Time For A Trim? : Long hair in Victorian Times

During the Victorian Era in Europe (1837-1901) it was very unusual for ladies to cut their hair. In fact, many women never had their hair cut at all during their lifetime.

Hairdressers as we know them today didn’t exist, and those wealthy enough would have a ladies’ maid to assist with arranging their coiffure.

Of course, they would never been seen out on the street looking like this, or even when entertaining at home. The hair would be piled up, suitably arranged, and then a hat would be put on top of it.

It was usual for the split ends to be trimmed occasionally, or even singed off with a flame, using a wax taper.

But this crowning glory of women of some substance was never cut during their lives, as a rule.

Some of the ladies were happy to pose for such photographs to show off their flowing locks, proud of that feminine asset.
As you can see from the photographer’s address on this photo, it was also common in America at the time.

And others would also dress up for the occasion, to symbolise a romantic heroine.

Of course, women who had to work in hard or dangerous jobs had to be more careful of getting their hair trapped, so they adopted shorter styles.

And it wasn’t unknown for some poor working class women to sell their long hair, which was used in wig-making.

So the next time you are having a ‘bad hair day’, remember this post. πŸ™‚

76 thoughts on “Time For A Trim? : Long hair in Victorian Times

  1. Gosh, they must have had terrible headaches. I would have found this a nightmare. My hair is very fine but there is mountains of it. I have to shave part of the underneath even to keep it just below my shoulders, otherwise it makes giant snarls. I would have woken up in the morning with a nest on my hear.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Victorian literature is full of comments about ladies being ‘very tired’, ‘unwell with headaches’, or ‘retiring to a chaise-longue to rest’. Perhaps it was all that hair! πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.


  2. Reblogged this on Wilfred Books and commented:
    One can only assume that these lovely ladies had an adequate diet to nourish such luxuriant tresses; also no men: presumably some men must have worn their hair long at this time, but not to anything like the extent of the ladies!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. (1) Pivoted scissors have been roman around the globe since circa 100 A.D.
    (2) You failed to identify which one was Rapunzel.
    (3) Lady Godiva not only loved her long hair, she also had a passion for gourmet chocolates. It took a lot of gumption to ride through town naked just so she could announce that, “Life is like a box of chocolatesβ€”you never know what you’re gonna get!” (She was wise beyond her years.)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Well done, David.
      A German fairy tale.
      An Anglo-Saxon legend.
      Modern luxury chocolates.
      A film reference. (Forrest Gump)
      And all in one comment!
      That’s what I call good value. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. But the burden of carrying a heavy pile of hair around, and the burden of keeping it clean, though who knows how often they washed it, fixing it up, etc.. but I guess that’s all they knew. I’m glad we have more options today!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. One of my delights as a kid was to spend the night with my grandmother. She was a farm girl and had picked cotton side by side with my grandfather after World War One. Following dinner my grand mother would unbraid her hair and let it fall well below her waist. Then, with help from my old maid aunt, she would brush it out. The next morning the hair would all be braided back until she looked like a German milk maid. This was in the early 50’s when women of our church believed they should keep their hair long and wear little to no make up. Ten years later, my grandmother’s hair was short, stiff, and blue. She would even wear a one piece bathing suit to Galveston Beach. But even then there was always a little Bible in her purse. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I knew it was common to sell your hair, but I was unaware that women during the Victorian period rarely, if ever, cut their hair. An interesting detail! Love the pictures. I wonder where you have been going to find these nostalgic pictures to your recent posts?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Most wore it in a long single plait during the day, piled under a hat. Then it was let down at night, I believe. I suppose that explains why the hair in these photos is so ‘crinkly’!
      Thanks, MBB.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I have never seen photographs like this of the hair of Victorian women. It is very beautiful. My hair would never look like this so I think these pictures are of women who have exceptionally thick hair. The selling of hair reminds me of Jo in Little Women.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Robbie. I agree that such women must have had thicker hair. In fact, many of those shown have very similar hair texture. But even those with thin hair would not have had it cut. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I wish my hair would stay on my hair that long to grow that long. 😁 Anyway, I will never have enough time to comb all of them, so I am better off now 😁

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Haha: I have pretty much a bad hair day every day of the week πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚ But wow the hair that these women have is just absolutely amazing. You don’t see that anymore in this day and age. Great post Pete, and wonderful pictures😊😊

    Liked by 2 people

  9. This could explain some of the hair styles where the hair was piled (for lack of a better word) on their heads…..also explains how Godiva could ride a horse around naked (or is that a myth) chuq

    Liked by 2 people

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