BY JILLIAN PRETZEL
Haircuts and hairstyles can define a decade. There’s the curls of the Shirley Temple era, the finger waves of the ’40s, the flips of the ’70s, and even the crimped styles of the ’90s. The 2010s were no different. In the past decade, we saw big glamorous waves, cute pixie cuts, and fabulous ombré dye jobs. We saw Billie Eilish bring light blue hues to center stage, saw some Kardashians go for the platinum blonde look, and even watched the Jersey Shore “poof” come and go.
But perhaps the greatest hairstyle experts aren’t always the newest artists and youngest stars. Sometimes they’re those who lived through past generations (and past hairstyles) and are able to serve up the next best look.
From certain celebs’ signature curls to unforgettable colors, older women had some seriously gorgeous hairstyles this past decade. Here are some of the best looks older women rocked in the 2010s.
Older women loved wavy pixie haircuts
There was nothing as beachy, as cute, or as stylish as the wavy pixie haircut. It framed the face just right while giving the wearer a youthful glow. While older women have rocked short haircuts for decades (just take a look at those ’80s-fabulous hairstyles on every star in The Golden Girls), this wavy look was a new, modern take on short hair. It was a perfect cut for older women looking for something easy to manage and style, while still being elegant and modern.
One star to bring this look into the spotlight was the talented and stunning Glenn Close. In 2019, she wore her hair in waves to the 91st Academy Awards with some sparkly earrings that worked perfectly with her short hairstyle (via Los Angeles Times). Of course, Close looks beautiful in almost any haircut, and she has sported a cropped cut for years (via InStyle). Still, this particular wavy style looked especially gorgeous on the actress.
Elizabeth McGovern brought back the behind-the-ears bob haircut for older women
Another big style for mature women this past decade was the classic bob. And why not? It was about time this ’20s look made a good comeback. Bobs are so easy to manage and look good on so many faces, particularly on actress Elizabeth McGovern, known for her roles in Ordinary People and the beloved series Downton Abbey. She was known to have some fabulous up-dos on the Downton Abbey TV show, but when it came to the Downton Abbey movie premiere at Cineworld Leicester Square in 2019, she showcased something different: a classy, understated bob tucked behind the ears. And wow, was it stunning.
A behind-the-ear bob was the perfect haircut for older women looking for a little length that won’t take too much work to style or maintain. It was also great for busy women who wanted a bit of volume, but still wanted to keep their hair back and out of their face. Plus, this popular hairstyle just went to show that waves could look great at any length.
When Harry met… the perfect haircut for older women
While some stylish ladies may have gone for cute behind-the-ears bobs, there were other similar, short haircuts that looked great on older women this decade. One of these styles was a short, layered look with messy curls. It was a simple, casual look that made hair look thicker but didn’t require much work to attain. For many hair types, simply scrunching the hair with some product could achieve this style. It was easy to dress up this ‘do, too. To make curls look a little flashier, you could have added some highlights like Meg Ryan did back in July 2012, which she showed off when she wore her short hair in loose curls for a speaking engagement at the Beverly Hilton hotel (via The Washington Post).
Ryan has always been known to have great hair (remember her look in When Harry Met Sally?) and, in the 2010s, she was still a pro when it came to hair styling. Her short blonde look was a perfect example of a classy, easy-to-manage style that older women loved throughout the decade.
Older women couldn’t go wrong with long, straight, and stylish haircuts
While waves and curls may have been big in the world of of women’s hair in the 2010s, bone-straight haircuts also had a moment for older women. The sleek, straight look was easy to obtain (just break out that straightener!), and it looked gorgeous on many faces. It also looked great with lots of hair lengths. You couldn’t go wrong with a straight shoulder-length cut, but this look was even more perfect for longer locks.
Back in June 2017, Academy Award-winner Diane Keaton won the the American Film Institute’s 45th life achievement award. To accept the award, she wore her hair in a simple-but-flattering face-framing ‘do. The style paired nicely with a simple black hat, making Keaton look extra modern, sleek, and even a little edgy. Keaton has always been a major trendsetter, from her Annie Hall days up to the 2010s. And her signature straight hairstyle was no exemption.
