Monday, 8 November 2010


It’s good to try something new. On Saturday I was heading out to first of all the Bram Stoker Dinner and then afterwards to quickly hook up with friends at the Mouthful O’ Jam night in Haringay.  I wore a vintage early fifties black satin crepe bolero with my emerald satin Vivien of Holloway circle dress and anticipated the usual long hair set. However it was blowy, possibly damp and I was feeling lazy and tired. So I popped into Soho on the way out and got Amy at Powderpuff to give me a ‘do’.  I resisted the usual pull of victory rolls and thought channelling Madmen might be a good change, and hopefully I’d end up looking like Joan Holloway’s ageing great aunty. I have that lady's embonpoint and hair alone sadly. This really left me with a choice between up-flicks at the end or an up do and I plumped for the queen of all retro-updo’s: the beehive 

Audrey's Hive
 My do was a medium height soft  puffy beehive, of the French pleat variety. I wouldn’t go for it if I had a short fringe and haven’t worn one for several years. You do feel like you are wearing a beehive, it is such a statement. That would have needed to be on someone younger or you risk looking like an actress out of an early sixties kitchen sink drama. I like this style when it is long enough to sweep across your face or tuck behind your ears. There are examples plenty of the beehive looking elegant, my favourite is Dusty Springfield although the most famous hive is the strangely conservative one donned by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I recall that in 2008 Amy Winehouse’s beehive was voted the worst celebrity hairstyle. I was cross about that, our Amy might have her skanky moments but that hair is a big style statement. I’d have voted in a whole army of R & B star mingingness or Wag ironed extensions. The Beehive I believe has a retro appeal of it’s own and infers retro glamour and class, or soul diva, or sixties starlet or uber housewife or at it’s very worst (which is still appealing) Bet Lynch Barmaid chic. If this hairstyle had a sound track it would be an all girl Motown one.

Amy Winehouse dons a wig yet the beehive is not actually that difficult to style. Much easier than rolls or a set and I can make a decent fist of it when I try. A lot depends on the texture of your hair. If it is normal to thick it will stay up well once back combed and shoulder length hair works well. Mine requires no rollers or volume beforehand   The trick is in the backcombing, this style is a ‘construction’ and it is all in the preparation. This isn’t for those who treat their hair like a precious piece of cashmere. Begin looking like beetlejuice with you hair on end and it is easy to pin and the back and then gently brush and smooth back into the hive shape at the front.  It takes less hairspray to hold in shape than a 30’s or 40’s set and was remarkably impervious to blasts of wind. Brushing out at the end of the evening has to be brisk and tough and you do end up looking like Beetlejuice again.
Yours truly captured on mobile phone.
 It attracted far more attention when I was out than my usual sets or styles, we forget how ubiquitous thirties and forties styles have become. The beehive is still largely relegated to repeats of Heartbeat and the odd sixties revival event. Quite a few people wanted to pat it, a couple of others wondered if it were my own hair and this is despite the fact it wasn’t the full Marge Simpson. I wouldn’t have it all the time, but for a night it was fun to have big hair. I liked the fact it was so dressy and it sets off earrings, necklaces and long necks beautifully. It also entertains anyone lucky enough to see you at the end of the night in the process of brushing it out. Or scares them. Depending…
The aftermath!


Mim said...

I love both the 'do photo and the aftermath. How on earth do you get it straignt again? With hair conditioner?

My mum used to have a beehive in the '60s; it's quite a look. (She wore cats-eye glasses too!)

LandGirl1980 said...

Yes - the beehive is a statement do - and IS easy to acheive. Plus - it looks amazing - especially on your good self :)

Penny Dreadful said...

I asked for a beehive for my high school prom many years ago. The woman had no idea how to do it and used cotton wool to puff it out, and naturally I was young and didn't know enough to tell her off! It fell out halfway through the evening, what a disaster.

superheidi said...

Love it! Even the aftermath which has a quite Bananarama-meets-Toyah-feel to it.

@Penny, that's just hilarious funny!

Helen Highwater said...


I spent about 5 years with a bouffant everyday. Backcombing it every day and the hairdresser always surprised that my hair was in good condition despite the abuse I was subjecting it to! But I would counter-claim that not washing my hair every day is good fot its condition - it's not being stripped of its natural oils or blasted with vast amounts of heat. Having a bouffant is probably better for your hair than using straighteners every day.

I usually relied on backcombing for volume as I have very thick hair, but I did use rollers a few time and got ENORMO-HAIR! I even used sugar water, and ended up with a crunchy pillow.

I've wanted Ronettes hair for years but by the time I'd grown my hair long enough, Amy Winehouse was doing the rounds and I really didn't need people thinking I was copying her!

Kally said...

I experimented with a beehive a while back and loved the style, I agree it does feel like you're 'wearing' it!

My hair is quite thin from bleaching and is cut into a middy, so there wasn't enough hair on its own. I made a rat from a piece of stocking with cotton wool inside, pinned it firmly at the crown, then backcombed and covered it with my hair and nobody knew any different! Thank goodness I didn't have a cotton wool disaster like Penny!

Lisa said...

I did a beehive on myself for a wedding a few years ago. Once its up its so low maintenance, you just sleep with it in and puff it up with a comb in the morning. It lasted almost a week like that! I like the look on you.

I'm not sure I agree about 30's and 40's dos being ubiquitous, I see very few people with them outside of events, or at least with them done well. *snob alert*

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