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This Grandma Haircut Needs a Comeback

As I’m in the process of growing out an ultra-short pixie cut, Pinterest has become my little haven of short hair inspiration. When I hit that awkward phase between a pixie and a bob, I needed that inspiration more than ever. That’s when I stumbled upon this photo:

You’ve seen this haircut before. Whether it was sported by your own grandmother or on a glamorous vintage snapshot of a thick-lashed Italian film star, this haircut was on everyone from schoolgirls to secretaries to Elizabeth Taylor.

This was it. This was the hairstyle I wanted to emulate. I had to learn more, so I followed the Pin to the Glamour Daze blog about “The Italian Cut,” which led me to the source: a July 1953 issue of Life Magazine.

Italian Haircuts Article
A photo from the article "Nibble at the Neck" about the Italian cut.

The article in Life details the main features of the style: “shaggy but structured, with deep waves on the crown, spit curls framing the forehead and cheeks and a carefully ragged nape.” Apparently, compared to the uniformly short poodle cut of 1952, the Italian cut left more room for customization according to a woman’s face shape.

It’s big. It’s versatile. It’s short, yet chic and feminine. There’s a reason this cut became so popular in the early 1950s. Starting with Italian film stars, the cut gained traction in Hollywood and, despite its need for constant cutting, became a hit with women everywhere.

Haircuts getting shorter can be closely linked with the outbreak of war. Short hair was easier to keep out of the way of hard-working women who were replacing men in munitions factories, most notably in World War II. As the 1950’s rolled around and clothing styles returned to more feminine silhouettes, many women opted to keep their hair above their shoulders.

Sophia Loren has one of the most well-known versions of the style, which makes it ironic that short hair has often been perceived as less feminine. The buxom Italian beauty is proof that nothing could be more false.

Elizabeth Taylor also gave her locks the chop for her version of “The Italian Cut,” as did Dorothy Dandridge and many other Hollywood stars. The trendy cut was a staple of their glamorous aesthetic.

Hollywood trends were having a bigger and bigger impact on everyday style as movies became more widely available. The 1950s were also more prosperous than the wartime era of the 1940’s, so there were more people that could afford to indulge a little more, with more frequent visits to the salon that this haircut undoubtedly required.

Interested in giving this hairdo a try? Luckily, you don’t have to cut it all off to make the Italian cut work. This YouTube tutorial guides you through transforming long hair into a faux Italian cut:

If you already have short hair, give this tutorial a go instead:

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