This messy cropped haircut was in for older women
One big style that women in the 2010s loved was the short, messy haircut. It was informal but flattering, understated but also elegant. One big star to wear her hair this way in the 2010s was the incredible Ellen DeGeneres. Of course, this talk show host and comedian has rocked short hair since the early ’90s (via Ok!) but her style has definitely evolved since then. When she stepped out in 2015, for the People’s Choice Awards in Los Angeles, she had her signature messy crop with dark blonde roots and lighter tips (via The New York Times). This color shift gave the short style a welcome look of dimension.
While DeGeneres’ hairstyles have always looked easy to maintain, the color has not always been so simple. In April 2019, DeGeneres explained that a bad dye job resulted in her hair falling out, so she decided to shave her head and start over that summer. She showed off pictures of her natural brown-gray color on her talk show, but, in the end, she decided to go back to blonde. Throughout the colorings, though, she stuck with the sleek, short cut. And it’s no wonder why: The haircut has been super flattering on older women!
Lots of older women loved keeping their haircuts a natural white
While many older women like to dye their hair, others choose to go for a more natural look. In fact, some styles seem to call for a natural hue, like the sleek, pushed-back style that the one and only Emma Thompson chose in the 2010s. Thompson looked smashing in her suit (and sneakers!) when, in November of 2018, she left Buckingham Palace after receiving her damehood (via CNN). The Academy Award-winning Brit knew that this milestone event was the perfect occasion to show off her stunning white hairstyle. While Thompson usually goes for a blonde look, this white color gave her an even more sophisticated, elegant appearance while the slicked-back style only added to this star’s classic beauty.
Thompson’s haircut served as a reminder that, while it can be fun, exciting, and even liberating to dye your hair any color you choose, older women shouldn’t be afraid to embrace their natural hair color. White or gray can look just as gorgeous as any other hue.
Older women knew there was no shame in extensions in the 2010s
Hair can get finer and thinner after age 30, as Michael Lorin Reed, M.D., a New York City-based dermatologist, explained in an interview with Marie Claire. This can make it more difficult to grow those long, thick layers some older women may love. But there was still hope to get that look this past decade. The 2010s saw a lot of realistic, full, and beautiful hair extensions on the market, and using them when getting haircuts became pretty popular. There were so many kinds of extensions available — from clip-ons to more permanent options and from affordable to high-end — and many older women in the 2010s wore them. Academy Award-winner actress Allison Janney was one of those women.
Janney, known for her roles in The West Wing and I, Tonya, has been very open about her use of hair extensions. “I have a head full of hair extensions,” Janney told InStyle during a 2018 interview. “Years of blow-drying and coloring and dyeing, it’s just fluff. So I choose to help fill out my [hair]. I’m not afraid to admit that.”
And Janney shouldn’t be afraid to tell the world her secrets because she has looked amazing over the years!
Older women loved wavy haircuts with middle parts this past decade
The 2010s were all about gentle waves and easy-going hair for older and middle-aged women. One look that was particularly popular was the long, wavy ‘do. It was youthful and fun, and it looked good on almost anyone. The only problem was that this bed-head style could be deceivingly hard to master. It required a curling iron, just enough brushing out, and the right amount of hairspray. Too many or too few curls could lead to a completely different look.
Still, actress Julianne Moore, known best for Still Alice and The Kids Are All Right, has always been able to perfect this style with her long, gorgeous red locks.
Of course, Moore is no stranger to long haircuts. In 2014, she explained to Redbook that there’s a reason she likes to keep her locks long. “In college my hair was really short, but then growing it out was torture,” she said. “My hair is naturally quite wavy, so it was like artichokes coming out of my head. One of the reasons I wear my hair long now is that the weight helps keep it smooth.” Having unruly hair was a great excuse for older women to follow this hair trend.
Older women adored haircuts with bangs in the 2010s
Some might think that bangs are a look best left for little girls. But older women were showing off their bangs throughout the 2010s. Bangs were cute, youthful, and usually very easy to manage. They were ideal for anyone looking to soften a long, oval face shape, but also great for any other face shape, too. Getting bangs could be a quick and easy way to totally change up your look, which is probably why this fun hairstyle was popular all decade!
Sally Field has been known to rock some fringe throughout the years, even wearing her hair in this style back when she filmed in the classic 1960s TV show Gidget. She also had her signature bangs in the 2015 romantic comedy Hello, My Name is Doris. After all these years, she’s kind of a bangs expert. One especially great look she rocks is when she pairs her banged haircut with stylish glasses. She’s made the style look professional, mature, and simply adorable.
