Hair-do of the week -- Young girls, circa 1900

This detail from an American photo taken about 1900 clearly shows how the hair was supposed to look like on young girls at the time.

To have your hair pinned up meant that you were a grown up, and it was something to long for - at least if contemporary books aimed at girls are anything to go by. It was also a sign of availability on the marrying market. If your hair was up it meant that you were grown up and if you were grown up you were old enough to get married. If your hair was not pinned up it meant that you were still a girl.

That these two girls were far from grown up is of course obvious even if you do not go by the signals of the hair.

The absolutely most common thing for girls was to have long hair - the only time it was alright for a woman to not have long hair was if she had been sick or been in some kind of accident. other options were not given (which is part of the reason the 1920's and their hair-dos came as quite a shock to many, especially from older generations). And long hair is perhaps pretty to look at, but rather cumbersome in ordinary life, which meant that it had to be gathered in some way. The simplest and most common way of doing that was be braiding, as can be seen here.

The hair was kept very flat on top of the skull and drawn back to lay straight against the side of the face. Sometime you had bangs, but it was quite common not to have it. When the hair was safely pulled back it was gathered in, usually, two braids left to dangle on the back, tied together with ribbons. To have them gathered with just one ribbon as on this photo is a tad bit more artistic than what was common at the time.

The braiding was all in all very practical and little to enhance the beauty of the bearer - but on the other hand, that was not the point.

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