1830s Hair and Accessories

One of the most distinct things about fashions of the 1830s is over-the-top hair. One cannot complete an 1830s outfit without it, so although I often get lazy and can end up skimping on my hair arrangements for my historical outfits, I had to at least try to do something with my hair for my 1830s ball outfit.

I had taken The Laced Angel‘s class on 1830s hair at Costume College 2017, but although I could have sworn I had taken notes, I must have misplaced them at some point, because when it came time to actually plan my 1830s hairdo I couldn’t find them. I pieced together what I remembered with recommendations from her blog, and purchased a couple different items from Amazon. I purchased OneDor brand long, straight blonde extensions that come in several pieces, and two Reecho brand blonde bang extensions, both pictured below:

hairextentionslong  hairextensionbangs

My goal was to curl the bang extensions and use them as my side curls, and make hair loops and braids out of the longer pieces. When I attempted to wet and curl the bangs, though, they were way too springy to manipulate, and the pin curls did not go well.

hairextensionbangs1

It was just a mess.

I realized the curls were not going to set at all, so I decided to try using my own hair instead. I have bangs in the front, and the rest of my hair is long, so I decided to take the chance that I had enough short pieces in the front to make passable side curls. There are heat styling methods that I could have tried on the hair extensions, but I was too afraid of melting them, and ended up thinking it would be easier to use my real hair.

Wit the long pieces, I cut the clips off of the bound ends of the extensions, then folded the pieces in half, then in half again. I then bound the end with a hair tie and sprayed the hell out of the loop with hair spray. I also braided a thinner piece, also folded it twice, and sprayed it as well. I then hung the loops from a pencil to dry.

Greengownhair

The big hair loop still feels a little floppy, so I think in the future I would get some hair styling gel and slick that through the hair first before looping and hairspraying it.

I also braided one more thinner piece that I thought I’d use as a wrap or in some other way I wasn’t picturing yet.

greengownhair2

The morning of the ball I wet my bangs and pincurled them close to my scalp.

greengownhair4

I then put the rest of my hair in a high ponytail at the crown of my head, and braided my hair. I pinned the loops into a standing position on either side of my pony and wrapped my real hair braid around the bases of the loops. I pinned everything with bobby pins and hairsprayed it in place. Then I carefully unpinned all of my pincurls and gently ran my fingers through the curls, arranging them slightly.

greengownhair3

I think they came out looking a bit more like 1810s or so curls, rather than 1830s curls, but once the hair was curled, the curls were quite stubborn, and I thought it looked decent anyway, so I went with it. I topped it off by just sticking a black ostrich feather into the braid wrap after we got out of the car at the ball.

greengownselfie

I also topped off my look with my Dames a la Mode necklace.

For shoes, I was looking for a pair of inexpensive square-toed flats that could make do as 1830s slippers. I found this pair on Amazon for about $13, so I took a chance and bought them, hoping I could modify them to be more historical.

Greengownshoes1

I cut off the metal bits on the tops of the shoe as close to the sole as I could, then sewed ribbon on to the sides to lace them on.

Greengownshoes

greengownshoes2

I didn’t get a worn photo, but they came out looking quite period, actually! The one thing that definitely tipped them off as modern shoes is that the sole of the shoe has red rubber at the heel and at the ball of the foot. I thought about painting them, but I ran out of time, and I hoped no one would see it under my dress.

I also wore my white above-elbow gloves when we arrived at the ball, but I soon took them off, because they’re very warm and they fall down. They are also just from Amazon, and I’d like to get a better, more period pair at some point.

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2 thoughts on “1830s Hair and Accessories

  1. Ooh, I know how to help with this! To curl synthetic hair, you roll it on your rollers or make pincurls, and then pour almost-boiling water over it. Let it sit in the water for about a minute, then pull it out and let it air dry over the next few days. The curls will be permanently set!

    • Thank you! Yes, a friend told me about that method the night of the ball, and I realized I may have heard about it somewhere before. I may try it on the bang extensions for the future.

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