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“Beachy waves” are an incredibly popular modern hairstyle, and have been at least since the 1990s if not a decade or two earlier. But when this style turns up in Frock Flicks, we get stabby (see our beachy waves aren’t period tag for just a few examples). So, let’s break it down!
Beachy waves are that just-walked-out-of-the-ocean look, with the hair worn loose and looking like you went swimming in salt water and then let your hair dry naturally. To quote Bustle:
This summer, you’ve probably seen (and possibly drooled over) countless photos of dreamy beach waves on Instagram. Not only do these salt-spray tresses turn your seaweed green with envy, but they also make anyone want to throw out their scorching hair dryers. Yes, those Instagram glamazons have the sun-kissed, windswept mane down pat. But I’ve always wondered if getting beach waves IRL is a doable task — one that doesn’t involve handy extensions, a generous helping of sea salt spray, and the perfect photo filter.
It generally means SLIGHT waves, not real curls, that are tousled; they’re frequently straighter at the root and wavier as the hair gets longer:
There’s a lot of problems with seeing these styles in frock flicks. Now, I’m not talking about a natural wave or curl to the hair, as seen in these examples. Sure, it’s a major problem that the hair is being worn DOWN (i.e. unstyled up off the face and neck), when 99% of periods before the 1920s involved women’s hair worn up. But let’s ignore that (I know, it makes me pant too) and look at the hair texture:
Where I have a major, major problem is when the woman’s hair is supposed to be read as “styled,” “done,” “appropriate for public viewing and possibly even a formal occasion.” Because even if a pre-1920s woman DID go crazy and run around with her hair down, she would have either curled it with a proper curl, or brushed it out as smooth as possible.
Let’s look at some cinematic attempts at hairstyling and compare them with what would be plausible historically, separating things into two categories:
Naturalistic Beachy Waves
These are the styles where we’re supposed to believe this is the actress’s natural curl pattern, untouched by brush or god:
Then we get to category #2:
Consciously Beachy Waves
I’m not 100% about my terminology here, but these are examples where there’s no pretense that this is the actress’s natural hairstyle. Clearly, some kind of curler/iron was used to create these curls… and it’s either a super modern curl pattern, flattened at the root a la classic beachy wave style (or a 1980s perm that’s grown out a month), or both.
Do beachy waves make you twitchy too? Let loose in the comments!