals. A group of us were studying together at my friend Ann’s house. Soon it became apparent there was no way we could make it home. Her parents very graciously invited us to stay. By morning the snow had let up and we could go to classes. But not before Ann’s dad made us a wonderful breakfast: hot oatmeal (drenched in brown sugar and half & half) plus a side of  toast and crispy bacon strips. I’d never had that combination, and it was so good it might have helped me land a good grade in my English final that day!

For weeks, my little study group talked about how much fun we  had at our impromptu sleepover, while the others listened with envy!  Finally, one of the girls suggested, “Why don’t we have another slumber party??”

We looked at each other, delighted and intrigued. We were college freshmen after all. Well, who says you can’t have a sleepover in college! And that is how my very first—and last—Slumber Party came to be!

My sister Maria and her husband Max, who I lived with, who were always eager to host, gladly  gave their permission. The plans swung into action! There was one obstacle though: the boys.  Many of us had boyfriends who were very disappointed not to be able to have their usual Friday night date with their girlfriends. But what did we care! This was going to be our night. Maria offered to cook a big pot of Sloppy Joes (from scratch, of course) and all the girls would bring their favorite bottles of “pop” (no cans in those days!) as well as our favorite munchies: Bugles and Baby Ruth candy bars.

Back in my day, we didn’t have roller bags or back packs, we had our little cosmetic suitcases. These were small little bags, that came with a big mirror in the lid, and usually a supply of little empty plastic bottles that could be filled with lotions and perfumes, etc. We rarely used the bottles, however, as we usually crammed our little travel case full of  hair care paraphernalia: curlers, hair clips, bobby pins, combs, brushes and hairspray. You shouldn’t be surprised to hear that, after all, remember we were the hair generation! [read about that over here!]

Now, this was not our only carrying case. Oh no! Our constant companion to any event were the small boxy suitcases filled with our ultimate treasures: 45 records. Having all your favorite music with you was essential! The bottom of each case was usually sprinkled with tons of the little plastic inserts you needed in order to play the record on your player. This was the perfect ingredient for fun!

So, around 8:00 in the evening The Girls arrived. Loaded with their little suitcases, pillows and of course sleeping bags. One by one they filed into our living room. There were around twelve of us. Max had moved my record player upstairs into the livin groom. My personal record player!! Just as the 50’s folks would call it the gramophone, a record player must sound so old fashioned to your ears. But I loooved mine. It had a new invention, a longer center pole so you could stack more than one record at a time. As soon as the first record finished playing, another record fell into place. This was a true innovation and guaranteed non-stop music! We were all so excited, this promised to be a great evening.

Then the phone rang. Max answered. He came into the room and informed us it was for Mary Jo! She ran to the kitchen, soon came back and whispered: The boys heard about our party and wanted to crash it. There are currently five car loads of fellows coming our way!!!!

We looked at each other in shock! Then giggled! We were thrilled! Excited! Nervous! What a turn of events.

Thankfully this was NO PROBLEM. For two reasons: Max and Maria were still rather young themselves at the time (in their 30s) and gave permission to turn the party co-ed until midnight!!!

As the cars rolled into our driveway and the guys climbed out, let me remind you, this was the mod generation! These guys were dressed to the nines, even wearing ties. How much more respectable could they appear? Maria and Max watched them with delight. “Come in! Come on in!” hollered Max. Each carried a six pack—no, not alcohol, but root beer, Vernor’s Ginger Ale, Coca Cola or Tab (!!).  Of course tucked in their pockets were their cigarettes. Yes, yes, those were the days where hardly a young man did not smoke! Maria handed out the ashtrays and got promises of no accidental burns in her nice couch! It was a different time. She was also pleased she had made enough sloppy joes to feed the lot. Before you knew it, the rug was rolled up, my record player got into action and here we go!!!!  We played all our favorites, including “Twisting the Night Away.”

Shortly before midnight Maria made an appearance, signaling that all the action would have to come to a stop soon. And miraculously, everyone agreed.

At the strike of midnight the guys left, as they had promised. Where were they off to, so late on a Friday night? We had no idea, nor did we care! We had our own plans!

As soon as the guys left, we changed into our baby doll nighties and there was a frenzy of activities: hair was washed and set on curlers, facial masks were tried, and nail polish colors unpacked!  After years of red and pink, we had discovered something new and exciting. FROSTED nail polish— in white or pink —was all the rage! We continued to play records and gossip and laugh, reviewing the night. I think our voices were as loud as our music! With the boys gone, Maria and Max could retire to their bedroom, but we girls continued to party. Finally by 4 in the morning we must have zonked out.

