If you had to guess, would you suppose that petroleum jelly (specifically, Vaseline brand) was a nineteenth century “invention”? Too late? Too early? Pick a year, any year. Then open this article. Prepare to be amazed!
Though women wore their hair (for the most part) very long during the Victorian era, they still “styled” their hair with curls and bangs (false or real), twists, braids, updos of all kinds… Vintage newspaper articles illustrate women’s hair fashions of the late Victorian era.
Judge John H. Arbuckle promised divorces to unsuspecting men duped by mail-order brides from the East who padded their limbs, hips, bosoms or employed false hair or used cosmetic paints. Such elements of beauty were common in the Victorian American Era, at least among the wealthy. It must have been common enough among disillusioned bridegrooms for the Judge to rule (April 3, 1873) that “marriages into which a man is seduced by the use of (his list of offenses like makeup and padded breasts) without the man’s knowledge, shall stand null and void if he so desires”. Victorian ladies were guilty of nothing today’s generation hasn’t done. But just what padding devices and cosmetics were readily available in the early 1870’s?
Victorian-era Americans (both men and women) had ready access to commercially prepared human hair pieces. Women wore them to achieve the style of the day without cutting their hair or to achieve the fullness and length considered stylish and desirable when their own hair couldn’t grow to such amazing lengths. Mail-order catalogs of the period provided a wide variety of products, appealing to men and women alike, including products purported to restore gray hair to the color of youth.