Sunday, January 14, 2018

Victorian Etiquette of Hair

“Hair is to the human aspect, what foliage is to the landscape.” 
Gentleman from New York City, in 1889, with fashionable beard and moustache. – “There is no worthier accomplishment for a man with a moustache than to take soup in an inoffensive manner… and by no means should the moustache be used to strain the soup.” ~ Cornelia Dobbs


The hair and beard, in one of their aspects, belong to the dress. In reference to the style of wearing them, consult the general principles of taste. A man to whom nature has given a handsome beard, deforms himself sadly by shaving—at least, that is our opinion; and on this point fashion and good taste agree. The full beard is now more common than the shaven face in all our large cities.

In the dressing of the hair there is room for the display of a great deal of taste and judgment. The style should vary with the different forms of face.

Victorian hairstyles and bonnets for women.
Lardner's “Young Ladies' Manual” has the following hints to the gentler sex. Gentlemen can modify them to suit their case:

“After a few experiments, a lady may very easily decide what mode of dressing her hair, and what head-dress renders her face most attractive.”

“Ringlets hanging about the forehead suit almost every one. On the other hand, the fashion of putting the hair smoothly, and drawing it back on either side, is becoming to few; it has a look of vanity instead of simplicity: the face must do every thing for it, which is asking too much, especially as hair, in its pure state, is the ornament intended for it by nature. Hair is to the human aspect what foliage is to the landscape.”

“Light hair is generally most becoming when curled. For a round face, the curls should be made in short, half ringlets, reaching a little below the ears. For an oval face, long and thick ringlets are suitable; but if the face be thin and sharp, the ringlets should be light, and not too long, nor too many in number.”

“When dark hair is curled, the ringlets should never fall in heavy masses upon the shoulders. Open braids are very beautiful when made of dark hair; they are also becoming to light-haired persons. A simple and graceful mode of arranging the hair is to fold the front locks behind the ears, permitting the ends to fall in a couple of ringlets on either side behind.”

“Another beautiful mode of dressing the hair, and one very appropriate in damp weather, when it will keep in curl, is to loop up the ringlets with small hair-pins on either side of the face and behind the ears, and pass a light band of braided hair over them.”

“Persons with very long, narrow heads may wear the hair knotted very low at the back of the neck. If the head be long, but not very narrow, the back hair may be drawn to one side, braided in a thick braid, and wound around the head. When the head is round, the hair should be formed in a braid in the middle of the back of the head. If the braid be made to resemble a basket, and a few curls permitted to fall from within it, the shape of the head is much improved.”–
From “How To Behave: A Pocket Manual Of Republican Etiquette, And Guide To Correct Personal Habits” by Samuel R Wells, 1887

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia