Sunday, March 12, 2006

Bad Hair Day

I resent the time it takes to go to the hairdressers and tend to put it off until my emerging roots make it a 'must do'.

During a sojourn with my stylist yesterday I got to thinking about how ladies in the Regency period dealt with such matters. Hairdressers existed then but they didn't have fancy salons and instead called at ladies' houses, charging anything between 2s6d and 5s to style and cut. More often though a lady's maid would be responsible for dressing her mistress's hair. She had a number of implements to assist her in her endeavours, many of which would be familiar to us today, (minus the electric cables, of course!), such as straighteners and tongs. They were heated in a fire and then wrapped in rags before being applied to the waiting head. Styles were created on a Grecian theme, with soft curls around the face, ringlets or braids.

Pins, slides, clips and other hair decorations existed in greater abundance than they do today and were considered indispensible. For a formal ball a tiara or garland of fresh flowers might be worn but for presentatation at Court only ostrich feathers would do.

A lady might change her clothes as many as four times a day, in turn making it necessary for her hair to be redressed to suit her change of garb; which in itself makes the whole business of simply being a lady in those days sound pretty exhausting.

I'm going to hold that thought and the next time I have to sacrifice an hour and a half for the benefit of my crowning glory I'll try not to resent it.

Wendy Soliman


Anonymous said...

I, like you, put off the hairdressers as long as possible and lament the fact that the fashion for lace caps has gone out of fashion. I am sure one of the reasons that Jane Austen and her sister took to wearing these headpieces early was because they instantly hid any signs of a 'bad hair day'! I could really use one today!

Anonymous said...

Just think of the smell of singeing hair when the tongs were left in the fire too long: I wonder how many maids lost their job because they were daydreaming.....