Monday, November 23, 2009

19th century coiffures

When it comes to hair, I am pretty diligent with keeping it styled.  Getting it cut is another matter.  I like my hair long, I don't dye it or have highlights, so there is no pressing need to go to the hair stylist every few weeks to maintain a certain style.  And, being a poor college student and all, paying for something as simple as a trim can cost up to $30.  So often, due to laziness and lack of funds, I wait months to get my hair cut.  Usually until I have split ends.  I try to make up for that by getting two inches cut off my hair.

[image source: The Coveted]
Today, for the first time since April, I am getting my hair cut.  As I was looking up hair cuts for my oblong facial features, I began to wonder whether Victorian women got their hair cut.  I knew they often curled their hair and pinned it up in elaborate updos, but I thought that they might be able to get away with not getting their hair cut or trimmed at all.

After some research, I assume that Victorian women did have their hair cut.  This website claims that they never cut their hair:

So important was long hair, that it was never cut. Curly hair was thought to indicate a sweet temperament, while straight-haired girls were considered reserved. Reaching the age when the hair could be tied up was an important moment in a girl’s life and was considered a coming of age event.

 But this website convinces me that they did, indeed, cut their hair; otherwise, this now common hair style could have never been maintained:
 Bangs or "Fringe" as it was often called started appearing in the 1870's and many ladies wore them by the 1880's.
I never knew this was when bangs came about.  The Victorians also used hot irons, crimping irons, ribbons, flowers and ornamental hairpins and combs to decorate their hair.  The style changed from tight, orderly buns to neat curls to longer, more natural looking hairstyles that was still partially pulled up.

As for me, I think I'll stay away from the Victorian way of doing coiffures: Victorian times women’s hair was often badly damaged by early hot irons and with baths in short supply, was often heavily perfumed to hide unpleasant odors.
Except for the bangs.  Sideswept or wispy bangs work great with oblong faces like mine.  Thank you for that addition to hairstyles, 19th century.

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