Monday, February 20, 2012

The 1940s Middy Cut

Of course we all know that the infamous Middy is the quintessential cut for most 1940s styles.  And odds are you've have seen the original (and confusing) diagram outlining the precise measurements for every hair on your head.  Some girls like to say they have this cut to prove just how perfectly 'vintage' they are.  I'm here to let you in on a little secret...

click to enlarge
...all you have to do is cut lots of layers.  Kudos to you and your stylist if you can follow these instructions.  But if you've never seen this diagram before, don't sweat it. The official length of the Middy was four inches.  I find that to be ridiculously short.  I tried a 4 1/2 inch cut once and had a hard time wrapping rollers, much less a pin curl.  So after 3 years of tweaking, I think I've figured out my perfect formula.

For me the perfect length is 6 inches, every where, every hair.  My stylist measures as she goes, cutting every layer to 6 inches.  After setting my pin curls, I can brush them into a cascade of curls (that sounds so glamorous!) across the back and set a few sculpted curls near my forehead. 
For special occasions, I set brush rollers (rolled down).  This gives a smoother shape and more volume than a pin curl set.  In these photos, the hair across the back of the neck is cut slightly shorter to a length of 5 1/2 inches.  This raises the weight of the curls off my neck, giving a more lifted, rounder shape to the overall style.

As the layers grow out, I still set the same pin curls, but they brush out to softer waves.  In this photo my hair is closer to 8 inches long.  Nice if you like to style more dramatic up-dos and French Twists.

One thing to consider if you're contemplating a middy-esque cut is how often you plan to set it.  I set my hair 2-3 times per week.  But if you won't be doing it that often, consider going to a longer length.   

Longer layers can be put into a ponytail on the "off" days or worn with the sides pulled back and still have a retro feel.  Check out Wild Kat's tutorial on a cute, no-fuss style.

Shorter layers, like mine, tend to look shaggy if left down and not curled.  On my "off" days, I make full use of a bandana or snood.  Whatever you decide to do, make sure you have a style that you can enjoy and not feel you have to "deal with" each morning. Vintage-styled hair can be worn on a daily basis if you're realistic about your lifestyle and take pleasure in looking your best.  Experiment and have fun!


  1. Love this, I have had my hair curled for the last week, setting it twice. Today it is straight for a change of pace but I still might add a flower or victory roll!

  2. Just got my hair cut according to that diagram, and it is very short, though mine is curly and looks fine without a set. How did you set yours when you had it cut to 4 1/2"?