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18th Century Hairdressing Book, 18th century wigs, publications

18th c. Hair & Wig Styling Book — PRE-ORDERS ARE LIVE!

So why haven’t I been sewing or blogging much the past six months or so?  Because I’ve been working my butt off on the 18th Century Hair & Wig Styling book!  I’ve done tons of research and found some things that I think will surprise everyone, and I’ve been making wigs and styling hair up the wazoo.  The book is mostly written, and I’ve done about 3/4 of the styles/modeling sessions.  What’s next?  Finishing up the styles/modeling, finishing up the book, and raising money to get it printed!

Want to Know More About the Book?

You can read a summary and table of contents, and see some images of some of the styles, on the book website!  I’ll be posting here and on Facebook as well with more photos and information.

Why Should I Pre-Order a Copy?

You can save $5 off the finished price, opt for some nice perks (like a custom wig, or a personalized styling session) — and most importantly, you’ll help make the book as fabulous as it can be.  If I reach my funding goal during the month of January, I’ll be able to publish the book I envision — about 250 pages, tons of history and research, and 25 hairstyles, all with quality paper and binding.  If I don’t reach my funding goal, I’ll still be printing the book, but I’ll probably have to do one or more of the following:  shorten the page count, which means cutting some of the history/research and/or one or more hairstyle; and/or use less quality paper and/or binding.

If I go OVER my funding goal, then I’ll be able to license some really fabulous images of artworks from museums, which will add some really useful info to the book — especially those elusive back views of hair!

How Do I Pre-Order?

At my Indiegogo project page:

Help Me Get the Word Out There!

Share this blog post!  Post one or more of these images!  Link to the book website, Facebook page, and/or Indiegogo page!  I need your help to get the word out there and make this book happen fabulously!


18th century, 18th Century Hairdressing Book, 18th century wigs, publications

18th Century Hair & Wig Styling – The Book!

It’s really really happening — the 18th Century Hair & Wig Styling:  History & Step-by-Step Techniques book project is really starting to take shape!  About half of the text is written, all of the historical images have been sourced, and I’m starting to line up models and buy supplies.

Here’s the blurb I’ve written up that summarizes the project:

18th Century Hair & Wig Styling: History & Step-by-Step Techniques is a book that combines meticulous research with easy to follow instructions that will help you create historically accurate hairstyles of the 18th century.  The book includes a detailed history of men’s and women’s hair from 1700 to 1799:  which styles were worn when, as well as how hair and wigs were styled.  It provides practical techniques for styling hair and wigs that will be useful to anyone who wants to learn more about historical hairstyling, from beginners to advanced users.  Step-by-step instructions show how to create 25 individual hairstyles — 22 for women, and 3 for men — that span the century, and suggestions are included for ways to vary the different styles.

The historical overview provides equal, in-depth coverage of men’s and women’s hairstyles and wigs from 1700 to 1799, focusing on France, Great Britain, and the American colonies/United States.  The techniques will similarly be useful for both men’s and women’s styles.  While a good deal of historical styling information is included, the emphasis is on modern methods and products that will achieve a historically accurate look.

This book is perfect for historical costumers and theater/film designers and craftspeople who want to create authentic-looking 18th century hairstyles and wigs.  It will also provide a solid foundation and fun jumping-off point for anyone who wants to create historically-influenced fantasy styles!

I’ll be posting lots of info here, but the best way to keep up to date on the project is to follow the Facebook page and website:

18th Century Hair & Wig Styling — website

18th Century Hair & Wig Styling — Facebook page

Please help me get the word out about the project and share these links!

18th century, publications, research

Robe à la Polonaise Article Published!

I am thrilled to report that the research that I have been working on with Brooke Welborn for years is finally available!  Dress, the journal of the Costume Society of America, has just come out with our article on the robe à la polonaise.

I have written up a summary of our findings as promised:

The 18th Century Robe à la Polonaise: Research Summary


If you’d like to read a full copy of the article, you can get it one of two ways (if you’re not already a subscriber to Dress):

1. Find a local library with a print copy of, or electronic access to, the journal Dress.  WorldCat provides a list of libraries who subscribe to the journal.

2. Alternately, you can purchase a PDF of the article from Ingenta Connect.

I’m super proud, and hope you find the information useful!

Robe a la Polonaise, 1780-1; Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow; 1932.51.I: museums/collections-research/online-collections-navigator/

18th Century Hairdressing Book, 18th century wigs, totally random

Historical Hair Did-You-Know?

In doing research for my 18th century hair/wig-styling book, I’m coming across a lot of weird and/or hilarious bits of info that aren’t going to fit into the book. So this is just a random accumulation of bits and bobs that are making me laugh!

