The perfectly coiffed hairstyles of Joan Harris, Betty Francis, Megan Draper and at times, Peggy Olson, were hardy an afterthought in Mad Men’s styling of the show. Head of hair department Theraesa Rivers noted a “ton of research goes into each character’s look to ensure it is period-correct,” whether it’s deriving inspiration from a Vogue spread for a party scene, or images of Pat Nixon and Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy in Time Life magazine for Betty’s hair as a political wife.

From voluminous pin-up perms to elegant updos, how does one wrap her head around re-creating the masterpieces of this iconic era? Save for traveling back in time, asking great grandma for tips or getting a personal style session with Rivers herself, we figured that asking vintage hair and style expert Laura Okita of Paper Mothball Vintage would be the next best thing. In her beautifully detailed tutorial below, she shows us exactly how to get the Joan Holloway bouffant you’ve always wanted – in classic black and white style!

Setting Curls

Curling the hair will give it more body and texture for the next steps. This can be done with a curling iron, pin, sponge curlers or by setting it with hot rollers. Hair does not need to be perfectly clean; one day after washing provides hair with a more shapeable texture.


1. Begin by setting your hair in curls. I find that hot rollers are the easiest. I usually set my rollers in while I work on my makeup to save time.

2. Spray your hair with hairspray while still up in curls.


3. Take the curlers out. Now you have beautiful curls, but don’t be afraid to mess them up in the steps ahead. They are stronger than you think.

A very important pattern to keep in mind for any up do that requires structure: Spray, tease, and spray. You can then brush it out smooth, and spray into the direction your shape will go. It’s going to take quite a bit of hairspray.

Bouffant

The bouffant and the beehive were two of the most popular hairstyles in the 50s and 60s. What’s the difference? The beehive is more all up (think formal dressed Betty) while the bouffant can be half down, mostly down or a little messy (like a Joan or Megan). Every Mad Men girl basically wore variants of these one of these two updos, from Joan’s sexy trusses to Betty’s polished-up do. I will be styling a fairly smooth version of the beehive, mostly because I don’t have layers in the front of my hair.


1. Section the bottom half of your hair off and tie back. We will only be working with the top half to start out.


2. Decide where your part will be and section off a top middle portion of your hair and spray.


3. Tease (back comb from the middle to the roots). You can use a comb or a brush; find which one is more comfortable for you. I use both, a comb for tighter, smaller areas, and a brush for larger areas. Then, spray again.


4. Here is that personal choice of bangs or no bangs, either way, smooth out the section you just teased very lightly on the top most part just until it doesn’t “look” teased, but do not remove the volume you just created underneath.


5. If you want bangs, pull the bangs section out and forget about it for now.

6. Push the section up and towards the front of your head. Spray it just a touch.


7. While keeping a good hold on the section pushing forward, pin the back on both sides of the section, crossing the two pins to secure. Using really good hairpins makes a huge difference. The fashion pins in the drug store will work ok, but they wonʼt provide the easier secure hold of a professional pin. Try your local beauty store for something stronger.


8. Next do the same thing for the side sections. Section, spray, tease and spray. You may need to divide the sections into mini sections parallel to your scalp line if you have a lot of hair and arenʼt getting a good tease. When you brush the side sections smooth, make sure you are brushing into the section on the top middle. You want to brush blend these together so it doesn't look like 3 separate bumps.


9. Pin them back into the same place in the center as the middle section.


10. Here we are now with the top section all finished and the bangs and bottom remaining.

Faux Bangs

If you have a lot of layers, you can play with it and let a little hair down. But if you are all one length, like me, we will improvise and create a faux bang. You can do this style with any length that is long enough to pull back into a ponytail.


1. In order to match the texture and volume of the rest of your hair, gently tease the bangs and then comb over to the side. This is one of those areas I definitely prefer the comb. If you have bangs and layers, leave them to style until the end.


2. Sweep over the faux bang on the side of your head and pin again at the same center point. If the hair is not long enough, pin as close as you can get. Just make sure the pins look neat if they will show. You might use a less sturdy drug store fashion pin in your hair color here if it will show. Spray everything on the top.

Twist


1. Let the loose ends fall down. You can leave them loose like that, or coil them up a bit and pin them closer to the top of the twist. If you want a little more curl in them, you could re-curl the ends with a curling iron.

Finishing Up


1. If you had real bangs, style them swept to the side. You can tease and spray them the same as in the faux step.

2. Comb the hair at the nape of your neck up into the twist and spray if you have any baby hairs running loose. Give everything one more good spray, but go easy on the top curls if you want them to stay soft, or switch to a softer hairspray for them.

3. Optional: It was popular to style these updos with a headband right at the base where the bump starts, splitting the hair from the bangs, or with a head scarf. Flowers can be your best friend if you need to hide any mistakes. Hair takes a little practice, but once you master a good tease, all the different styles will come easily to you.

Final Look


We hope this tutorial was both helpful and fun for you to explore, experience and maybe understand a little better the era of a different time. Read the Mad Men makeup tutorial here!


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Beauty: Mad Men Makeup With Laura Okita
Behind the Scenes: Making of a Gown
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