My favorite decade in history is the 1950s. It was a time of celebration after the war years, when new fashions and beauty styles flourished; and among them blossomed my most cherished of all 'dos: the vintage victory roll hairstyle.
Before the start of last year I hadn't really experimented with new hairstyles and tended to play it safe with my easy quiff. I then met my friend Maria, who I learned loved the vintage scene (and singing) as much as I did, so we decided to form two-part vintage vocal group Diamond Darlings. When we had decided on our singing style, we realized we needed a signature look. Our makeup look was inspired by 1950s Hollywood starlet beauty and we decided our go-to hairstyle had to be victory rolls, of course!
Luckily, Maria is a qualified hairdresser and I am not exaggerating when I say we literally couldn't have managed our look without her skills — I have mentioned before how ridiculously average I am at hairstyling and come to think of it, anything beauty related. However, Maria remembered being shown the victory roll method in her training and after honing her technique, she soon became a victory roll pro.
After watching Maria on numerous occasions and wearing victory rolls more times than I can count, I decided I wanted to show the world that victory rolls are actually a lot easier to create than you might think. Once upon a time, I would look at vintage starlets or modern vintage-inspired vixens and marvel at their victory rolls. Now I'm going to let you in on how to recreate this awesome vintage hairstyle at home. Honestly, hand on heart, if I can do it, so can you!
A very obvious tip: Start by brushing your hair so it is nice and sleek and there are no knots in your barnet. If there are knots, you won't get a smooth roll and it will look very unpolished, darlings!
Step 1: Part Your Hair
For this tutorial, I decided to put a modern spin on the classic victory roll style. I had seen a girl wearing an asymmetric roll, which really added an edgy vibe to the traditional look.
So first off, I parted my hair quite dramatically to one side. It doesn't matter which side you choose but from experience, I found it easiest to part the majority of my hair to the left as I am right-handed, so it was easier for me to reach. Therefore, if you are left-handed you may find it easier to put most of your hair to the right.
Step 2: Section Your Hair Off
Section off a decent-sized strip of hair (a few inches wide) from the front of your head on the side with the most hair on it (for me, this was the left side) and use a hair tie to create a ponytail to keep the rest of your hair together. I made sure to include mostly the top layer of hair in my strip. If you have a lot of layers underneath, tie them back into your ponytail with the rest of your hair so that you're left with a strip mainly made up of your top layer.
Step 3: Add A Line Of Hair Grips & Back Comb
Add a line of hair grips starting from where you want the roll to be placed. Normally when Maria and I are creating our classic double victory roll look, she will add two lines of grips on either side of my middle parting running parallel to it. For this modern take on the victory roll, I added the grips in about three to four inches away from my parting on the side with the most hair, as this is roughly where I wanted my roll to lie.
After this, you need to back comb very close to the root but without going over the hair pin boundary and obviously without interrupting the line of hair grips. So you need to back comb the hair on the loose side of the grips. It doesn't have to be crazy back combing, but it needs to be enough to look "bushy," which adds volume to your roll later on.
Step 4: Begin Rolling
Start at the tip of your hair. Get two fingers and wrap the ends around them.
Unfortunately, there wasn't anyone around to take a picture of my rolling method (and I couldn't do it one-handed) but the technique is to use two fingers (index and middle) to wind the hair up while keeping a tunnel shape of hair around your fingers. When you can roll no more, swiftly swap the fingers of your other hand in and continue rolling and swapping hands until you reach the top of your head. Use your thumb to keep the tunnel shape throughout.
In this photo, my index and middle fingers are securely inside the tunnel of hair. The method is kind of like winding cotton back onto a reel where your fingers act as the reel and your hair is the cotton.
Step 5: Building Your Roll
When your roll reaches the top of your head, hold it in place with one hand and firmly grip it in place with the other. As previously mentioned, the roll should be formed on top of the original line of grips. You can make your roll tighter by pulling from the root (while keeping the roll intact) away from the original grip line — the line of grips should act as a sort of anchor — and rolling tighter as you pull.
When you're happy with the shape of your roll, insert the grips through the tunnel of hair and secure the bottom of the tunnel to the top of your head, making sure to cover up the original line of grips. You will definitely need two hands for this: One to hold the roll in place and the other to secure the grips.
Pull down the back of your roll very gently as if you are sealing off the tunnel — by doing this, your roll will not have a giant hole through the middle. Carefully grip the back of the hair tunnel and grip it down at the back of your head.
Now it should look similar to this and resemble a neat bird's nest or a swirly patisserie where you can't see all the way through.
Step 6: Securing Your Roll
Finish by spraying your roll with hairspray and use as much or as little as you need depending on how long you require your roll to last. My hair is naturally quite thick and I use a fair amount of hairspray to keep my roll secure all day and into the night.
If you want to achieve the classic double barrel roll look, the only differences are: You will obviously have to create two rolls, plus you will need to start off with a center parting and as aforementioned, put two lines of grips along your parting to create the foundations of your rolls. The rest of the method is identical.
For best results, use hair grips of the same color as your hair. I know it may not look like it in the photos but my grips are actually blonde, so they blend in quite well in reality.
Now all that's left to do is put on a '50s frock, apply some red lippy, and head off to a vintage fair or a tea dance!
Images: Full Frame Productions (2); Phoebe Waller (14)