Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wednesday: Guest Post by Melody and Miss Laurie - Historic Hairstyles - Period Drama Fashion Week

During the time periods of many of our favorite period dramas how a lady styled her hair was as important as the fashions she wore. Being stylish from head to toe was important for a young lady who entered society, particularly if she hoped to catch a rich husband. For us the hairstyles in period dramas are just so fun to admire and it's interesting to see how hairstyles changed through the eras. Let's take a look at the fads in historic hairdressing through the eyes of our favorite period dramas!
Top: The Scarlet Pimpernel 1982, Cranford, Amazing Grace
Bottom: Pirates of the Caribbean 2003, Wuthering Heights 1992, Sense & Sensibility 2008
Georgian Era Hairstyles that were poufy and piled high was the desired look in this era. Ladies would make their hair as 'big' as they could (by teasing it and using false hair, hair rats, etc.) before putting it up--preferably leaving several long curls tumbling down the back. Or perhaps for a softer, simpler look: a regular, smooth pompadour with an elegant curl or two on the shoulder. Powdered wigs were also popular during the early part of the 1700's but were given up by the time Jane Austen was born because they were often called "vulgar" by critics.
Top: Pride & Prejudice 1995, Sense & Sensibility 2008, Emma (Miramax)
Bottom: Sense & Sensibility 1995, Emma (A&E), Pride & Prejudice 1995
Regency Era
Hair in the Regency period was rather simple compared to the surrounding eras (except perhaps the people who loaded their hair with feathers and other hair decorations for balls and special occasions), yet with an elegant charm. Styles resembled fashions of ancient Greek and Rome and ladies always wore their hair up. A common style was to have a middle part with curls framing the face, and the rest of the hair put up in a bun or a slightly more tumbling, pinned-up-curls sort of look. Silk ribbons or scarfs were often used to tie around the head and the bun and ladies like Jane Austen were also fond of wearing brightly colored turbans adorned with feathers or jewels.
As pretty as it might look in the movies ladies of this era would not have worn their hair down in public, it would have been considered improper.
Top: The Young Victoria, Little Dorrit, Wives & Daughters
Bottom: Great Expectations 2011, Wives & Daughters, Jane Eyre 2006
Romantic Era / Early Victorian Era
Fashions became more intricate in this era. Hair was often pulled tightly away from the face and into a knot or a very carefully-arranged, stiff-looking hairdo high on the top of the head, with curls or ringlets on the side. A more simple look was to part the hair in the middle and smooth it over the ears and perhaps braid the side pieces before adding them back into a bun. (You know, the stereotypical Jane Eyre style.) And we mustn't forget all the artificial hair additions and decorations; feathers, fans, flowers and fruit might be added to the evening styles.
Top: Cranford, Bleak House 2005, Cranford
Bottom: North & South 2004 (twice), Bleak House 2005
Mid-Victorian Era
As the Victorian era progressed hairstyles loosened to create softer and sweeter looks. Hair put up at the back of the head was pinned lower than the romantic era, often braids and intricate folding of the hair was added to the buns. Younger ladies would sometimes wear some of the back in ringlets to give a sweet, almost angelic look that supported the Victorian ideal that ladies were delicate flowers.
Top: The Way We Live Now, Daniel Deronda, Little Women 1994
Bottom: Daniel Deronda, Our Mutual Friend 1999, Daniel Deronda
Late-Victorian Era
Extravagant is the word for this later part of Queen Victoria's reign! Hair was arranged in piles of curls at the back of the head with long ringlets left to fall near the base of the neck. Fake hair pieces were very popular during this time and were added to give hair more height, more curls or even braided headbands. Even the more simple day time styles would contain more intricate braiding and arranging of the hair with an abundance of curls. 
Top: Anne of Green Gables: The Sequel, Downton Abbey, Somewhere in Time
Bottom: The Winslow Boy, Road to Avonlea, Downton Abbey
Edwardian Era / Early 1900s In the 1900s, the definitive style was the pompadour. It's the opposite of the hair being pulled tightly away from the face--it is as loosely and expansively as possible swept up into a bun--a rather romantic-looking hairstyle that was an important part of the popular Gibson girl style. The 1910s brought more simplicity; pompadours were still common, but becoming popular were hairstyles lower down on the back of the head; one common look was a middle part with the hair twisted back on both sides into a low bun, or making the twist continue all around the head, with the hair tucked in at the back rather like a Gibson-tuck.
Top (1920s): House of Eliott, Upstairs Downstairs 2010, House of Eliott
Bottom (1930s): Wind At My Back, Poirot: Sad Cyress, Poirot: The Mystery of the Blue Train
1920s / 1930s As more ladies went to work after World War I hairstyles became even more simple. Long hair was oftened pinned into a bun at the back of the neck to keep it our of the way. With the wave of flapper styles more ladies began to sport very short hairstyles which they sometimes curled, smoothed very straight for a sleek look, or had it "set" into a stiff-looking wave at the temples or all the way around the head, which often accompanied the stereotypical "bob." Hairstyles in the 1930s were quite similar to the previous decade, but short hair was more frequently curled on the sides and ends to to make a softer look, and the very short, chin-length hairstyle was becoming outdated. Like the 1920s, top portions of long (and short hair) was frequently given stiff wave curls before being pulled back into a bun at the nape of the neck.
If you're like us you'll probably want to try some of these historic hairstyles on your own hair. Here's some of our favorite historic hairstyle tutorials, but keep in mind that many of the fine ladies would have had a maid to style their hair before a ball so it's sometimes tricky to get the styles right yourself.
Locks of Elegance (Georgian through Edwardian styles), Historical Hairstyles (a few tutorials including Elizabeth Swann's Georgian do and Margaret Hale's Mid-Victorian do), Ups and Downs (lovely Regency styles with a few Victorian) and Rapunzel's Resource (tons of long hair period drama styles that can easily be adjusted for medium length hair).
Thank you for joining us in looking at these old-fashioned hairstyles from period dramas! We hope you've enjoyed it. There are so many lovely eras, but Miss Laurie's favorite would be the Regency era and the Mid-Victorian as a close second. Melody is having a very hard time deciding, and although the Regency era is always wonderful and marvelous, her favorites might be Mid-Victorian and Edwardian. (Maybe.)
Many thanks to Miss Elizabeth for having us guest post! We had a lot of fun.
Miss Laurie writes the lovely blog Old-Fashioned Charm and Melody is the authoress of the charming Regency Delight ~Jane Austen, etc.~.
Which historic era has your favorite hairstyles?

