100-Year-Old Hairstyle Trends for Hairstyle Appreciation Day

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2 La Creme

Whether you wear your luscious locks long or short, straight or curly, high or flat or all business in the front and party in the back, April 30 is Hairstyle Appreciation Day. Which means it’s a day of celebration for manes of all manner. (Yes, even the mullet.) 

Here, we track down 10 female hair trends that pre-date The Rachel by more than a century. None of which (save the timeless Bob) we’re particularly keen on seeing make a comeback.

1. Sausage Curls

Courtesy of The Barrington House Educational Center

“The tighter the curl the more stylish the girl” seemed to be the motto in the late 1830s, when sausage curls became all the rage. But their reign didn’t end with the Early Victorian period; actress Mary Pickford—America’s first “America’s Sweetheart,” a.k.a. “The girl with the curls”—brought a slightly softer style back in the early 1900s.

2. The Victorian Updo

Courtesy of HairStyleTwist

Both practical and sexist, women in the mid- to late-1800s grew their hair long but opted to wear it swept up—typically with a little poof and some curls to cover the forehead—so that it didn’t interfere with their chores around the house.

3. The Marcel Wave


Courtesy of 1920-30.com

A precursor to the perm, the Marcel Wave is named for French hairstylist François Marcel, who invented the process for this crimped style in 1872. Created with the help of heated curling irons, the style remained popular for more than five decades.

4. The Merry Widow


Courtesy of Anything Goes

To be clear: the Merry Widow in question is the enormous, plumed hat that replaced the need for much in the way of hairstyling (and made for one hell of a big-haired look). Prevalent during the Edwardian days, the look came about in 1907, following the immense popularity of a London staging of Franz Lehár’s operetta of the same name. The hat’s designer, Lucy Duff-Gordon, remarked of the trend: “Every woman who wanted to be in the swim had to have a ‘Merry Widow Hat,’ and we made thousands of pounds through the craze, which lasted longer than most fashion crazes, for the charm of the play kept it alive.”

5. The Pompadour


Courtesy of British Photodetective

Elvis Presley may have rocked the style back into popularity in the late 1950s, but the pompadour has been around since the 18th century, and is named for Madame de Pompadour, King Louis XV’s mistress. In the early 1900s, women resorted to all sorts of drastic measures to enhance the height of this vertically-aspirational style, from ratting their hair to inserting rolls of padding.

6. The Low Pompadour


Courtesy of British Photodetective

While the true pompadour was often reserved for more formal occasions, the Low Pompadour—in which hair was rolled over a crescent-shaped pad in order to create a serious front poof—was easier to maintain and, therefore, suitable for daily wear.

7. The Gibson Girl


Courtesy of Gertrude Käsebier/Social Serendip

In the earliest part of the 20th century, the feminine ideal came courtesy of illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, whose pen-and-ink sketches for top publications of the time—including Life, Harper’s Weekly, and Collier’s—depicted the American woman as independent and strong. Few women better exemplified the “Gibson Girl” than Evelyn Nesbit, an actress/model who became the center of a scandalous murder trial when her millionaire husband murdered her lover, famed architect Stanford White, atop Madison Square Garden. Piled on top of the head with some tendrils hanging down, the effect was much looser than that of the Victorian era, perhaps as a metaphor that the times were a-changin’.

8. Curtain Hair

Courtesy of Social Serendip

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out how this harsh coiffure got its name. The styling is simple: 1. Part hair in the middle. 2. Pray the result looks better on you than it does this woman.

9. The Bob

Courtesy of Adventures of the Reluctant Housewife

Even today, the Bob—a shorter cut, usually angled around the jawline—has the ability to grab headlines, whenever a female celebrity opts for a chop. The cut caused controversy in the 1920s, when it was seen as a political statement of women asserting their equality to men. But it all started much more innocently than that, in 1915, when dancer Irene Castle bobbed her hair in preparation for an appendectomy, in an effort to make her recovery easier.

10. The Eton Crop

Courtesy of Ammo

The Eton Crop emerged as a term in 1926, when it was used by a journalist in The Times to describe the super-short, severely slicked-down style that was gaining popularity among women. Sultry songstress Josephine Baker was perhaps its most famous proponent

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April 30, 2013 - 2:00pm
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