Older women loved haircuts with plenty of volume this past decade
One tried-and-true haircut for older women this past decade was the short chop with lots of volume. The style made hair look fuller and thicker, which was wonderful for women with thinner hair. Renowned baker and star of hit shows like The Great British Bake Off and Mary Berry’s Quick Cooking, Mary Berry has been known to have this classic haircut. Her hairstyle has been a perfect example of a short haircut with a lot of great volume that helps it look thick and healthy.
Berry even made headlines back in 2016 when she showed off her hairstyle right before the third season of The Great British Bake Off. The look featured a slightly lighter color and lots more volume. “It’s just bouffanted to perfection,” said Good Morning Britain host Kate Garraway.
Of course, with such good feedback, Berry had to keep the style, and fans were happy to see the look live at the National Television Awards in London in January 2017.
Layered shoulder-length haircuts were dubbed a perfect style for older women
While both long styles and short haircuts may have made statements in the 2010s, not everyone wanted to deal with the upkeep of long hair or to commit to a short style. This past decade, many older women found a good compromise in the shoulder-length chop. This length was particularly popular when it featured some face-framing layers that added volume and shape.
Today host Hoda Kotb has worn her hair in a perfect shoulder-length style, though she claims that she didn’t always have such great hair. “I was always the kid with the crazy, frizzy hair and everyone else didn’t have it. So, I was always the weird one anyway,” she told Today back in 2015. Paired with this interview was a video showing off a Today stylist’s 30-minute routine to create Kotb’s signature look. Though it may require a little styling, Kotb has made layered, shoulder-length hair look absolutely flawless and the perfect option for older women looking for a new cut.
Super curly shoulder-length haircuts were perfect for older women
While straight, shoulder-length haircuts may have worked for some, others chose to go bold with lots (and lots) of curls. The 2010s saw some excellent curly looks, especially from stars like Zendaya. But no one got that curl and length quite right like Oprah Winfrey. In August 2019, she stepped out for the premiere of OWN’s David Makes Man at NeueHouse in Los Angeles with her signature curly locks. Her bouncy curls were absolutely perfect at their shoulder length, giving Winfrey the body and style she deserves.
And this style didn’t just work for Winfrey. Many younger and older women enjoyed this look all though the 2010s, which made sense given how this look can be super flattering for many face shapes. Plus, the curls can create body when hair is thin, and the dimension can bring out highlights beautifully. This kind of haircut was big and bold this past decade, and it made a statement.
This classic swoop had lots of classic style as a haircut for older women
A very popular haircut for older women in the 2010s was a mix of a boyish cut and swooped bangs. It was a great look that showed off the neck and jawline, while still giving off a youthful vibe with those side-swept bangs.
One iconic lady, who made this style look especially great, was Dame Julie Andrews. While this look may have gotten pretty popular for older ladies in the 2010s, Andrews has been rocking this style, or similar styles, for decades. (Who could forget her sweet, ’60s cut in The Sound of Music?). But, as it turns out, she found this iconic look by happenstance. With all the wigs she wore for Mary Poppins, Forbes reported, Andrews had to keep her hair super short. These days, she’s still keeping it cropped. Apparently, she really likes it.
The style looked especially great in May 2010, when she wore her hair this way for a special one-off performance at the O2 arena in London, where Andrews performed on stage in Britain for the first time in 30 years (via The Telegraph).
Betty White made one haircut super popular for older women
One great haircut that older women loved in the 2010s was a look that was totally classic and completely flattering. It had been around for decades, but it held a place of honor for older women looking for the perfect ‘do in the past decade. This style was short with wispy curls and sometimes a little hint of a bang. Those gentle waves (which were given plenty of volume) made even the thinnest hair look particularly full — which is probably why it was such a popular look.
Another reason this style was popular was likely because Betty White has made it look so good. Betty White has had a stunning transformation over the decades, and she is simply a treasure — and, of course, so is her hairstyle! Plenty of older women loved her look and likely wanted to look as cute and sassy as she always does in the 2010s. White’s hair was looking particularly great in April 2015, when she attended the 2015 TV Land Awards, where she was awarded the coveted Legend Award. Lookin’ good, Betty!