Jane Austen’s classic novel “Pride and Prejudice” takes place in England during the Regency Era, from 1811 to 1820. The era takes its name from the fact that during this time, the son of King George III ruled as Prince Regent on behalf of his father, who was deemed unfit. Hairstyles from this era, like the fashion, drew heavily from the simplicity of ancient Greek aesthetics.
Simple and Natural
In contrast to the exaggerated, ornate and artificial hairstyles of the late 1700s, Recency hairstyles were simple, clean and natural. Women typically grew their hair to medium or long lengths, although some women cropped their hair shorter and styled it with waves and ringlets. Long and medium-length hair was worn swept up into a tidy bun, tight enough to avoid too much fullness or height and to rest close against the scalp. Height was achieved by positioning the bun high enough on the head to be seen from the front. Center parts dominated in the Regency style, and bangs, side tendrils and loose hair along the nape were curled into deliberately “messy” ringlets using pomade and rolling papers.
If you wear your hair short, achieve a Regency look by combing all of your hair forward toward your face. With a 1-inch barrel or smaller curling iron, curl your locks into small, face-framing ringlets. Wear this style as is, or add a turban — a fashionable accessory during the Regency period. Take a long, rectangular scarf and place its middle edge on the top of your head with the ends draping down the front of each shoulder. Wrap the lengths of the scarf upward along the hairline, criss-crossing and twisting at the top of your head. Then wrap the lengths along your hairline and criss-cross at the nape. Bring them back to the front along the hairline and tuck under the first knot. Adorn the turban with an ostrich or peacock feather.
For Medium-Length Hair
Start with a clean middle part, then make a second part from front to back at the ear and clip the hair to keep it out of the way. Take all of the hair in the back section and secure it in a ponytail elastic high on the back of your head. Section the ponytail into four quarters and bring the front quarter forward and clip. Of the three remaining quarters, two will be of equal length and one slightly longer. Take one of the shorter quarters, twist it and wrap it around the elastic. Tuck the ends and pin it in place. Take the other short piece, twist and wrap it around the elastic and pin in place. Repeat the process with the longest quarter, being sure to neatly tuck the ends. Now, unclip the front quarter and use a curling iron to curl it into two or more ringlets. Finally, unclip the front sections of the hair and curl into multiple ringlets around the face.
Separate your hair into two sections from front to back — the larger section from the forehead to just below the crown, and the smaller section, from the base of the crown to the nape. Twist and pin the larger section into a neat bun that sits high on the back of the head. Divide the lower part into left and right sections, then criss-cross them at the nape. Neatly braid each section and secure the ends with an elastic. Then, wrap one braid along the crown like a headband and tuck the end under the bun. Secure the “headband” braid in place with pins. Wrap the second braid around the base of the bun and pin it in place, tucking the ends neatly under the bun. Curl any tendrils along the hairline with a thin-barreled curling iron.
References and ResourcesCustom Wig Company: A Brief Discussion of Womens' Hair in the Regency
Fashion Era: Sketches of Hair Fashions from 1800-1840
The Oregon Regency Society: The Regency Lady's Turban
The Oregon Regency Society: Regency Ladies' Tresses
Country Dancers of Rochester: Lisa’s Guide to Helping 21 st Century Women Dress for a Regency Ball