The Elaborateness of the Colonial Wig

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If not for costume parties that often happen during Halloween, you probably will not wear a colonial wig and for good reasons, too. After all, these hairpieces can be ungainly due their height, unfashionable for our times and unmanly for many men to be wearing nowadays. Still, it is good to know the origins of these wigs that our forefathers wore in their day.

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As High As It Would Go

Our forefathers were as vain as we are today although with a different set of standards of beauty. In fact, in the olden days, the adage about hair being our crowning glory had a totally literal meaning so much that hair was piled up as high as it can go. Thus, the crowning glory hair did become.

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You will be asking how high hair was made possible when hairspray was yet to be invented to wreak havoc on the environment. Well, wires were used to hold up the hair as high as possible with the addition of wool, tow and other padding materials, all of which were intended to give hair plenty of artificial volume. If you suffer from male or female pattern baldness, you may like living during the colonial times.

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Such was the height of hair in colonial times that it was virtually impossible to sleep with the headpiece on without elaborate precautions. Fortunately, our forefathers had the common sense to make removable wigs.

As Elaborate as Possible

But the contest for hair as crowning glory did not stop with height and volume. You also had to make the hairstyle as elaborate as possible with the addition of removable hair accessories, rolls and even color. Let’s start with the hair accessories. Keep in mind that minimalism was unheard of in polite society where hair was concerned. Thus, you had to put almost anything and everything of aesthetic value on the hair to attract more attention to it.

Think along the lines of combs made from semi-precious materials, sprigs and garlands of artificial and real flowers and plants, plumes and feathers, ribbons made from silk and satin and the occasional tiara made from precious gems. If you think your hours spent at the salon for your hairstyle is a long time to get dolled up, just think of the hours colonial women had to spend just to get their hair done. We are not yet talking about the dress with its layers upon layers of cloth, mind you.

Now, let’s proceed to the rolls. You had to worry about the number of rolls in the hair, too, which was true for both men and women. If you have seen the white wigs still worn by British judges today, you will get the idea of how elaborate the hairstyles of men in colonial times were in relation to rolls.

As for color, white and gray were the preferred colors as these signified wisdom. Unlike today where youth is the obsession, in colonial times it was old age because of the wisdom it supposedly brings to the individual.

When you are wearing your colonial wigs, with your colonial costumes, think of the rich traditions that bore it. Today, you need not suffer through the elaborateness of the wig but it is good to know that you honor our forefather by wearing it once every so often.

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Colonial Williamsburg Trades People Video

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