Retro Chick Reviews: Style Me Vintage – Step by Step Guides to Vintage Hair Styles

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today I’m going to finally get around to reviewing a book that I first saw on Diary of a Vintage Girl when Fleur De Guerre wrote about the books launch party.

Style Me Vintage is a book of step by step photographic guides to creating vintage hair styles, and at under £7.50 from Amazon I thought it had to be worth a try even if I only got one new hair style out of it!

The book itself looks beautiful. It has a nice matt textured cover and the background illustrations inside are taken from vintage fabrics. As well as step by step guides to several vintage hair styles it also has extra tips on tying vintage scarves, creating padding for and pages of “essential equipment” for creating the styles inside.

The styles it covers are Finger Waves & Pin curls, Forties Waves, Victory Rolls, The Poodle, Fringe Roll, Fifties Set (The Marilyn) Quiffs, 2 different variations on a Beehive, the Bouffant and the Barbarella.

I already did most of these, or variations of them, on my own hair, but I was interested to see if there were any hints and tricks I could pick up, and I’ve never managed to master finger waves, so I was really keen to have a go at them.

Really the only way to review a book like this was to have a go at the hair styles. My first attempt was finger waves (you can see the results here!) and I was quite pleased. I found it a little tricky to get the technique right, but with practice I think they’ll definitely improve. I only waved the front of my hair, and I think it’s unlikely that I’ll ever manage the back on my own, but to be fair the book does suggest you may need the help of a friend!

I decided to try a couple of the up dos, “The Poodle” and the Victory Rolls.

And here are the results. (Please excuse the terrible Hobgoblin T Shirt, I put it on to put my foundation on to protect my clothes and then never thought to take it off before I did the hair and took the photos, rest assured I didn’t leave the house in it!)

I already do Victory Rolls, but the instructions in the book are for a slightly more elaborate version where the fringe is rolled separately in the opposite direction. I’ve always thought it looked amazing but didn’t know how to acheive it. I followed the instructions to the letter, but still found it a little complicated to get the sections to match up and it took some time to finally get the effect above which I was quite pleased with for a first try!

The Poodle I found far easier, however I think you can see from my face in that picture that I’m unlikely to be making it part of my regular hair repertoire. I never liked it on Lucille Ball so I don’t know what possessed me to think it would look any better on me!

Generally the instructions are clear and easy to follow and the pictures are well chosen to illustrate tricky points or areas of confusion.

The only problem, of course, is that everyone’s hair is different. Different lengths, textures, layering and thicknesses require slightly different techniques, and while the step by step guides are an excellent starting point you do have to be prepared to adapt slightly. I know, for instance, that were I to use the Forties Wave technique described in the book I would very soon have completely straight hair as it just won’t hold a curl without a wet set with setting lotion.

Each style section starts with pictures of the style being worn by vintage stars and a more modern interpretation along with a little history of the style (meaning I finally found out the difference between Marcel waves and Finger waves. A Marcel wave uses heat on dry hair, there you go) and a list of the things you’ll need to complete the style.

If I have a minor criticism of the book it would be the 2 page list of “essential equipment” at the beginning.  The list includes, among other things, 4 different types of brush and 3 different types of hair clips. Whilst the styles are probably easier with these things I have been managing to style my hair for over a year with nothing much more than a handful of kirby grips, a brush, a comb and some hair spray, so don’t let a lack of the “right” stuff stop you having a go!

I’m always disturbed by anything that implies you need a vast range of elaborate equipment to acheive decent results. I had a similar fit of rage when Jamie Oliver published a list of “bare minimum” essential kitchen equipment which included items like microplane graters, NESTS of mixing bowls and cast iron casserole dishes costing lots of money, all of which I had been happily managing to cook meals without for years.

Anyway, I digress….

