Bonnet - Styles of 1840 - Total Suppression of the Curl
(1807). wearing a coiffure of curls arranged to fit alike the wide open bonnet or the evening-dress turban of the period bunches of curls at the temples, was a fixed and unvarying fashion for all during the first quarter of the eighteenth century, but this was by no means the case, in spite of the preference given to that style by the majority. The stylish and modish woman used many adaptations of this style.
Fig. I. Viscountess Castlereagh, a famous beauty of the Regency
A pretty variant of the curls clustered at the temple is shown in a charming portrait of the Viscountess Castlereagh (Fig. 1), a famous beauty of the Regency. Here a third group of curls is supported by the fillet which retains the be plaited mass of the back hair at the crown. No doubt this extra bunch was arranged to appear within the brim of the wide open bonnet of the period, and to combine with the turban generally worn with eveningthe coiffure of this period was profuse in variations of this theme, and the curls were worn sometimes in unevenly balanced group, sometimes in symmetrical, balance combined with plaits and fillets or from ,a straight parting, but in the main fairly high up on the temples.
The extravagances of invention of the early century hairdresser became almost as marked as during the poudre period which preceded it, but in a totally different way. The plait was an immense feature in the new structures, and tight, slim excrescences supported feathers, and gave apparent height and importance to the woman of George IV.'s reign.
The next illustration (Fig. 2) is a good example of this new style of capillary architecture, in which a stiffened plait writhes like a snake through a rigid arch of hair, and the whole, effect ends in a bunch of feathers for Court or ball dress.
The accompanying curls are short and tight, worn rather high up and in uneven masses, and it is easy to see that this very egregious design was full of a certain sort of style.
Our picture of the bonnet of the epoch explains a good deal more completely the strange phantasies and freaks of adornment (Fig. 3); and in this, again, we find the plait combined with the curls, and this time supporting them. The curls are higher than ever, and the little gem suspended over the forehead adds to the curiously symmetrical effect.
This fashion of hairdressing remained, with slight modifications, until the reign "of Queen Victoria. A very similar waving of the hair is found in the pretty portrait of Queen Adelaide (Fig. 4), although in this head a scarf of some filmy material is interwoven with the hair and droops picturesquely upon the shoulders. A pearl or jewelled slide on the left is a variation from the plait in the previous picture.
Fig. 3. An arrangement of plait and curls worn with the bonnet of the period (George IV.), whose stiffly symmetrical appearance is enhanced by the gem on the forehead
One other example of this phase of hair-dressing will suffice to show the strong family likeness in all varieties of the mode. That popular poetess Felicia Hemans made a little change in the adjustment of her curls, which was doubtless greatly admired by her and jewelled slide that are combined with it contemporaries, although to modern eyes it has rather the effect of the short curled hair-dressing of a child (Fig. 5).
In the two last illustrations we see the curls beginning to be longer again and to come lower upon the face. In both there is a certain formality, but the tendency is seen to be towards a more natural drooping and less stylish method of headdress, although both of these examples show much more taste than the fashions which succeeded them.
The long reign of the coalscuttle bonnet was almost over. The crown was shrinking and the brim contracting, and very soon the teaspoon bonnet and the pork-pie hat were to replace the stately headgear of the young century. The change was, of course, gradual, but, in effect, spright-liness and gaiety of adornment were giving way to the sort of languid grace which characterised the early Victorian epoch, and the hair reflected the change of ideals.
Fig. 5. The childlike coiffure of the popular poetess Felicia
Hemans. It marks an inclination towards a more natural and drooping style of head-dress
The large Restoration hat, as it was named in France, was fashionable at the time of the coalscuttle bonnet, and the curled hair of the Parisian belle in 1830 was much in the mode of that affected by. Queen Adelaide.
In 1835 fashion discarded grace, and adopted clumsiness, not only in hair-dressing, but in clothes and architecture. The great wave of material prosperity which succeeded the accession . of Queen Victoria obliterated a great deal of what was fine in the decoration of life, and brought about a dulness of sentiment for style and beauty, from which we are only now emerging, and the renascent sense of style is accompanied by the curl as an index of remarkable accuracy. The ladies in 1840 wore shapeless, untrimmed skirts and unsightly bonnets, under which the hair was dressed in flat bands, which made a cold, hard framework for the face. To be continued.