Coming into the sixteenth century, this is the age of King Henry VIII, Elizabeth I, Mary Queen of Scots, and Francis I. All of them had a profound effect on the hair styles and fashion trends of this time. At the beginning of this century long bobs with bangs were fashionable with men and women. Men would cut their hair in this fashion and the women would style and pin their hair in a length that was like a bob. Wigs were still in fashion for those individuals who had inadequate hair to create such styles. Queen Elizabeth had a large collection of wigs, she fancied to have her wigs styled with tight curls, whereas Mary Queen of Scots is believed to have even a larger selection of wigs. Mary preferred to have her wigs in the style of winged out or the horned style with smooth hair.
For those women who were not of royalty the hair styles were slightly different, but still inspired by what the royals wore. The women would conceal their hair, especially those women who were married. When the hair was exposed it was usually worn straight and combed smoothly with a center part. Women with this long, smooth hair would form braids, twists, curls, rolls, or chignons, or perhaps a combination of all.
Women that were experimenting with their hair within the extravagant styling trends or perhaps with coloring of the hair where subject to very harsh criticism, almost excessively by the men, to which the women would pay no attention to them, but it gave the complainers something to complain about and this gives us enlightening descriptions of the hairstyle.
English ladies of the court would often color their hair with powders or dyes to match Queen Elizabeth’s natural yellow blonde hair. Side note, I always thought Elizabeth I had red hair, in my research it seems that the red tone hair appeared in the middle of her ruling, but the beginning and end of her ruling she wore more of her blonde hair or blonde wigs. This is what I have gathered from my research, however it’s hard to pinpoint exactly. Blonde hair was the most fashionable, women would lighten their hair by using saffron, alum, honey, medicated Sulphur, and by sitting in the sun daily. The only color that was not fashionable was black.
As far as the men the fashion was very broad. When Henry VIII took the throne, his hair was of a fashionable length, but he favored how the French were styling their hair, he not only wore it himself, but he wanted it worn by others. Instead of wishing his court to follow, he insisted them all to follow his lead and cut their hair short. With both Francis and Henry advocating for short hair, long hair trends had no chance. The beginning of the century was the only time we really saw longer hair on men. With the short hair styles, men would simply brush the hair back, towards the crown, and let the hair be up and away from the face.
With facial hair, Henry had no limits or restrictions on the styles, he encouraged men to do what they will, as long as they had facial hair. There was an unspoken trend, if a man had longer hair, they had a more tamed down beard or mustache, if the hair was shorter, the beard was longer and more groomed. The trends obviously varied from country to country, some countries, like Germany, encouraged very long, lengthy beards, while others preferred more tightly, groomed styles.
As we approach the end of the month, we will finish this series in the seventeenth century. We will see how the hair trends already starts circling around, how wigs are still a driving force in hair, and how history repeats itself within style, art, and fashion.
Corson, R. (2012). Fashions in hair: The first five thousand years. London: Peter Owen. (p 158-177)
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.