The next morning Max got up around 7am for his daily walk with the dog. He love to tell this story. He carefully climbed over a dozen forms of young ladies sprawled all over his living room. As he made his way out the front door for his walk, a car pulled into the drive way.

A frantic-faced woman rolled down her window and inquired anxiously: “Is a girl named Ann in your house by any chance?”

Max laughed and said, “There are about a dozen young girls in my house. But I’ll go check and see.”

He came back in, shook me awake to inquire if there was an Ann. Of course, I woke her up to tell her it was probably her mother. Why did she come so early? As Max tells it,  Ann came flying out the door with all her belongings clutched to her chest. As she raced up to the car, her mother got out, shrieked, gave her a huge hug, asking, “Are you ok, baby???”

Ann nodded and then, WHAMMO! Ann’s mother slapped her right there and then. Max was stunned. Apparently Ann forgot to mention to her mother that this was an overnight get together!! These were the days long before cell phones, and it was very hard to  keep track of your teenagers!! Despite the dramatic end to the party, we had a fabulous time. Although there were a few more glitches:

+ Maria did discover a cigarette burn in her couch table!

+ Several of my records were  missing! (the guys??)

+ Our cranky neighbor complained about the car congestion on the street!

+ And Ann was grounded for a whole month!

But of course none of this ruined our memories of the fabulous (and infamous) Freshman Year College Slumber Party!

images:  1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Aw, I love these SO MUCH! Thanks mama once again for a completely fantastic post! And thanks to you guys for all your support and encouragement with this series. Your sweet comments mean the world to me and my mama!

To read more Vintage Master Class episodes, go here:

1. Vintage hair 50s/60s

2. Vintage hair 60s/70s

Vintage Master Class // Prof. Brigitte on Prom in the 60s

Here she is again, friends, Professor Brigitte with another tale from the vaults. She’s already dazzled us with her Vintage Hair 50s/60s and Vintage Hair 60s/70s and now my sassy mama takes on….THE PROM! Friends, I love this story and I just know you will too!

About Vintage Master Class: My mother has always been very stylish and taught me everything I know. Back in the 70s when most of the moms around my elementary school were wearing double knit, polyester stretch pants, I was extremely proud to have a fashionable mama. I know you all love vintage as much as I do, so I thought who better to tell us about it than someone who actually lived it!  This week’s episode takes place in the early 60s. My mother had just moved from Germany to Michigan and was living with my Aunt Maria and Uncle Max who were like parents to her.

Presenting the Vintage Master Class with Professor Brigitte!

image: Mall of America

A white sport coat and pink carnation!
I’m all dressed up for the dance
A white sport coat and pink carnation!
I’m all alone in romance

Once you told me long ago
To the prom with me you’d go
Now you’ve changed your mind it seems
Someone else will hold my dreams
— Marty Robbins

While I went to the prom in the 60s, this song by Marty Robbins (from 1957) spilled over into our days. When prom time approached, radio stations began to play it almost day and night! I would say the lyrics more or less summed up my experience!

image: Digital Huckle

That song really typified what was at stake here: white was the standard tuxedo worn by most of the guys, and having a date was a must! My teenage students nowadays have it so great: they either go with a boyfriend, they go in a group, or they opt, perfectly happily, not to go at all. It’s their choice.

In the early/mid 60s, it was clear-cut. You either had a date and went to the prom, or you stayed at home….alone, devastated. It was still a sign of your school popularity! So prom time brought a bit of anxiety as you asked yourself the question: will I be going to the prom or not?

image: Groovy Marlin

I was lucky (or not??) to have gone to both my Junior and Senior proms. Very early on in my Junior year, Tom asked me to go with him. We weren’t a couple, but it took no consideration, I accepted immediately. Not that Tom was a heartthrob. On the contrary, he was a very non-descript- but pleasant fellow. He was NOT like Ed, the school football and basketball star, on whom we ALL (including myself) had tremendous crushes. Frankly, going with such a perfect specimen of a boy would have been nerve wracking. The thought of “Tom and Prom” sounded very comfortable and fun. It gave me a certain amount of freedom to go with someone unattached and I knew he wouldn’t object to my girlfriends hanging around us.

