Hair Styles of Yesterday and Today!

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.

Chignon Pix 2I thought it’d be fun to look at the different hairstyles of the American women during the 1800’s.

Short Hair with ringlets

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.

Cornet Hair AccessoryBetween 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 frontChignon Hair Do 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.

Elizabeth Frenchie McCormick 1852-1941From 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.


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A native Texan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Phyliss Miranda still believes in the Code of the Old West and loves to share her love for antiques, the lost art of quilting, and the Wild West.

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34 thoughts on “Hair Styles of Yesterday and Today!”

  1. Thanks for all the info on hairstyles. It’s true that everything comes back into style sooner or later. When I look back at pictures from the 70’s I cringe at how high our hair was when teased & out up. :). I liked my shag haircut. The hair was layered and fell into place.

    • Hi Carol. That’s too funny. I wore big “teased” hairdos and even today still use Spray Net, but not nearly as much! Although I don’t do the big tease, for the wedding I had my hair done, so I used bridal netting to wrap my hair to keep it in place. We used to do that all of the time. If not net, then we used toilet paper, but it worked. Thanks for stopping by the leaving a comment, Miss Carol.

    • Hi Debra, good to hear from you. Now that you mention it, I’m wondering the same thing about headaches. I need to do a little research on the type of pins they used to keep the styles knotted, etc. Good thought. Have a great evening.

  2. This is an interesting post. I have always been interested in different hair styles. I just wish I had enough hair to really do different things with.

    • Thanks, Janine. Good to hear from you. I’ve always liked to see different hair styles too. Mine is thick, or I should say “it used to be” until I began to age and I’m finding more and more hair in my hairbrush. I’ve kept mine short for most of my adult life, so never have done much different with it. Wish I could though. Have a great rest of the evening.

  3. Loved loved your blog Ms. Phyliss. I hope you’ve had an amazing time at your granddaughters wedding. Cherish the memories. Love & hugs from frigid Kansas.

    • Hi my friend Tonya. I’m so thrilled you loved the blog. I thought it might be of interest, since ladies are wearing their hair in so many interesting ways of the days gone by. The wedding was beautiful and I left with so many, many memories. One thing for sure, I can now incorporate a storyline in a book about a “bridezilla”. They are true to the rumors, the closer the days get to the wedding the more apparent the term is fitting. I’d also have a “Grannyzilla” and “Mamazilla” in the book. But it was all worth it in the end, and I felt so privileged to be asked by my granddaughter to come out early and help out. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t exhausted at the end of every day, but on Sunday, I spent the afternoon on the beach with some of the grands. It was wonderful. Warm and I even got a little too much sun on my face, but the wind is cold off the Pacific. Have a great evening. Big hugs, Phyliss

  4. I agree all hairstyles do eventually return. I heard recently that perms are coming back into style. It is so expensive to get a hair cut these days that I can’t imagine how much a perm will cost. I wonder if the big Texas Hair, big bangs, using a can of hair spray a week, styles will ever come back. I often think possibly not because all the environmentalist would protest the use of that much hair spray. I was never good at the 80’s hair myself I just wasn’t into all that hair spray. I often see videos of all the neat braiding and up hairstyles on Facebook these days and wonder why its takes so long for people to discover so many different awesome was to braid. Last year I watched a series called The Vikings and they did their hair in awesome braids and I wondered if it was just Hollywood deciding to use those styles or if it was historically correct. When my hair is long I like to put it up in a loose bun. When I worked for TDCJ I worse my hair up in an extreme bun hoping it wouldn’t have strands failing out before my 13-14 hour days were over. Daily I just prefer a natural let it dry and go as is whether my hair is shorther or long. I have naturally curly hair and when its shorter is very curly. I love the style in the picture of Nicole Kidman above! I’d love the opportunity to read another one of your books!

    • Hi Stephanie, so good to hear from you. You made some very good points. I’m like you, don’t be surprised if some group comes up with a minimum amount of hairspray a person can use or none at all. I like the new styles, but they are out for me…too old! Like yours my hair is curly when wet, but not as curly as my granddaughter’s. I bet you did have concerns with your hair when you worked in criminal justice system. I like the natural look too. I’m working on the next Kasota Springs’ book and it’s a “catfish story”, but I’m behind. I promise when I get it in a form to be read, you’re on my list to get one. You’re always so faithful in giving an honest review and I appreciate it. Don’t look for it any time soon, as I’m still recovering from having my uncle here for six months with hospice, his death, Christmas, and then the wedding. I don’t think I’ll ever get rested up, but know I will. Take care of yourself, my friend, and I hope to hear from you again. A big Texas hug, P

    • Hi Estella, good to hear from you. I totally agree, a lot of the twisting and pinning would give me a headache for sure. I’ve never worn long hair, so I can’t imagine putting a topknot anywhere on my head. Headache time for sure. Have a great rest of the day. Hugs, Phylss

