Victorian hairstyles for women, as seen in New York (1877)
From the Chicago Tribune (Illinois) December 9, 1877
NEW YORK, Dec. 6.—The latitude which is allowed in all departments of fashion nowadays exists to the highest degree in the coiffure domain.
Take a promenade of half an hour on some fashionable thoroughfare and notice the arrangement of each passer-by’s hair, and in all probability, you will not see three alike.
A few evenings ago, being present in a room containing more than thirty ladies, I carefully noted each coiffure, and among all found but four similar ones. And yet each was stylish and elegant in itself.
In no detail of dress should one’s features and stature be more considered and consulted than in the arrangement of one’s hair.
Blondes are generally realizing that an elegant disorder is rather becoming; while brunettes are aware that smooth, severe, and classic styles best befit them.
As I have said, one’s individual taste and style should be the guide, but there are many pretty and received models which may be copied to advantage.
Finger puffs key part of Victorian hairstyles for women
Finger-puffs are now so much admired and worn that it is but just to assume that they are all the “rage.”
There are so many ways of arranging them, they are so light and comfortable, and, above all, are so generally becoming, that one does not wonder they should be in such demand.
A very pretty disposition of them shows three large, handsome puffs placed high upon the head, while from them extends a broad braid which terminates at the nape of the neck. The hair in front is arranged in large, loose waves, and, after being tightly drawn bank, is fastened under the braid.
Another arrangement shows four puffs placed well upon the head and to the left of the center. On the right, covering an equal space, is a braid loosely made. These terminate, both puffs and braid, half-way down the back of the head, where a slide-clasp or bow may be effectively added.
Some ladies arrange their coiffure by securing all the hair at the back of the neck, and disposing it in a large broad braid. This is then drawn over the head in such a manner as to cover the line of parting; and reaches to within an inch or two of the forehead.
Here the front hair is crimped in loose waves, or is arrayed in many short curls. On either side of the braid, following the same direction and meeting it diagonally, is a row of small finger-pulls. The effect is very pleasing, and has an additional charm of being something quite new.
Another stylish arrangement, and one that is to be admired for its simplicity as well as its appearance, has the hair at the back arranged in two French twists turning toward each other, and pressing close together.
The front hair, after being prettily waved, is carried lightly back, and fastened just above the twists. If desirable, the ends of the crimps may be arranged in a butterfly bow, or they may be concealed under a knot of ribbon or some kind of ornament. This is a very becoming style, and adapted to more faces than is the French twist single.
Elaborate coiffures have often an addition of a few short curls. The very long ones are not at all worn now, and the favorite length now varies from four to eight inches.
Curls of the former length, now so much admired, cost about $1.25 a pair; the longer ones are proportionately dearer. Ladles who possess red, ash-colored or the liner shades of blonde will find hair to match theirs dearer than are the ordinary shades.
GRAY HAIR is the most expensive of all, a switch measuring not three-quarters of a yard costing often $120. To meet the demand for gray and silvery-white hair, a substitute has been provided, and so excellent is it that only an expert can detect the imitation. This happy invention is known as refined yak.
It is quite as fine, soft, and flexible as real hair. A handsome switch of refined yak of equal length and appearance with the one mentioned above can be procured at $60 — just one-half the former cost.
Gray hair, unless completely turned, changes so frequently that it would be an immense expense to purchase new switches, puffs, etc., each time its shade varies.
Purchasing refined yak obviates this necessity. Hair in all varieties can be had at reasonable prices, but ladies who buy to any great extent are enraptured at the “multiform,” which one piece will do duty in a dozen ways. It may be disposed in light and airy finger puffs, in curls and frizzes, or in all of these combined, with, perhaps, some additions.
This indispensable article can be purchased at from $10 to $15, the higher price being for choicer colors or shades.
Ladies who wear a quantity of false hair would do well to replace an amount of curls, puffs, switches, frizzes, etc., with the “multiform,” which is all these and more, and yet only one. There are few rules for arranging the hair of young girls.
Everyone’s face and general appearance are the proper guides. Some young misses braid the hair in one plait, and catch up the end underneath, fastening it at the neck under a bow of ribbon.
Others wave the hair in front, draw it bash and secure it low on the neck with a clasp or knot of ribbon or velvet. The ends, which are allowed to hang loose, are at their extremity loosely made into two or three large, careless curls. This is a very pleasing and simple arrangement.
Others draw back the hair smoothly and tightly, and fasten it high upon the head with a ribbon. The falling ends are then left to bang straight, or are crimped. In general, however, young girls wear their hair in braids, one or more.
Sometimes a pretty coiffure is obtained by waving the hair in front and, drawing it back. braid it in one loose braid half its length, allowing the rest to flow, either straight or crimped.
More Victorian hairstyles for women from the 1870s & 1880s
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