The Victorian era lasted almost 7 decades from 1837-1901 and so the range of hairstyles worn by 19th-century women during this time was varied. Fashion was an important part of women’s lives in the Victorian period and hairstyles were an extension of their clothes, revealing a lot about a person’s wealth and status. Middle partings, curls and elaborate updos were commonly worn, with ornamental hats and elaborate accessories added to elevate the hairstyles.
Got a Halloween or period costume party coming up and need some inspiration? Or maybe you’re like us and just love exploring the history of fashion and beauty. Either way, here are 11 typically Victorian hairstyles which perfectly sum up the hair trends of the time. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be convinced to give one a try!
Watch any costume drama and you’ll soon see that Victorian hairstyles were the height of elegance. While today many of us have a more casual approach to our hair, Victorian women took real pride and care with both their clothes and their hair, so classy, glamorous updos were extremely common.
Thanks to fashion icon of the day Queen Victoria, who herself wore her hair parted down the centre, the middle parting featured in many Victorian hairstyles.
While this was quite a simple look on it own, it was often accompanied by additional hairpieces and flowers (as seen here) for extra sophistication.
Editor’s tip: Tempted to try and recreate a Victorian braided style? The TONI&GUY Flexible Hold Braid Balm will help you add structure and texture to the hair beforehand, making braiding easier and giving your hair extra staying power, too.
However, braids weren’t just for casual days though. Braids were an essential part of any formal hairstyle and the more intricate and different types of braids you had, the better.
Their secret? Clip-ins! Extensions are nothing new, in fact many Victorian hairstyles were created using clip-in braids made of faux hair, which made achieving these difficult looks that bit easier.
Hats were a common fashion accessory for Victorian women, so they were pros at working their hairstyles around their headwear – there was no hat hair here.
Low chignon buns were worn to accommodate their bonnets, while the hair that peeked out around the face was curled and pinned for a polished look.
Next read: Perfect the chignon at home with our step-by-step how-to.
Ringlet-like ‘barley curls’ (you might also see them called hanging curls or drop curls) were super on-trend for the time, allowing women to play with and change the texture of their hair in new ways.
The Victorians were crazy about curls and they were quite resourceful about how they got them! Pin curl updos were great as they allowed women to twist and pin their hair into waves and curls, allowing them to enhance their updos without actually having to curl it.
Editor’s tip: If you’re interested in recreating any of these classic Victorian hairstyles for either Halloween or fancy dress, hairspray is a must. The VO5 Ultimate Hold Hairspray will keep your look in place all day and protect your strands from humidity.
Long, Flowing Hair
As we’ve mentioned, women didn’t often wear their hair loose or down, however younger women would sometimes wear their hair in waves, styled into a half-up half-down way with flowers, like this romantic flower crown.
As well as the flowers and clip-in hair we’ve already mentioned, there was a huge love for all kinds of hair accessories during the Victorian era.
While fringes didn’t exist yet, women liked to curl the front sides of their hair which gave a similar look. Their hair was sectioned off and parted in front of their ears, then hot irons and rags were used to add in statement ringlets.
Gibson Girl Hair
Typically we think of Gibson hair as being Edwardian but it first came into fashion in the late Victorian era. Very different to the more traditional Victorian hairstyles, Gibson girl hair was looser, more natural and less maintenance – so no wonder it was such an instant hit.