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Elizabethan England

Hairstyles of the Elizabethan Period

by Lesley Barfield and Tamarra Fuller

Hairstyle was an important issue for the men and women of the Elizabethan time. Both sexes took pride and joy in making their hair look as fabulous as the next person's. The people of this time spent hours upon hours waiting in line to receive splendid hair-dos. Cost was not an issue with the wealthy people of this time. They would do almost anything to get the look that they wanted. They went through great extremes to change their hairstyles when fads came and went.

During the Elizabethan period men took as much pride in their hair as the women did. They would spend whole days sitting in the barber shop listening to music and talking to one another. The Elizabethan barber stiffened, starched, powdered, perfumed, waxed, and dyed the hair a fashionable red. The hair was worn shoulder length and curled with hot irons, which were then called "love locks." When the men of this time went bald, they depended upon wigs to help them keep up the latest fashion. The wigs worn at his time were usually a fashionable white or yellow color.

The men of this time were so facial hair-conscious that they spent a lot of money on keeping their beards trimmed to fit the fashion. Long beards needed little care except for occasional brushing. The short beards called for a hairdresser. The beards could be cut pointed, square, round, oblong, or T-shaped. In the daytime men brushed the beard to keep it in tip-top shape, and at night they often encased the beard in a special wooden press. Beards were considered to be attractive.

The women of the Elizabethan Age went through great extremes to achieve the look that was in. They dyed their hair blonde, which was the favorite hue. Women spent whole days sitting in the sun because they believed that the sun added a golden glint. Women who bleached their hair dried it from the terrace tops of their houses. When dying their hair, women wore hats without the crowns and with a brim, over which the hair was spread. The brim protected the wearer from the sun. The women also wore quantities of false hair, which was usually made from peasants' hair or formed by white and yellow silk. All of these things women did to their hair were hotly condemned, and some women were denounced for "ungodly exploitation" of themselves.

The women wore many accessories in their hair. The most popular of all accessories was the hair net. Women wore thread nets of silk, but the poor women who also wanted to keep up fashion wore nets made of crepe. Sometimes the hair was worn loose, filling in the pouch-like bag. The nets were then decorated with gold trimmings and jewels. Hairpins and hair combs were added to the net to give the hair a better look. Pointed hats were sometimes worn over the hair nets to emphasize the look.

The people of this time were very hair-conscious. Their hair was their most prized possession. With their high ranking, wealth, and elaborate clothing, it was demanded that their hairstyles were elaborate as well. Many people of the Elizabethan Age were very fashionable and splendid.

Works Consulted

*Charles, Ann and DeAmfrasio, Roger.The History of Hair. New York: Bonanza Books 1970.

This book focuses on the different shapes and styles of beards worn by men in the Elizabethan Age. Chapter 6, " To Beard Or Not To Beard," was very informative.

Davenport, Millia. The Book of Costume. Vol.1. New York: Crown Publishers, 1948.

This book tells about the different hairstyles in the Elizabethan Age. It discusses the different hairstyles worn by men and women in the sixteenth century. The two chaptes that focus on these hairsyles are "The Renaissance" and "The Sixteenth Century."

"Hairdressing: the 1600's." The World Book Multimedia Encyclopedia. CD-Rom. Chicago: World Book, Inc. 1995.

This article discusses how the men of the 1600's wore their hair. It talks about how certain hairstyles distinguised them from other groups of people. It also discusses the popularity of wigs in that time.

*Horsting, Ruth and Pistolese, Rosana. History of Fashions. New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1970.

This book discusses the importance of hair to the women of the Renaissance and the Elizabethan Period. It discusses how the high society women prepared their hair for feasts and celebrations in magnificent hairstyles composed with many accessories.

Lester, Katherine Morris and Bess Viola Oerke. Accessories of Dress. Peoria, Illinois: Charles A. Bennett Publications, 1940.

This book discusses the basic hair wear of the women during the sixteenth century. The chapter entitled "Hair Wear Accessories" discusses the use of hair nets, hair pins, and combs for the hair. It also discuss the different methods of how each accessory is used.

*Source for visual

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