Vintage Hairstyles: Simple Steps for Retro Hair with a Modern Twist

Yeah, you wait three years for a book review and then two come along at once – ain’t that always the way?
Ok, so none of you were waiting for a book review in the first place, but you do get two at once – and both are on vintage hairstyle books, at that. While the first one, however, was very much not for the beginner as it was about elaborate formal ‘dos, this one is at the other end of the scale – entry level, if you will. If I had to label myself, I’d be hovering somewhere between absolute novice and intermediate… I can do a victory roll – after several attempts and a lot of swearing. A lot of what I do with my hair, though, is fluke and requires c.50 bobby pins/kirby grips to stay in place, so I was keen to go back to basics and learn better ways to do things and hopefully pick up some new techniques too, and that’s certainly where this new book came in handy.
Vintage Hairstyles: Simple Steps for Retro Hair with a Modern Twist review
I’d definitely say it’s pitched at the beginner – along with all the hairstyles, there’s also historical context explaining the fashions, hats etc of different eras. That was nothing I didn’t already know, but I could forgive the book that because I can accept it’s not really aimed at me and no one’s making me read it, right?! What I really like about it is that nothing in this book is all that technical as it uses quite basic skills and tools most people have. However, if, like me, you’re hopeless at getting curls with straighteners, you’re going to find it annoying how many times it advises you do that! (Seriously, has anyone managed to master the art of turning the straighteners 360 degrees without losing a finger?) Generally, though, when instructions for a hair style fit on 1-2 pages with c.4 steps on each page, you know it’s not going to be too difficult to do and I’m personally more inclined to give it a go.
Vintage Hairstyles: Simple Steps for Retro Hair with a Modern Twist review
I did find there was surprising extra info in this book, though – for example, the section on makeup. It goes into detail about brow shapes, lip shapes, what colour nail polishes each era liked… Again, I knew all this stuff and I couldn’t figure out what it was doing in a book about hair, but probably a nice touch for those new to vintage style. There’s also a section about making things for your hair e.g. hair flowers, pillbox hat, little fascinator, which I thought was more in-keeping and a nice idea. I did feel a bit misled by the ‘modern twist’ promise of the title though. Apart from one particular style I’m about to mention, most of the looks in this book are quite classic, as far as I’m concerned, finger waves, gibson roll, chignons etc. Perhaps the modern twist is more referencing the modern methods taken to achieve them… Actually, lightbulb moment, of course it is! But anyway, I was hoping for a bit more diversity than I got. Perhaps I’m being greedy and I might also want something no one else does!


Vintage Hairstyles: Simple Steps for Retro Hair with a Modern Twist review
Mostly, though, this book is ideal for learning or brushing up on the basics and while in some cases for me, I’ve got a way of e.g. doing a beehive that I prefer (as less backcombing), it did help me nail something I’ve been struggling to get right… the hair bow (now that’s what I’m talking about for a retro hairstyle with a modern twist)!
Vintage Hairstyles: Simple Steps for Retro Hair with a Modern Twist review
Using the book’s guide to the bow, I finally managed to get one that almost looked neat (not as neat as the one on the cover, but that wasn’t gonna happen – still too much of a novice for that). Several YouTube videos hadn’t got me there, so for that alone, I’m really glad to have this book on my shelf! Along with the hair bow, it also gave a handy tip that helped with side rolls too, so I feel like I’ve got a new perspective on both that make them simpler and less frustrating. Big thumbs up for that. You can teach this old dog new tricks.
Cute vintage style hair bow
Er, I didn’t wear this dress for the old dog comparison. Anyway, the proof is in the pudding – there’s both the bow and a side roll on my head here and both look good (you’ll have to take my word for it on the roll). Overall verdict: a great book for those that are new to vintage style and might just teach the veterans among us a few new tricks as well. It’s also a great price for one of these kind of coffee table books, coming in at just over £10 for a hardback.
In the interests of full disclosure, my copy was provided by the publisher, although that hasn’t changed my opinions here.


  1. September 24, 2015 / 1:08 pm

    Oo I've tried for ages to master the bow but it has never worked on my hair! My hair is a lot longer right now though so maybe I should try again. Sounds like it's the kind of book I'd probably read if a friend/my library had a copy, but I'd be unlikely to pay full price for if it's mainly full of stuff I already know. Well done on pulling off the bow, it looks super on you, are you going to go a bit 'Kawaii' with your next outfit post?! xx

    • September 25, 2015 / 12:20 pm

      I've always made a pig's ear of it before, but honestly it's difficult to mess up the steps in this book! I haven't actually decided whether or not the bow will be appearing again soon… mostly because it's beret season now 😉 xx

  2. September 24, 2015 / 1:29 pm

    Alright so this one is definitely going to come up as a suggestion when loved ones ask me what I want for Christmas this year! That bow is A+++!

    • September 25, 2015 / 12:21 pm

      It's a great stocking filler at that price! I'd love to see you with a little hair bow, how lovely would that be!

