Accessorize Like a French Woman

Headscarves: Old Hollywood Beauty Tips

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The covered Brigitte Bardot, Photo from Kooshoo

We’ll admit it: on our not-so-glamorous days, we’ve been known just to throw a bandanna over our hair and call it a day. Jess in the hopes that it makes her look badass, Rachel in the hopes that she will disappear into the crowd and nobody will know she slept with wet hair last night.

Photo from Blue Velvet Vintage

Photo from Blue Velvet Vintage

Even though now headscarves are mostly relegated to the realms of the old lady, “it’s either this or a shower cap over my curlers” territory, they did once start out as glam. And why? Because of Hollywood, of course.

In the beginning of the film industry, most people didn’t have the means to travel abroad. Their way of escaping? Going to the movies. That’s where they saw stars like Clara Bow (left) wearing exotic garb, such as this long scarf here, tied (gasp!) into her HAIR. People were easily impressed back then.

As time went on, Hollywood became more and more obsessed with hairstyles, not with ways of covering up their stars’ hair — if you were going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on your hair, wouldn’t you want to show it off? But there was one strange exception to this rule: the turban.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

In the 1930s, big foreign stars like Marlene Dietrich and Hedy Lamarr wore turbans as part of their costumes, making other stars, like Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly (left) think that this was an stylish headwear for posh ladies (uh. . . it’s not.)

By this time, World War II was over, and women had been using scarves to keep their hair off their faces at the factories for a while. So by the 1950s, stars reclaimed the scarf as a glamorous way of focusing attention on their faces.

See how sexy Brigitte Bardot looks above? Headscarf. She wasn’t alone in her choice of headwear, either. Catherine Deneuve, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Sophia Loren, Marilyn Monroe — pretty much every gorgeous star ever wrapped one of these things around her head.

So if you’ve recently inherited a lot of scarves from an elderly relative, embrace them! The easiest thing to do is to tie the scarf like a headband around the crown of your head, but you can also try for a bandanna wrap. Just don’t add on huge sunglasses, unless you want to look like somebody who wants to be taken for a famous film star going incognito.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

A classy dog, photo from Wikimedia Commons

For the less adventurous, a scarf on your handbag or floating around your ponytail is a nice nod to this Hollywood tradition. And for those experiencing bad hair days? Two words: dry shampoo.

Also, read about my hidden gems in Paris in Refinery29.

This is part of the weekly series of Rachel’s Old Hollywood Beauty Tips, peripherally based on her UK thesis work so she can justify writing them during the day. You can find out about eyebrows, eyelashes, photo re-touchings and more. Stay posted here.