Blame it on Gatsby fever or the mop of ultra-shiny curls at Jason Wu’s Spring/Summer 2013 runway, but the crimped hair style that defined 1920s glam has made waves again this season. The Marcel wave (or, the “finger wave”, as it’s colloquially known) is a must-try summer hair style for a sophisticated retro throwback that works for chic night out or as a bridal look.
“A woman who wears this hair style exudes confidence and is definitely fashionable!” says Dan Nguyen, a celebrity hair stylist and founder of LURE Salon in Vancouver. Nguyen, who can be found backstage styling looks at Giorgio Armani and Viktor & Rolf during fashion week, gives us his expert tips on how to get this classic, feminine retro wave.
Get the retro hair look: Be like Zelda Fitzgerald
Created by François Marcel (the French hair stylist who invented the curling iron,) the eponymous wave that has become synonymous with old-school glamour also has a dark side to it. “Shorter hair in the ‘20s was popularized by socialites like Zelda Fitzgerald, who epitomized a life of glamour and rebellion,” says Nguyen, who lists iconic short-haired celebs of that era—Clara Bow, Joan Crawford and Louise Brooks—with whom Zelda hosted lavish parties along with her husband, The Great Gatsby author F. Scott Fitzgerald.
“This was a way for woman to defy the feminine convention that was set up by their elders—short hair, dressing with legs and arms exposed, and wearing makeup echoed the exciting times and the birth of celebrity culture.”
Get the retro hair look: Prep hair
While this perfectly badass curl is typically styled on short hair, the good news is that most lengths can wear the finger wave, says Nguyen. “Shorter styles and longer lengths with layering will work best.” What you need on hand: clean, just-washed hair, a fine-tooth comb and quality hair care products. “I recommend the Gel Serum from Oribe or the Color Minded UV Protective Styling Balm from Bumble & Bumble,” he says.
Read on to the next page for more expert tips on how to get the finger wave…
Get the retro hair look: All hands on deck
If you don’t have a curling iron, don’t fret: it’s called the finger wave for a reason. Comb wet hair and divide small sections into a wave pattern, pinning into place and allowing hair to air-dry. “Once it’s dry you can brush it out to give it a lovely airy texture or break it up with your fingers,” says Nguyen. Finish off with shine-inducing spray for the glossy Jason Wu spring hair-inspired finish. “A lightweight shine spray will add that wonderful reflective quality,” says Nguyen, who recommends Oribe Shine Light Reflecting Spray. “Weightless and ultra-shiny!”
Get the retro hair look: Go pro (if need be)
For major events such as your wedding or flapper parties (your excuse to have one of those now), Nguyen recommends seeking out a hair stylist for the perfect retro look. “This is a very difficult style to achieve, mostly because you have to work on the top of your head.” But as we imagine Daisy Buchanan flitting about in a white flowing gown, the key is to have fun when sporting this stylishly iconic coif. “Go sleek and shiny for nighttime and brush it out for daytime, or vice versa!” he adds. “As long as you have the confidence to pull it off and the time to style it, anyone can rock this look.” Our summer look just got infinitely more Gatsby.