Monday, June 18, 2012

Civil War Hairstyles for Ladies

So, as most of you know, I've been trying to become more authentic in my Civil War impression lately. To do that, I thought I would try to find some more period appropriate hairstyles....and that proved to be more difficult than I thought. I have very fine and thin hair, so anything I manage to do with my hair has to pinned to death and often looks bland and bland and boring, usually just a bun.

But that all changed when I really went looking for advice on period hairstyles. Some wonderful ladies in the Civilian Civil War Closet on Facebook gave me quite a few resources to check out. So I thought I would do a review of what did, and didn't work well, for me. I parted my hair down the middle, took a deep breath, and jumped in.

To start off, I'll tell you what I used: hair elastics and hair pins. For a lasting and smoother look, use gel or hairspray, or pomade and dressing oils. I didn't use them for this, as I knew I would be trying many different styles.  Now, I really really suggest using hair pins, and not Bobby Pins. Bobby pins were't around until the 1920's, and don't held period styles nearly as well as regular hair pins. You can get them for very cheap, at any beauty supply store. I bought mine on Amazon for less than $4.00, which was mostly shipping. The set I got has 30 3" pins, 30 2 1/2" pins, and 40 1 3/4" pins. A GREAT deal for ladies of all hair lengths and thicknesses.

For starters, I tried something simple, and used THIS tutorial from Stitches of the Past. It's a simple variation on the  basic bun, with twisted piece on either side of your head.


It held very well, with only 4 hair pins. It was comfortable, and seemed like it would hold all day. It took me about 5 minutes to do this, with no mirror. Next time, I'll drop the twisted sections lower, to properly cover my ears, as would be more period correct.

The next style I tried was another variation of the basic bun, called the Waterfall. As fine as my hair is, all the twisting that this style called for just didn't work well for me. Plus the flipped part didn't want to work for me. It fell apart before I could even take a photo. It's a wonderful hairstyle, but for me, it won't work. I would suggest ladies with longer, thicker hair, try this style.

After the Waterfall, I tried THIS tutorial by Seamstress of Avalon. This one turned out lovely! 


Pomade is a MUST if you have layered hair, like I do. It will keep all those little fringes and pieces from sticking out. I didn't french braid like in the tutorial because 1.) French Braids really didn't exist yet in America, and 2.) I don't know how. So it was a win-win to just do a basic braid. Next time I'll be braiding the bun as well, instead of winding. It seems to keep things neater and adds more fullness to the style. And I have to find a way to hide those pins better. It's difficult to do so when you have no mirror or anyone to help you, so I suggest having one or the other when you feel in doubt. This style took maybe 7 minutes, and was simple to do. I can easily see this being done in my tent in the mornings.

Next, I tried a few styles from this amazing blogger, Rapunzel's Resource. She has quite a few tutorials on period hair, and some other styles that be modified to be period. I have good luck with most of these, though I wised my hair was longer or thicker so that I could get a better looking hairstyle. Some of these are not for the faint of heart, but they are very fun to try!

My last tutorial tried was THIS one by Anna in Technicolor. This one took a bit longer than the others, about 12 minutes.


If I would have been able to see that the hair elastics were visible, and covered them, this would have been perfection! This style is so pretty, and so simple, it may just become my go-to style for reenactments. This can also easily be dressed up with a decorated hairnet, or a comb. It took me a couple tries to get all my flyaway to be tucked in, but if I had used pomade, that wouldn't have been a problem. I will suggest though, that instead of tucking the braid ends behind the tied braid, wrap them around the  elastics, to cover them from the sides, and use the front ends to cover them from the top. It looked better, flow wise, to me personally. Plus, it helps keep the bulk and weigh from being on the back of your head. Now, this style was very light, and didn't pull like a bun does, so the headache factor will most likely be smaller, and a better option for those of us who get headaches easily.

I hope you liked this post, and will check out all the links! There are TONS of great tutorials here!

Love and Lightning Bugs,
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