The other thing that may have been handy to include is a section with more detailed instructions on basic techniques. If you’ve never rolled your hair before, or seen anyone else do it, then it could be rather difficult to try an interpret from the books descriptions and pictures. This is a minor thing, though, and I’m sure most people can probably get the hang of it after a few tries.

Overall the book is beautifully illustrated, easy to follow, and for £7.50 an absolute bargain! It definitely gets the Retro Chick seal of approval.

*shameless plug* Don”t forget, if you do want some in person tips on vintage hair you can pop along to the Vintage Hair Styling evening at Flint! *shameless plug*

The book is available in my book shop, along with the others I’ve reviewed in the past, or you can click the link below to go to Amazon.

Note: I am an Amazon affiliate, if you buy the book through one of my links I’ll earn a few pennies. It costs you nothing and in no way affects my opinions on this book!

13 Responses
  • Fiona - Notorious Kitsch
    November 11, 2010

    Interesting! I wish something like this had been around 20 something *cough cough* years ago! I had to hang around the loos in clubs and watch how people were doing their hair, then guess ;o)

    I also agree on the long list of must haves, I have been setting my hair for years in a variety of vintage styles and I’ve never had a special brush, or in fact more than one brush, or a whole list of accessories, having said that I have very thick hair, so it might be that I don’t need it, maybe different hair does have different needs, but I agree not a great long list of must haves!

  • shallowmallow
    November 11, 2010

    Great review 🙂 I always wonder about these books so this is very helpful. It ‘s only too true what you said about difference in hair from person to person. I wish someone could explain to me how to make fine hair behave..

  • kerry
    November 11, 2010

    oh what a fab little find. RC the colour of your hair is a very striking combo with your eyes I have to say!

    Shallowmallow – unclean hair ( even hair washed the day before will probably be to silky – so grb sum dry shampoo spray to freshen it up) also lots of backcombing and lots of spray. For fine hair you literally have to spray each section once you back comb (so you will be using a lot of spray – I would suggest an airy room!) lots of grip and a whole more hairspray! oh and practice lots. They are not an easy look!

  • kerry
    November 11, 2010

    By the way, I liked ‘the poodle’ I thought it looked rather nice, but yes you look much happier with the victory rolls!

  • Penny Dreadful Vintage
    November 11, 2010

    rotfl, the hobgoblin tee makes it 😀

    I actually really like the poodle on you, you should reconsider. It suits your face shape (and I never liked it on I Love Lucy either).

  • Louise
    November 11, 2010

    I think that your hair often looks fab, but that looks like a really useful book. x

  • LandGirl1980
    November 11, 2010

    I have just received this lovely little book – and agree with you on all points made. The price, the direction, the presentation -in general is lovely. I have yet to try any of it (with my severe lack of “essential equipment”).
    However – I strongly disagree with you on the poodle. I love it. But I loathe Lucille Ball. With what could be described as a passion. But, I do love Betty Grable, and the famous legs shot of her is the reason I love the do. Interesting that you said it was easier than the direction of the victory rolls. I shall have to have a go 🙂

  • Nicola
    November 11, 2010

    Excellent thank you! have just ordered xx

  • Style Eyes
    November 11, 2010

    Your victory rolls look great. Just wishing I had the time and patience to try out some styles like this on my mad hair which likes to do its own thing.

  • My Style
    November 12, 2010

    Hi my dear-this sounds a really great read and your hair styles look just fabulous! Thanks for stopping by too and have a nice weekend! x

  • Fashion Limbo
    November 12, 2010

    I actually think the poodle suits you, I like it! I’m wondering whether I should attempt a fringe roll one day, they look fabulous on others but not too sure if it would work on me :S

  • Lady Cherry
    November 13, 2010

    Hmmmm, at that price I think it’s worth giving it a go!

  • bunny
    November 14, 2010

    I bought this book in London on october in Belinda’s shop!

    I didn’t try one of the style yet, though…

    I also like the poodle on you! I can’t explain why, but it seems to enhance your face shape, and eyes!