powder & wigs
Posted by Gayle on July 18, 1998 at 09:01:23:
In response to powder, written by yetta on July 16, 1998 at 08:54:33
If memory serves, I seem to recall reading about a tax on powder, which became unpopular around the regency, causing people to stop using it.
Yetta, your memory is correct! I had forgotten about the tax on powder, but your statement brought it to my mind too and caused me to go in search of references. I have a book titled Jane Austen - In Style written by Susan Watkins and published by Thames and Hudson, Ltd., of London. My husband (the Dickens nut) gave it to me when I first became interested in Jane Austen, had just finished watching P&P2 and was then reading P&P for the first time. He thought it might be helpful to me in understanding the Regency period, and he was absolutely right. Anyway, here's what she has to say about "The changing face of elegance: 1770-1820" on p. 132: "Towards the end of the 1770s and during the 1780s 'Frenched hair,' powdered and frizzed, standing out from the head and falling over the shoulders, became very fashionable, and French styles in hair and dress for both sexes were ardently followed until the French Revolution."...."Fashion plates, which were beginning to appear at this time, showed ladies with an exaggerated, pigeon-breasted appearance, their powdered and frizzed hair topped by enormous brimmed hats and mob-caps." Then, on pp. 136-137 Ms. Watkins writes: "As with women, the extraordinary high hairstyles began to collapse into loose curls about the face. Some gentlement continued to wear wigs until the 1790s, though the style was now more natural, as in the tye wig, which had a single row of curls about the ears and a smooth or frizzed crown. Wigs or hair were lightly powdered until 1775, when a heavy tax was imposed upon hair powder, and the practice passed away with the century." (emphasis mine).
Beau Brummel may also have had a hand in the demise of the powder closet, the room used to powder wigs and their own hair.
Again, I think you are absolutely correct. I looked in the index for Brummell and he is credited with being "that Mapoleon of style and arbiter of manners who distinguished country clothes by giving hunting dress the immaculate, well-tailored appearance that became standard for the next twenty years, and endured, indeed, with few exceptions, to the present day." It sure sounds like he had a hand in pushing fashion away from the look of the late 1700s and into what we know as the Regency period.
- Powder John W 06:09:10 7/24/98 (1)
- Hey, Sarge, there's a hair in my breakfast! Caroline 14:54:04 7/24/98 (0)
- Hair powder tax Laura W 14:10:08 7/19/98 (0)
- Powder, wigs, Franklin and plumbing Linden 19:16:25 7/18/98 (1)
- Makes sense to me! Thanks for sharing! (nfm) Gayle 13:03:06 7/19/98 (0)
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