It might be a trick of the Kodachrome film, but it looks like the woman in this 1957 snapshot has dyed her hair to match her suit. Perhaps she is dressed up for Easter Sunday, her tailored outfit embellished by a wide fur piece.
When I was growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s, many older women dyed their hair blue. When did this custom start? And why has it ended? The first reference I have to blue hair is from Vogue in 1910, where the anonymous author praises women who add indigo to their rinse water. “It imparts just the necessary tinge of color to the gray lifeless hair that is distinctly essential.” By the mid-1920s, the decorator and trend setter Elsie de Wolfe dyed her white hair a violet-blue—no subtle rinse for her. According to several sources, she was inspired by her Parisian hairdresser, who had experimented with novel dyes on his dog.
These days it is rare to see a head of blue hair on an older woman, at least here in Southern California. Most women who dye their hair try to recreate their original color. When they decide on alternatives, they go blond or, like me, red. Perhaps that is because “blue hair” has become an unflattering term for old lady. Or maybe older women dropped this style when it was taken over by young people sporting bright blue hair.