The seventeenth century was a time for dramatic change for men, whereas for women the changes in hair were less exciting. Overall, it was then end of beards and the widespread use of wigs. The biggest changes that we see in this time is the facial hair, there were a number of fashionable styles which is described famously in Ballad of the Beard:
Now a beard is a thing that commands a king,
Be his scepter ne’er so fair;
When the beard bears the sway, the people obey,
And are subject to a hair.
Now of beards there be such a company,
And fashions such a throng,
That it is very hard to handle a beard
Tho’ it be never so long.
The Roman T in its bravery
Doth first itself disclose,
But so high it turns that oft it burns
With the flames of torrid nose.
The stiletto beard, oh! It makes me afread,
It is so sharp beneath,
For he that doth place a dagger in’s face,
What wears he in his sheath?
But methinks I do itch to go thro’ stich,
The needle beard to amend,
Which without any wrong, I may call too long.
For a man can see no end.
The soldier’s beard doth march in, shear’d
In figure like a spade,
With which he’ll make his enemies quake,
And think their graves are made.
But, oh! Let us tarry, for the beard of King Henry
That grows about the chin,
With his bushy pride, a grove on each side,
And a champion-ground between.
There are a few types of facial hair described in the ballad, the Roman T is styled in a T shape, longer mustache groomed outward, with a lengthy pointed beard. The stiletto references to any facial hair that has a sharply pointed beard, the needle is similar to the stiletto, but slenderer, longer, and also pointed. It was decreed after King Henry VIII died that the beards should go, and the mustaches live on.
After Henry VIII men began to grow their hair out longer, this trend was also reinforced by James I in 1603 and Louis XIII in 1610. Louis being very young, having long hair, beautiful curls, and no beard was an icon for men’s fashion, and James had decided he also preferred long hair. If someone’s hair was not long enough they would buy false hair, however this did not become popular until later in the century. One of the most popular styles of the time was Lovelocks, the lovelock was a strange style, in which a single lock of hair was much longer than the rest and hung down over the left shoulder. Sometimes the lock was dressed with a bow or some sort of rosette.
The lovelock style attracted so much attention, people found it curious, either denouncing the style or supporting it. In 1628, King Louis XIII took to barbering and published a book about hair and the lovelock, entitled, The Vnlouelinesse, of Loue-locks, or A summarie Discovrse, proouing: The wearing, and nourishing of a Locke, or Love-locke, to be altogether, vnseemely, and vnlawfull vnto Christians. The sixty-three page book was addressed to Christian readers.
There is so much more that can be addressed regarding the fashion of men’s hair from this century, but to summarize the rest for the men, hair began to become longer and more flowing, falling past the shoulder and being voluminous and full of curls. Later in the seventeenth century the use of wigs came back in fashion and you can probably guess why, politicians, it was because of Louis XVI, when he took the thrown he had long thick hair, but as he aged he began to lose his hair and started wearing wigs, bringing wigs back into fashion around 1665.
Addressing the women, the beginning of the century women still wore wigs, wearing bigger styles that were full of curls and sometimes frizz. Having a soft fringe (bangs) became very popular was they were curled to frame the face, sometimes falling straight down and other times being parted down the center.
In 1694, there was a book published in London ‘A work never attempted before in English’, entitled The Ladies Dictionary; Being a General Entertainment for the Fair-Sex. A heading under this book is Hair, how to cause it nearly to curl, this text went into details on how to maintain and create a curl in the hair, it also discussed how to wash and maintain hair, how to color hair, covering gray hair to make it black, and how to create golden blonde hair. This book was unique because it was the first text book on hair, not only did it tell a woman how to maintain their own hair, but it went into graphic details about wigs and hair additions.
Even though women’s hair fashion did not change much in this century, it is great that the documentation grew on how to manage and style hair, this gave historians a vast deal of knowledge that was limited in previous centuries.
This concludes the month of hair history, there is still a wealth of knowledge to be gained in the coming centuries, for example how colonization of Indian affected hair coloring and styling techniques, how rapid hair changed in American hairstyling in the twentieth century, and how electricity changed the game in curling hair, creating colors, and styling hair. We will continue the history another time.
Corson, R. (2012). Fashions in hair: The first five thousand years. London: Peter Owen. (p 198-234)
THE GEOGRAPHY OF HAIR
The Geography of Hair is devoted to share experiences and stories in cosmetology and how it has affected people, myself, or us as a society.