The victory bob was touted to women as the ideal WWII hairstyle in the early 1940s. Along with other V mode hairstyles, the victory bob was functional for war service work and these small symbols of solidarity at home instilled pride and hope that WWII would end and families could be together again.
This blog post is from a 2-part series about WWII hairstyles. Read the second post History of the Victory Roll Hairstyle here.
Table of Contents (Click to jump)
- Words for Morale
- “V is for Victory” Hair Modes
- Three Dots and a Dash Hairstyle
- The original Victory Roll?
- Veronica Lake’s WWII Hairstyle
- Tips for Rolling Your Hair WWII Style
- The Victory Bob
V for Victory and Morale
It was very important to keep up the morale of both the troops fighting in the war, their families at home, and everyone who was sacrificing for the war effort. For this reason, governments and the media used propaganda words to boost spirits including the very popular word Victory.
Other common WWII words in the media
Advertising repeated many other words that the media used in news stories to describe what was happening in the war. A blitz of this product will do the trick… Use this in defense from this household problem… or maybe you have a saboteur in your garden soil.
“V is for Victory” Hair Modes
It’s not subtle, but just putting the shape of a V in your hairstyle made you patriotic. Below are a couple of these examples of parting the hair in a “V” at the front and at the back.
The “V” part was a common parting shape in the 1940s. In the below image from a Modern Beauty Shop magazine, the hairstylist would part the hair this way so that she could style the front forward into curls and the back down to lie flat, providing a space for a woman’s hat to sit neatly.
Three Dots and a Dash Hair Elements
The morse code pattern for the letter “V”, three dots and a dash, could cleverly be incorporated in the curls of a hairstyle as well. In the below hairstyle, the stylist arranged 3 short curls and 1 long one to symbolize the morse code for V.
In the back, the model’s hair is shaped in a continuous roll styled as a “V”.
“The V mode is particularly well adapted to the new shorter hair lengths which are daily growing in popularity among America’s smartest women as they swing by the hundreds into the demanding work of the national defense program.” Modern Beauty Shop, September 1941.
The V Roll
In this hairstyle, by Anthony Papaleo of Chicago, the article reads that he put “the symbolic V into play in the front of his hairdo by swinging the hair gracefully away from a short center part. The stand-up waves at either side of the part emphasize the V formation. In back, nape ends turn upward in a V roll, accented by a V barrette…” And that barrette also incorporates the three dots and a dash reference.
Could this or articles like it be the origin of the term Victory Roll? The top rolls that we call victory rolls today might not be the original. Read why in the second part of my series on WWII hairstyles, History of the Victory Roll Hairstyle.
Veronica Lake’s WWII Hairstyle for Safety
In 1943, the War Manpower Commission asked Veronica Lake to change her hair for the war effort. She was known for her very long curls with peek-a-boo bang. But a hairstyle like this was dangerous and cumbersome at work.
I am taken aback a little at how similar it is to the V Roll hairstyle above. The front parting and the V shaped back, but this time with more of a low bun, is just beautiful.
The Office of War Information filmed a promotional video of her getting her hair changed to a pinned back style and showed it heavily in news reels at movie theaters. She also wore the hairstyle for the 1943 movie So Proudly We Hail.
Tips for rolling your hair WWII style
Here is a video with some great tips for styling the continuous roll look!
The Short Victory Bob Hairstyle for the demands of war work
The Victory Bob hairstyle appeared first in 1942. It was a common name for a haircut that was about shoulder length when trimmed and then curled so the hair appeared short and smart for wartime factory work or uniform required military or volunteer positions.
Wartime work for women was filthy. Metal dust, machine lubricants, garden soil, spinning metal machinery… All of this surrounded the woman at work in WWII. For the women that were in uniformed positions, a tidy hairstyle that didn’t fall past the collar was a regulation.
The Victory Bob was just the ticket for this wartime work. It appeared in many publications during the beginning of WWII.
The curls and waves of the style were open to interpretation of the wearer and the hairstylist. The key similarity to the many Victory Bobs that appeared in magazines and newspapers was the general length.
Hair-do for Wartime Style
This article titled Hair-do for Wartime Style reads, “Curls of 1942 soften the sharp edges of overseas caps and make even more trim today’s man-tailored uniforms. Today’s women have made up their minds that efficiency does not demand harshness, that good grooming tones up morale and helps women meet wartime problems.”
Lana Turner’s Hairstyle for Victory
Actress Lana Turner sported the Victory Bob hairstyle in this promotional piece put out by Metro-Goldwyn Mayer to help promote her new movie Somewhere I’ll Find You (1942) co-starring Clark Gable.
The Fighting Bob
By 1943, this haircare advertisement renames the hairstyle the “Fighting Bob”, but salons, newspapers and magazines still referenced the Victory Bob well into 1944.
Don’t forget to check out the 2nd part of this series on WWII hairstyles: History of the Victory Roll Hairstyle.