I’m in Montreal now, on a short vacation, but it has been hard to enjoy myself because I have a dreadful cough. It’s really hot here; I probably have calenture or something ridiculous.
I’ve had this recurring sickness for the past few weeks, and it cheered me up immensely to read the comments on my Theda Bara article. It’s nice to know that other people love film and history and beauty as much as I do.
There was a comment on that article asking me about the hairstyle I wore in those images, and I’m going to explain how I did it.
Theda Bara’s hair appears fairly short in most images of her, and my hair falls to the middle of my back. I was trying to create a mildly authentic appearance, so I wanted my hair to at least appear shorter. I defaulted to one of my myriad historical hairstyles and did a modified Gibson roll/tuck.
It’s not easy for me to pinpoint where my fascination with the Edwardian era comes from. I suspect it’s probably just a combination of getting really into both D.H. Lawrence and Ford Madox Ford. I was also a devotee of the Victorian-styled goth cello band Rasputina in eighth grade, so I’m sure that figures in somewhere.
I attribute lots of elegance and romance to the era with abandon and completely disregard many aspects of women’s day-to-day life that probably sucked, like having allergies while also wearing a corset and menstruating. It’s so easy to romanticise a past that one has not lived through, but the hairstyles always make my neck look so long and graceful and I love it, so I choose to carry on instead.
Part One: HEADBAND CONSTRUCTION
I struggle with a regular Gibson tuck, so I made this contraption to approximate the look. It consists of a headband, and a sock I have cut into pieces, wrapped around the headband and sewed together. I have reconstructed the contraption I used for my Theda Bara images using materials from a Dollarama here in Montreal, so the roll is not as full as I would like due to poor planning on my part, but also I’m probably the only person who wants a massive roll of hair at the back of my head anyway. Let’s begin!
I couldn’t get a picture of the materials without this cat laying on them, because she’s really fat and hard to move.
What you need is one headband, one sock, and a needle and thread. I chose a brown sock and brown headband because I have brown hair, but one could do this with a more decorative headband as well. It should be one of those stretchy and thin ones.
You want to cut the toe off the sock like you are going to make a sock bun...
But then, unlike a sock bun, you cut the sock open long ways as well.
This all creates just the right amount of fabric to roll around one section of the headband. You should end up with a pretty fat roll, with the headband running through the center of it.
Then, just sew up the roll. I did a pretty casual stitch here, nothing too fancy. You should end up with an end product that looks kind of like this.
Now, of course you could just use fabric instead of a sock. You could probably also cut open one of those spongey donut-bun-makers and slit it down the middle and slide it onto the headband and sew it up in the same manner. Or, if you happen to have a microphone windscreen hanging around and no microphone, you can sacrifice that. I shove all sorts of crap in my hair, it’s fun. Now let’s figure out how to use this doo-dad.
Part Two: USING THE HEADBAND
The style that we are going to end up entails the hair ending up in a roll at the base of the head. The fabric of the sock creates "stuffing" for that roll, and also makes it easier to roll the hair up. The stuffing is also useful for shorter hair--it makes the roll seem thicker.
This is me pulling out the front pieces of my hair to separate them from the back section of hair. You can leave out a lot of hair in this step, or none at all, depending on how you want the end style to appear. If you want the roll to appear a bit more crown-like, continuing further around the head, I would leave out a significant amount of hair.
As illustrated, I just sort of grabbed chunks of hair near the front of my face without being very particular.
This is the most difficult bit to illustrate--I started by laying the sock across the very bottom of my head and rolling it carefully up towards my neck. The headband gets in the way a bit, and this is almost certainly easier with hair significantly shorter than mine. However, it is worth it to struggle with the rolling bit because it is worth it in this summer heat to have all of my long and thick hair contained in a roll at the back of my head. I then pulled the headband up onto the front of my head, just like wearing a regular headband. This keeps the roll pressed against my head tight.
I took the front pieces and pulled them back, tucking them into the headband haphazardly. I realise that messy looks are not necessarily to everyone’s taste. It takes slightly more effort to smooth the hair and make the style look neat, but is entirely possible to do if you want to use a comb to coax the strands into appearing smooth. I do not make that effort because I find that messiness creates more volume around my face, which I think flatters me a bit more.
I think it helps to have hair built up around my head to balance out my rather wide shoulders. In my hair, the brown headband is almost entirely hidden by the artful placement of the front pieces of hair when I tuck them in.
It’s a very simple hairstyle to do, once you get the hang of rolling up your hair. I’ve been wearing this style a lot on this trip. I’ve been bouncing around Canada, pretending to be Anne of Green Gables (who is fictional and a red-head and from PEI, while I am real and brunette and in Montreal... but she is the only Edwardian-era Canadian I can think of.)
Also, I just got a Twitter! Years late. I’m a bit slow on the uptake, but follow me @bitterentraenen. I think I only have three followers right now... Tweet me pictures of hair and/or historical factoids! I’m lonely on there.