Alinnette’s 5 (Extremely) Easy Ways to Style a 1940’s Hair Scarf

My ultimate goal in life is to live as glamorously as the Iconic 1940’s woman (don’t we all?). Whether it be the working factory gal in kitten heels or sultry movie star off screen, the 1940’s lifestyle is by far the most intriguing to me. Although it wasn’t always as glamorous as it seems now, the sheer illusion women could portray in a photograph or film (and let’s not forget the music) was primarily due to their fashion affected by war time and clothing innovations. Flipping through old photographs, it’s really quite evident. There is however, a lost art I wish could return: hairstyling—and I don’t just mean curling your hair and calling it a day, I mean adornments. Scarves. Real fashion. What happened to domestic bonnet dryers, hair receivers and daily head pieces? Most have made their way to attics or expensive Etsy shops but today, all you need is a scarf or two to get a similar feel. I’ve compiled a list of 5 extremely easy ways to style head scarves for your own 40’s moment. Go on — try it out. Play some Julie London while you’re at it too.


This look is perhaps the easiest, most recognizable, and certainly the most Iconic — Rosie the Riveter’s scarf didn’t just change her style, it changed history.

  1. Start off with a square scarf and fold it in half to form a large triangle.
  2. Lay it flat on the floor and gently fold the top over about an inch. Repeat until it has all been rolled up into a long band.
  3. Place the band on the back of your head, covering your ears. Be sure your hairstyle remains intact.
  4. Double knot it and you’re done!



My favorite of all would have to be the bow turban with variations including real flowers intertwined and tied. The bigger the better! These grew to be very popular for its ability to make simple outfits, like lounging playsuits, to the next level.

  1. This style is best done with a long yet relatively wide scarf. Sheer scarves work great with this because they’re light enough to pile high on the top of your head.
  2. Instead of rolling this scarf like The Rosie style, leave it wide and wrap from the base of your head to the top. Depending on where you would like your bow, make a knot and tie it like you would a shoe. I’ve chosen to go more traditionally ’40s by placing the bow on the center of my head.
  3. Take time to spread and shape your bow. I like to take the remaining ends and make another bow for the illusion of a large one. This also helps it stay in place and prevents it from flopping forward.



Ah, yes. The Urban Turban. Fashion bloggers worldwide can thank the classic ’40s woman for this style, popular in factories and galas alike. Not to mention, it was great for hiding a bad hair day. No complaints here!

  1. Start with an extra large square scarf. You’ll realize that the more intricate the pattern, the better. Fold it in half to form a large triangle.
  2. Drape the triangle over your shoulders and pull forward. Hold the ends and tie it in a single knot at the top of your head.
  3. Pull forward the triangle point, making sure your hair is completely covered. Hold the point at the center of the knot previously made and secure by knotting it all together.
  4. Tuck in any excess fabric and adjust by covering your ears. Take a small safety pin to areas that appear baggy for a uniformly shaped look.



This look is probably the most “out-there” for the average person which gives you even more reason to try it out. While it may have you thinking of Mary Poppins, this style appeared in high fashion ’40s magazines and films (think of early Carmen Miranda in Copacabana — perfection). It was definitely for the well-cultured travelers.

  1. Find a rigid hat onto which you can tie a long scarf. I’ve chosen a wide brim hat but any rigid style should do. For a more accurate look, go for a very thin, wide hat or a pill box hat.
  2. Spread the scarf along the sides.
  3. Tie underneath your chin.
  4. Let it dangle or tie a small bow. If possible, let the material drape more in front and let it fall behind your back. As another variation, you could tie it over your head and wear the hat on top or lose the hat all together. This is a very versatile look.



Avant-garde fashion was creeping its way to the scene as avant-garde cinema came to surface. Turbans began to take new shapes — higher, more architectural, and more interesting. Feathers and floral stalks were stuck at the tops as a finishing touch. Many of these styles began with the basic turban form and the ends were twisted into a bun-like shape.

  1. For an easier, modern approach, I’ve started with a twist scarf from American Apparel, which are amazing for their built-in wire. Bend it until you have a position you can easily place on your head.
  2. Follow the same steps as The Rosie style but instead of knotting it, twist at the top of your head.
  3. Bend the ends into an interesting shape for an anti-gravity look.

Try these styles out and let us know which one is your favorite but don’t stop here! For more inspiration, take advice from a ’40s woman herself who shows you other tips and tricks for creating unique hair scarf styles.


One thought on “Alinnette’s 5 (Extremely) Easy Ways to Style a 1940’s Hair Scarf

  1. Pingback: Style Captain Says: Stay Fly for the 4th of July | iCONiC

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