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!

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

  1. What an awesome, awesome post! I was enthralled from start to finish! I love the photos too. My Mom had that long, flowing hair too. And the white belt. : ) The Bride of Frankenstein story is hilarious. When I was a kid, I wanted to look like Flo! Oh who am I kidding? I still think she’s pretty fabulous!

    Lovin’ these posts…

  2. Oh wow, blast from the past! I’ve never thought the blow dryer or curling iron were revolutionary back then! Thanks for sharing your photos, I especially love the 60s long hair one and the one at Disney.. Little Miss Alix is sure a cutie!

    1. Aw shucks, thank yoU! I actually remember using the “sit under the hair dryer” when i was little (it was like a shower cap). I know curling irons existed before the 60s but they hadn’t quite perfected them yet!

  3. I can’t even put into words how awesome this post is. The hair. And the outfits and little Miss Alix to boot! You mom is so glamorous. So, THAT’s where you get it!

  4. thank god for modern hair technology (hair straighteners, blow dryers and curling irons)! what a great “lengthy” story about hair…i especially like the one where karl confronted the lady at the market! lol!! love the posts from mom!!

  5. LOL! Alix, the latter pics are how I remember your mom and you at ballet! And I remember getting up at 5am in jr high to spent an hour attempting the perfect “Farrah”. Never could – my hair won’t hold a curl, even with a perm!
    I love these posts, and the pictures of you and your mom.

  6. SO MUCH TO LOVE!!!!! First things first, I am so happy to see PROFESSOR BRIGITTE back on the Modern Kiddo Scene!!!!!

    and my gosh, all those fab hair styles, it’s hard to pick a favorite… my hair would never do that polished, perfectly cut bob so i’m sort of envious of the ladies that could pull off that look… i think i would have been teasin’ and back combin’ with the best of ’em!

    and FLO!!!!! i love me some flo!

    excellent post, Professor B!
    ps, the disney pic is GORGEOUS!!!!! i am in love with that puff sleeved stripey number!

  7. Great, fun post! I was a pre-teen in the days of toe socks and there is a picture of me wearing a bright yellow vest and skirt, stripped toe socks and white platform sandals. I thought I looked sooooo fabulous I made my brother take a picture of me on the front porch of our house. Hilarious!

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