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Hairstyles From The Past: The 70's Dorothy Hamill Wedge


TheWedgeA200.jpg (2603 bytes)In the past few months I have received several received emails from different HairBoutique who were asking about the "original Wedge".

It all started with one visitor who explained that she was having a hard time finding a stylist who could recreate the "best haircut she ever had" which was the original 1970 Dorothy Hamill Wedge.

(Photo of the original Wedge from Visions In Hair by Trevor Sorbie).

The first visitor explained that there are all sorts of versions of the Wedge out there, but she had not been able to find out anything about the original Wedge.

During our email exchanges this particular visitor told me that during the years that she had the original Dorothy Hamill Wedge, her hair looked the best it had ever looked.

Unfortunately, she was not able to explain to any hairstylists how to recreate the look without a photo.

DorothyHamillA200.jpg (3936 bytes)After that first email, I received several more "Wedge hunters" who wanted photos of the original to take to their stylists. Several of them told me that the Hamill Wedge was becoming "hot" again.

It seems that over the past 24 years a form of this wildly popular haircut has morphed into all sorts of "Wedgelike" shapes.

Now, oddly enough, there seems to be a renewed interest in recreating the Wedge exactly the way that Dorothy Hamill wore it 24 years ago.

It may be true that the original Wedge is becoming popular again, but it was difficult finding photos from the 70s.

I promised the first visitor that I would research the Dorothy Hamill Wedge and try to find photos for a Hair Boutique article.

Initially I was not successful finding out very much about the famous cut. (Photo of Dorothy Hamill from May 1999 W Magazine).

TrevorSorbieA200.jpg (3776 bytes)As luck would have it, I recently purchased Trevor Sorbie's great book, Visions In Hair and found a great photo of the original wedge hairstyle.

This great book (available through the Hair Boutique) also explains how Trevor found his way into the hair business and lists an impressive list of his awards over the years.

The wedge was invented by Trevor Sorbie in 1974. At the time that he created this sassy style, Trevor was just one of the hairstylists at Vidal Sassoon's London shop. Inventing the wedge helped Trevor to be "discovered" as a star stylist.

Trevor's incredible aerodynamic masterpiece was historic for several reasons.

Although Dorothy Hamill adopted the popular look for her own, Trevor's Wedge cut was the first photo of any hairstyle that was ever published in Vogue magazine as a double page spread.

Contrary to some popular opinion, Trevor did not invent the wedge specifically for Dorothy. However it is true that when Dorothy was photographed wearing the short, sassy, "girl next store" style during her 1976 Olympics gold medal win, she catapulted the style into a major hair happening in the United States.

During this same Hamill "Wedge" time period in the United States the Bo Derek beaded cornrows from the movie 10 and the long Farrah "winged layered cut" from the TV show Charlie's Angels were the other hot popular styles.

TheWedge250.jpg (3764 bytes)Even more significant was the fact that even though the Wedge was originally created by Sorbie specifically for females, it was quickly adopted by guys.

In fact, guys loved the cut so much that they flaunted it in British nightclubs around the country.

According to the book "Haircults" by Dylan Jones, "Sorbie's Wedge was adopted by the soul fraternity as a tonsorial flag.

The wedge was not only a precursor to a decade of soul boy culture, it also became its most durable metaphor".

In fact, according to Haircults, "unlike other haircuts like the punk haircut which was immediately recognized as rebellious, the wedge was not acknowledged as a socio-cultural influence until the eighties, long after the popularity of the style had faded into obscurity".

According to Peter York, the wedge was "the uniform for the southern English, club-going, working-class soul stylist". As pop archivists are always keen to point out, "the mid seventies were clearly polarized and in the cathedrals of dance, the wedge-wearing funkateers enjoyed the uphonious delights of imported American soul music."

So while the Wedge evolved into an American female hair craze, it also made a huge splash in the English club-hoping working class.

Who Can Wear The Wedge

This style does have some limitations. To come out looking just like Dorothy Hamill, a candidate for the Wedge would need thick, fairly straight hair. Curly and wavy hair would have a hard time with this style.

This style, if cut correctly could be worn by some people with fine hair, as long as the wedge was cut correctly in many layers.

Although there are no age limits to any hairstyle, the Wedge was much more popular amongst younger people than older people.

Styling The Wedge

If cut correctly, the Wedge is best suited for styling with a blow drying and a styling brush.

This style does require regular maintenance to continuously maintain the perfect asymmetric shape.

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- Revised Publication Date: 03/09/10

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