During the Victorian Era - which officially took place from 1837 - 1901 - a woman’s femininity was her most valuable asset. Anything that made a woman appear more feminine was highly encouraged. Dresses at the time exaggerated and accentuated a woman’s hourglass shape, giving her a more ladylike appearance. The ways in which women wore their hair was another important signifier of a woman’s femininity. These three popular hairstyles all give insight into the importance of Victorian Era hairstyles.
Victorian Hair Trends
Victorians were obsessed with status. How a person looked or dressed signified
their standing in society. During this era, women were expected to have long hair. However, girls and women over the age of 16 who wore their hair down were considered “indecent.” This is why proper Victorian women always wore their hair in beautiful and elaborate up-dos, which kept them looking both beautiful and proper while in public.
The Gibson Girl
Among the most popular Victorian Era hairstyles was that of the Gibson Girl. Created by artist and illustrator Charles Dana Gibson in the 1890s, the Gibson Girl was a drawing of a beautiful Victorian woman that exemplified the feminine ideals of the era. Drawn with a slender waistline, voluptuous curves, fine facial features, and a purposefully messy up-do, she was a picture of femininity meant to depict “thousands of American girls.” Considered one of the first times that the media set a beauty standard for women, the public instantly fell in love with the Gibson Girl. Her simple yet elegant hairstyle was also often copied by women who wanted to achieve her enviable look. This effortless-looking up-do is comprised of a simple topknot surrounded by voluminous roots and rolled ends.
Curls and ringlets were both common and incredibly popular among women during the Victorian Era. At first, these “sausage curls” were only meant for little girls. Eventually, Victorian women also adopted them into their elaborate hairstyles. Sometimes, a woman would curl the front part of her hair only, sweeping the rest back into a high bun. Other times, women would curl the entirety of their hair and pile the strands atop their head to create an incredibly detailed up-do. Curling ones hair was certainly not as easy for Victorian women as it is today. Electricity and curling irons had not been invented yet, so ladies of the era wrapped their hair around strips of fabric to create a crown of cascading curls. These “rag curls” resulted in long ringlets, allowing respectable women to achieve a perfectly coifed hairstyle before they went out in public.
Fun with Braids
Braids were another way that women were able to keep their long hair away from their face while also creating an elaborate, feminine hair style. Easy for anyone to create, plaits were often added for increased volume and detail. Braided buns were not uncommon. Often times, women would create several long braids and twist them together to create a textured up-do. Bangs were also braided and swept back to create the perfect complement. A braided “crown” was also common amongst fashionable young women in this era.
Read more about 6 famous vintage hairstyles
in our previous blog article.