15 thoughts on “How Contemporary Hairstyles Affect Historical Costume Movies: The 1950s

  1. Although there are no visual sources to tell us if a coif was worn under a hood,it is strong suggested that the crimped golden ruffle was attached to the coif,if the hood were a multi part headdress.Many reenactors wear coifs or forehead cloths under their hoods because wired buckram isn’t the most pleasing sensation on the head.
    Those leia buns in ‘My cousin Rachel’ might be referencing a portrait of Christina Antoinietta Cornelia Vetterlein.Except the portrait seems heavily influenced by Italian Renaissance.

  2. I must comment upon the men’s facial hair (or lack there-of) the 1950’s was a clean-shaven decade, and it really stands out in certain eras (the late-medieval and Tudor especially, but also the 1840’s-1880’s saw the return of the beard or moustache) there are several characters who should have long full beards who are either clean-shaven or sporting a very faint goatee. Its something always sticks out to me, like bangs when there shouldn’t be bangs.

  3. I think Hollywood had its own code, especially for hair: long, loose hair on women says, “nonconformist, rebellious, morally questionable” men’s lack of powder in the hair says, “rebellious but sincere and honourable.”

  4. I love giggling at contemporary versions of non-contemporary hairstyles, but it’s the make-up that drives me mad. A more-or-less accurate hair silhouette with some modern tweaks is acceptable (meaning I don’t jump with alarm), but lashings of blue eye shadow and black liner and shiny, shiny lipstick? Yuck. Apart from the lipstick, Romy Schneider as Elisabeth is really pretty good, with her great piles of hair. If you’re going to fuck up history, do it in the style of an operetta.

  5. That hat from Richard III is a real hat…. I can’t get a picture easily, but it’s often called a butterfly hennin and there are a number of images of it in period artwork. But she should still have her hair up!

  6. How much yelling at the screen did you do? I hope you had plenty of throat drops.

  7. I sincerely hope no one ever uses pictures of my hair in the future. It does not follow fashion, but instead pursues its own inclinations.

  8. As someone who had ridiculously long hair for 20 years, I am certain that even in the original images of Sissi she was wearing a shitton of false hair. Length doesn’t give you that volume. I discovered this to my shock when I finally achieved my childhood dream of “Princess Leia Hair” and realized that it was physically impossible without hairpieces XD

  9. Katherine Hepburn plays a spinster missionary in Africa whose character is unworldly. No fashionable coiffure for her.

  10. The African Queen I totally love (and not merely because the great Kate Hepburn not only looked rather like my mother but was here, essentially, playing her). I think you’re being unfair here. The action takes place in 1914, and Rosie Sayer has been in Africa for ten years. So let’s say she left home for Darkest Africa in 1904, with a trunkful of clothes that she has had no opportunity or motivation to update since (even if she knew what was fashionable at home). Given her family’s stern, God-fearing, thrifty background she was unlikely back home ever to have worn anything fashion-forward, or done her hair in a less-than-100%-conservative way, so the production designers very sensibly gave her a tropical version (i.e. all in white linen/calico) of standard 1890s outdoor daywear, with hairdo to match.

    By about halfway through the movie she’s down to her camisole and long broderie-anglaise-edged drawers, the rest of her clothes having been torn up for bandages, sails, flags and what-have-you; but search for images of her before her missionary outfit starts to go to pieces and you’ll see she has a shirtwaist blouse with a high, lace-edged collar; a hip-length loose duster coat with slightly-leg-of-mutton sleeves; a long skirt with plenty of petticoats, with a her broad-brimmed hat which she sometimes wears with a veil over it tied under her chin, just like an 1890s lady motorist. It’s all of a piece: this is respectable 1890s English wear adapted for the tropics. And her hairdo is exactly what was worn under those flattish 1890s hats with their big brims: a small bun/topknot right on top of the head and the side/back hair floofed out horizontally under the hat brim.

    Those tiers of regimented tight curls on Bette Davis look like something a Flavian Empress would wear! Take Bette’s ruff away and give her a stola, and she’d look just right next to the Empress Domitia and Julia Flavia. Even the hair colour would pass, near enough; I think you can get something pretty close with henna, and Roman women did use that.

    I don’t think all 18th-century men powdered their hair all the time. Men who were neither keen on snappy dressing nor frequented places where formal dress was de rigueur, might only have powdered for special and occasions. (Which of course having one’s portrait painted was, hence the rarity of unpowdered portraits.) And in ‘Scaramouche’, Grainger’s character was actually a performer in a travelling commedia dell’arte company, not someone you’s expect to dress or do his hair respectably.

  11. The 1920’s guy you can’t remember who it was looks a good deal like young Mr. Hemingway.

  12. I do have to speak up for young Gigi. At the park it looks like her hair is down, as in the picture you pulled. But when she gets into her apartment and removes the hat you can see that it is in a half- up style like the child pictured. Blame a mom who used to threaten me with “Gigi lessons” so I could turn from an uncultured heathen into someone pleasant. 😆😆😆 I’m not sure she ever sat down and watched the whole movie with me or else she would have known that was courtesan training she was threatening me with!! Albeit only the externals…

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