I’m out in the wine country of California preparing for our first grand’s wedding on Friday. We’re busy getting all of the last minute things in order and one of the big problems is hair-do’s. It got me to thinking that the styles of today’s bride and bridal party really aren’t that much different than those of bygone years. Hairstyles I used to describe women in my western historical romances.
Since I write both western historicals and contemporary romances typically set in the Texas Panhandle women’s day-to-day hairstyles have never been a problem to describe. Especially since woman on the ranches of today wear their hair very much like they did when this part of the West was settled in the mid-1800’s … either long, over the shoulder styles, sometimes curled, sometime straight, or in braids of some sort.
For the first fifteen years after the turn of the century, women wore short curls waved on the forehead with their back hair in a simple knot. Some wore top knots; and they used combs, tiaras and coronets for ornaments. To be honest with you, I had to look up a coronet to see what they look like and found they are a small crown consisting of ornaments fixed on a metal ring. They differ from a crown in that they will never have arches. They are unlike a tiera because they completely encircle the head, while a tiara does not. Simply said, a crown is worn by an emperor, empress, king or queen; a coronet by a nobleman or lady.
Between 1815 and 1840 a woman frequently parted her hair in the middle, smoothed it, and wore ringlets, puffs or loops at the sides. From the early 1820’s to the early 1830’s they piled their hair progressively higher in the back, culminating in a style dubbed a la giraffe. Masses of sausage curls (tubelike curls) and ringlets were also popular during this period.
Topknots became smaller and moved to the back of the head beginning in the 1840’s and continued for another fifteen years. Large coils of hair at the nape of the neck and sometimes held by black or colored silk nets were popular from the 1850’s on. This chignon is a knot or roll of hair worn at the back of the head and sometimes ornamented with lace, ribbons, jeweled bands, combs, foliage, flowers and strings of pearls; and was very popular in the 1860’s, but worn throughout the century. As you can see by the picture, they are still popular today.
Between 1865 and 1890, the bun and chigon were moved up on the head with the front hair carried back without any parts. As it is today, in the 1870’s women’s hair was allowed to cascade down long and full in the back, sometimes in ringlets or hugh loops. Pompadous were worn, as were hair ornaments. Of interest, the pompadous was popular in the 1950’s by people such as James Dean and Elvis and was known as the Rockabilly Hairdo. And, of course, today many movie stars and singers wear the style.
From then until the end of the century the most prominent style was the psyche knot, which has the hair pulled back from the forehead and knotted on top. Small coiffures, pompadours and French twists were worn, as were ornaments.
The more research I did on hairstyles of the 1800’s the more I realized that as I heard all of my life everything sooner or later comes back into style; and hairdos are no exception.
Since I come from “Big Hair Country” and grew up with it, I have to admit that I still like the style. Now, what is your favorite hairstyle?
To one lucky commenter, I’d love to send you an autographed copy of your choice of any one of our six anthologies. To a second reader who leaves a comment, I will send you an eBook of my latest Kasota Spring Contemporary romance Out of a Texas Night. Thanks to all you all for stopping by and reading my blog.