V45: Edwardian Hair Mysteries Solved – Part 4 – Beginning Styling

So far in this series, we’ve covered several aspects of Edwardian hair care and styling preparation, along with a few styling supplements.  Now it’s time to put that hair up.

Ladies with long hair, you, of course, will have the easiest time – all of the Edwardian styles from Moler’s “Manual on Barbering, Hairdressing, Manicuring, Facial Massage, Electrolysis and Chiropody,” published in 1905, are updo styles, meaning the hair is pulled up off the neck.  Ladies using hair pieces will have a harder time with this.

Let’s start with two styles Moler includes in his book…

The Basic Gibson Girl

Moler begins by describing it thus…

“The style that is used most at present is put up by dividing the hair crossways of the head, this leaves the hair divided into a top and bottom part.  Take the top part in a twist or coil and pin it in place as shown.”

So first … pull all your hair into a ponytail high on the mid-back of your head.  Divide it into a top and bottom section, coiling the top section into a bun.  With the bottom section of ponytail, divide again into two to four sections, rolling each up on your fingers and pinning around the bun as suits you.

1. High, loose ponytail. 2. Curl top half of ponytail into a bun. 3. Roll up sections of the lower half of the pontail, pin. 4. Yay!

What will make this look Gibson-ey is the use of teasing and/or rats to give the hair at front volume and height.  Moler says:

“This style of hair-dress can be used with a pompadour roll or a rat.  They are made of wire or hair, and can be used on the front of the head, the sides or back.  …  When used on top, pin the roll on each side and in the center, then comb the hair, either crimped or straight, over the roll, covering it entirely and giving the hair the appearance of …the pompadour roll”

A modern mesh hair rat, easy to pin into.

High Hairdress – French Double Dip

Start the Double Dip by dividing the hair into three sections – two front (left and right side), and the back.

Pull the back into a high ponytail, and leave for later.  In the front, take each side section and roll it into a massive looped roll on top of the head, with the tail falling out the back.  To get the volume, use a hair rat,  or tease the hair – in this case the top side of the hair – before smoothing into the big roll.  These big rolls are the “dips.”  Be sure to roll upwards, toward the part.

This is where Moler gets confusing.  Here is my translation: you’ve now got the ends of the dips sticking out the back – add these to some of the hair in the high ponytail you tied earlier, and coil into a bun.  You can now roll the rest of the ponytail as you did in the basic Gibson, or you can try the bow knot.

To tie the bow knot, twist the remainder of the hair in the ponytail into a tight coil and twist into the shape of a 3-leaf clover, with the ends pulled through the bottom loop.  Tuck the ends in and pin in place.  Supposedly when finished you will have something that looks like this, though I don’t see a 3-leaf clover in this illustration…maybe they’re just pinned rolls:

So these two styles are good ones to get you started.  The cool thing about Gibson Girl styles is that they all come from the same basic principles – poufed front, high bun.  How you pouf the front and tie the bun in back can be customized to your heart’s content, with various twists, rolls, puffs, and curls.  The best way to get a handle on doing these styles is to jump right in and practice.

I’m still determined to figure out how to work Gibson styles using hair pieces, wiglets, and switches, for us short haired ladies, but more on that later…


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