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Hair Quiffs From The 50s - Pile It On


Kaley Cuoco on Jimmy Kimmel

All rights reserved ABC/BYRON COHEN

Blame the return of the hair "quiff" on Patrick Robinson who's the sizzling new designer at Perry Ellis. Robinson showcased a fun, yet fresh, fashion collection at The Olympus Fashion Week in New York.

Not only did Robinson's spectacular designs showcase the 50s-inspired clothing styles that are currently flooding the fashion scene, he had many of his models coiffed in the hot new quiff-like hairdos.

Famous for being upbeat, optimistic and edgy, Robinson matched his fun fashion designs with the retro hairstyles that are a combination of a heavily backcombed pouffy crowns with a mid-head straight tail.

There is some controversy over whether the quiff (pronounced so it sounds like wiff with a Q in front) is a 40s, 50s or 60s hairstyle.

Some fashionistas claim the quiff first appeared in the mid 1940s around the time that World War II ended. Others link it back to the era of the 50s or the 60s.

In reality, the quiff doesn't fade very far from the catwalks. The edgy style emerges every few years in a variety of incarnations from a partial to a full blown hair design.

Imagine my excitement when I spotted gorgeous blonde Kaley Cuoco of ABC's 8 Simple Rules (now defunct) on Jimmy Kimmel with a low key example of the hot new hairstyle.

Ironically, the Paris haute couture fashion show season which followed The Olympus Fashion Week in New York by several months demonstrated that Robinson is truly a trend setter. Designer Yohi Yamamoto edged up his hot 50s fashion trends revolving around pastel cardigans and pretty skirts. Yamamoto folded in some oversized suits on rail thin models with industrial-strength lacquered sky high quiffs.

Following Robinson's early lead, Yamamoto took the quiff hairstyle and supersized it.

Image from Clairol

All rights reserved

In some cases the front quiffs were combined with back hair knots and twists to trigger memories of a merged version of the the 50s bouffant/beehive.

Whether you wear it in a low key way with a ponytail like Kaley or a big style like the current Paris catwalks, the beauty of the quiff is that you don't have to have long hair to wear the 2004 version.

Even short haired folks can wear the quiff. They simply pop a pin-on pony at the back of their heads for the straight bottom flow.

The quiff, like all super finished styles, works best on day-old hair that has time to accumulate some natural hair oils. When possible, create your quiff on hair that is not super soft or slippery.

There is some question about when the quiff first made its appearance. Some say that it was in the mid 1940s around the time that World War II ended. Others link it back to the era of the 50s.

The 2004 version of the Quiff is sleeker and isolated to just the front portion of the head. It is usually combined with the long sleek pony that either cascades to one side or straight down the back.

Step By Step Instructions

Follow the instructions below to steal Kaley's catwalk quiff.

Image from Clairol

All rights reserved

Depending on whether you want a soft, low, ponytail version or a high "tail free" style, adjust the amount of teasing and backcombing you perform.

1. Start with aged hair (day old) that is either naturally straight or has been blown out stick straight.

If you prefer to start with newly washed hair, be sure to prep with lots of styling products to help hold the quiff hairstyle in place.

2. Using a comb, a pick, or the tail of either, create a vertical part that runs completely across the top of your head from ear to ear.

The goal is to create two different sections of hair. This should include a front and back section. Depending on the desired height of the quiff, add more or less hair to the front section.

3. Clip off the front section of hair from the back section.

4. Separate the top section of hair into 1" sections. Working on each section at a time, tease or backcomb the target section of hair to the desired height.

Note: For the most lift and fullness it's important to separate strands into smaller individual sections.

5. Smooth each teased section carefully with your fingers or a comb. Layer each section on top of the previous one to create a firm foundation.

6. Use a firm hold hairspray after you backcomb each section for strong hold.

7. Pin the top section so that it has height and lift.

For a more dramatic quiff as showcased on the Paris runways, pull all of your tresses off your forehead. If you prefer a softer look, combine your quiff with a forehead fringe.

8. Unclip the back section of hair. Gather remaining strands into a ponytail. Arrange the pony so the base rests at the middle of the back of your head. Tie off the tail with a Blax or bungee that matches your current hair color.

For a more finished look, select approximately 1 inch of hair from the side of the ponytail and wrap it around the base of the Blax or Bungee to camouflage the bangs.

For a more formal look, skip the ponytail and form the remaining hair in the back into a hair bun or twist. Pin the newly formed bun up off the neck.


The hairstyle known as the quiff is considered by many hair experts to be a classic hairstyle. Whether worn sky high at the crown or more like a sleek frontal hair bump, the quiff never really goes out of style.

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- Revised Publication Date: 05/22/10

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