1940s Hair Rolls

1940s hair and silk blouse
Photo: Stokkete/Shutterstock
Q: I have hair down to my shoulder blades. How can I accomplish the 1940s hair rolls, and other styles from that period?
A: One thing you want to keep in mind is that the classic “roll” style from the Forties wasn’t accomplished by styling alone. The high-swept, tightly curled “roll” was actually wrapped around an accessory called a “rat” a tubular, stuffed fabric accessory which gave a solid base to the style.
The hair at the top and sides of the head is swept upward and rolled onto the accessory, which is wound to rest at the top front of the head, while the rest of the hair is rolled and set to create “sausage curls” which are rolled out and curled under and gathered in a barrette or clip at the nape of the neck.
While a 1940s style ‘rat’ may be hard to come by these days, there are modern alternatives available. You can look for specific tools or be creative and improvise your own.
The thing to keep in mind most is that the tradition Forties' hairstyles are all based off of a single basic layered cut. The top and crown area are generally cut to 5-6 inches (or a little longer), the sides to 4-5 inches (or a little shorter) and the back is layered to 7-8 inches (or more). The lengths are blended between the sections. The hair is then typically roller set to give volume and curls (unless the hair is naturally curly).
The rest is largely a matter of preference. The cut and curls give you a basis from which to build all the different styles you desire.
See also:
Vintage hairstyles
Roller styling techniques
Finger waves, pin curls and barrel curls