A quick and simple 1860s hairstyle.

It seems to me that most of the re-enacting events we attend start earlier in the day, and unless only Susi and I go, we usually don't have time to do anything elaborate with our hair. So over the last few years we've developed a couple simple styles that are quick, but still look period correct.

These are a few of the photos we've tried to base this style on. I find these old photos great for studying hair and dress. I often browse the ones for sale on ebay, or the collections on flickr. Here is a link to one of my favorites.

To do this style you will need a:
- Brush
- Comb
- One or more rubber-bands (hairband)
- Bobby-pins
If you tend to have fly-aways, then some gel may come in handy. And when we need this thing to stay still all day, hairspray.
After brushing thoroughly, part your hair in the center. Apparently this is the only way woman did it back then, I've never seen it any other way. I usually part mine on the side, so I start parting it in the center a day ahead of time, wetting it down periodically, otherwise it doesn't lay nicely.

Along the part, starting 3-4 inches back from the hairline of your forehead, section off the front portion of the hair. Straight down to just behind the ear. Do this on both sides and put the rest into a low pony, which will end up being the bun.

Take one front section at a time, and pull them to the back, I usually use a brush to smooth it out, and sometimes a little bit of gel. Twist it a little and then go underneath the ponytail, and wrap it around, twisting as you go. Secure into place with a couple bobby-pins.

Then we split the pony into two braids, and coil them into a bun, securing with a few bobby pins. And if it's necessary, a layer of hairspray.

All done! Not too bad, if I do say so myself. Of course Kaja is actually a little young to be wearing her hair up. Being only 13, back then she may have still worn it in a "girls" style. But since Susi recently cut a good 6 inches off her hair, I was in need of a model.


Abigail Jenny said...

Wow! Now I can just go here to figure out hair and such! :D
Thanks! ;)

Heidi said...

Thanks for posting these hair style instructions! I'm really terrible with hair (including modern styles) and it's nice to have some VERY simple instructions like these so that I don't ruin my costume with a modern ponytail. :)

B.K. said...

I'm glad you find this useful Abi :)

Heidi, I'm glad you like it too! :) Having a period correct hairstyle makes all the difference!

Nicole said...

Any tips for getting your bangs to blend in and stay parted in the middle?...I'm having a horrible time with mine and I don't want to wear a hat all the time. Bobby pins are too obvious and hair gel just doesn't seem to do the trick. I'd even consider a wig, if I could find a period correct one that wasn't an arm & a leg!

Susan said...

Hi Nichole,

Here are a couple tricks we've learned

- 2-3 days before an event wash hair and part it in the middle, keeping it that way till putting the hair up.

-When ready to fix hair, dampen it and spray with hairspray brushing the bangs into the hair. Add more hairspray when finished.

-Another thing I like doing is rag curling my hair the night before, and in the morning brushing the curls out then styling as usual, using plenty of hairspray.
I think the brushed curls make the hair a lot easier to work with.

Susan said...

Oops! I meant to write Nicole :(

Here is a neat CDV of a woman wearing something like a headband (it might be later 1860s) that'd help keep bangs back.


Beason said...

Hi I just recently found your blog on pinterest. I am playing the part of Becky Thatcher in Tom Sawyer play. Do you have any ideas for medium like hair. Also I dont even know if you know about this kinda stuff but any stage makeup?

Susan said...

Hey there! :)

Sounds like a fun project! Well I first checked to see if the book had any hints on Becky's appearance, turns out the first time Tom Sawyer sees her she has her hair in braids! :) Here's the quote;

“As he was passing by the house where Jeff Thatcher lived, he saw a new girl in the garden—a lovely little blue-eyed creature with yellow hair plaited into two long-tails”

Plaited is a 19th term for braiding :) - A general rule for women's hair is to have a center part, and regarding the braids I think ribbon tied at the ends would work.

I'm not sure if links work in the comments, but here are two images I found on Pinterest of girls with braids.



I haven't had the opportunity to practice stage makeup yet, have you looked on You Tube? I think 19th century girls kept there appearance pretty natural looking - I'd imagine it'd be pretty easy to find what looks best on stage.

Glad to be of any assistance!!

snowbritnj said...

My hair is only just on my shoulder & other than using a rat, is there anyway to achieve a convincing lookinghairdo?
Thank you,
Sarah Snow

Susan said...

Hi Sarah,
Well rule of thumb is the center part, that's going to give a 19th century look just with that. In the 1860s there was a short hair fad going on with younger women and teens, so if it looks nice just leaving it down is ok. Another technique we use with shorter hair is two braids and coil them at the nape of the neck, and lastly when there's extra time, curling the hair gives it some body and easier to work with.
I hope that's helpful! :)
Thanks for visiting the blog and commenting!!

Kristi Baumgardner said...

BK I like your instructions and am fairly new to reenacting too. However I am lucky to have a really good resource to help. Instead of Gel You may want to try a pommade. I have found this works better for me and is less worrisome if i get hot and start to sweat it out. Thanks for the instructions for the simple hair style. It looks great.