No one could have been more delighted than my older sister Maria. I heard her on the phone bragging to her friends: “Oh yes yes, she will definitely be going to the Prom!” pause. “Oh, not yet? Well don’t worry, I am sure she will get asked!”

Maria whisked me off very early on to the best store in town, The Elaine Shop.

image: tiffbunny

As a little reminder: fashion changed in the 60’s as drastically as did the hairstyles. My prom was during the early 60’s look. Girls in the latter part had entirely different prom styles, the long, empire waist, “Jackie Kennedy” look. Ours was a cocktail- length (mid-length) poofy dress. Not much show of skin was allowed. They varied in color combinations, but the basics were the same: a chiffon-rayon skirt, with a very wide, sash around the waist, usually of  very contrasting color. The ensemble was made complete with elbow length gloves, extremely high open-toed plastic heels, an evening purse /clutch or with small chain handle and satin shawl for those cool June evenings. The Elaine Shop came through!

{image: Prof. Gitte’s Archives}

Maria and I were VERY satisfied with our purchases. Neither one of us cared about the cost, we just wanted it to be special. The next step was to IMMEDIATELY make that hair appointment. You wanted, no! You needed, an early Saturday appointment. Sitting under the hair dryer (no hair blowers yet!) took usually a good 45 minutes, depending on the length of your hair. And that’s not including the time for wash and style. You knew that every girl was coming to Franco’s, the best hair dresser in town.

One by one my girlfriends landed a date, and as prom approached, excitement grew by the hour. I must mention here, that Maria and Max were very pleased that Tom was to be my escort. He came from a VERY large Catholic family, there were 12 kids, and was considered a “nice boy.” They also probably knew how I viewed him more with practicality rather than as romance, and were very happy with that.

The night of the Prom, I was putting on my finishing touches when Tom arrived. As I opened the door for him, I was stunned. Remember the song: “A White Sportscoat” ? Well there he stood in a flaming red tuxedo jacket. Stunned I let him in. I realized that if this was sign of what was to come, I should go run into my room. Even my Maria and Max blinked when they saw him.

image: jkerssen

image: Patrick Q

“You are wearing RED??” was all I was able to say. “Yes, yes!” he answered excitedly, “My cousin wore this at my brother’s wedding. It fits me perfectly, don’t you think?” He took my speechless face to be one of admiration!

He then pulled out his box for the flowers. We had discussed that a wrist corsage was probably best for me, due to the delicate material of my dress. Curiously, the box was on the rather small side. As he opened it, he said enthusiastically, “My sister-in-law, who works at the flowershop, got this ORCHID for me with a discount!” “An Orchid??” I thought. No one wore orchids at the time. And this one was soooo small! I swore I had seen violets that were bigger and I hated the little purple thing. Give me a big fat rose, or even a carnation! I thought. Maria threw a stern look at me.  She compensated for my lack of enthusiasm by oohing,  “Imagine, Tom getting a real orchid!” Tom beamed.

And so off we went. His car was borrowed from another relative (of course). He actually cracked a joke as he held the door for me, “Isn’t this nice? I didn’t think you would want to use my pick up truck, haha!” I just grunted an answer.

image: bjebe

When we arrived at our high school gym, I could have predicted the outcome. There was actually a lull in the voices, as we walked in! A bullfighters entrance could not have been more spectacular than Toms red tuxedo. Quickly we separated, he to his buddies, me to my girlfriends. Or course every one of them died laughing at the red jacket. “What’s this on your arm?” Norma inquired, looking at the tiny orchid, as they gathered around. I only shook my head. “Well it’s not as bad as mine,” said Kitty. “Mine looks as if his mother cut them out of her garden!”

Then Diane chimed in, “The rubber band on mine is cutting into my arm. I think he must have gotten a child size!” She held up her arm. Sure enough there were already signs of swelling.

“Well did you see Michael’s coat??” said Bonnie, “It’s so big on him I feel like I’m out with Charlie Chaplin!”

image: daddy sold shoes

We continued this banter, laughing and it put us in a good mood. Besides we were all happily satisfied with our own dresses. Huddling together was hard with the wide skirts, but we allowed enough room not to crush the precious chiffon. Soon the music started, our dates rushed to get us, and the dancing started. By now I was very reconciled and in a splendid mood. I preferred a bullfighter to Charlie Chaplin!! The evening promised to be great after all. Until…

Suddenly, large floodlights flashed on, throwing the gym into broad daylight. Blindingly so! Gone was the muted, romantic atmosphere. And there came the most mortifying moment in my ENTIRE 16 years.

