The reawakening of classical style during the Italian Renaissance saw a dramatic change in the hairstyles of the time. The modest head coverings of the Middle Ages were abandoned in the warm Italian climate of Venice as early as 1400. People then starting moving toward upswept, classically inspired styles that displayed marital and social status through levels of intricacy.
Light hair colours were popular in Venice during the Renaissance and preferred by many artists who painted portraits during the period. Blond, gold and light red colours were the most desirable and many women used natural dyes or bleached their hair in the sun to achieve lighter hues.
Styles that were popular with lower and middle class Venetians reflected those found in classical art. Unmarried women preferred long, flowing hair that was either curled or waved. More mature women wore most of the hair curled up behind the head in knots or braids with few strands left to down to frame the face.
Popular aristocratic styles included parting the hair in the centre and curling it high over the forehead. Sometimes ladies formed two peaks over their temples while the rest of the hair was drawn back in a bun or braid. Other women held the entire style up in a bun while allowing strands to fall on the face or nape of the neck.
Men also preferred lighter blond, gold or bronze hair during this period. Short, straight styles that ended at the chin were still in fashion at the beginning of the Renaissance but later short, curled hair that ended at the nape of the neck and curled over the temple grew in popularity throughout Italy. Men often also wore small, brimless red caps over the back of their heads.
Beads, jewels and ribbons were woven into the hair for added adornment or as a compliment to outfits. Often this was done by the wealthy for portrait sittings or special events. Veils were popular and encouraged by the Venetian government for modesty. Beaded hairnets were also used to adorn the head and keep hair off the face and neck.
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