Miss Elizabeth Bennet: Thank you, Miss Laurie and Melody, for guest posting!


  1. I think I like the Edwardian fashions best... so soft and pretty and not overly complex. :D Hahaha, Melody's indecision MMG-- "I was born a see-saw, Aunty, and nothing can keep me from teetering." :P
    And that picture at the end of Eleanor and Catherine was sweetness. :D

    1. Heehee! Love the see-saw quote!
      Melody and I debated about Eleanor and Catherine or Elinor and Marianne but the one we used turned out best. I love Catherine's expression in the photo too! :)

    2. What IS the see-saw quote?
      Well, it is very hard for me to decide! Is a Janeite I feel like I SHOULD choose Regency... haha. But it was supposed to MYG anyways. ;)

    3. The see-saw quote is a Philippa one from Anne of the Island.... hahaha, this is a very late reply. I just popt on this post again after seeing a link on Pinterest and having forgotten all about it. It was quite fun reading it again. :D

  2. I like Edwardian, mid-Victorian, and Regency best. All so pretty! <3 :)

    1. Charity! How's you're blogging break been going?

    2. Yes, where did you come from, Charity? :D Heehee, your favorites are the same as mine. :)

  3. Lovely post again ladies! Though I had already some knowledge of period fashion, hairstyles was a subject I never read about before!

  4. Ladies you rock! Hope to hear some new posts again, this from July is kinda old :)

    Until then...

    Kind Regards


  5. wow Thank you so much you sharing the good and resealable information about historical hairstyles.from your blog i can see and know about the history of Miss Laurie hairstyles i like most that you mentioned in your blog that is Mid-Victorian Era and i can try it on my the way i can use one site that is related with hairstyles i always use this site for my kids and i can suggests to you. you can use this site and get some good information and put into your blog .thanks again for such and good information.
    Toddler Boys Haircuts


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