Monday, June 17, 2019

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#ADBeauty - 8 Authentic 18th Century Hairstyles!

Big Hair? Yes you can!
Possibly the post you've been truly waiting for, today I'm going to give you some previews of the hairstyles in our next book "The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty" coming out July 9th and available to order now.

Before we get into the hairstyles specifically, we give tutorials for making hair pieces - a toupee (the middle portion of the hair), the chignon (the long back hank of the hair), and buckles (the large curls). These extensions are historically accurate and a godsend when it comes to doing any of these styles, especially the 1780s and early '90s fashions.

We started our hairstyling adventure in c. 1750 with a very typical French style. The reason we chose 1750 as our origin point is because hair styling for the first 50 or so years of the 18th century wasn't all that different decade-to-decade. We wanted to show what came before the 'rise' of tall hair, so to speak.

Abby in the 1750s-1770s Coiffure Francaise.
Abby kicks off the book hairstyles with the Coiffure Francaise, which was was done entirely with her own shoulder-length hair. It's an easy one to do, despite its sculptural effect!

Once we get into the mid 1760s, the hairstyles start to ascend and become more intricate. We worked with Cynthia and her massive amounts of natural red hair to create what we call the Coiffure Banane (banana hair style), which follows the taste and teaching of Legros de Rumigny.

Cynthia wearing the 1765 - 1772 Coiffure - all her own hair!
Just a few years later, by 1772, hair is *big*, built up on large cushions. Laurie's long hair was perfect for this enormous style, which we call the Coiffure Beignet (donut hairstyle). It's actually one of the easiest styles in the book and is open to lots of variation. This is one of the styles that is perfect for long, and even very long hair.

Laurie Tavan modeling the 1772 - 1775 giant donut hairstyle with all her own hair!
Next comes the 1776 Coiffure Ski Alpin (ski-slope hairstyle), the fashionable silhouette for the Revolutionary War period. We named this style for the very interesting cushion shape (pattern in the book!), which is higher in the back than the front, creating a lovely platform for the display of your pouf. Jenny is our model and we give advice for working with Asian hair, which can be applied to other styles in the book.

Jenny rocks the 1776-1779 hairstyle built on the "ski slope" hair cushion.
Once we hit the 1780s, the hair silhouette begins to morph from tall to wide. The early 1780s Coiffure Chenille (caterpillar hairstyle) uses the "grub" hair cushion to give oomph in the front, with a cascade of buckles and the chignon in back. We worked with Jasmine, using her natural hair texture, and give tips for working with 3C and 4C hair types.

Jasmine displays the early 1780s hairstyle with the "grub" hair cushion, done with all her own hair.
Also in the early 1780s we present the Coiffure Friseur (frizzed hairstyle), which uses a popular and common 18th century technique called crapeing to semi-perm straight hair into tight, frizzy curls. In this chapter, Cheyney McKnight discusses the cultural appropriation of African hair texture, and we demonstrate how to crape and then create this fascinating style with Nicole's chin-length bob.

Nicole shows the 1780 - 1783 Coiffure Friseur.
By the mid 1780s, cloud-like hair is still in fashion. In this chapter we discuss the 18th century mullet haircut and demonstrate another method of curling and coiffing this style on me, using my own hair and the chignon hair extensions created earlier in the book.

Lauren models the 1785 - 1790 curly hairstyle with buckles and long chignon hair (a hair piece!)
The last style is the Coiffure Revolution from the early 1790s. This bevvy of curls is more relaxed and natural. We worked with Zyna, an Asian Pacific Islander, and her thick, shoulder-length hair. This is a very easy style to do!

Zyna shows the 1790 - 1794 curly and loose hairstyle tied with a chiffonet.
It's a wild, hairy ride, but we try to explain and demonstrate each of these styles to make them as accessible as possible to all sorts of hair types, lengths, and textures. We encourage everyone to experiment and adjust as desired to create the height, width, and effects most flattering to your faces, using the historical tools, products, and accessories we give in each chapter.

"The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty" comes out July 9, 2019 and is available to order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble,, and all other major booksellers.

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Thursday, June 13, 2019

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Resplendent in 1835 - A Photoshoot

Nicole Rudolph in her c. 1835 ensemble.
OK, so it's pretty obvious I'm obsessed with the 1830s now (though I will never stop loving the 18th century deeply). I've made two gowns and I'm just itching to make more, plus the wacky accessories that go with them. The fact that "Gentleman Jack" is costumed so fantastically is only fuel to this fire.
So when Nicole came to visit last December, joining us on our 1830s excursion (invasion? infestation?) to Dickens Fair in San Francisco, we did a little pre-game photoshoot with her in her tomato red silk gown.