Rushing up to us came two of the chaperones of the evening: Maria and Max! Max with his new Super 8 home movie camera, followed right behind him by Maria holding up in one hand a large, monster of a floodlight, which was connected to an equally enormous extension cord she held up high over her head with the other hand. They headed straight towards us, “Continue, continue!” said Max enthusiastically, trying to get us out of our frozen stance.

image: victoria bernall

These were the days of home movies, and in all fairness, we were thrilled with them. There was no sound, but we loved posing for them, running up a hill in the park, twirling around, running back down the hill and then waving happily into the camera. Keep in mind, the movie cameras were not inconspicuous iPhones you kids use today, but large, bulky cameras. The biggest drawback was that they were not well equipped for indoor shooting. Hence the huge floodlight. And my utter embarrassment.

Maria whispered loudly into my ear,  “Cooperate! We checked with your Principal who thought it was a terrific idea. In 20 years you will be  happy to have this!!” Actually it has been over 40 years and I have yet to enjoy seeing it.

Then Max, who must have had grander thoughts of movie directing, actually told the band to start playing again, and motioned everyone to start dancing. And believe it or not, they all cooperated, warming up to the idea of being filmed!!!

The movie concluded with Tom and I walking slowly across the little Japanese-style bridge, that had been built by the prom decorating committee. My smile is painful. Tom is blinking badly, due to the bright lights. We approach a group of kids, smiling awkwardly, except Norma, the show off, who tosses her hair and smiles coquettishly into the camera and gives me a hug. Behind my back you can see my hand, waving desperately to PLEASE stop.

When they finally shut the devilish contraption off, everyone in the gym broke out in laughter and wild applause. Embarrassed beyond belief, I could have crawled into a hole. Maria and Max just beamed proudly! Despite my embarrassment, I had a fun time. Thankfully Senior Prom went a little more smoothly….but that’s another story!

Whoo hoo! Another great story. Thank you mama! Oh, and as a fun little tid bit…every year my family would celebrate Fasching (the German version of Carnival/Mardi Gras). It was a big costume party. The first year we did it, I went as Scarlet O’Hara….and wore my mom’s prom dress! I felt sooooo glamorous!

Vintage Master Class// Prof. Brigitte on 60s+70s Hair Part 2!

Well hello everyone! I have another fab post for you from none other than my beautiful mama! Her last post, The Vintage Master Class 50s/60s hair, was such a huge smashing success I knew we had to continue the story with Part 2! As a reminder, here’s what the Vintage Master Class is all about:

My mother has always been very stylish and taught me everything I know. Back in the 70s when most of the moms around my elementary school were wearing double knit, polyester stretch pants, I was extremely proud to have a “pretty mom”.  Even though we weren’t particularly wealthy, my mother always looked like a million bucks. In addition to a fabulous wardrobe, she always had fabulous hair. This post started as a great email exchange and I asked her if she would mind if I shared it with you. I know you all love vintage as much as I do, so I thought who better to tell us about it than someone who actually lived it! Presenting the Vintage Master Class with Professor Brigitte!


Hello Modern Kiddo readers! It’s me again. Thank you so much for the fabulous comments on my last post. How fun it was to read them all! When we last left off, I was telling you about pin curls and bouffants. As we moved into the sixties, things were about to change. A little band from Liverpool hit the scene and we all went crazy for them. Of course I’m talking about The Beatles. They led the whole British Invasion and with them came a whole new style: the Mod Look. I believe this is my daughters favorite time period! {editor: yes, ma’am!}

For this look, a sleek hair cut was a MUST and only a hairdresser could achieve it properly. It was the Sassoon cut named after the famous hairdresser Vidal Sassoon. Sassoon became infamous for his cutting edge, geometric styles. He cut the locks of supermodel Twiggy, designer Mary Quant, and even the legendary  pixie cut worn by Mia Farrow in Rosemary’s Baby.

{Here is Vidal cutting the hair of iconic 60s mini skirt designer, Mary Quant.}

The most popular Sassoon style featured a short bob,  heavy low bangs, front and back of equal length, EXCEPT over the ears. Hair must be short over the ears and you could not cover them up or you’d ruin the effect. The effect was a bit like a helmet very sleek and shiny! You can imagine how radical this was after the years of pin curls and and sticky bouffants.