    • Hi Kim, thanks for dropping by and glad you found the blog of interest. Can’t go wrong with a pony tail for sure. They are very popular right now and I love them. Have a great day. Hugs, Phyliss

    • Hi Melanie, thank you for dropping by and reading my blog. The wedding was wonderful; thank you for asking. I hope you have a great rest of the day. Hugs, Phyliss

    • Hi Caryl, I’m tickled you found my blog interesting. I think hairstyles can be so creative and the ones of the 1800’s and all the centuries before were truly beautiful. Have a great rest of the day. Hugs, Phyliss

  5. I have always loved hair and what you can do with it! The long curls are always pretty as are the updo with curls all about it. I have long curly hair and it mostly hangs down unless it is Sunday and I feel like doing an updo.

    • Hi Susan, good to hear from you. I love an updo, but also like I wrote earlier have naturally curly hair and love it. As I’ve gotten older, it’s not as curly, but it’s sure nice to work with. although a flat iron is a must for me! Long curly is truly pretty. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a message. Stick with those long curly locks! Hugs, Phyliss

  6. I just love a pretty updo regardless of the era. I am sure you will be beautiful Mrs Phyliss regardless of whatever style you go with for the wedding can’t wait to see a picture
    Love and Hugs Sweet Lady

    • Hi sweet friend. I love updo’s too. Although I wore all types of undies to hold in my extra “aged” skin a/k/a fat to walk down the isle, I think I ended up looking good, but not nearly as pretty as the bride and her bridal party (both her sisters). They were gorgeous. Now that the groom has seen the wedding dress, I can post it on Facebook. I’ve did a photo chronology of everything from us putting together floral arrangements to setting up the reception rooms. There was a professional photographer, but with the help of my oldest granddaughter we’re going to do an album from the beginning through the reception. They did one for my DH and me for our 50th wedding anniversary two months ago and it’s so much fun. You’ll see more pictures than you want to see before long! Thanks, sweet friend, for being such a faithful reader and P&P visitor. Love and hugs back atch! Phyliss

  7. What a variety of hairstyles! Some are so elaborate you wonder how they could have managed it in the West. So pretty, though. You are so right about styles always coming back. My adult granddaughter will show me some “new” thing and I have to chuckle and tell her I remember it from the ’60’s.

    Happy Wedding!

    • Hi Sally. We had a wonderfully happy wedding. I’m just like you about the hairstyles of today. I’m seeing so many that have come back from my teenage and young adult years, especially with my older granddaughters. I chuckle, too. We really noticed it this last weekend because we enjoyed my SIL’s birthday the day after the wedding. Since we had the club room, we did a big affair for him…after all he turned 50 and became a father-in-law 24 hours apart. My daughter and SIL met in college, so several of their college friends came out to the wedding and his birthday. We had three tables filled with yearbooks and albums, so I could really see that their girls are wearing styles they (the women LOL) did during college. So much fun. Thanks for dropping by the reading my blog.

    • I love curly hair, Denise. Mine is naturally curly and I’ve never had but one perm in my life and it was years and years ago and a total failure. By bride granddaughter has super curly blonde hair and it was beautiful under her veil. Have a great day.

  8. Loved the blog!! No matter the hair style I know you will enjoy the wedding and will be beautiful to boot! Enjoy your time with your family! Ruth Kizziah Ramsey

    • Hi Ruth, thanks for the kind comments. I was out in Cal. for two weeks and traveled back to central time, so I’m still tired. Got up at 4:00 a.m. to make it to LAX to get here at 4:30p.m. Yes, Abby’s hairdo was beautiful and I was sure a proud grandmother. Appreciate you.

  9. I like hairstyles pulled back or up with pieces pulled out around the face.

    For my wedding, my hair was curled and pulled back in a banana clip covered in baby’s breath.

    • Hi Linda, your wedding do sounds beautiful. I love baby’s breath. I think hairstyles like you described pulled out around the face are so pretty and popular. Thanks for dropping by the leaving a comment.

  10. Glad you survived the wedding and made it back. I love soft hairdos where it falls around the face. Just so pretty. I’m looking forward to see the wedding pixs.

    • Hi sweet friend. I’m glad to be home, but very tired. I love your hair and the way you do it, plus of course, the color is fantastic. I’ve got a ton of pictures and can hardly wait to get caught up a bit, so we can get together and check them out. Take care and see you soon. Love ya, P

  11. I have naturally curly hair and it will do what it wants no matter what I try. I love the look of french braiding. Both of my daughters could do them and variations with their own hair. I could do a basic (and not very good) french braid on them.
    I have all the anthologies and have reread them several times.

  12. I love long hair with beautiful curls. It is not a style that looks good on me but I does on my daughter. I just think long curls are so romantic that whenever I read a story the heroine always has long curls even if the author has described her hair as short my brain just sees it as long curls.

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