Tag Archives: shingled hair

Letting Your Skirts Down, Putting Your Hair Up

A mother with her children, 1879. Notice the girls' hair and skirts. Cartoon from Punch.

A mother with her children, 1879. Notice the girls’ loose hair and mid-calf skirts. The girls are showing this much leg because they are still young enough to play with rolling hoops. Cartoon from Punch.

Lynn Mally, of American Age Fashion, recently commented on skirt length as a signifier of age for young women, as seen in this 1930s pattern illustration.

Back-to-School Clothes for ages 14 to 20, left, and 8 to 15, center and coat, top right. Delineator, August 1931.

Back-to-School Clothes for ages 14 to 20, left, and 8 to 15, center and top right. The Delineator, August 1931.

There used to be rules for “proper young ladies.” The stages of wearing longer skirts, and putting your hair up, were important milestones for girls — and the men who might be attracted to them.  For many decades before the 1920s,  short skirts had been reserved for girls too young to marry. Then, in the twenties, women shockingly kept wearing short skirts after the age of 16. (For a previous post with illustrations on this topic, click here.)

The persistence of fashion: Older people cling to the fashions of their youth.

The persistence of fashion: Older people often cling to the fashions  — and hem lengths — of their younger days. The youngest woman (left) wears the shortest skirt in 1921.

September, 1925. The oder woman shows persistence of fashion; the younger woman -- being mistaken for a man -- has shockingly 'shingled' hair. From The Way to Wear'em.

September, 1925. The older woman’s long skirt shows the persistence of pre-war fashion; the younger woman — here being mistaken for a man — has shockingly ‘shingled’ hair. From The Way to Wear’em.

Part of the shock of bobbed hair and 1920s fashions was that adult women were showing their legs to men who had grown up in the previous century, when showing the legs was considered indecent. The father of a 1920s’ flapper would certainly have been an adult in the era when married women still wore floor-length fashions, and pinned their long hair up off the neck. It’s not surprising that those men were upset when their wives and daughters bared their legs and cut off their long hair.

A male toddler, a girl 10 to 12, and two adult women, 1870.

A male toddler (r) , a girl 10 to 12 (s), and two adult women, 1870. The twelve-year- old girl still wears her hair down, and shows her legs and ankles.

Generally speaking, throughout the 1800s, when a girl reached marriageable age — known as “being out” in society — her availability was signaled by her putting her hair up (as opposed to letting it hang down her back) and wearing skirts that completely covered her ankles, and, in some periods, her feet.

Mother and children, 1884. The girl "6 to 8" has hair cascading freely down her back.

Mother and children, 1884.  Mama’s hair is worn up. The girl aged 6 to 8 has hair cascading down her back. Her skirt barely covers her knees.

I’m currently re-reading Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (published in 1814.) There is some discussion of whether the heroine — and other girls — are “in” or “out,” and the confusion that ensues when a girl appears to be older than she is. (In Pride and Prejudice, younger sisters Kitty and Lydia are “out” at a surprisingly early ages. Disaster ensues.)

A girl might come out by gradual stages, beginning by sitting at the dinner table with the adults in her family instead of eating in the nursery with younger siblings. Another step was dining with the adults when guests were present (she was not expected to volunteer conversation,) and later, of being included in dinner invitations to other houses.  She would not attend balls until she was completely “out;” at that point, she was officially on the marriage market.

Children, 1868: (a) at left, is a girl about 6, (g) standing right with folded parasol, is 12; (g) left, with the longest skirt, is 14 or under; (e) sitting, is 8. The older the girl, the longer the skirt.

Children, 1868: (a), at left, is a girl about 6, (g), standing right with folded parasol, is 12; (b), left, with the longest skirt, is 14 or under; (e), sitting, is 8. The older the girl, the longer the skirt. There’s an appreciable skirt length difference between ages 12 and 14.

The closer she was to being out, the longer her skirts became. When a girl’s skirts reached her instep, and her hair was put up instead of hanging loose, a young man might reasonably deduce that she was “out” or soon would be. These rules were generally followed through the Victorian era, but were sometimes subject to changes in fashion:  in the late 1860s and early 1870s a grown woman might put up her hair but allow some hair to hang down her back; her skirt might also be short enough to show her shoes.)

1869 caricature of a lady wearing the popular "Dolly Varden" style. From The Way to Wear'em.

