Photos of Victorian women who never cut their hair, 1860-1900


In the Victorian era, a woman's hair was considered an important part of her appearance and marked her status and her femininity. Women in that era were often expected to grow their hair to great lengths, and it was common knowledge that a woman's crowning glory was her hair.

Growing out long hair was done partly by using grown-up hair to treat elaborate updos – as opposed to using mice, pads, or Victorian versions of hair extensions. Many women, even if they have very long hair, when a hairstyle needs a lot of volume, they use mice made from their own hair.

"Let your hair down" today is a phrase used to relax, not the opposite of "tighten". In Victorian times it wasn't just a phrase, it was an act that only took place in bedrooms when a woman pulled out a hairpin and brushed her long hair.

Only her husband (or her maidservant) could see her as such, although the romantic notion of the flowing tensions indicating femininity was depicted in paintings and advertisements—pretty women with impossibly copious amounts of hair.

Loose hair was not something that "respectable" women would wear in public and was a style mostly used for art. Girls often wore their hair down, but were expected to start wearing it around the age of 15 or 16.

More often than not, women with long, cascading hair were models and actresses intended to portray intimacy and romanticism. To a Victorian observer, photographs of women with long, loose hair would be particularly appealing.

In the fashionable middle and upper classes of Victorian society, a woman's hair became the focal point of sexual interest, the primary expression of her femininity.

For the poorer classes, maintaining long hair amid illness and the poor hygiene of the time was highly impractical. Many women resorted to selling their hair for cash.

One of the most important aspects of Victorian hair was the neatness. Regardless of styling, the hair had to be kept clean and shiny.

The back of hairstyles during this period focused on the overall silhouette of the human body. In the Victorian era, hair had to be styled in a way that made the body appear balanced.

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