V54: How To Create A Simple 18th Century Pouf

A few nights ago I dressed my hair into a simple 1770s pouf style, for modeling at the Nevada Museum of Art.  I did this style using one hair piece and one rat, and while I already, like our Georgian counterparts, want to go higher and higher, this is a good place to start if you are new to vertical hair dressing.

Click “Read More” for the tutorial…

Here are my two additions:

This is a fall made by Scunci, available at Walgreens or CVS  stores, or online.   I removed it from the clip it came with, to make a flat pad to then pin to the head.
A hair rat – clippings from old hair pieces, tied into a hair net, to make a little pouch.  This can be as big or small as you like.

You will also need:

  • Bobby Pins (lots)
  • Hair Spray
  • A Teasing Comb or Brush

And you may want to get jiggy with:

  • Ostrich Feathers
  • Lacy things/caps/bows
  • Jewels
  • Silk or Paper Flowers

Ready? Here we go…

Some helpful narration…

1. Comb the front part of your hair forward, and pin the back up off the neck.
2. Pin your rat at the crown, where you hair is parted and combed forward.
3. Place the hair piece atop the rat, pin in place, and section into two sides and a back.
4. Divide the back into sections (as many as you like), and roll into various curls, high on the head. Pin.  Leave a tendril hanging down.
5. With the side pieces, roll or curl into your desired shapes and pin – these could be rolls at the side of the head, or on the top.
6. Now tease the front of your hair until it is standing up vertically.  Spray.
7. With your teasing brush, gently smooth your teased hair back over the rat and hair piece, to form the poof. Spray.  Spray more.  Pin in place and spray.

That’s it! Decorate your pouf with whatever you fancy – ostrich feathers are always pretty.  I added a lace ornament and some silk flowers here and there.  A pretty comb or sparkly clips would be lovely, or a string of pearls draped over the pouf.  Have fun!


    • Anna

      February 24, 2012 at 1:15 AM

      It's definitely a cute costume-y look! I don't know that I'd take that video as particularly 18thc savvy for hair/makeup though…As far as I know, eye makeup was a "no" and she does contouring and mascara and all kinds of eye stuff. Also, I don't think I've seen any prints or paintings where the hair left hanging in back was mostly straight like that…It looked like she tried to curl it but if it wouldn't take curl, I think they probably would've pinned it up completely. Lauren's over-all look way trumps that one for accuracy, in my opinion.

    • Lauren R

      February 24, 2012 at 4:41 AM

      I have seen the vid before – actually link to it on the "Tutorials" page because I think it's a GREAT tutorial, really easy to follow. The results are lovely and huge. 🙂

  • Sharon

    February 24, 2012 at 7:20 AM

    That video is a disappointment; a 1770's pouf should ascend straight up from the hairline. Lauren, yours is a much better rendition. But, it'd be better yet without the trailing tendril. Look at your inspiration images and notice exactly how many *don't* have this. Otherwise, this is a very good tutorial for how it's done.

  • Anonymous

    February 24, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    Great tutorial, I love picture #6. I don't have much trouble with the shorter hairstyles but when I use my almost-basketball-sized rat it wobbles and shifts around. Is it too big or am I not attaching it securely enough? Should I put a wire frame in it like they did in the I8th century? It is 100% my own hair and it holds together fairly well in a big round ball. Do you know how I could attach it better?

    • American Duchess

      February 25, 2012 at 4:16 AM

      hrm, is it kindof flat or concave on the bottom, to sit atop your head? You might try attaching some combs to keep in place. Also, try using Osis "Dust It" hair powder on your hair before putting the rat on – it makes your hair kindof "sticky" so things don't slip around so much. Great stuff.

    • Unknown

      August 7, 2012 at 2:20 AM

      As a tip for attaching the rat/frame, i have found that at the center crown/top of the head sectioning out a 2" box and tightly braiding it. Then take the braid and wind it into a spiral type bun, pinning securely as you go. Then pin your rat/ frame "oopmh to the do" to this small bun. It really helps hold it all day. Another cheat is using the "bump its" i bought a set from rite aid. I use the largest up front and medium behind it and add a rat on top as bell as behind them. then tease the hair and curl/pin as desired… talk about high hair and it can support my hat too!!

  • Unknown

    August 29, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Coming late to the party but I love this! I have butt-length, thick dark hair which I don't wanna cut to a historically accurate length for the rare occasions when I want to look truly 18th c. This tutorial will help me use my usual hair and look at least reasonable for the period.
    As for the comment about trailing tendrils, my hair has tons of "elf locks" and tendrils and I'm just going to have to go with them. Bringing a curling iron to the ball to make them look less awful than they would otherwise (hairspray notwithstanding)!

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