Ladies, Tresses, Up-Doos And Locks, The Short Story

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JPK Huson 1863

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hair ringletts illustration.jpg

One of around a gazillion era illustrations from popular periodicals, The PerfectWoman typically was romanticized- with an awful lot of long Perfect Hair.

Hair! We loved our hair, ornamented, plaited, ringletted, ( it's a word.... ), snooded, piled and coifed- not happy with that we made jewelry with the leftovers, avidly cut recipes from newspapers promising hair benefits from honey, lavender water, lemon and wax and photographed elaborate confections. Seems an obsession in the era.

This, renouncing mandated extravagance may be of interest to anyone who reenacts as well as just, plain myth busting.

Short hair, ladies! We've seen the photo of Kate Chase sporting what seems to be an unfashionably cropped head? The surmise is that she must have been ill, a prevailing legend contending anyone with hair not fashionably coifed must have had their hair cut for convenience while on a sick bed. It seems true that this was a practice, shearing one's locks as a means of making care simpler. But.

The thing is, not so fast. Transpires a small controversy bubbled beneath fashion's insistence on a woman's crowning, piled, plaited and curled glory. Using just one era article on the topic, there are more. This is from Godey's Lady's Book, the then-and-now Go To resource for an estrogen high.

hair 1a.jpg

From 1861

Have frequently wondered how much of one's day was spent, dealing with this-
hair back w flowers.jpg




hair 1b.jpg


Which is a great point! Ringlets and ball coifs notwithstanding, by far the most common hairstyle was some form of the ubiquitous ' bun '. I'm a ' bun ' girl myself because it is extremely easy, stuffing the whole thing into one clump then forgetting about it for the day. Less easy 150 years ago if following fashion's prescribed blueprints.

hair 2.JPG


The article goes on for awhile, will spare us more and you get the idea. So, it seems, did quite a few females.

hair short school.jpg

Almost an entire class from what was probably a ' female seminary ', fashions indicating the first half of the 1860's. Pretty unlikely all the girls here had been ill.

hair short w baby.jpg

A huge favorite anyway ( she's just so happy! ), seems to be baby's older sibling of the baby. Her hair is even shorter than shoulder-length, and styled.

hair short couple.jpg

This couple always, always tickles me, how dapper the young husband, how intimidating, his bride? With short hair ' dressed ' for her wedding.

Yes, only three or four photos, but they're easy enough to find, have 5 for every one here. Short curls, short with headband, short and bobbed- but short.

hair elaborate  back.jpg

It is indeed lovely, if one didn't object to two hours out of your day sitting still.

Guessing this seamstress had other things to do!
occ seamstress hair.jpg
 

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Northern Light

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Almost an entire class from what was probably a ' female seminary ', fashions indicating the first half of the 1860's. Pretty unlikely all the girls here had been ill.
Given the prevalence of contagious disease in the 1800s, I would not be at all surprised if a whole class of girls caught the same disease and all had had their hair cut at the same time, JPK. Just look at how those diseases ripped though army camps.
 
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Waterloo50

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View attachment 207395
One of around a gazillion era illustrations from popular periodicals, The PerfectWoman typically was romanticized- with an awful lot of long Perfect Hair.

Hair! We loved our hair, ornamented, plaited, ringletted, ( it's a word.... ), snooded, piled and coifed- not happy with that we made jewelry with the leftovers, avidly cut recipes from newspapers promising hair benefits from honey, lavender water, lemon and wax and photographed elaborate confections. Seems an obsession in the era.

This, renouncing mandated extravagance may be of interest to anyone who reenacts as well as just, plain myth busting.

Short hair, ladies! We've seen the photo of Kate Chase sporting what seems to be an unfashionably cropped head? The surmise is that she must have been ill, a prevailing legend contending anyone with hair not fashionably coifed must have had their hair cut for convenience while on a sick bed. It seems true that this was a practice, shearing one's locks as a means of making care simpler. But.

The thing is, not so fast. Transpires a small controversy bubbled beneath fashion's insistence on a woman's crowning, piled, plaited and curled glory. Using just one era article on the topic, there are more. This is from Godey's Lady's Book, the then-and-now Go To resource for an estrogen high.

View attachment 207387
From 1861

Have frequently wondered how much of one's day was spent, dealing with this-
View attachment 207396



View attachment 207388

Which is a great point! Ringlets and ball coifs notwithstanding, by far the most common hairstyle was some form of the ubiquitous ' bun '. I'm a ' bun ' girl myself because it is extremely easy, stuffing the whole thing into one clump then forgetting about it for the day. Less easy 150 years ago if following fashion's prescribed blueprints.

View attachment 207389

The article goes on for awhile, will spare us more and you get the idea. So, it seems, did quite a few females.

View attachment 207399
Almost an entire class from what was probably a ' female seminary ', fashions indicating the first half of the 1860's. Pretty unlikely all the girls here had been ill.

