How Do I Do Victorian Hairstyles?

Written by sarah maguire
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How Do I Do Victorian Hairstyles?
Victorian women often adorned their hair with ribbons and flowers. (Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

Throughout the Victorian period (1837-1901), a variety of hairstyles came in and out of fashion, some simple, some elaborate. The hairstyles women wore depended on their social class and often whether they lived in town or the country. Upper class women would have a special maid to fix their hair in the latest, most elaborate styles, though later in the period, it become more common to visit hair salons. Women who aspired to be fashionable would eagerly scan fashion plates in magazines to learn the latest styles from France. They would also aim to reproduce the look of actresses, aristocracy and society beauties.

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Victorian Ringlets

This is a very distinctive style, particularly associated with the earlier decades of the Victorian era. The Victorians achieved these fat, round "sausage curls" by dampening their hair with sugar water then twisting it in rags overnight so the curls set rigid. You may prefer to use hair rollers and a hair dryer instead. For an authentic Victorian look, twist your front hair into ringlets while piling your back hair up into a chignon and fixing with pins.

Victorian Buns and Braids

Most commonly, Victorian women of all classes pinned their hair up in a simple bun or braid. Before the Pre-Raphaelite period, loose, long hair would be seen as slatternly or aggressively sexual. Depending on the decade, hair would either be piled on top of the head or tied in a bun at the nape of the neck. In the late 1870s, for example, hair would often be pulled back into a knot on the nape or crown of the head, often with small, curled fringe at the front. Later, in the 1880s, it became fashionable to pile hair up on top of the head. To add interest and Victorian authenticity to these styles, add ribbons, flowers (real or artificial) and ornate combs.

Titus Hairstyle for Short Hair

We tend to think of Victorian hairstyles as always requiring long, flowing locks, which can be discouraging if you have short hair but want to achieve a Victorian look. In the 1880s, however, the short Titus hairstyle came into fashion. This may be an ideal Victorian hairstyle to imitate if you have short hair. To achieve the Titus style, curl short locks close to the head and, as an extra embellishment, decorate with flowers.

Pre-Raphaelite Hairstyle

Under the Romantic inspiration of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, long, luxuriant, loosely flowing and curling tresses became fashionable in some circles. To achieve the Pre-Raphaelite look, you can use the traditional method of braiding your hair while still wet and allowing it to dry in the braids. This will leave your hair very curly and full-bodied without modern sleekness. Alternatively, you can achieve a similar effect by using a triple barrelled curling iron, crimping the hair section by section.

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