It has to be said that this style really looked best on dark hair. So, with that in mind, I decided to dye my hair black. Not just dark brown, but BLACK-black.  It was quite a change. The short hair was also accentuated by the matching makeup: very heavy, dark eyeliner over the lids and very light pinky-white lipstick!

{editor’s note: Here is Professor Gitte, in her chic Sassoon cut! She has super blue eyes so I can only imagine how striking this was!}

The clothes were quite geometric, and at their shortest! We started wearing matching colorful stockings, ranging from fishnet, to woolens, paired with low-heeled pumps. Little purses and bright, bold colors and patterns were also great trend for us Mods.

Mind you, not everyone went for the Mod look. It was definitely centered in England, and embraced mostly by the college crowd.

THE LATE 60s & 70s

Of course, we were an ever-changing generation and the late sixties brought even bigger changes. With the onset of the Vietnam War, colleges were taken over by sit-ins and protesting students. Our looks changed from the space age mid 60s to a clear turn around to the NATURAL look. Gone were the black and white, geometric styles and “in” were earth tones, denim and leather…the flower children were on the scene. This meant little or no make-up and long (LONG!) hair! There was still the mini, but also the midi and the maxi. Slowly, more and more long dresses and skirts were the vogue, worn with the new rage, CLOGS.

{editors note: My beautiful mama Brigitte with her long locks…I have to say, the outfit she is wearing is amazing! A short-shorts/hot pants little romper with a long wrap around maxi skirt that went over it. It was purple with little white and orange sheep all over!!}

By this time, my husband and I were Graduate Students in San Diego and we had a new passion—folk music! Acts such as Bob Dylan, The Mamas & The Papas, Joan Baez and Peter, Paul & Mary ushered in the new era and new look.

Instructions for this look were simple: let your hair grow…and grow… and GROW! You would always part hair in the middle. Styling was simply wash, air dry and you are done! Wow! Now that was emancipation!  My hair reached way over my shoulders before I gave it the first cut. Of course we only used natural hair products. Together with this whole, natural approach, we all became disciples of Adele Davies, the nutritional guru for Americans of this time!

{editor note: Gitte and little Alix at Disneyland…note the super hip white belt and my cool polka dot stroller!}

{editor note: Mama in the middle, my three cousins and my aunt Anneliese. And yep, that’s me in the little plaid skirt!}

For the early part of the 70s the straight long look was still the “in” look. I was considered fortunate by my girlfriends to have bone-straight hair. Not the slightest curl or ringlet to ruin the effect! Not everyone was so lucky. Their curls ranged from slightly wavy to down-right frizzy. Unless you were satisfied to resemble Janis Joplin’s wild mane, you had to work hard on the straight look.

The Ironing Technique: Yes it’s true. Some women literally ironed their hair! I  had several girlfriends who had to “iron” out the curls every morning. The ironing board never left their living room, placed there not for their clothes but as an important hairstyling tool. The effect was best, if you laid your head flat side ways on the board, put a slightly moistened cloth on the hair and then gently press down your hot iron.

So it makes sense, that the arrival of “hair straighteners” were a wondrous development. Again, my friends would rely on their hairdresser for their quarterly straightening appointment. As with hair frosting in the years before, do-it-yourself kits soon became available. But as with the “self frosting”, the straightening kids were still in their infancy. The process had not been fully tested, nor did we really know how to use them properly. Perhaps you remember Charleen from my last episode? Well this is what happened to another of my girlfriends! She had beautiful, wavy long auburn hair, past her shoulders. One Monday, she came to school wearing a little headscarf/kerchief, which we something we all wore at those times (tied around your head and behind your neck). Nothing unusual—except it was a boiling hot summer day. “Man, take off your scarf!” we all urged her. She looked around quickly, then whispered to us, “I have to keep it on!” She took off the scarf and we all gasped—most of the top of her head was hairless! She told us that she had applied a straightener, then had gone to the beach with her boyfriend, and after a couple of hours her hair came out in gobs! It was awful, just awful. We didn’t know how to react, what can you say to someone? Our generation didn’t yet holler, “You should sue the company!” which is probably what she should have done!

The Mid 70s!

My personal luck ran out, with the arrival of THE new look. For me the two defining hair styles that influenced us in the 70s were without a doubt the hair-dos of two celebrities: the wedge cut, made famous by Olympic Ice Skater Dorothy Hamill, and the long lions mane made popular by Farrah Fawcett. There was hardly a teenage boy who didn’t have Farrah’s infamous poster on his wall. Somehow you had to decide between the two styles: either long or short!

