17 Interesting Facts about Hairstyles in the Elizabethan Era

During the Elizabethan era (1558-1603), hairstyles were significant markers of social status, fashion, and cultural norms, reflecting the elaborate and ornate aesthetics of the time. The fashion trends of this era were heavily influenced by Queen Elizabeth I, setting the tone for hair and fashion across England.

Elaborate hairstyles characterized the upper class, with women sporting intricate and towering hairdos. These hairstyles often featured padded hairpieces, wire frames, and intricate braiding, creating towering structures adorned with jewels, ribbons, and even pearls. Women aspired to achieve the appearance of a high, domed shape known as the “English Gable.”

Men’s hairstyles, on the other hand, were generally shorter and more restrained compared to women’s styles. They typically wore shorter hair with a center parting, often paired with a small cap or hat. Beards were fashionable for men during the early Elizabethan era, but the later period saw a trend toward clean-shaven faces.

Hair color was also a significant aspect of Elizabethan hairstyles. Women often lightened their hair using various substances like saffron or even urine to achieve the fashionable golden or red tones. Those who couldn’t afford such treatments would wear wigs made from human or horse hair dyed in the desired shades.

Hairstyles served as status symbols and demonstrated wealth and social standing. The more intricate and elaborate the hairstyle, the higher the social rank of the wearer. Women and men would spend considerable time and resources to achieve these elaborate looks, highlighting their position in society.

Elizabethan hairstyles were a manifestation of the era’s opulence and social hierarchy. They were complex, ornate, and carefully crafted, emphasizing not only fashion and beauty but also social distinction and status within the rigid hierarchy of Elizabethan society.

Elizabethan Era

Elizabethan Era

Do you want to know more about hairstyles in the Elizabethan era? Let’s take a look at these 17 interesting facts about hairstyles in the Elizabethan era.

  1. Elaborate Headdresses: Women’s hairstyles often involved intricate and towering headdresses made of padded rolls, wire frames, and braids.
  2. Ornate Accessories: Hair was adorned with jewels, ribbons, pearls, and even feathers, showcasing wealth and social status.
  3. The “English Gable”: Women aimed for a high, domed hairstyle called the “English Gable,” achieved with padded structures.
  4. Men’s Shorter Styles: Men typically wore shorter hair with a center parting, often accompanied by caps or small hats.
  5. Shifting Facial Hair Trends: Beards were fashionable among men early in the era, but later, a clean-shaven look became prevalent.
  6. Hair Color Treatments: Women used various substances like saffron or even urine to lighten hair, aiming for fashionable golden or red tones.
  7. Wig Fashion: Wigs made from human or horse hair were worn, especially by those who couldn’t afford elaborate hair treatments.
  8. Social Status Indicators: Elaborate hairstyles were status symbols, reflecting wealth, rank, and social standing.
  9. Time-Consuming Hairdressing: Achieving these hairstyles was a time-consuming process, often requiring the help of servants or hairdressers.
  10. Class Distinction: The complexity of hairstyles signaled a person’s position in society, with more intricate styles reserved for the elite.
  11. Sumptuary Laws: Some laws restricted certain hairstyles, colors, or accessories to specific social classes, regulating fashion.
  12. Influence of Queen Elizabeth I: Queen Elizabeth I set fashion trends, influencing hairstyles with her own iconic looks.
  13. Changing Hairstyle Trends: Fashion evolved throughout the era, shifting from more extravagant styles to simpler, more refined looks.
  14. Hair as Political Statement: Hairstyles were sometimes used as political statements, expressing allegiance or dissent.
  15. Hair Hygiene: Despite the elaborate styling, hygiene practices were often lacking, leading to hair issues like lice infestation.
  16. Hair Covering: Married women often covered their hair with veils or caps as a sign of modesty.
  17. Symbolism in Hair Accessories: Hair accessories and styles often carried symbolic meanings related to religion, marriage, or status.

Hairstyles during the Elizabethan era epitomized a fusion of opulence, social hierarchy, and cultural influence. These elaborate coiffures, whether towering headdresses for women or more restrained styles for men, were not merely about fashion but served as emblematic displays of wealth, rank, and societal norms. Queen Elizabeth I’s influence set the tone for fashion, shaping hairstyles that conveyed power and prestige.

From intricate hairpieces adorned with jewels to the symbolic meanings woven into accessories, hairstyles became canvases of artistic expression and social distinction. They were more than adornments; they were statements of identity, class, and allegiance within the rigid social structures of the time, encapsulating the intricate tapestry of Elizabethan society and its ideals of beauty and status.