January 9, 2014

ANOTHER Regency Hairstyle! This time with how-to!

This is my January entry to Trystan's Accessories Challenge!  Yay!  I'm now 2 for 4 months, but given that next month is jewelry, I think I'm safe for that one, too :)

NOTE:  I wasn't originally going to post this tutorial, because the pictures didn't turn out as well as I hoped and I kinda dropped the ball on the last part of it, but all of my clamoring fans (and by all I mean 3) begged, so here you go!

A few months ago I ran across this gorgeous image:

Miss Mary Tadman by John Smart, 1809.  The Fitzwilliam Museum. 

She really struck me.  Not only is she lovely, but her hair is beautiful and unusual.  I love the braid that goes across the top of her forehead and I was really charmed by the tiny curls that accent the style. 

I decided that I wanted to try to do this hairstyle at my next fancy Regency event, so our recent 12th Night party was the perfect opportunity.  

Mostly Successful Regency Hair

 I’m not 100% happy with the results and it is more inspired-by than copied, but I do have some good tricks.  I took pictures of parts of it, so I thought I’d share with you on how I did it.
I should give some caveats

  1.  I’m not great with hair.  I wear my hair in a ponytail or a bun 95% of the time.  I’ve owned the same set of hot rollers since 2001 and they are rarely used.  I have only the most basic knowledge of hairstyling, so please don’t think that I am some kind of expert!  I know my hair usually looks pretty good in period stuff, but that is because of…
  2. I have a ton of hair.  It is long and thick and ridiculous.  This is pretty frustrating in everyday life, but GREAT for reenacting.   Here’s a picture of me with my hair freshly styled from the salon:
And my hair will never, ever look this good again. Ever.
So yeah.  A lot.  I can’t really give any tips for those of you who don’t have mops on your head, but there are a few places where I know that hair rats, falls, and various other fluffy things will help greatly!

This hairstyle started out the night before when I showered and then let my hair air dry.  I didn’t use a blowdryer or a flat iron.  I did this because I have a lot of natural wavy texture to my hair, and I wanted volume.  It makes a HUGE difference in volume if my hair is flatironed or not.  If you have naturally straight hair, you may want to put it in braids and let it dry.  This will give you some extra oophm, which is really important for the big bun.

Textured hair
The next morning, I put 4 tiny rollers in my hair.  I dampened my hair before I put the curlers in.  I rolled the sides of my bangs and 1 very small long piece on each side (maybe 1/8” of hair?).  The key here is not to roll all the way up to the scalp.  You can see from the image that her curls are low, so I stopped around the level of my eyebrows.  If I had smaller curlers than these, I would have used them.  As it is, even these tiny ones are a bit too big.  I left these in all day- taking them out was almost the last thing I did.

When it came down to the actual business of doing the hairstyle, I started out by making the braid that would go across my forehead.  I started mine at below my ear near the base of my skull, but if you have shorter hair, you could start it just behind your ear.  Remember you will lose some length with the braid, so make sure it is long enough!   You aren’t doing anything with this braid just yet, so just let it chill out on the side of your head.

Next, I made a high bun on the back of my head with the top 1/3 of my hair.  This was put into a loose bun as the sole purpose is to give fullness to the rest of the pouf.  If you don’t have a lot of hair, this is a great place to put in a hair rat or a clip-in bun. 

Once I had my foundation bun, I began building the rest of it.  Taking 1-inch sections of hair, I pinned them to the base of the bun, then twisted what was left into ropes.  I wrapped the ropes around the base bun, then let them unwind a bit before pinning them down.  I know that is a little hard to explain, and I’m sorry I don’t have a picture showing the twisting/pinning!  The reason for doing this is that the untwisting allows the pieces to have awesome volume, so they look much bigger than they are!   Do this with the rest of your hair until you only have one ½ inch piece left.  I left one at the back of my head.
You can see the twists beginning here

And you can see here how they wrap around the foundation bun.  I wish I made them a little tighter!  You can also see the hilarious faux aigrette I have from my bangs!  I was intending to curl these, but I eventually just pinned the sticky-upy parts down.
The leftover 1/2 inch piece
You’ll want to split this into two separate pieces so you have two little wisps of hair.  Pin those wisps into the base of your bun, then curl the pieces that hang out with a very small curling iron.  Pin these curls into the bun so they add some nice, curling focal points.  Unfortunately you can’t really see these in my pictures, but I promise they were there!

Finally, it is time to deal with that braid.  Pull it across, low on the forehead, and put in a few pins along the way.  Once I had mine pinned in, I took the elastic band out of the end and just pinned down the tail (and used a ton of hairspray).  I didn’t want the modern elastic showing!

Now it is time to take out your curlers!  Hopefully they will be tight little pert things, so make sure you spray the dickens out of them right when you take them out of the curlers.  You can pin these up and back as you so desire, making sure they frame your face.  Our inspiration girl has asymmetrical curls, but you see plenty of examples where they match on either side, so it can be whatever you prefer.  

Now, just empty out a can of hairspray on your head and you are good to go!

Thanks go Gloria (http://inthelongrun.wordpress.com/) for this photo!  This is at the end of the night, so you can see how the curls started to loosen up.
 When it was time to go to bed, I was really drunk tired, so I didn’t want to deal with taking it down.  I pinned my curls up onto my forehead, wrapped a giant handkerchief around my head, and slept like a baby.  When I woke up the next morning, I was astonished that it still looked pretty good!  I had to fiddle with the curls a bit since they had loosened up and were wonkified, but it was awesome that I didn’t have to worry about my hair for our breakfast!

So there you go!  I hope this is helpful- I wish I was better at describing how I did things and paid more attention when I was taking the pictures.  Do you have any Regency hair tutorials?  Please link to them in the comments- I'd love to see!


  1. I don't think I've ever seen your hair down. It certainly is full and long! It's beautiful! And it's very helpful for Regency that you have bangs. SO much easier to get curls around your face! I'm still trying to figure out how to fake bang curls with my entirely long hair. :)


  2. Quinn,
    I recommend using a setting lotion on dry hair completely soaking it then rolling with a small soft roller. Let the hair set until the setting lotion is dry. When you pull the roller out try to keep the hair together so it doesn't come out like a Shirley Temple curl. Immediately spray it with Maximum Hold Hair Spray holding the curl in place. Once the hair spray dries pin the curl in place. It sounds complicated but it works.

  3. What a head of hair you have to work with! Everything for this event came out perfect.

  4. that is beautiful! The braid really adds something special.

  5. Wow! Looks great & so much like the historical image!!!

  6. Thank you so much for posting this. I actually used this tutorial to do my hair for a local Jane Austen birthday party celebration. My hair has less texture than yours and I needed to modify the style a bit, but your tutorial was great and so helpful in creating a style. This hair style plus the beautiful jewelry you made me really put the finishing touches on my outfit. Thank you so much.