1869 caricature of a lady wearing the popular “Dolly Varden” style. From The Way to Wear’em.

Other exceptions were sometimes made for sports clothing and for “the lower orders.” (Housemaids had to carry trays of food, pitchers of hot water, and heavy coal scuttles up and down stairs; they did not have hands free to daintily lift the front of a floor-length skirt out of their way.)

The servant is being reprimanded for wearing a hoop. Her skirt is shorter than that of her mistress, who is a lady of leisure. Dated 1863, from The Way to Wear'em.

The servant is being reprimanded for wearing a hoop. Her skirt is shorter than that of her mistress, who is a lady of leisure. Dated 1863, from The Way to Wear’em.

Shorter skirts were permissable for some sports: Left, mountaineering, 1891, and right, cycling, 1901. Both women have their hair up, so they are adults.

Shorter skirts were permissable for some sports: Left, mountaineering, 1891, and right, cycling, 1901. Both women have their hair up, signaling that they are adults.

The concept of “the persistence of fashion” explains why older people often cling to the clothing of their youth. We also have to make allowances for social class, economics, urban versus rural areas, and the likelihood that young people will adopt the newest fashions. The mother (at left) in this photo looks very well-groomed (the grandmother, right, does not!) And the youngest woman, center, has contradictory hair and skirt length:

Three women, probably around 1910. The woman in the middle has her hair up, but her skirt is much shorter than her mother's (left.) She might be dressed for a walk, she may be a teenager, not an adult, or she may be anticipating the shorter skirts of 1915.

Three small town women, pre-WW I. The young woman in the middle has her hair up, like an adult, but her skirt is much shorter than her mother’s (left.) She might be dressed for a walk; she may be a teenager, not an adult; or she may be a young adult anticipating the shorter skirts of 1915.

This cartoon from 1898 shows a teenaged boy (who does not speak French) unsure of how to address a pretty young woman on the beach at Ostend:

1898 cartoon from Punch. The young lady is clearly a Mademoiselle, because of her loose hair and ankle-length skirt.

1898 cartoon from Punch.

Master Tom (knowledge of French — nil):  “I say, do I call you Madam, or Madymoiselle?”

Mademoiselle:  “When one does not know, one says Madame, n’est ce pas, Monsieur?”

The joke depends on the reader’s understanding the dress code. In 1898, readers would know from the girl’s loose hair and ankle-length skirt that she is definitely unmarried:  a Mademoiselle.

 

 

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Filed under 1860s -1870s fashions, 1870s to 1900s fashions, 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, Children's Vintage styles, Costumes for the 19th century, Hairstyles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Sportswear

You Cannot Afford to be Gray in the Day of Youth: 1920s Ads for Hair Coloring

The fashions of the nineteen twenties emphasized youth. A very slender figure, boyishly short hair, lots of ‘pep’: it was hard for women over forty to embody these ideals — unless they had a little help.1926 aug p 64 top honest gray hair dye ad

Most women born in the late 1800s — and approaching their forties by 1925 —  were raised to think that obvious cosmetics and beauty aids were signs of immorality, the mark of a “painted woman.” [Even in the 1880s, wealthy urban women, of unimpeachable social standing, could get away with wearing powder and rouge, and perhaps a touch of lip color, but the wife of a small-town doctor or businessman could not risk her reputation that way.] To some people, wearing make-up was a form of deceit. This ad — asking “Are Gray-Haired Women Honest?” — plays upon that attitude, and turns it on its head, so to speak.

An Advertisement for Goldman's Hair Color Restorer, August 1926.

An Advertisement for Goldman’s Hair Color Restorer, August 1926.

“Today, gray or faded locks mean a woman is careless. . . . Nowadays the knowing woman uses a colorless liquid, clear as spring water, and just as harmless. This happy discovery restores the original shade your hair should never lose.” [Notice, it’s not a dye, it merely “restores” your hair’s natural color.] “And leaves it so silky soft, it waves or curls as in youth. Even a streak of gray ruins the effect of any bob. . . .”

1926 hair styles -- three of them are 'bobs' or 'shingles', cut very short in back.

1926 hair styles — three of them are ‘bobs’ or ‘shingles’, cut very short in back.

In the 1920s, attitudes toward visible cosmetics were changing. Young women now carried a compact containing powder and rouge in their purses (and were criticized for applying powder and lip rouge in public, at restaurant tables, for example.)  Lips were unnaturally bright or dark red — look at the lips on the gray-haired model above — and mascara and eye shadows were not subtle:

From an advertisement for Maybelline eye makeup, Delineator, May 1924.

