Hot Hairstyles of the 1800s to Today's Most Daring 'Do's: New Book Reveals Trendy Hair's Heritage

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Just by looking at a hairstyle, you can learn about a person’s fashion sense and character. How someone wore their locks for the photographer—straight or curled, clean-shaven or fringed, oiled or bewigged—will tell you a lot. Taylor’s tips for “reading” the clues of clothing and hairstyles will help you discover when those pictures were taken, how old the subjects were at the time, and how wealthy they were.

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From Adam Lambert’s spikes to Amy Winehouse’s piled-high beehive, today’s fashionable hairstyles may seem new and unique, but many are actually rooted in history. Like clothing fashion trends, hairstyles of old have made some interesting comebacks—usually with a fun, modern twist. In the new paperback book Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900 (Picture Perfect Press, $19.95), author Maureen Taylor uses old photographs to show how hairstyles and facial hair changed throughout the 19th century.

“Throughout years of studying photographs, I’ve seen many fascinating details in 19th-century pictures,” Taylor says. “But it’s often the hair that stands out. Every fashion era had its distinctive hairstyle, from functional to fanciful.” She chose 79 portraits to feature in Fashionable Folks as examples of how men and women styled their hair at the time. Details from each portrait tell so much about the society, times and trends of the day, as well as a great deal about the individuals pictured. Short, long, curled and coiffed manes were as trendy as the dresses and suits worn during each period.

Just by looking at the hairstyle, you can learn about a person’s fashion sense and character. How someone wore their locks for the photographer—straight or curled, clean-shaven or fringed, oiled or bewigged—will tell you a lot. Taylor’s tips for “reading” the clues of clothing and hairstyles will help you discover when those pictures were taken, how old the subjects were at the time, and how wealthy they were.

In Fashionable Folks, you’ll also find some fascinating facts about hair in the 19th century. For example:

  •     While facial hair for men wasn’t acceptable until the 1850s, many men wore fake beards and mustaches during their leisure time.
  •     People typically washed their hair only about once a month.
  •     Most women of the Victorian era had a hairpiece, such as a set of curls or a comb with hair added to it.
  •     In the 19th century, hair was sold to make jewelry. Gray strands could be shaped into “white” flowers.

Fashionable Folks: Hairstyles 1840-1900 by Maureen Taylor can now be purchased at Amazon.com $19.95.

About Maureen Taylor
Maureen Taylor is an internationally recognized expert on the intersection of history, genealogy, and photography. She has been featured in top media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, The View, Better Homes & Gardens, the Boston Globe, Martha Stewart Living, MSNBC, New Morning (Hallmark Channel), Life.

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Maureen Taylor

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