1770s High Wig Tutorial

I made this tutorial years ago, when I was first experimenting with creating high 1770s wigs.  Since posting, I’ve improved greatly in technique and done a large amount of historical research on 18th century hairstyles and wigs.  I published all of that knowledge and research in a book — 18th Century Hair & Wig Styling:  History & Step-by-Step Techniques.  

Because I know this tutorial has helped a lot of people, I will leave it up here, although with the caveat that my book features much better techniques and the designs have been updated based on tons of research!


Supplies Needed

  • Long wig in a color that matches your own. Human or synthetic hair. Wavy or curly works best, but you can use straight. Try to find one with a center part. No bangs; if there are any layers, they should be long layers.
  • False hair. Extra false hair can be used to fill out the wig, make side and back curls, make the pinned-up ponytail that you see on some wigs, and make lovelocks (long, dangling curls). Try to get hair that is already sewn to a net (for example, you can buy the ponytails that are attached to a jawclip — take it off the jawclip and then you have a flat net attached to the hair).
  • Wire mesh, the smaller the holes, the better.
  • Wire cutters.
  • Pliers.
  • Thin wire to sew the mesh together; needs to be bendable.
  • Wig clips, also called toupee clips. Large size, to coordinate with your wig color.
  • Bobby pins. About a million.
  • Sewing thread in a color to match the wig.
  • Needle.
  • Hairnets in a color to match/coordinate with the wig.
  • Hairspray - aerosol, the strongest you can find.
  • Styrofoam head or other base on which to style and store the wig.
  • Teasing comb.


  • Reply Francesca August 22, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    this is great! thank you so much!

  • Reply Cathryn September 11, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Your tutorial is fantastic! Very helpful, very inspiring and it made me laugh! Thank you so much!

  • Reply carrie October 2, 2011 at 10:13 pm


  • Reply Dixie October 3, 2011 at 8:16 pm

    Thank you for writing this tutorial. I now feel that I can create my own wig instead of buying something ready made, and not as good looking. (Still secretly wish to do it with my real hair though.)

  • Reply Amanda October 11, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Thanks so much! I just finished mine yesterday. I followed your tutorial pretty much exactly and I’m soooo pleased with the results. So glad I did it instead of buying one the lame plastic ones from the Halloween store. I made lots of curls down the back and ended up putting a bouffant hairnet over the whole thing so they wouldn’t flop around while I was handling it. I think I may even wear it with the hairnet lunch lady style. :) Thanks again for the great tutorial!

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  • Reply Amy April 9, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    I love this!!! I just styled my second wig with your help. I did the first one a little over a year ago, and got so many compliments. I have an event this weekend and felt the need for “new hair” so I just styled a new one.

    Thank you!

  • Reply Sandra the Traveller September 2, 2012 at 10:16 pm

    Fabulous!!! Love the hairspray comments! Gave me a good chuckle!! This goes on my list of things to do which means maybe sometime this decade!!

  • Reply Tracy January 26, 2013 at 12:36 pm

    Wow very nice. I am going to try it with batting. I like the powder hair look. Thank you very much.

  • Reply Lorna McKenzie May 22, 2013 at 9:23 pm

    Brilliant tutorial, thanks for sharing this great ‘how-to’, definitely sharing!

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    Where can buy the men’s suits and wigs ?

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  • Reply Jody Regan November 6, 2015 at 10:19 am

    Kendra–I took your class at Costume College a few years ago and it was awesome! It helped me turn a crappy 18th C. wig into something I can now wear without feeling embarrassed. Do you know where to find a little ship to mount on top of this hairdo? Thanks.

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