Given Victorian-era women (no matter where they lived in the world) seldom trimmed their hair, much less cut it, their hair usually grew to astonishing lengths.
From personal experience (I’ve worn my natural hair past my hips) and discussion with modern hairdressers, it’s apparent not everyone’s able to grow hair past a certain length–and the comparable body part is seldom the ankles, or even the waist.
What would YOU have done, had you lived during a time where one sign of a woman’s femininity was the length and quality of her hair…and you’d been born with thin, fine hair that couldn’t reach your shoulders without hair extensions?
The Montgomery, Ward & Co. Catalogue of 1895 and Sears Catalog of 1897 provide an historic view of solutions readily available to American women (and men) in the late Victorian Era.
“À. Challamel wrote in 1871 ‘False hair was worn more generally than ever’. Interesting statistics of the era show that 51,816kgs of false hair were sold in France in 1871 and 102,900kgs in 1873. Yet by 1876 false hair was denounced as passé by The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine.” ~Pauline Weston Thomas for Fashion-Era.com
In my recent post, L-O-N-G Victorian Hair, I illustrated the 1890’s style of cut bangs that were curled about the forehead.
For those who didn’t want to cut off hair that had taken a lifetime to grow, simply to bow to the whims of modern style, hair pieces were readily available, at least by the late 1890’s (when cut bangs where ‘in’). Such pieces would also cover thinning hair (a woman’s nightmare in any era of time) and add volume to any head of hair.
“$3.50 of 1895 dollars would be worth: $100.00 in 2015.” (2015 is latest year available) ~ Dave Manuel.com
“$1.25 of 1895 dollars would be worth: $35.71 in 2015.” (2015 is latest year available) ~ Dave Manuel.com
$2.50 of 1895 dollars would be worth: $71.43 in 2015.” (2015 is latest year available) ~ Dave Manuel.com
“$0.50 of 1895 dollars would be worth: $14.29 in 2015.” (2015 is latest year available) ~ Dave Manuel.com
$3 of 1895 dollars would be worth: $85.71 in 2015.”
$0.06 of 1895 dollars would be worth: $1.71 in 2015.”
$0.08 of 1895 dollars would be worth: $2.29 in 2015.”
“$0.10 of 1895 dollars would be worth: $2.86 in 2015.”
(2015 is latest year available) ~ Dave Manuel.com
“$3 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $85.71 in 2015.” (2015 is latest year available) ~ Dave Manuel.com
“$1.25 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $35.71 in 2015.”
“$3 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $85.71 in 2015.”
“$4 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $114.29 in 2015.”
“$5 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $142.86 in 2015.”
“$6 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $171.43 in 2015.”
“$8 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $228.57 in 2015.”
“$10 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $285.71 in 2015.”
“$12 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $342.86 in 2015.”
“$15 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $428.57 in 2015.”
“$18 of 1897 dollars would be worth: $514.29 in 2015.”
(2015 is latest year available) ~ Dave Manuel.com
Given my hair is “very gray” (though I’m still in my 40’s), a 24″ wig (perhaps to replace my own lost when the doctor told my husband my head must be shaved to save me from a very high fever), would cost me (per the advertisement) a 50% surcharge because of the color. In today’s money, such a wig would cost more than $1,000. Perhaps, therefore, it’s not reasonable to say all women had access through a catalog to hair pieces. It might be more reasonable to say the well-to-do could afford hair pieces and augmentation if they so chose.
For ladies (or ladies’ maids) who wished to create something (such as a braid to wrap about their up-do) or even to add fullness to their coiffure, swatches of hair was sold.
WOMEN WORE FULL WIGS
MEN WORE WIGS TOO…and fake beards
I have a hard time believing these bears and mustaches looked natural.
ARTIFICIAL AUGMENTATION reason for breach of promise when men fooled by mail-order brides
Apparently false hair had been used as early as 1873 (and likely before). But note the list of everything else this Judge John H. Arbuckle found as grounds for divorce from a mail-order bride: cosmetic paints, artificial bosoms, bolstered hips and padded limbs. Guess what? Most of these were available for purchase from Sears Catalog and Montgomery, Ward & Co. Catalog by 1895. Then a woman didn’t need to make her own such appliances.
MAKE HER OWN
Yeah. Especially hair pieces. After all, when hair you’ve spent your whole life growing comes out in the bristles of a hairbrush or tines of a comb, why not hold onto it? Women made “rats” of their own hair, literally balls of the fallen hairs to then fill out the hairstyle pinned upon their heads (result: a fuller bun or French twist). The color was right (until they aged or unbleached), a lady knows where it came from, and it cost nothing whereas wigs and hair pieces cost plenty.
IF ANYTHING SHOULD’VE BEEN ILLEGAL…
…perhaps it should’ve been the unfounded claims of potions, elixirs (external or internal use), and washes.
I might be persuaded to believe a potion could add moisture, smooth, and perhaps redeem damaged hair (to a degree)…but return gray hair to the color of youth? Really? Who believed this stuff?
In reference to the WARNING by Judge John H. Arbuckle, commercially prepared other augmentation devices (without Victoria’s Secret) what was a Lady Victorian to do?
False Beauty Spots Old West Bath Tubs Hair Indicative of Character Styling Ladies’ Hair; American 19th Century Victorian Ladies’ Hairdressers Victorian Curling Irons L-O-N-G Victorian Hair Victorian Era Feminine Hygiene Old West Barber Shop Victorian Shaving, Part 1 Victorian Shaving, Part 2 Victorian American Romance and Breach of Promise Mail-Order Catalogs and the Old West Newspaper Brides vs. Mail-Order Brides Mail-Order Catalogs: Timeline and Truth Pencils: Common in the Old West? Paper: Common in the Old West? Mail Order Brides in the 19th Century American West Book Review: Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier, by Chris Enss BOOK REVIEW: Object: Matrimony by Chris Enss Begin Reading a 12 part SERIES of articles on Nineteenth Century Mail-Order Bride SCAMS– Link to Part 1
Copyright © 2016 Kristin Holt, LC