The Evolution of Hairstyles through History ...

By Neecey

Your hair makes a statement about how you see yourself. Until the late 20th century, styles throughout history varied with social class, age, ethnicity, race, genetics and even career. Hair through the ages paints a fascinating picture and shows the evolution to the styles we choose today.

Table of contents:

  1. ancient egypt 4000-300bc
  2. ancient greece 1500-150bc
  3. ancient rome 500 bc – 500ad
  4. the dark ages 500-1000
  5. age of romanticism 900-1250
  6. gothic period 1250-1500
  7. renaissance 1500-1600
  8. baroque period 1600-1720
  9. the 1700s
  10. beidermeier period 1789-1848
  11. regency period 1811-1820
  12. early victorian 1837-1860
  13. late victorian 1860-1900
  14. art nouveau 1890-1910
  15. the 1920s
  16. the 1930s
  17. the 1940s
  18. the 1950s
  19. the 1960s
  20. the 1970s
  21. the 1980s
  22. the 1990s
  23. 2000 – current

1 Ancient Egypt 4000-300BC

Long straight or braided hair and elaborate headdresses. Wigs were common.

2 Ancient Greece 1500-150BC

Long hair with elaborate knots and updos decorated with natural items (leaves and flowers) or jewels.

3 Ancient Rome 500 BC – 500AD

Similar to Greece but “blonde” hair was popular and was created with golden powder. Curling tongs were also in wide range use.

4 The Dark Ages 500-1000

Not a great deal is known due to lack of art and literature. Noblewomen wore headdresses that kept the hair mainly covered. Unmarried women wore a fillet, a narrow headband over a wimple.

5 Age of Romanticism 900-1250

Noble women wore their hair in loose curls and lower class women wore it page boy style, short or chin-length.

6 Gothic Period 1250-1500

Hair was rarely seen in public. All women wore headdresses, bonnets, hats of hoods.

7 Renaissance 1500-1600

Updos were still popular but headdresses were on the way out. Hair was decorated with ribbons, pearls and other precious stones.

8 Baroque Period 1600-1720

Costumes had very high collars so it was still the fashion to wear hair up and high. Wire frames were used to style and fix in place. Height was important.

9 The 1700s

The century of the wig. Wigs the like of which have not been since, except in the movies.

10 Beidermeier Period 1789-1848

Hairstyles were extremely well coiffed, and were updos and half-updos. Ringlets, braids and twists were popular – often in combination. Hairstyles were built around elaborate headdresses.

11 Regency Period 1811-1820

Classical Greek and Roman statuary was the basic inspiration for all Regency hairstyles, particularly earlier ones. The styles evolved into carefully planned casual disorder. Short spiral curls were popular.

12 Early Victorian 1837-1860

During the 1840s and 1850s, hairstyles covered the ears and usually had hanging braids or curls that puffed out around the face while a bun secured the rest.

13 Late Victorian 1860-1900

There was a return to natural beauty – often in an austere way. Tidiness, modesty and dignity were watchwords. Loose hairstyles were considered vulgar and a sign of low class. A lady rarely went out without her bonnet.

14 Art Nouveau 1890-1910

Correlating with the movement in art, architecture and literature, hair became more organic. Updos were less formal and flowers, leaves and other natural objects were popular items woven into hair or attached to ribbons and delicate headdresses.

15 The 1920s

This was a period of major change. Women actually began to cut their hair short – gasp! Hairstyles were simple, either sleek so they would wear well under a cloche hat, or with finger waves embellished with delicate but elaborate headdresses and combs. In came the bob and the Eton Crop.

16 The 1930s

Pencil thin eyebrows together with a sleek upswept hairdo was the archetypal thirties look. Chin length permanent waves were very popular.

17 The 1940s

Waves became much softer and looser and certainly longer but structured rolls became very evident. In the war years, headscarves were worn to keep dust and grime out of hair. Hair became a matter of practicality for women working en masse for the first time.

18 The 1950s

The age of the hairdresser was born. Many housewives enjoyed a weekly trip where hair was teased into all sorts of shapes and styles. Headscarves and bands became a fashion accessory rather than a necessity.

19 The 1960s

In the era of freedom, liberation and hippies, hair became an expression of the woman. Styles were influenced by popular culture and inspired by the rising stars of the hair salons. Think asymmetric, bouffant, the bob, the beehive and long and straight adorned with flowers. Colors and dyes started to become mainstream.

20 The 1970s

By the mid 1970s women had adopted a variety of hairstyles many based on blow drying of hair into specific flicked positioning from a centre parting. Hair was luxurious and voluminous and the makeup was glaring. The antithesis was punk with its spikes and multicolored Mohicans.

21 The 1980s

Big and eccentric hair (to balance out massive shoulder pads!) was popularized by film and music but this was also the era that women copied iconic cuts of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Purdey and the overblown hair of shows like Dallas and Dynasty.

22 The 1990s

Hairstyles were built on the principles of natural beauty and health. They were well groomed regardless of length. Princess Diana continued to aspire but other inspiration came in the form of “the Rachel” and the eclectic look of The Spice Girls.

23 2000 – Current

Anything goes! Women wear their hair any which way with styles and colors changing by the day or the week. The range of colors and accessories is bewildering and trends ebb and flow, some short-lived, some sticking around and becoming accepted into the norm.

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