Victorian-era people in the 1880s and 1890s experienced a variety of styles and fashions. Some hair styles changed quickly during the 1880s, while others remained static and altered little from their counterparts of the previous decade. Compared to our current century, men’s and women’s hairstyles were very different. Women wore their hair long and men wore theirs short, with few exceptions.
Bangs or fringe became popular at the beginning of the 1880s. Having come into fashion during the previous decade, bangs were often worn in a relaxed style. During the latter part of the 1880s, bangs were grown out. These longer bangs were parted in the middle. In the late 1880s, bangs were also sometimes limited to a few small tendrils. At the height of bang popularity, some women wore a “false fringe” so they could sport the style without cutting their hair. Bangs, still worn in the 1890s, became less fashionable toward the end of the century in favor of simpler hair styles.
In the 1880s, women’s hair was kept long. Short hair on a woman was rare, though actresses might cut their hair to play boy’s roles. Most women wore their long hair pulled up into a bun. The location of the bun and whether or not the hair was pulled tightly or worn loosely varied by year and often complemented fashions in dress. While the 1880s saw tighter and simpler buns, differing from the 1870s styles of large, elaborate buns often aided by false hair, the 1890s saw a looser bouffant style.
In the 1880s bangs were sometimes imitated with a false fringe hair piece. Evening hairstyles included a star or crescent-shaped diamond clip. Hair was often decorated with jewels for the evening. Feathers, ribbons and flowers were also popular hair accessories. These adornments were either worn simply or arranged in elaborate styles for special occasions.
Men’s hairstyles did not change as rapidly as those of the women. In the 1880s, men wore their hair much the same as they did in the 1870s: short and with a side part. In the 1890s, men’s hair was worn very short, and the walrus mustache became popular. Sideburns were also worn long, though there was a move toward being clean shaven throughout the 1880s and into the 1890s.
References and ResourcesUniversity of Vermont: Clothing and Hair: 1880s Women:
Modern and Retro Hair: 1890s
Victorian Web: Costume
University of Vermont: Clothing and Hair: 1880s Men
University of Vermont: Clothing and Hair: 1880s Men: Hats
University of Vermont: Clothing and Hair: 1890s Men
University of Vermont: Historic Images: Clothing