Women Hairstyles of the Victorian Era: From the Gibson Girl to the Waterfall

During the Victorian era, women’s hairstyles varied depending on their social class and personal taste. Hairstyles were elaborate and often required much time and effort to create. They were often decorated with ribbons, flowers, and other ornaments. Hair was often lightened with lemon juice, and women used hair dyes to achieve a desired color. However, these dyes were often unreliable and could result in the hair being discolored or damaged. Some popular hairstyles of the time include:

The Gibson Girl

This style, popularized by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson, featured a high, poufy bun at the top of the head with soft, wavy tendrils framing the face. It was considered very fashionable and elegant.

The Chignon

This hairstyle featured a low bun at the nape of the neck, often adorned with flowers or jewelry. It was a popular choice for evening events and formal occasions.

The Updo

This hairstyle involved gathering the hair into a bun or knot at the top or back of the head. It was commonly worn by middle and upper-class women and could be adorned with ribbons, combs, or other hair accessories.

The Waterfall Braid

A waterfall braid was a braided hairstyle that was popular in the late Victorian era. It was a braided hairstyle that cascaded down the back of the head.

The Braided Coiffure

This hairstyle featured braids that were wound around the head and pinned in place, creating a crown-like effect. It was often worn by middle-class women and could be adorned with ribbons or other hair accessories.

The Pompadour

This hairstyle, named after Madame de Pompadour, the mistress of King Louis XV, featured hair swept upward and back, with the front combed upward and curled over. It was a popular style among upper-class women.

The Fringe

A fringe was a hairstyle that featured bangs that were cut straight across the forehead. It was popular in the early Victorian era and was often worn with a bun or chignon.

#1 A Victorian woman wearing her Sunday best clothes, 1890

#6 Miss Cornell posing in an off-the-shoulder gown and with an elaborate hairstyle, London, 1880.

#7 A woman with her long hair braided and coiled behind her head, 1870

#8 A woman with her hair braided and piled on top of her head, 1870.

#11 Alexandra (1844-1925), Queen Consort of King Edward VII of Great Britain, 1890.

#15 Stage actress Miss de Labounskaya, on Ogden’s Cigarette Card, 1894

#17 A woman with her long hair braided and coiled behind her head, 1870.

#18 A woman with her hair braided and piled on top of her head, 1870

#20 A young woman with her hair in ringlets and wearing bell-shaped earrings and a hat, 1855.

#21 A Victorian woman in a crinoline with her hair in long plaits which reach to her waist, 1858

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Written by Alicia Linn

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