Monday, July 28, 2014

Standard Textbook of Cosmetology (1938, 1954, 1959, 1962)

Good afternoon!

I hope you had a great weekend-- ours was busy, busy, busy! Friday, Dad and I hit the flea market; Saturday, we went to a couple estate sales and watched some Jimmy Stewart westerns, and Sunday, Matthew and I lounged as hard as we could possibly lounge on a rare, shared day off. Six hours of season one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta and delivery General Tso's tofu yesterday is making me feel a little bad for my gluttonous indulgence of high calorie food and low quality (BEST POSSIBLE QUALITY)  reality tv...but you're only young once, right?

Speaking of being young, I'm thinking of cutting my hair to sync up with big changes on the not-so-distant horizon (don't worry, it's good news!). It's down to my elbows right now, but as you can tell from blog pictures, I always wear it up, and I think I'm ready for a bob for the first time in six years. As far as short hair styles, do we consult Celebrity Hair Now or similar shiny tabloid hair makeover rags? Nope-- you know us better than that! I dug up this Standard Textbook of Cosmetology, originally published in 1938 but updated as recently as 1962, to take a look at what was good in the world of coiffures. I didn't find my new hairstyle, but I did find some pretty neat stuff! Wanna take a look?

Mr. Lee's State Beauty College was a cosmetology school in Yakima, Washington...while I couldn't find much information on the institution, I like to think it was like that episode of Tabatha's Salon Takeover where she updates a beauty school that was started by the suave and then-eighty-some-odd year old proprietor named Flavio in the fifties'. Imagine the kind of Warren Beatty in Shampoo like hot guy hair stylist, and these are the dreams I'm projecting on Mr. Lee. The book, from page one, is a hoot-- it combines all the different editions of the book (1938-1962....quite a wide swath of beauty trends there) as one semi-cohesive textbook for the would be beautician.

First, please color me thrilled about this forecast for your success or failure as a working beauty professional:

That pert, swept-updo gal Friday is SO. CUTE. And I whole heartedly agree with the Goofus and Gallant like juxtaposition of how you should do and how you shouldn't. Could someone please needlepoint "TO BE SUCCESSFUL-- you must learn to do the little things that will make people like you" for me to hang up in my home and place of business?

Two pages later, we've jumped from the late forties' to the early fifties' (but still not au courant with the 1962 publication of the book) and what your own personal hygiene as a beautician should entail.

Do you ever notice in hair salons (or maybe the hair salons I would go to in college that specialize in $10 haircuts), there will be two or three girls with perfect, asymmetrical bobs streaked in cute highlights, wearing skinny jeans and a nice top, and they are never the person who comes to cut my hair? I am 9 times out of 10 stuck with a mountainous woman with over, over, OVER processed hair the color of  nothing found in nature, and styled (herself! After all, she's a beautician!) in the fashion of Kate Gosselin or somebody's-trying-too-hard-mom. This woman unwaveringly would look at my photo of Mia Farrow or Jean Seberg or whatever waif-like style icon I was going for at the time, and say "Yeah, I can do that," and proceed to give me a shorter version of her own hair cut. What I wouldn't give to see someone like this smiling brightly at me over the counter-- she would understand how I want hair um exactly like hers and what's more, know how to do it!

Each and every time I brush out my curled hair, I manage to look like one of the Mandrell sisters-- not-that-that's-a-bad-thing, but I can't not do bouncy, 70's prom curls even when I specifically wanted short, forties' defined waves. My hair has a natural wave to it, but is by no means curly, and I have the hardest time figuring out what kind of potions or potents I need to put on it to make the curls stay curled! I know a lot of it is in the comb out... vis à vis the chart below. SO MANY CUTE CURLS. So little that have actually appeared on my head:

I can just see myself with a pen and paper trying to remember if I was doing C curls or CC curls:

Oh, look! The exact marcelled wave from the 20's and 30's I want, but here in this 1962 textbook! Do you think it would be super, unbelievably difficult to recreate this style in the 21st century? Also, would I look like a fruit damn cake? I'm going to do research in the text of the book, but chime in if you know anything about these hair dids. Can I look like La Swanson with the basic, limited hair skills I already possess?

I love thinking of the illustrator going, ok, I need to show how this would work in the theoretical. Also, I need a poster of this crazy figure for my house.

Pin curls! Another thing I will be able to do once I hack off about a foot of this hair. Make me look like Carole Lombard, pin curls!

 This one reminds me of Norma Shearer-- doesn't it you?

Poor, dopey looking "convex" and Disney villainess looking "low forehead, sharp chin"-- I feel like I have a straight pointed profile? Can I vote none of these?

Ok, now that you've seen some of the actually helpful portions of the book, I present to you the truly weird and wackadoodle illustrations from the second half:

Jim! Jim, what happened to your FAAAAACE?! I love how nonplussed he looks even without skin.
It's a rake...for your scalp...wired for electricity...soooo....
With and without protective goggles.
A quartet of horrors. 1) Pattymelt face, 2) I'll worry about my foot bones, you worry about keeping me in Louboutins, 3)Why does Simone Signoret have such a hairy face, 4) Why does this diagram have a face at all! Disturbing! 

I've got to get going, but let me know what you think! Should I cut my hair? What vintage styling tips have you found helpful? Seen any weird textbook illustrations lately? Spill, spill!

Have a great Monday, and hopefully I'll be back tomorrow with some weekend finds! Take care; talk to you then.


  1. I'm over 50 and tend to have a shoulder length cut with bangs which grows out in a year for a nice length, and I cut my own bangs. But when it is short at first and I can't tie it back I go nutty if it is too short.

    If you LIKE putting your hair up, don't cut it too short, as it takes a long time to grow out a mistake. Best to cut some shorter and see if you'd manage okay with even shorter hair. You'd look good in some of these hairdos shown in that book. Mostly depends on how fussy you can get with your hair and time to do it up.

    I stick with a classic bob with bangs. My Mom used to cut her own hair by hanging her head upside down and snipping it off for short on top, long on sides. BRAVE. I can't do it. Layered hair on me tangles so much. But maybe not on someone else.

    Thanks for sharing this it is so interesting.

  2. I think you should go for it! One time when my stepmom was going to cut my hair, I was going back and forth on getting bangs, and she said something like "well, if you aren't willing to make a change, you might as well be dead!". A bit dramatic for the haircutting chair, but for some reason, that has always stuck with me when I hesitate about doing something different.

    Also want to thank you for pointing me to the Dana Andrews biography. I got it yesterday through ILL, and I am really enjoying it!



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