COSTUMES.ORG -- THE COSTUMER'S MANIFESTO WIKI

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The Costumer's Manifesto: 18th Century Men's Hair and Wigs 18th Century Men's Hair and Wigs

In 1624 Louis XIII went prematurely bald. He disguised this with a wig and started a fashion which became almost universal for European upper & middle class men by the beginning of the 18th Century during his similarly follicley challenged son's reign.

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Louis XIV (son of Louis XIII) in the Full bottomed wig he made fashionable in the late 17th and early 18th centuries

Wigs were made of horsehair, yak hair and human hair, the latter being the most expensive.

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A Barber & Wigmaker's Shop from Diderot

Wigs were very expensive. A man could outfit himself with a hat, coat, breeches, shirt, hose, and shoes for about what a wig would cost him. A wig also required constant care from a hairdresser for cleaning, curling, and powdering.

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Around 1715, lighter colored wigs were in fashion so, after unsuccessful attempts at making the color of bleached wigs stable, people started to use powder instead. Hair powder was made from finely ground starch, scented with orange flower, lavender, or orris root, and occasionally colored blue, violet, pink or yellow, but most often white.

AccessoriesWigsPowder.jpg detail from a French fashion plate of 1778

Powder rapidly became an essential for full dress occasions and it continued in use until almost the end of the century.

18thcentTheatre1735tomlinson.gif Mr. Kellom Tomlinson, Author of the "Art of Dancing" 1724.

LeloirVol1033 1715-23wigs.jpg Wig fashions from 1715-1725 early in the reign of Louis XV

At the beginning of the 18th Century, the most popular dress wig was the long, full-bottomed wig, left over from the previous century. It dribbled its way out of fashion until the 1720's when it was only worn by professional men such as lawyers and doctors. After 1740, it was only worn by judges and had gone completely out of fashion.

LeloirVol1034 1723.jpg Wig in the fashion from the previous reign carried over into 1723

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The most popular undress wig was the bob wig, a shorter wig that originally was worn by tradesman who could not afford the longer wigs. Bob wigs were the most popular wigs in colonial America and were also the standard wig worn by Protestant clergymen for the whole century. Catholic clergy wore a similar style with a built in tonsure at the top.

AccessoriesWigsJohnadams.gifJohn Adams in a bob wig

AccessoriesWigsBobwig2d.gif bob wig from Diderot.

AccessoriesWigsBobtonsure.gif bob wig with tonsure for Catholic clergy

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After the 1720’s, shorter wigs were more popular.

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AccessoriesWigsPathenry.jpg Patrick Henry in a short tie wig.

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The tie wig is the style most usually associated with the 18th Century, but the queue wig with one or more back braids, the bag wig, with a black taffeta bag attached, and the natural wig with a long straight or curled back were also popular.

AccessoriesWigsBagwig.gif A bag wig.

AccessoriesWigsWigbag.gif A wig bag.

AccessoriesWigsBagwig2d.gif bag wig and bag details from Diderot

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Hats and wigs of the 1740's from Hogarth, including The Ramillies wig (center).

AccessoriesWigsNaturalwig.gifA "natural" wig.

AccessoriesWigsNatural2d.gifTwo types of "natural" from Diderot.

AccessoriesBagsmuffs&pocketsHogarthfop.gif A fop by Hogarth wears a long queue wig.

In the 1770’s, a simpler fashion called the Club wig or the Cadogan became popular as well.

AccessoriesWigsClubdiderot.gif The club or Cadogan wig from Diderot.

(V&A Costume Collection)

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Still the outrageous hair fashions of women in the 1770’s influenced men’s fashion and several brief but memorable styles aped the high built coiffures of the ladies, on a smaller scale.

GeneralFairholt291.gif Fashions of 1772, as shown in Fairholt.

By the 1780’s, young men were setting a fashion for natural hair lightly powdered.

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After 1790, both wigs and powder were reserved for older more conservative men, and ladies being presented at court. In 1795, the English government put a tax of hair powder of one guinea per year which effectively caused the demise of both the fashion for wigs and powder by 1800. In France the association of wigs with the aristocracy caused the fashion for both to evaporate during the terror of 1793.

