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Hair Fashion Throughout The Years

Jul 27, 2008
The hairdressing industry is thriving. Whilst some people prefer to pay ten pounds for a quick trim, others are prepared to spend thousands of pounds to get the most modern, stylish or unique look. Our high streets are full of salons, covering their windows with photographs of the latest 'doo' and promoting their newest offers.

Whether you want your hair neatly trimmed, drastically cut, dyed, spiked, shaved, waved, curled, straightened, extended or plaited, there is always somewhere close by you can go and get your new look.

Hair products also over rule our shelves. There is wax, moose, styling sprays, heat protection sprays, shining sprays. However, it does not stop there. For instance, wax is not just wax. You have to chose which type you require, be it strong, wet look, non sticky or fluorescent.

Is this fashion craze a modern development, or has hair been a great cause of concern and a victim of experimentation for years?

The answer is, hair consciousness has been around for years. From Ancient civilisations to modern day, people have been flaunting and developing new and bizarre styles.

Take yourselves back to the Fifteenth Century for a moment- the era of Christopher Columbus. European craze at this time in history was to pluck your hairline to create a high forehead. Sounds strange today but back then it was the thing to do.

Wigs have been very popular all over the world for centuries. In Ancient Egypt Pharaohs used to wear long wigs, complete with plaits and accessorise. Other ancient peoples, including the Assyrians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans also wore wigs. Curiously, wigs are principally a Western form of dress. In the Far East they have rarely been used except in the traditional theatre of China and Japan.

After the fall of The Roman Empire the use of wigs vanished from the West for a thousand years, however, they were revived in the Sixteenth Century. People used them to hide their hair loss and to improve personal appearance. Hygiene conditions could be pretty poor with many people suffering from head lice. Therefore, one of the best solutions was to shave all your hair off and replace it with a wig. Genius. Fashionable and practical.

Wigs remained popular throughout the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries, becoming even more extravagant. In the Seventeenth Century Queen Elizabeth was famous for her red wig, whilst King Louis X111 and King Louis X1V of France set the trend for male wig-wearers.

Wigs were often full, thick and fell below the shoulders. White powdered, long ringlets were the order of the day often tied back with a black bow for men or decorated with flowers and garlands for women. Elaborate wigs worn by ladies consisted of mile-high coiffures and highly decorated curls to emphasize their social status. The fancier the better was the fashion with many ladies modeling "bird cage' or maritime hair doos complete with model bird or boat.

There was, however, one problem with the large elaborate wigs. They took a long time to complete and often became the very favourite nesting place for vermin. Nice.

Male wigs became more subtle, as the Eighteenth Century continued and were adopted by many professionals. Full Female wigs were not in fashion in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. Women would simply wear them if they had lost their hair and they were often connected with the symptoms of diphtheria.

During the early Twentieth Century, wigs were exchanged for regular trips to the salon to have hair curled and set by a large hair dryer. This would take up a lot of time, however, women were prepared to sacrifice their days to make sure they were in fashion.

The 'Roaring Twenties' saw a change in hair trends, curls and ringlets were swapped for short, sleek bobs or short, tightly waved, tight curl styles, continuing into the 1930s. More ladies had access to the cinema and were keen to follow the styles of their actress role models. Males wore shorter, rather conservative short back and side styles.

The war meant both ladies and gentlemen had to be practical due to warfare, hard working conditions and lack of shampoo. Many women opted to hide their hair away in a hair net or a head scalf, just exposing their fringes.

Post war saw the introduction of home hair curlers, reviving the curl. Although, curlers were practical, they were difficult to get used to and led to many an uncomfortable night, sleeping on the rollers for the price of fashion. Think Sandra Dee type curls and flicks. Eventually one of the first hand held hairdryers came on the market, connected to a pink plastic bonnet that fitted over the woman's head to help with drying and setting styles at home.

Males donned crew cuts and thick sideburns, as well as the famous "duck tail". The "porcupine" was also a hit. These styles were complete with excess starch and Bryl Cream. Think Elvis or James Dean.

The 1960s ladies exchanged ringlets for the beehive. The bigger the better was the trend and the most important product was hairspray. Mountain like styles were often complemented by blond streaks. Men proffered choppy, side-parted, bed-head styles.

The bouffant styles were soon replaced by long straight hair. As people got caught up in the progression of civil rights and women's movements, fashion also adapted. Ladies skirts became tighter and shorter and their hair became longer and sleeker.

The rebellious nature of society continued throughout the 70s and 80s, with long hair remaining a feature of the hippie movement. Long, flowing, natural styles were preferred, accessorised with flowers and multi-coloured headbands. Madonna helped set the trend in the eighties with her ever changing styles.

The 90s was almost a free for all with people experimenting with all kinds of ideas, yet there were still those styles which were more popular than others. Tight pony tails with two, bleached strands of hair framing the face was a popular look amongst teenagers. The guys also thought they were cool when they shaved their heads leaving just a thick fringe at the front- this was almost always bleached too.

So, it seems that hair trends constantly change. So what is next? People rule out the Chav look. However, give it a few more years to catch on and the impressively slicked down, comb streaked, high pony tails, complete with mis-matched scrunchies may come into fashion. I believe the large silver hoop earring and tracksuit attire compliment this look even further.
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