Monday, November 7, 2016

From the Archives: Creating Fashionable Coiffures in 1828

Monday, November 7, 2016

1828 hair styles & headwear
Loretta reports:

In my book Lord of Scoundrels, set in 1828, the hero finds the heroine's clothing and hair amusing. I know that when our readers see the fashion plates for the 1820s and 1830s, many feel the same way. But I love Romantic Era fashion, especially the extravagant sleeves and nutty hairstyles. There's an exuberance I find irresistible. The hair, especially, climbing ever upwards, charms me. But one does wonder how this sort of architectural arrangement was managed in the days before hair spray and gels.

Isabella/Susan to the rescue! She sent me a link to a site where historical hairstyles are recreated.  This inspired me to investigate how it was done and what hair products they used.  So I turned to my trusty The Lady’s Stratagem.
One style we see again and again involves two or more big loops sprouting from the top of the head.  In fashion plates, these present an interesting hairstyling puzzle, which the recreations (Photo 2, top row.  Photos 1 & 2, second row) help solve.  According to The Lady’s Stratagem, the hair can be tied first or:

“Just as commonly, the hair is not tied:  you gather it and hold it very firmly In your left hand, twist it with this same hand, and immediately place the comb on it to hold it.  Then you make nœuds d’Apollon or Apollo knots; so are called the large loops of hair on the summit of the head.  This style has been in fashion for a long time; every one says that it will last.”
And it did, well into the 1830s, until about 1836-7, when fashion went droopy.
Since the instructions quoted in The Lady’s Stratagem are lengthy, I can only refer you to that book for the details on creating this style—or, if your French is better than mine, you can follow the directions in Arte de se coiffer soi-même, enseigné aux dames (1828) (here or here).

From what I can determine, one of the hair oils we’ve seen advertised or similar product or a pomade was used to keep hair smoothly in place.

Images: upper left, courtesy Los Angeles Public Library; lower right from Arte de se coiffer soi-même, enseigné aux dames, courtesy Bibliothèque nationale de france.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it. Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you enlarge further and find out more.


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