  3. September 24, 2015 / 2:22 pm

    When it comes to vintage hairstyles, I am useless! I can't even curl my hair properly, so maybe this book might be able to teach me something!

    • September 25, 2015 / 12:21 pm

      I'm pretty rubbish at curling my hair too… this book did not provide the miracle cure, but there are some good tips nonetheless…

  4. September 24, 2015 / 5:08 pm

    See I am a beginner, I am awful with hair, but I am also terrible a curling hair with straighteners, or anything for that matter! It is the band of my vintage life! I am yet to master the victory roll, I'll get there one day. This might be worth a look!

    • September 25, 2015 / 12:21 pm

      Ditto on the curling front! The Rockin' Rollers are the only thing that have given me any kind of nice set of curls…

  5. September 24, 2015 / 7:33 pm

    I really dug this post! I loved how honest and thoughtful you were when critiquing. I know NOTHING about hair or make-up, vintage OR modern, so I really may purchase this book. Also, I love that bow bun on you! It looks TOTALLY neat! I definitely wanna learn how to do at least that! XOXO

    • September 25, 2015 / 12:22 pm

      Ah, thanks Lauren 🙂 I would have been tempted to buy the book just to master the hair bow; it was my nemesis! xx

  6. September 24, 2015 / 9:30 pm

    Sounds like just the book for me! I'm hopeless with vintage dos so a beginners book with not a lot of steps does not sound too shabby! 😉

    • September 25, 2015 / 12:23 pm

      There really isn't anything that complicated in here and a lot of your essential basic styles, so it's worth checking out for a starting point 🙂

  7. September 25, 2015 / 12:04 am

    Hair is looking good! I'm really impressed with that hair bow you managed, it looks so good. I'm all thumbs when it comes to fancy updos, so if the book helped you do that, it sounds like it really is worth the investment.
    The "extras" in the book sound interesting. Like you said, they weren't necessarily meant for you, as a non-novice when it comes to vintage, and while I can't speak for anyone else, sometimes I'm taken by surprise to discover what people actually don't know. "Oh, that's so 50s!" "30s actually, but thanks."

    • September 25, 2015 / 12:23 pm

      I'm impressed with it too – I've seen my previous attempts! Very true that there's a lot of confusion about the subtleties between the eras…

  8. September 26, 2015 / 8:11 pm

    Ooohhh, even though my wig(s) leave little ability for fancy styling (much to my chagrin), I think I might pick up this book when I can simply because I love growing my knowledge of vintage hairstyles (and hairstyling in general). Thank you for the excellent, lovely review, sweet dear.

    Tons of hugs,
    ♥ Jessica

    • September 29, 2015 / 6:21 am

      That's a shame 🙁 but it is fun to browse yes!

  9. September 27, 2015 / 4:05 pm

    Ah, the bow! I've tried it a couple of times, but it usually looks really sloppy. :–(

    • September 29, 2015 / 6:22 am

      I still wouldn't say I'm a pro at the bow but I have a higher success rate in terms of them actually looking like a bow at the end of it… Which is something!

  10. September 28, 2015 / 6:01 am

    I'm super impressed with this bow! I think I might just give it a try!

  11. September 28, 2015 / 12:05 pm

    Your bow looks cool! Ugh I never know what to do with my hair. It seems that most hairstyles and haircuts I find, they don't look good on me. My hair is oily, wavy, with fine texture and a widow's peak. Any idea?

    • September 29, 2015 / 6:28 am

      Your hair sounds very similar to mine – mine is also oily, wavy and very fine, although there's lots of it. I found I had to get a shampoo and conditioner combination that didn't make it lank and heavy – and that took so long to perfect that by the time I did they discontinued the shampoo (ive got two bottles and a lot of panic left!). Otherwise, I find my hair takes well to backcombing because it's fine – I just add a little bit whenever I'm trying to get something to hold and t works a treat. For this bow, for example, it didn't ask for backcombing but a little bit on the loops helped them to look fuller and fix in place 🙂

  12. September 28, 2015 / 2:10 pm

    Oh, that looks like a useful book! I absolutely suck at doing my hair, anything more than a ponytail is beyond me. Your bow worked well.

    • September 29, 2015 / 6:29 am

      Ironically enough, I find ponytails really hard to get to look good! I don't suit hair being flat on my head whatsoever…

  13. October 5, 2015 / 6:11 am

    Thank you for the new ideas! I love vintage style in everything. My friends and me often give parties in vintage motives. We try to arrange everything in that style, including clothes and hairstyles. We have always drown ideas from here .

  14. October 8, 2015 / 7:53 am

    The hair bow looks great! Apart from Heidi plaits and a pony tail with a quiff I am rubbish at hairstyles so maybe this is the book for me!

  15. September 19, 2016 / 7:12 pm

    i really find the best hairstyles for me on this post 🙂 The hair bow is looking pretty and joyful . my favorite hairstyles is vintage haircuts and styles . i love it because my hair is oily and half unruly curls . anyways thanks for share 🙂

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