View attachment 207400
A huge favorite anyway ( she's just so happy! ), seems to be baby's older sibling of the baby. Her hair is even shorter than shoulder-length, and styled.

View attachment 207398
This couple always, always tickles me, how dapper the young husband, how intimidating, his bride? With short hair ' dressed ' for her wedding.

Yes, only three or four photos, but they're easy enough to find, have 5 for every one here. Short curls, short with headband, short and bobbed- but short.

View attachment 207397
It is indeed lovely, if one didn't object to two hours out of your day sitting still.

Guessing this seamstress had other things to do!
View attachment 207401
5th photo down, I had to look twice, I thought that was Libby Custer.
250px-Elizabeth_Bacon_Custer_-_Brady-Handy.jpg
 
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MaryDee

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For years my hair was halfway to my waist. I either used a pony tail or did a fast single braid, coiled it in back, and fastened with a large barrette. Took me about a minute or two. When I started on a full-time career, I got it cut fairly short, with perm. When I retired, I went to a pixie cut (had just had eye surgery so didn't want to risk a perm) which, except for a few episodes when I thought I wanted Civil War hair, I've had ever since.

My daughter's hair is almost long enough to sit on. She coils it up in a French twist, shoves a stick-like thing through it, and is ready to go, quite neat, in about 30 seconds. (I asked her recently, remembering several questions on this site.)

I can't find the source, but ran into an article that young girls often had bobbed hair and didn't start growing it out until about age 10 to 12.

Adding all the ornamental gewgaws, such as flowers, ribbons, etc. was usually done for dressier occasions and did require help. I don't know about ringlets but remember a few of my classmates having them when I was in elementary school (mid 1940s).

Confederate young ladies went through a fad to have their hair cut off to sell and donate the proceeds to the "cause." I've read quotes from editorials in the Richmond papers condemning this practice. Evidently the fictional Jo March wasn't the only one to sell her hair!
 

Mrs. V

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I used to have super short hair..like short enough to wear all spikey..then I started singing in an Opera Chorus. If you didn’t have hair long enough to put up, you got stuck with some ugly hat on stage. So started to wear it a bit longer. Then started Living History stuff. Now my hair is kept just past my shoulders. I can wear it down, where it curls, or put it up and keep it off my neck in the heat.
 
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Northern Light

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I used to have super short hair..like short enough to wear all spikey..then I started singing in an Opera Chorus. If you didn’t have hair long enough to put up, you got stuck with some ugly hat on stage. So started to wear it a bit longer. Then started Living History stuff. Now my hair is kept just past my shoulders. I can wear it down, where it curls, or put it up and keep it off my neck in the heat.
That's me, long enough to pull it up into a ponytail, a bun, or a French braid. Easy, wash, and go.
 

Mike Serpa

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Anybody remember these lyrics?

Gimme a head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Me too! Although I can’t French braid to save my soul!

That's so funny ( to me, sorry! ). Couldn't French braid to save my life- or thought so. Sat down once with someone willing to show me- discovered I'd been doing the same thing to horse's tails on show day for years. OHHHHHH, I said. Now all I do is envision a horse's backside and it's all golden. :angel:
 

JPK Huson 1863

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I can't find the source, but ran into an article that young girls often had bobbed hair and didn't start growing it out until about age 10 to 12.

Was that it? Makes sense - there are plenty of era photos with a child's hair coifed, curled and on display but really, nearly as many with short hair. I don't know what the patience ' sit still ' level was for anyone else's kid- my daughter didn't have it at the age. Can you imagine the mother with several children? You'd be there until noon and use up all your cookies, for bribes.
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Anybody remember these lyrics?

Gimme a head with hair
Long beautiful hair
Shining, gleaming,
Streaming, flaxen, waxen
Give me down to there hair
Shoulder length or longer
Here baby, there mama
Everywhere daddy daddy
Hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair, hair

Ha! Nearly used that for a thread title, we're dating ourselves!
 

Mrs. V

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That's so funny ( to me, sorry! ). Couldn't French braid to save my life- or thought so. Sat down once with someone willing to show me- discovered I'd been doing the same thing to horse's tails on show day for years. OHHHHHH, I said. Now all I do is envision a horse's backside and it's all golden. :angel:
Most likely I need to see it done. I’ve never done a french braid on a mane or tail...maybe I need to do that!
 
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JPK Huson 1863

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Most likely I need to see it done. I’ve never done a french braid on a mane or tail...maybe I need to do that!

It's so funny, although you wouldn't want to sew the little braided doodle at the end, in your hair. Weirdly, cannot do the darn thing unless it's on the backside of a horse- people hair still defeats me.
 

Equestriangirl93

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That's so funny ( to me, sorry! ). Couldn't French braid to save my life- or thought so. Sat down once with someone willing to show me- discovered I'd been doing the same thing to horse's tails on show day for years. OHHHHHH, I said. Now all I do is envision a horse's backside and it's all golden. :angel:
Hahaha!!! You can braid horse tails for me anytime :wink: LOL
 
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