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Early c20 hair styles

Hair 1900-1920

 Early C20th Hair Styles

Edwardian Hairstyle Fashion History

By Pauline Weston Thomas for



Hair Styles 1901-1914

Pads and frames of false hair helped the hairstyle of this era appear full and soft with the promise of being luxurious caught up tresses.  The pompadour style continued in the early Edwardian years and was achieved not only by supports, but by back combing.  All the back hair was pulled together into a plait or flat coil and drawn onto the crown of the head.

The 'Transformation' Pompadour Style

By 1902 a product called a transformation was being used. Made of natural hair the product was waved and could literally transform any hairstyle into one of abundant wavy hair. The transformation support often referred to as a pompadour frame was easy to buy.  It was used as a base for the style and a woman’s own hair was built up and smoothed over the base.

The volume these contraptions allowed, meant that the hats had a great support to rest on and so they gave an impression of often appearing to be hovering when they rested on a firm foundation.

2 Types of Edwardian Hair Frames

Edwardian Back Hair Tournure Frames for the Empire Style of Hair Dressing

Types of Edwardian Hair Frames - Edwardian Back Hair Tournure Frames for the Empire Style of Hair Dressing Types of Edwardian Hair Frames - Edwardian Back Hair Tournure Frames for the Empire Style of Hair Dressing

Marie Stuart Frame

Other frames including the Marie Stuart frame  like the one below gave a heart shaped Elizabethan look to the hair once covered over with billows of hair natural or false. 

Types of Edwardian Hair Frames - Marie Stuart Frame


Personal hair combings (collected from the hairbrush by a woman or by her maid) were added when extra matching hair was needed to get just the right effect.  False curls, switches and frizzle fringes were all available to make styling effects achievable. 

Natural False Hair Pieces

False frizzettes, false switches and plaits (1) ensured a wide range of coiffure styling. Women also used extra curls and small wave pieces (2 and 3) that they pinned in to fill in gaps in their hairstyles.

1 2 3 4
Picture of Edwardian false hair plait called a switch. Picture of a false hair set of curls. Picture of a false hair wave on a hairpin False hair support
 The hair roll support on the end (4) ensured the Edwardians were able to make big fat sausage curls all around the head. These hair roll supports came in all sizes from about 4 inches to 18 inches in length.

Pictures of Edwardian Hairstyles

Edwardian hairThere was a wider range of hair styles than we generally think of when we imagine an Edwardian woman in our mind's eye.  We tend to think of someone who looks like this sketch, but there was a huge range of variation in styles then just as there is today.

Look at the header on this page to see an unusual twist on the pompadour theme.  That style is reminiscent of 1830's Apollo Knots.

At night hair had to be even higher.  So plumes and ornaments that helped achieve the illusion of height were de rigueur.

Edwardian Era Hair Styles and Edwardian Evening Hair With Ornamentation.

Fashion Plates of elaborate very late Victorian and  Edwardian hairstyling using hair ornamentation, aigrettes, feathers and frame supports. 

Plates circa 1900. 

Edwardian Hair Styles Edwardian Hair Edwardian Era Hair Styles
Click thumbnails for glorious detail.

For information specific to this late Edwardian era, you may find it useful to read the general page on La Belle Époque 1895-1914 Fashion and my other web pages in the same section.

Curling Edwardian Hair

Most women still curled their hair using curling tongs which their sometimes zealous maids overheated and cause many a singed head.  But a new feature was on the horizon and this was the Nestlé permanent wave.  Women would sit attached to Karl Nessler’s machine for up to 12 hours to achieve an early permanent and this endurance test can compare to some of the hair extension sittings that people go through today.  Women are ever vain for the sake of fashion!

Width was essential to all hair styling of the period.  The hats were so wide they demanded support. The transformation frames women used under the hair and which they then covered with their hair were important in acting as a rigid support for a heavily adorned hat.

By 1911 hairstyling began to follow the natural head shape much more and finally the ears began to be covered.  New styles followed the trends for Mediterranean and near eastern influence. Grecian Influence 1913 hairstylesThis all led to the Grecian styling which took the hair to the back of the head.  This style was usual by 1913 and remained a popular and unfussy way of drawing the hair back during war years. The hairstyle on the woman below is quite similar to styles worn until 1918. 

Right - Grecian Influence 1913


Attractive bands or bandeaux made of embellished fabric were first seen during this timeframe and they continued as hair ornamentation well into the 1920s.  Many of them acted like swathes of fabric after styles set by Poiret.  Some of the headbands were very narrow jewel strips and matching combs completed a hair set.  None of the hairstyles of the day would have been accomplished without firm hair pins made of much heavier wire gauge than those used in hairpins today.

Read more detail about the Edwardian hat in the hats section.

See more Edwardian hair/hats drawings here.


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