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Images from Diderot's Encyclopedia, c.1762

Make your own 18th century style wig

thecostumersmani@160x120.jpg Amazon.com: Wigmaker in Eighteenth Century Williamsburg:

thecostumersmani@160x120.jpg Amazon.com: A Day in the Life of a Colonial Wigmaker

thecostumersmani@160x120.jpg Amazon.com: The Hatters (Colonial Craftsmen)

@160x120.jpg www.Makeup-FX.com: Special Makeup Effects by Lars Carlsson

Perukeng.html@160x120.jpg Step-by-step ventilated Wigmaking

wigs.htm@160x120.jpg Handmade 18th Century Style Wigs for Sale

e156.htm@160x120.jpg Man's indoor hat c.1720

narrative.php?irn=156&QueryPage=index.php&themeback=1@160x120.jpg Gallery of Costume - Man's Wig & Wig Bag 1780-1790

Portrait busts showing wigs/hats/hairstyles of the 18th & early 19th Century in the V&A

doclist.htm@160x120.jpg French and Indian War Downloadable documents on French Uniforms & how to salute with the hat

18th Century Wig, Hair and Hat Links

part2.htm@160x120.jpg THE HANDBOOK OF GERMAN DRESS- Hair & Headdress 1500s-1700s

VintageConnection--18thCenturyHair.html@160x120.jpg VintageConnection--18thCenturyHair

wigmkr.cfm@160x120.jpg Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Resources 18th Century Wigmakers

head.htm@160x120.jpg Wigs, Hats and Hairdresses: Keeping in High Style (18th Century)

hats18th.html@160x120.jpg 18th Century Hats

hair-histet1700.html@160x120.jpg boys hair styles: the 18th century

'Question from a fan' I collect hats (including 18th century tricorns) and someone in my office asked why men wore wigs when he saw my own tricorn. Your wig site discusses wigs but says nothing about the "why" of men's wigs. I cannot seem to find any answers on the Internet.

Answer from Tara: Back in the 17th Century (The era of "Big Hair" on men) two successive French kings Louis XIII and XIV both went prematurely bald. They opted for wigs, and as they were both were notable style leaders, many followed suit, particularly when late in the 17th Century Charles II (of England, another notable style leader) also showed signs of male pattern baldness in middle age, and switched to wigs. Other reasons included ease of hairdressing (send your hair out to be done, you don't have to sit for hours in curlers), ease of cleaning (if you got lice you could boil your wig and shave your head and ----zip-no lice), comfort while sleeping (short hair beneath), ability to change styles/color as easily as putting on a hat, and class considerations (wigs were expensive and looked it).

Product Links

Hair & Wigs for the Stage : Step by Step Hair & Wigs for the Stage : Step by Step

Hair : Its Power and Meaning in Asian Cultures Hair : Its Power and Meaning in Asian Cultures

The History of Hair : Fashion and Fantasy Down the Ages The History of Hair : Fashion and Fantasy Down the Ages

1940s Hairstyles 1940s Hairstyles

Hair in African Art and Culture Hair in African Art and Culture

Wigstock-The Movie Wigstock-The Movie

Colonial Wig Colonial Wig

Marie Antoinette Wig Marie Antoinette Wig

Tidings from the 18th Century Tidings from the 18th Century

The Art of Dress : Fashion in England and France 1750 to 1820 The Art of Dress : Fashion in England and France 1750 to 1820

Dress in France in the Eighteenth Century Dress in France in the Eighteenth Century

Costume Close Up : Clothing Construction and Pattern, 1750-1790 Costume Close Up : Clothing Construction and Pattern, 1750-1790

[1]

Keepers of the Kingdom : The Ancient Offices of Britain Keepers of the Kingdom : The Ancient Offices of Britain

Men's Seventeenth & Eighteenth Century Costume : Cut and Fashion Men's Seventeenth & Eighteenth Century Costume : Cut and Fashion

Tricorn Black Hat - Many uses from colonial to pirate costumes Tricorn Black Hat - Many uses from colonial to pirate costumes

Pirate Hat and Earring Pirate Hat and Earring

The Madness of King George

[2]

Writing the Romance Novel

Historic Colonial French Dress : A Guide to Re-Creating North American French Clothing Historic Colonial French Dress : A Guide to Re-Creating North American French Clothing

Four Hundred Years of Fashion Four Hundred Years of Fashion

Eighteenth Century French Fashion Plates in Full Color Eighteenth Century French Fashion Plates in Full Color

Amazon.com Duke Costume Wig with Bow - COLOR CHOICES Apparel Amazon.com Duke Costume Wig with Bow - COLOR CHOICES Apparel

Quills

Rob Roy

1700 : Scenes from London Life 1700 : Scenes from London Life

Baroque & Rococo: Art & Culture Baroque & Rococo: Art & Culture

Everyday Dress of the American Colonial Period Coloring Book Everyday Dress of the American Colonial Period Coloring Book

This Page is part of The Costumer's Manifesto, originally founded by Tara Maginnis, Ph.D. from 1996-2014, now flying free as a wiki for all to edit and contribute. Site maintained, hosted, and wikified by Andrew Kahn. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of Use for details. You may print out any of these pages for non-profit educational use such as school papers, teacher handouts, or wall displays. You may link to any page in this site.