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Hair Styling | 40s hairstyles

40's Hairstyles: Marilyn Monroe's Famous Glamour Waves

Her blonde retro waves, the pouty lips and her sexy figure are legendary. Her hairstyle became part of her image and appeal. Did it ever go out of style? Marilyn Monroe died young in the 1960s. We remember her style and so do many of today’s stars. Learn how to create beautiful 1940s hair, inspired by Marilyn Monroe’s iconic glamour waves.

We remember Marilyn Monroe, arguably the most famous sex symbol of the 20th century. Not only did she give us one of the most iconic 1940s hairstyles; she was also an actress with a knack for comedy, a singer with a distinctive voice ('I Wanna Be Loved By You'), and she was quick on the trigger with witty responses (Q: Did you really have nothing on? Marilyn Monroe: Of course, the radio!) She grew up with the name Norma Jean Baker. Her agent advised her to change her name to Marilyn Monroe (after the musical star Marilyn Miller and the maiden name of her mother). More significantly, she colored her brown hair blonde and then soon became the woman of many men’s dreams. Her appeal was and still is unrivalled. Men idolize her and women want to be or at least look like her. Little wonder! Marilyn Monroe sure made an impression wherever she went. There was a special aura around her beautiful face and figure. It made her alluring and glamorous. Unfortunately, her appeal and talent never completely erased the self-image of her childhood. Inside, Marilyn Monroe was fragile, unsure of herself, and fearful.

Glamour Waves – An Iconic 1940s Hairstyle and Part of Marilyn Monroe's Image

Marilyn Monroe's hairstyle was one of her most prominent features, the part that pulled her appealing image together. While it may not have made her a style icon, her lively blonde hair was certainly a memorable part of her appeal. Glamour waves are considered one of the most iconic hairstyles from the 1940s, continuing to be adapted into a number of 50s hairstyles, and remain a firm style favorite even today.


Madonna, Rachel McAdams, Paris Hilton, Christina Aguilera, Katherine Heigl and Michelle Williams, along with a long list of other stars, have imitated Marilyn Monroe’s look to create beautiful, ultra-glam forties hairstyles.


Marilyn Monroe's blonde waves worked as part of her image. What infused her looks with so much alluring style?


Retro style glamour waves enhance round faces more than small long ones. Marilyn Monroe’s characteristic 1940s hairstyle is chin-length, layered and platinum blonde. Her waves were large and there were not too many of them. This sensuous hairstyle goes well with bright red lips and black eyeliner.

How to Create 1940's Hair in the Style of Marilyn Monroe

  1. Work a fist-sized dollop of hair mousse through your towel-dry hair.
  2. Use a comb to part your hair on one side.
  3. To create the curls for this classic 1940s hairstyle, roll wide sections of hair around curlers or a wide curling iron.
  4. After blow-drying, carefully take the curlers out of the cooled hair. If you are using a curling iron you should allow each strand of hair to remain rolled up on it for a few seconds before removing the curling iron.
  5. Use your fingers to shape the waves. Comb gel into your hair to give the style an elegant note. For 1940s hair with a more casual look, run your fingers through your hair a couple of times to create an endearing messy look.
  6. Apply extra-gloss hairspray for more luster and hold.

We invite you to enjoy our images of style icon Marilyn Monroe and some of today’s stars working their 1940s hairstyles. Enter our hairstyle gallery!

Gallery: Forties Hairstyles Inspired by Marilyn Monroe