Did you know…

  • “Dildo” was a 17th century term for the sausage corkscrew curl of a man’s wig
  • In the 1860s there was an attempt to scare women off of wearing their hair in chignons by claiming there was a particular “chignon fungus” you could catch by wearing that hairstyle
  • There was a Russian hairdresser working in London in the 18th century named Ivan Peter Alexis Knoutscheffschlerwitz
  • There were dog wigs marketed in the 1960s
  • Mono-brows were fashionable in classical Roman times as well as in the Arab world (not sure exactly which periods, but I know it was fashionable in the Ottoman Empire in the 17th-18th century)
18th century, publications, research, underpinnings

New Research Article Posted: 18th c. rumps

About a year and a half ago, I wrote an article for Foundations Revealed: The Corset Maker’s Companion on late 18th century skirt supports (called “bums,” “rumps,”  and “culs” in the period).  I’ve been interested in this topic for a long time, as the shapes I had seen and used didn’t seem to create the same effect that I saw in paintings and fashion plates.

I did a lot of research and pulled together as many sources as I could find, and then set about making test mock-ups to see how the different shapes would work.  I ended up making a small version of each shape as well as a large, and then photographed each on an appropriately-sized model.

It’s long past the Foundations Revealed embargo period, but it’s still taken me forever to cross-post this article to my own site, as it’s so image intensive — but I finally have finished it.  So, if you’re interested in what they might have worn under their skirts in the 1770s-1790s, please check out the article.

And since you might be wondering… I have ditched my “bumroll” shape (shape #2 in the article) in favor of #3 for 1770s-85, and and #7 for 1785-95.  You can see more examples of me wearing these two shapes under my 1780 polonaise (shape #3), 1775 Maja costume (shape #3), and 1787ish roundgown (shape #7).

Happy rump-ing!

The Bum Shop, 1785. Lewis Walpole Library.

1770s camisole, 18th century, projects, publications, research

New Project: 1770s Camisole à la Polonaise — and Forthcoming Research!

So if you’re an 18th century costume geek, you’ve probably noticed the discussions floating around about what is a “real” polonaise.  I’m excited to report that Brooke Welborn, the researcher who discovered that what many modern day historians were calling a polonaise was not the same thing as what eighteenth-century people defined as a polonaise, and I (who had been researching the very similar robe à la turque for a few years) decided to put our heads together and research and write an academic article on the topic.  It’s been accepted by Dress, the journal of the Costume Society of America, and will come out this May.  I plan to write a summary of our findings and post them here as we get closer to the publication date (as well as info on how to get the full article), but the in the meantime, here’s the two sentence summary — no news to those of you who’ve taken Brooke’s polonaise workshops through Burnley & Trowbridge, or been to my classes at Costume College, or read the various blogs mentioning our research:

In the eighteenth century, the “polonaise” was a term for a style of dress or jacket that was cut differently from the robe à l’anglaise:  it had a cutaway front, with the bodice closed at the neckline and sloping away into an inverted V shape (incorrectly called “zone”); the robe/jacket front and back were cut without a waist seam, with inverted pleats opening up from the seams, like a man’s coat.  The term “polonaise” was never applied to any dress worn with skirts looped up; these were called “retroussée” in French (e.g. robe à l’anglaise retroussée), with no specific equivalent term found in English (dresses were worn “back” or “up”).

So look for a longer summary in the next few months, as well as my research into that pesky term “zone,” which I would like to hereby banish from everyone’s vocabulary!

Of course, I’ve had to experiment with recreating this style — a few years back I made a proper robe à la polonaise, but didn’t blog it as the more information you put out there, the more likely you’re going to get scooped!  I will, however, post some more information about this dress as I get that research summary posted.

Now, I’d like to make a jacket version of this style, specifically this polonaise style jacket from the Musée Galliera in Paris, which I love for its froofy trim:

Caraco, entre 1770 et 1780. Musée Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris. GAL1992.177.X.

Caraco, entre 1770 et 1780. Musée Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris. GAL1992.177.X.

I particularly love that if you look at the trim up close, you’ll see that it’s done in a windowpane cotton, while the jacket itself is in a solid:

Caraco, entre 1770 et 1780. Musée Galliera, Musée de la Mode de la Ville de Paris. GAL1992.177.X.

I’ve decided to fill out the ensemble based on this 1780 fashion plate from the Gallerie des Modes:

Camisole à la Polonaise, de Mousseline des Indes, doublée de Taffetas rose. Gallerie des Modes et Costumes Français, 31e. Cahier. 1780.

Specifically, the plan is a solid white cotton voile for the jacket and petticoat, with trim in a windowpane cotton.  The fashion plate’s dress is a sheer cotton lined in pink taffeta, an idea about which I started to get very excited, until I realized that I didn’t have any solid silk taffeta that I could use in my stash, I really shouldn’t go buying a bunch of silk taffeta given my current budget, and when I held up swatches under the sheer cotton the lining color didn’t show enough to make me love it as much as I did in the abstract.  So, I’m hoping I can maybe wear a colored petticoat from another outfit under the skirt, and of course a kick ass silly hat!

Next post:  draping and sewing the jacket!