Elizabethan Hair Color
It was important for Queen Elizabeth to maintain her image and the beauty of a 'Virgin Queen'. The Elizabethan view of ideal beauty was a woman with light hair and a snow white complexion complimented with red cheeks and red lips. Queen Elizabeth achieved this picture of ideal beauty by using white make-up. This explains the odd white face make-up seen in many of her portraits. Queen Elizabeth had a natural red color hair. This red hair look was emulated by many of the nobility of the Elizabethan era, as was the fair hair ideal of an ideal woman. An Upper Class Elizabethan woman followed this fashion further and might even dye her hair yellow with a mixture of saffron, cumin seed, celandine and oil. Wigs were also commonly used - Queen Elizabeth had a wide variety of wigs and hair pieces - believed to number over eighty. These were often referred to as Periwigs.
Elizabethan Hair Styles for Women
Elizabethan Hair Styles for women were designed to compliment the upper class fashions of the day. Ruffs, or ruffles, were in high fashion and during the Elizabethan era these became more elaborate and were constructed on gauze wings which were raised at the back of the head. The ruffs, or collars, framed the face and dictated the hairstyles of the age which were generally short for men ( at the beginning of the Elizabethan era) and swept up look was required for women. A frizzy hairstyle was also one of the required styles for women. Women kept their hair long and the full natural beauty of their long hair was displayed by the young women of the era. The long hair flowing hair of a young girl was a sign of a virgin and the favoured hairstyle for a bride on her wedding day. An Elizabethan bride would adorn her hair with fresh flowers. Once a woman achieved the married status she wore her hair swept up. Much of the hair was covered by some form of head covering. Long hair was generally dressed in a bun to which the variety of head coverings could be pinned. The front and sides of the hair received great attention as this was the area that was most displayed.Fringes were not in fashion - hairstyle fashion dictated that hair was combed way from the forehead. The hairstyle was usually designed to compliment the style of the hat. Frizzed hair was favoured by the Queen and therefore followed by ladies of the court although straight hair was favoured with a centre parting which especially complimented the french hood.
Head Coverings for Women
The Elizabethan fashion dictated that the head was adorned with a hat, veil, coif or caul. This fashion therefore ensured that much of the hair was hidden by some form of head coverings. The style of the head covering dictated the hairstyle. Many of the hats were adorned with feathers, pearls, glass jewels, spangles, gold thread, embroidery and lace.
- The Coif - The coif ( commonly referred to as the 'biggin' ) worn by all children. Material was plain white linen, a close fitting cap tied under the chin. Coifs were often worn as caps to keep hair in place under more elaborate hats
- The French hood - Introduced from the French court by Anne Boleyn, the mother of Queen Elizabeth I. A half moon, or crescent, style band or brim sloping away from the face. The edges were often adorned with pearls or glass jewels, called bilaments, and a veil covered the back of the hair
- The Atifet - Similar to the French hood style but with a heart shaped crescent - favoured in white by Mary Queen of Scots. Lace trimmnigs were added
- The Caul - Cauls were the Elizabethan hair net. A Caul covered the hair at the back of the head and was made of fabric, or fabric covered by netted cord which was sometimes adorned with spangles.
- The Pillbox style of hat - often had a veil attached to the back
Elizabethan Hair Styles for Men
Elizabethan Hair Styles for men were just as important as they were for women. The length of hair varied during the Elizabethan era. It started as short closely cropped hairstyles and increased in length during the period. Considerable time was spent grooming the hair, especially when it was fashionable to sport a longer length. Long hair was required to be curly. Men had their hair curled with hot irons. To keep the hair in place wax or gum was applied to the hair.
It was fashionable for men to sport beards during the Elizabethan era. The styles and cut of beards changed with the fashion of the day. The beards could be cut in various styles including pointed ( van-dyke style ), square, round or oblong. Starch was applied to keep the beards in place. Beards were also kept long and so required no help from the barber.