Victorian hairstyles: How to make some of the most popular styles of the 1890s

Actress Lillian Russell - Victorian hairstyle 1891

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.


Victorian hairstyles: Glossy braids, graceful coils & fluffy curls to style the hair

From The St Paul Daily Globe (Saint Paul, Minn.) May 11, 1890

Fashions in hair-dressing — How the darling creatures use the curling tongs

A few years ago, so little interest was manifested by ladies in the arrangement of their hair, that the hairdressers feared their occupation well nigh gone, and the art itself seemed hooked for a place on the shelves of the past.

But just here Dame Fashion happily came to the rescue, and in her usual peremptory way instituted a new order of coiffure, the outcome of which is that we now see glossy plaits, graceful coils and twists, and the fluffiest and most coquettish of bangs, taking the place of the careless back-knot and simple fringe which once sufficed for all.

Happiness can make you beautiful (1899)

And the styles are becoming almost as varied as the faces they crown and adorn. That there are so many styles from which a lady may choose is of infinite benefit to those who care to make the most of their attractions, for assuredly one way of dressing the hair cannot be becoming alike to all casts of features.

High & low hairstyles

A coiffure which may give an indescribable charm to an oval face, will detract from the good looks of one whose features are case in a larger and broader mold. For this reason, both the high and low coiffure are, and will continue, in style.

To some, the high coiffure is particularly becoming, and by these it will continue to be worn, with such changes as may be introduced from time to time.

1899 fashion women dresses hats

MORE: Vintage hairstyles: The Pompadour (1899)

But the low coiffure seems to have achieved the happy medium of meeting the requirements of the majority of ladies, and is by far the most fashionable. In fact, one sees ten heads dressed in the latter to one in the former style. It is also more comfortable, and is adapted to both day and evening wear.

The low coiffure consists of braids and twists arranged to fall low enough to just escape the collar, and is then brought to the crown of the head, and presents a tidy and most graceful appearance.

Easter promenade by Smedley W 1893

This simple mode ornamented with shell combs or pins is equally suited for home or street, and for full dress occasions when adorned with jeweled pins, feathers, aigrettes or flowers, becomes an exceedingly stylish headdress.

Just now flowers — suggestive of the fair spring season — are much worn in the hair, although some still affect bows of ribbon. But for the evening, flowers are by all odds the most beautiful, and for young ladies, nothing more appropriate can be selected.

Both the high and low coiffure are in high favor in Paris and London, and are more elaborate than the American styles. Parisian modes, by which the world of fashion was once ruled, however, no longer leads, and our ladies find their more quiet tastes better suited by those designed by competent artists in their midst.

Fashionable women 1899 Evening dresses - beauty

Fashionable bonnets can only be worn to advantage with a front piece, and the back coiffure reaching to the nape of the neck, the bonnet or toque being supported with a shell comb or other ornament placed in the top of the hair.

Ways to wear bangs

The styles in front pieces or bangs are more numerous than ever, and foreheads, whether broad, high, narrow or square, may be fitted with a suitable shape, or the natural hair banged in a most becoming way.

A coquettish wavy bang, with just a suspicion of a parting on one side, is much favored by merry young maidens, as it sets off a pair of rougish eyes to perfection.

1890 pea blossoms

Very young ladies wear the front hair in a curled bang, and the back either waved over the shoulders, or braided loosely with a bow of ribbon just below the crown of the head and another at the end.

For the “buds,” the hair is mostly waved with small curling tongs on the outside, at the sides and top, and then combed together at the back of the head, twisted in a figure eight and placed lengthwise. The ornaments for this coiffure are two or three shell pins.

Trends in hair color

The color of hair still remains an item of fashion, and ladies who a few years ago held up their hands in horror at the bare mention of hair dye now have their locks transformed from one color to another with complacency, if not sang froid.

MORE: Lillie Langtry: The life and loves of the scandalous Jersey Lily

Blonde or golden hair is always intensely admired, and continues to be the popular color. Those who are not blessed with the sunny tint find no difficulty in obtaining the desired shade by means of that remarkable mixture, the golden hair wash.

Victorian fall winter clothing for women 1891 8

It was thought that the red-brown, or as it is styled in London, the bronze brown, introduced by the charming Patti, would prove a fashionable craze, but ladies do not find it a particularly becoming color, and very few have submitted their tresses to that change.

White and gray hair is as popular as ever with elderly ladies, and many exquisite heads of gray hair are constantly seen, which, dressed in one; of the late styles, gives an unmistakable dignity to the wearer.

Ladies whose hair is just beginning to turn, and is gray in streaks, cover their iron-touched locks with bangs and braids of a beautiful silver gray, which greatly improves their appearance.

Victorian hairstyles Fluffy curls (1890)

Hair nets, in cap shape, are still much used, and are to be recommended to all who wish to keep their waves or curls in shape, particularly in damp or breezy weather.

MORE: Why long hair was a burden to Civil War era women (1862)

The “coiffure artistic”

The mode of the season, just out, is the Coiffure Artistic, which promises to become a favorite. Its arrangement is somewhat similar to the coiffure so much worn during the winter, but has some pleasing variations which are in every way acceptable.

For evening wear, the “coiffure artistic” may be ornamented with an aigrette, with flowers or fancy pins. For home and street it is dressed smaller, and finished with simple shell pins.

Coca Cola - The ideal brain tonic 1890s

Ladies who, from choice or necessity, are often their own hairdressers, will find the subjoined directions of service:

Wave the hair at the temples and back of the ears to the neck with small curling tongs; twist or tie all the hair three inches below the crown. Place a pointed bang dressed very light and fluffy on the forehead, extending back to crown, as indicated in illustration.

Victorian hairstyle - 1890s - Fluffy curls

Arrange the ends of the back hair in two or three loose rolls on the crown to meet the front curls. The lower part of the coiffure is composed of three wavy tresses curled at the ends, and interlaced in the upper hair so as to appear natural.

Ornament with shell or fancy pins. If the hair is not long enough to dress the upper part of the coiffure, a light switch of the required length should be added.


PS: If you liked this article, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest. Thanks for visiting and for supporting a small business! 🤩 


You might also like...

The fun never ends:

Comments on this story

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.