The full look - Nicole's sleeves made her a full yard wide
And I nearly died over the beauty of it. Nicole's skill is just incredible. The fit and execution on this gown was just stunning.

Nicole's gown is circa 1835-ish and she was sporting the HOOJEST sleeves of us all, with sleeve plumpers a good third or more larger than mine.

Amongst the massive sleeves you can see the checkered ribbon belt with original 1830s belt buckle. The delicate chain draped across the shoulders was another '30s trend.
The cleverly cut and pieced net pelerine gave an ethereal quality and allowed the details of the bodice underneath to peek through.

Nicole Rudolph in her c. 1835 ensemble.
Nicole paired the lustrous red silk with turquoise and gold accents in the checkered ribbon belt and fantastic hat with egret feathers.

For the photoshoot, we paired the ensemble with Eliza Early Victorian Slippers in black and grey houndstooth wool and black leather. The adorable little square-toed, split-vamp oxfords are true reproductions of original 1830s shoes and looked wonderful with the costume.

Eliza Early Victorian Shoes in grey/black were just the ticket.
You can follow Nicole on Instagram - @silk_and_buckram
Also on Facebook - Diary of a Mantua Maker
Shot on location at Rancho San Rafael Park, Reno, Nevada
Gown & Millinery - Nicole Rudolph
Shoes - "Eliza" Early Victorian Shoes (1830s - 1860s)

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Monday, June 10, 2019

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#ADBeauty - 18th Century Cosmetics and Hair Care Products

Cynthia applied 18th century rouge in The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty.

"The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty" is a how-to book broken into what could be considered three sections - cosmetics, hairstyles, and accessories.

The first chunk of book deals with the cosmetics and hair care products because you need these to accurately do all of the styles that come after this chapter. The pomade and powder are the foundation of understanding how hair was cleaned and styled in the 18th century, so we spend quite a few pages explaining what these items are, how and why they were used, and then the fun part...making your own!

A sample page from the AD Beauty book showing the step-by-step for making Mareschal Pomatum.
The recipes in the book come from primary sources like Toilet De Flora (1772) and Plocacosmos (1782), among others. These books have multiple recipes for various types of pomades, powders, rouges, paints, perfumes, and dyes, some of which contain ingredients that are not available today. We went with the simplest and most accessible recipes, all with natural and safe ingredients easily obtained.

Hair powder, the original dry shampoo - learn how to make this very easy recipe and never run out of hair powder again.
It's important to note that while we use safe, natural, and easily sourced ingredients in all of the recipes of this book, we do not compromise on the historical accuracy and efficacy of these products. We make very few substitutions and the ones we did make were either cited in other primary sources as alternatives (example: coco butter in place of mutton tallow for lip salve) or were the closest we could get to the original ingredient no longer available in the quality it was back then (example: corn starch in place of wheat starch). Most recipes contain no substitutions at all, such as the pomatum and rouge, which are made with animal fats and brandy, respectively.

Throughout the chapters on cosmetics we try to bust some common myths. You've probably heard or seen some of these before, like...
  • They must have smelled bad.
  • Their hair was full of rats, lice, and vermin.
  • They wore white face paint and all looked like clowns.
  • Everyone's hair was powdered white or they all wore white wigs.
  • Hair powder was made of flour and that's why the French Revolution happened.

Spoiler Alert: None of these things are true.

Applying white hair powder to Abby's 1750 style, a popular trend in the mid-18th century.
We hope you enjoy the essays, recipes, and resulting hair care products. You'll love the deep conditioning of the pomatum, the volume-boosting power of the hair powder (the original dry shampoo), and the natural rosy flush of the lip salve and rouge.

"The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty" comes out July 9, 2019. It's available to order on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, (for signed copies), and all major booksellers.

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Thursday, June 6, 2019

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#SewingIsHard - 1830s Bodice Video

It's time for another episode of #SewingIsHard ! This time we're covering 1830s bodices, with some behind-the-scenes tips, tricks, and discoveries to help you in your own 1830s project. Enjoy!

Next up we'll be discussing 1830s sleeves. We've talked a bit about 1830s sleeve shapes and patterns before, but in our next video you'll get to see the final result. Stay tuned!
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Monday, June 3, 2019

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Introducing "The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty"

We're official one month away from the release of our second book, "The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty" !