{Editors note: I loooooooved this photo of my mom. She is wear rust colored, velveteen gauchos with a matching vest and satin shirt. I thought she looked like a model!}

I admit, I became somewhat obsessed with achieving the glorious Farrah mane. That’s where a natural curl would have helped to maintain the face framing curls! My attempts were time consuming and frustrating, but I managed to get it down.

Life suddenly became a lot easier for all of us, with the introduction of a new piece of hair equipment. The latest and greatest to hit the—the BLOW DRYER! Wow, what an amazing tool. Think about it. No more sitting under the huge hair drier, baking your head for about 1 hour. This blower would whip your hair around and have it dry within 10-15 minutes. Thinking back, the hairstyles were not the significant factor of this era, but the equipment that was developed for us! Down right revolutionary!

{Brigitte and little Alix. What you can’t see is that Mom is wearing a jean skirt with red and white striped knee socks and wedge open toed platform sandals. Did I mention the socks had “toes”? Oh yes.}

A direct match to the innovation of the blow dryer was its partner: the CURLING IRON. This made any size curl possible on the most uncooperative straight hair, like mine. No more sleeping on rollers. Of course, we had to learn to use them properly. Unlike our rollers of the 60s, the curling irons could get devilishly hot. Many of us would be wearing small bandages, covering up burn marks. Every now and then even an ear would suffer. But, hey, weren’t we used to a bit of suffering by now?

So as we consider all this, it is an amazing fact that our hair survived it all and none of us are down right bald! Of course there are still some of my generation who hold on to the old ways—teasing and backcombing to their hearts content.

I remember when my son Karl was 6 years old, we were checking out at the grocery store. I pushed my cart  up to the register, he sat in the front, staring with utter fascination at our check-out lady. Yes, she still sported the beehive hairstyle, piled up high. She noticed Karl staring at her, gave him a sweet smile and asked how he was doing. He answered, “Fine”. Then blurted out, “Mama she looks like the Bride of Frankenstein!”

The smile on the woman’s face disappeared. Mortified, I turned bright red…but Karl, I could tell was not done yet. More questions were poised on his lips! He was just going through a stage of deep fascination with the Classic Monster movies, and the one where Bela Lugosi’s Frankenstein actually had a bride really intrigued him. For me to admonish and tell him “Don’t say that!!” would only have caused a debate/discussion between us, “But Mommy, her hair really DOES look just like her!” So I decided to divert him by offering up everything on display at the check out—gum, candy, flashlights the works! haha. Karl slowly came out of it, like out of a trance, and with delight picked out all his goodies! No words were exchanged between me and the cashier. I don’t think we even got a “thank you and come again!”

The styles were extreme, it’s true. So was he right? Did we look like Brides of Frankenstein with our teased hair of the 50s? Or did we look like Mr. Spock in the 60s with our sleek, Sassoon helmet look??

Maybe! But I tell you girls, we have come a long way with how we style our hair, and all your mothers can proudly say:

We were the hair pioneers!

Vintage Master Class With Prof. Brigitte // 50s 60s Hair!

Greetings from sunny Hawaii!!! Oh we are having such a fantastic time friends. I can’t wait to share some photos with you when I get back. Until then I have lined up some really terrific Guest Posters to round out the week. Today I have a really special treat for you all. Our Guest Poster is none other than my own personal style icon…my mom, Brigitte!

Yep it’s me and my mama.

My mother has always been very stylish and taught me everything I know. Back in the 70s when most of the moms around my elementary school wore double knit, polyester stretch pants, I was extremely proud to have a “pretty mom”.  Even though we weren’t particularly wealthy, my mother always looked like a million bucks. In addition to a fabulous wardrobe, she always had fabulous hair. This post started as a great email exchange and I asked her if she would mind if I shared it with you. I know you all love vintage as much as I do, so I thought who better to tell us about it than someone who actually lived it! Presenting the Vintage Master Class with Professor Brigitte!


Yes, its true! My generation shared an obsession with our hair. When I think of all the styles we had it makes me smile”we went from one extreme to the other! We were raised by the 1950s, apron-wearing, pincurl ladies. Charming to you guys, but keep in mind this was a style we never embraced, and in fact rebelled against!