From an advertisement for Maybelline eye makeup, Delineator, May 1924.

With young women looking so seductive, older women had to keep up the appearance of youth to compete. Advertisers played on the fears of their audience in many ways.

Does One Gray Hair Frighten You? Use Notox.

I928 dec notox top of ad gray hair marcel

Ad for Notox "corrective for gray or white hair." December, 1928.

Ad for Notox “corrective for gray or white hair.” December, 1928.

“The very nicest women use it.”

Gray Hair Comes in the Night; Use Brownatone.

Illustration by Walter Maya for Brownatone hair color. 1924.

Illustration by Walter Maya for Brownatone hair color. 1924.

“She retires, a reigning beauty whose triumphs were the envy and despair of a hundred rivals. She awakes to tragedy! In the night relentless age had laid a silvering finger on her hair. Youth betrayed by Time!”

You Cannot Afford to Be Gray — This is the Day of Youth

Ad for Brownatone hair color, 1925.

Ad for Brownatone hair color, 1925.

“Present Day hairdressing makes no allowance for Gray Hair. The shingle, the boyish bob, the masculine pompadour, the chic coiffure of closely bound hair, accents gray, faded, streaked or unevenly colored hair. You cannot afford gray hair because this is the Day of Youth.”

Decline to Be Gray as Long As Youth Beats in Your Heart

Ad for Wyeth's Sage and Sulphur Compound, October, 1928

Ad for Wyeth’s Sage and Sulphur Compound, October, 1928

“As long as you feel youth in your heart, you have a right to retain it in your appearance! Gray hair need not be submitted to meekly. . . . [Wyeth’s Sage and Sulphur Compound] darkens the hair so beautifully and naturally that no one can possibly tell. . . . By morning the gray hair disappears; . . . its natural color is restored and it becomes thick, glossy and lustrous, and you appear years younger.”

Choices in 1920s Hair Coloring Products

These ads are all taken from one publication, Delineator, a woman’s magazine which was published by Butterick, the sewing pattern company. Many of the advertisers’ themes are still in use today; some modern hair products are “natural,” like Wyeth’s Sage Tea and Sulphur Compound; Mary T. Goldman’s product is a “clear” color “restorer,” like products aimed at men today. Notox — scientifically produced by three Ph. D’s — colors the inside of the hair shaft , so it leaves hair shiny and “glossy and young” — like the Healthy Look™ ‘creme gloss’ I use today. Other brands advertised included Brownatone, which promised — in March, 1925 — that “You can tint gray, faded or bleached hair any color from lightest blonde to the varying shades of brown or black. . .”1925 march p 107 big text gray hair brownatone ad . . . even though it was only available in two colors, “Golden to Medium Brown” and “Dark Brown to Black.” Perhaps the product had been greatly improved since this ad appeared in February, 1924:

Brownatone Ad, February 1924. This ad says it "tints hair to natural shades of brown or black."

Brownatone Ad, February 1924. This ad says it “tints… hair to natural shades of brown or black.” (The model doesn’t look a day over thirty to me.)

Q-Ban Hair Color Restorer (say it out loud, and notice the lovely Senorita) promises only to restore dark hair. Note, it’s “not a dye.”

Q-Ban Hair Color Restorer Advertisement, March 1924.

Q-Ban Hair Color Restorer Advertisement, March 1924. “Used by men and women for over 30 years.”

“A beneficial preparation used by men and women for over 30 years. Used in privacy of your own home…. Your friends need not know.”

In 1895, a character in The Importance of Being Earnest says, of the widowed Lady Harbury, “I hear her hair has turned quite gold with grief.” “It certainly has changed its colour,” replies Lady Bracknell, “from what cause I, of course, cannot say.”

Free Trial Samples

If all these claims made a woman skeptical, she could get a free, “complete test outfit” from Mary T. Goldman, or a sample from Brownatone for just 10 cents.

On the Other Hand…

It’s hard to distinguish blonde hair from white in a black and white illustration, but I’d like to think this Paris couture model represents a mature client who refuses to dye:

A design from Paris: Agnes, January 1925.

A Paris design from Agnes, January 1925.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under 1920s, Cosmetics, Beauty Products, Hairstyles, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Vintage Couture Designs