This time last year we were sewing, styling, and photographing with alacrity on new projects for a companion volume to our first book, "The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Dressmaking."

The new book includes new patterns and instructions for caps, like this organza 1785 "jellyfish" cap.
We wanted to do this second book focused on 18th century cosmetics, hairstyles, and accessories (moar accessories!) because these things are particularly important to getting your Georgian look right, but they're not easy to figure out!

Big Hair, Don't Care - Laurie Tavan rocks the super-tall "donut" hairstyle from the 1770s. Learn how it was done the original way....
Hair styling 250 years ago was a world away from how we care for and style our hair today. How did women achieve those really high styles without the aid of hairspray? With Abby's extensive study and experience into 18th century hygiene, cosmetics, and techniques, we set out to answer this question and many more.

For instance...

Did women wear wigs? Did rats live in their hair? Did they all wear white lead makeup?

How were the frizzy hairstyles done? How long was tall hair actually in fashion? What is a pouf and a hedgehog really?

What is pomade, how was it made, and how was it used? Original recipes, instructions, and tutorials for 18th century pomades, powders, rouge, and lip salve are all included.
The result is something Abby and I are very proud of. "The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty" is a step-by-step how-to guide for everything from the shoulders up. We cover:

  • Recipes and directions for making original 18th century hair products
  • How to pomade and powder, crape, and papillote curl the hair
  • Patterns and tutorials for making cushions for the tall and wide styles
  • Step-by-step chapters for styling 8 historically correct hairstyles from 1750 - 1795, using original methods.
  • Patterns and directions for creating caps, hats, bonnets, lappets, and poufs for each specific time period.
  • Instructions for making hair pieces - the chignon, toupee, and buckles.
  • Tutorials, tips, and tricks for working with different hair types.
  • A boatload of research, footnotes, and fascinating tidbits.

Additionally, we worked with Cheyney McKnight to discuss African hair care and styling and how it related to 18th Century Western fashion.

We work with different hair types and textures, and address ethnicity and cultural appropriation in the 18th century.
There is a lot to be found in this book - something for everyone of every level. In the coming weeks I'll share more about specific 'chunks' of the books - the cosmetics and hair care products, the hairstyles themselves, and the accessories.

"The American Duchess Guide to 18th Century Beauty" is available to order now from any major bookseller. Release/shipping date is July 9, 2019!

Order on Amazon
Order from for signed copies.
Order from Barnes & Noble
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Wednesday, May 29, 2019


LacedNYC - A New York Party to Remember

The Bathtub Ginnys perform at LacedNYC
Once upon a time, Abby and I went to New York to meet up with our favorite people - Cynthia of Redthreaded and Dandy Wellington - at Norwood, a beautiful private club in Manhattan.

The occasion was a launch party for our new Theatrical and Men's lines, as well as the new Royal Vintage "Foxtrot" Summer 2019 footwear collection.

Upstairs, Cynthia hosted a corset-fitting salon where guests could try on all of the Redthreaded historic corsets and stays.

It was a wonderful night, set to the jazzy tunes of Dandy Wellington and His Band with performances by the incomparable Bathtub Ginnys.

I'll stop talking now and let the photos do the rest.

All photos are by Jane Kratochvil
Instagram - @janekratochvil
FB - Jane Kratochvil Photography

Dandy made us talk about what we were doing and it was awkward, lol

The Bathtub Ginnys did a fabulous follies-style number and gave our new "Follies" T-straps a proper try.

Dandy Wellington, consummate performer and also so so generous to set up this event with us at Norwood, his club.

Stina of the Bathtub Ginnys

The Royal Vintage "Foxtrot" shoes were on display... were the new American Duchess theatrical shoes...

The co-conspirators - Dandy Wellington, Cynthia Settje of Redthreaded, me, and Abby.

Cynthia showing off her fabulous 18th century stays

The Ginnys performed in our new "Follies" T-Straps. These shoes are made for dancing, with sueded flex-soles.

Kaila Temple in original 1940s.

So many beautiful, fashionable people!

Mary Alice Ladd

Dandy and Cheyney McKnight

These dapper dudes

Lauren DeRossi (Virtuous Courtesan) and her friend, whose outfit I was obsesssseeeddd withhhhhhh

The Bathtub Ginnys

Dandy tries on the 1780s stays by Rethreaded.

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