Image: hollywoodplace

Instructions for pin curls was rather simple. Take a strand of hair, wind it around your forefinger, then press down onto your head and fasten with two bobby pins criss-crossed. Repeat all over your head!

image: nava atlas

Removing the pin curls you brushed your hair flat against your head, with just a little halo of curl around the bottom and soft waves on the side. By the time we reached Middle School, we had found our niche. Our hair was as flat as our skirts were wide! To achieve this full-skirt look, we wore a scratchy, netting-like petticoat. I always felt mine were never quite as full as they should be, until one day I discovered that you needed to wear TWO petticoats for the proper look. Only then would you have the tiny waist and wide, full skirt! It looked terrific but was a bit hindering if you wanted to walk faster than a Geisha. Still we loved it. To complete the look you wore flat ballerina slippers and our personal joy, the plexiglass purse. These were see-through, hard plastic handbags which exposed all your contents. To remedy this, you had your little neck scarf which could serve two functions: wear around your neck  OR line your purse. Even better? Match the color with your sweater or dress!

image: matangishopetsy

By high school days, a new dramatic change was upon us! Hair was not flat anymore. Oh no, hair was getting taller! How to achieve the glorious mountain of hair built high upon your head? It was quite a process. First you started using rollers/curlers. This was a task because in those days there were no soft spongy ones (or hot rollers!).

image: incurlers and incurlers

Our rollers were like a mini hair brush, complete with bristles, to hold  them firmly on your head. An extra hairnet was also a useful tool to keep the curlers in place. You’d press them down good and hard into your scalp right before bedtime. Yes, girlies, you heard right. We slept with bristly hair rollers on our head! It was torturous, but slowly our scalps got used to it, and we were saved by the youthful ability to fall into a deep sleep.

You really wanted to get your hair as big as possible and sometimes rollers just weren’t enough. To meet this new demand we were informed about the latest hair rage:  “teasing” (or back combing). Teasing became the secret foundation to all our extravagant styles! We learned and observed from our hairdresser, who opened up this whole new world to us. Instructions on how to tease hair (tease was a strange description of this painful activity!) were as follows: take a strand of hair, pull it taught and with your comb, push down backwards to the root! Do it slowly and carefully, to achieve a good matted result. The longer your hair, the longer this took. Painful? A bit! But remember our scalps had been toughened by the bristle rollers!

image: Sydney Michelle

Once the whole head was matted up and you looked a bit like Medusa, you sprayed your hair heavily, embracing it in a cloud of sticky air. You would let it set for a while, to stiffen up, and then came the big job. With the long stem of your comb you started smoothing the outer layer of hair over the backcombed locks. From there, the options were endless:

If your hair was long, you could pin it down and leave only a long low pony tail or pigtails. Your hairdressers could give you the French Twist, the Gibson Girl or the Onion! At first, only your hairdresser could do this. You went every 10 days or so to have your hair done. During the rest of the time, you did NOT really touch your hair. You slept with toilet paper wrapped around your head (yes, it’s true) and every morning your would lift your hair back up with your comb, before spraying it down AGAIN good and heavy!  All guys knew the days where a fella could play with the locks of your girlfriends hair were long gone. Hair was more forbidden to touch than other parts of your body!!!! Of course, it led to numerous jokes from the guys: “Have you heard the one about the girl who went to the hairdresser? She hadn’t washed her hair for 2 weeks and they found a bird in there!!!”

But we were clever and soon we learned to do our hair ourselves. This meant you needed three key things in your purse at all times:

1. A compact mirror

2. A long stemmed comb

3. A can of pocket-size hairspray

This style was vulnerable when it came to the weather. Rain, snow or fog were lethal to your mounted up hair. And there was nothing worse than a drooping hair do. Flat?? Horror!! Downright ugly. We got up early to achieve this look and we were devastated when bad weather threatened to droop our ‘do. Before school we crowded into the girl’s bathroom, equipped with our trust trio —comb, spray and mirror to pull our sunken locks back up to their towering glory. Our bathrooms were not clouded up by cigarette smoke, but by a barrage of hairspray use!

Of course, at this time the unthinkable began to happen. As our hair got higher the lengths of our skirts got shorter! The short hemlines remained but as quickly as the “backcombing” turned up, it quickly disappeared. Can you blame us? It simply was too much work.

