Podcast Episode 8: It’s not just One Direction: The Many Hairy Styles of 18th Century Women

Hi All!

Abby here with Episode 8 of Fashion History with American Duchess! This is Part 2 of our 18th Century Hair convo. Last week we talked about hygiene, hair care, and hair products of the 18th century, and now we’ve moved on to have a chat about different hair styles & their constant evolution through the century (especially the last quarter!)

Harry Styles…Hairy Styles…Get it? Get it?! 😀 (Apologies to Harry, you seem lovely and I adore your new album.)

Here’s Our Talking Points:

– We have a pun filled giggle fest about One Direction and Ha(i)rry Styles (who is also Abby’s current crush, btw…and she wants to steal some of his wardrobe, but that’s beside the point…)

– Anglo & American women did not seem to use powder and pomade in the same way as the French women did (heavily powdered hair in the 1750s & 60s seemed to be predominately a French trend – but I am unsure about other European countries – Abby hasn’t investigated it.)

One of our favorite portraits and favorite gowns, with what appears to be unpowdered or lightly powdered hair. (Portrait of a Lady, Francis Cotes, 1768, Tate Museum)
Madame Lalive de Jully, 1764, Joseph Ducreux (Here)

– The really tall vertical hair that we’ve come to associate with the 1700s is more nuanced than what we think.

– Hair wasn’t actually as tall as what we think too – here are some images that help visually explain what we mean with it comes to proportion and hair:

Looks huge, but it’s actually not like what you think…those feathers do a lot of the work. (Marie Antoinette, 1778, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun, Met Museum via Kunsthistorisches Museum
Another of Marie Antoinette

– “Poufs” are not the hair styles – they are the the gauzy, feathered, bedazzled, and be-shipped bits that women would wear on top of their hair that helped get it to “enormous” heights.

– Abby confuses the man-milliner who is credited with created the pouf, Leonard, for Louis during the talk – like a damn professional….(guess who’s annoyed at herself. Ha!)

-Abby has a moan about the “ship in the hair” trope while Lauren ponders the idea of putting a race car in a new pouf. (Abby supports the race car idea because it is funny.)

– Abby raves about Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell’s book Fashion Victims: Dress at the Court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette and her research on Leonard, poufs, etc. (buy the book – seriously – it’s so good!)

– Abby talks about the different cushions, shapes, and rollers that were made and used in the 18th century to create the crazy hair designs.

The Village Barber, 1778, Library of Congress

– Lauren laments trying to hack the “donut” hair cushion with a plastic swim wing thing.

– We chat about the frizzy hairstyles of the 1780s and how in the beginning they were done by “crapeing” the hair.

– Abby probably butchers the name “Plocacosmos” which is the title of one of her favorite hair-dressing and care manuals.

– We talk about how the instructions for the 1780 style hair in Plocacosmos: The Whole Art of Hair Dressing (1782) describes the styles and tools seen in the 1780s Encyclopédie méthodique.

This style, the combs, hair pieces, and cushions are all described in Plocacosmos Рit was amazing! Plate is from a later Edition of Encyclop̩die M̩thodique (image)

– We also talk about how what we call the “hedgehog” hairstyle is more wide than it is tall.

Circle of Johann Ernst HEINSIUS, Portrait of Young Lady with Yellow Bow, 1780s-90s, Here 

As always, I’ve probably missed a bullet point from the post, but this should give you a good general idea of what we chat about. Hope you enjoy!!!


  • Renate Seline Zaz

    June 24, 2017 at 4:13 AM

    I loved these two podcasts! Especially hearing about how the Regency ladies would still use pomade, to achieve those curls (I have natural curls, so I guess it would just be like using styling products?) and lol please put up a picture of the racecar hairpiece!!

  • Pinkfouffy

    June 29, 2017 at 2:48 AM

    Outstanding! Thank you both so very much for these marvelous podcasts- I have learned so much and I cannot wait to delve further into the rabbit hole of 18th C. costuming and hair styling adventures! Cheers Mesdames!

  • MFL

    October 25, 2017 at 6:21 PM

    I want to add on to the little bit about millinery objects. I am a milliner and have always presumed that the crazy pouf adornments were part of a millinery design, not just mini trees and rose gardens pinned in. Jewelry definitely pinned and/or sewn to the hair or the rats underneath. A base that is constructed correctly and with good tension can be surprisingly small and crazy sturdy. The base combined with super secret securing techniques are affectionately referred to as "hat magic".
    Enjoy the podcasts and fascinating articles! Thank you! Marianne


Leave a Reply