Soon a new phenomena developed! Up til now the only way to change your hair color was by going to your hairdresser. This all changed, when they “do-it-yourselfers” hit the market. My girlfriend Charleen became an expert on coloring her own hair. An achievement that we all admired. We were just getting used to the idea that you could dye your hair yourself when a new trend arrived on the scene. We began to notice that some celebrities kept their natural hair color, but had streaks of blonde throughout. How did they do this?? We were highly intrigued. We checked with our hairdressers, who told us that the secret was something called frosting.

Now I must brag! i was of the first in my crowd, who made her appointment for a “frosting” job. Encouraged by my girlfriends, I was brave enough to venture into the unknown. When my hairdresser showed me the Frosting Cap, I still had no idea what i was in for!

Instructions: first take a tight fitting rubber cap, similar to a 50’s bathing cap, which had loads of little holes in it. Put cap on, tucking in all hair carefully. Then with a little metal crocheting needle  pull pieces of hair through the opening holes, one at a time. Pulling your hair through those little holes easily took 2 hours, depending on the length of your hair. Once this was done completely, you put hair dye all over the pulled bits and sat under the dryer. My hair was shoulder length and it was one of the most painful procedures I had ever done on my head!!  And here I thought my bristley curlers had toughened up my scalp!  Equally painful was the removal, which took just as long as the first act. Your hair strands were carefully pushed back in through the holes onto your scalp. Another 2 hours! When I finally walked out, my scalp was raw. I barely glanced in the mirror, I had no interest in how I looked. I rushed home to put my sore head on my pillow and CRIED!

The next day I felt better and for the first time I actually showed interest in the outcome of my torturous afternoon. Wow, it really was nice! I was ready to make my triumphant entrance to the school cafeteria at my Junior College. My girlfriends rushed towards me, circling me and oohing and ahhing about how wonderful my hair looked. My spirit lifted a bit after that. My friends were full of questions, as to how it went, how long it took and all were eager to go and have it done!

Now I must confess, with a sneaky smile I told them: “Oh it wasn’t too bad! Besides you all have short hair, it will be much faster and easier for you!”

One by one we all had frosted hair, and no one admitted to the pain we endured!

One day Charleen questioned me, asking why I had not gone back to have my frosting re-done. “Too expensive!” I lied. That’s just what Charleen wanted to hear! “My goodness!” she cried, “I can do it for you myself. They have kits out now and I have been dying to try it!”

I admit I was a bit wary, but I started thinking that at least with Charleen I could always put a stop to the whole thing if I had enough of the torture.

So one Saturday morning, I went over to Charleen’s house. She had set up her own room like a mini salon. It looked great and I was beginning to get into the spirit. This might be fun after all! Charleen opened up the box of frosting dye, and to our surprise, the instructions said: must provide your own frosting cap! Hmm.

After a bit of thought, Charleen declared any plastic bag would do! Delighted not to have to wear a skin tight cap, I readily agreed. It was beginning to sound like it wouldn’t be that painful at all!

Charleen tied the plastic bag around my head holding it down with clips, and then cut slits into the plastic all over. I have to say it looked very professional. Soon the job was done, took only 40 minutes, because the hair came out so easily and wasn’t painful at all. She brought out her timer, and we sat , gossiped, had some chips and waited in anticipation. How fun!

When Charleen was done washing it all out in her bathroom sink, she had a funny look on her face. What? What is it? I asked nervously. I knew that sheepish look! She held up a mirror, and I screamed. I was completely bleached blonde.

Charleene’s mother came rushing in, and had a combined look of shock and amusement. “Our own Marilyn Monroe!” I wasn’t amused. So what had happened? The hair coloring was too heavy for the plastic bag, and had widened the slits completely so that the dye seeped all over and every hair on my head was bleached.

Despite the calamity, Charleene now was in her element.  She drove to the drugstore (I wouldn’t leave the house!) and bought a darker dye that was more of a medium blonde.  She expertly applied it to my hair, and I had to admit, that it looked pretty darn good. Ironically, I’ve remained a blonde ever since. To everyone’s relief, Charleen decided against becoming a professional hairdresser and become a dentist just like her father.

So that’s the end of this edition of your Vintage Master Class….but our story doesn’t end here, we still have the rest of the 60s and 70s to cover! Thank you for having me over here as a guest on Modern Kiddo!

Um, how awesome was that? What do you say, shall we make the Vintage Master Class a regular feature?? Part 2 on Hair Dos is already in the the works! Thank you mama for guesting while I’m on vacation!