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6 Way-Back Wedding Hairstyles with Elegance

Usually on Thursdays, we give you tips on how to recreate or update styles from the era spotlighted that week’s Timeline Tuesday article. Today, though, we’re going to do something a little different: we’re going to add in some looks from Victorian and earlier times and show you ways to update them for regal wedding looks.

Why? Well, early 20th and late 19th century styles just generally lend themselves to formal occasions and striking portraits. And what is more formal - or calls for more portraits - than a wedding? So here are your top six throwback hairstyles and the wedding coifs you can create based on them.

Telling a Tail

The original Victorian version of this look let tresses fall into a fishtail. Flash forward 200 years, and you can try creating the same ultra-thick wedding hairstyle by keeping the wavy texture but opting for a series of linked ponytails instead. Begin with clean hair that has been primed with wave-creating or –taming lotion (depending on your hair type) and divide the front of the hair into three sections, two smaller ones at the sides, near the temple area, and one larger portion in the middle. Bring the side sections together over the middle part and secure into a small ponytail with an elastic band. Continue this process until you reach the nape of the neck, connecting each mini-ponytail to the one above it with barrettes, jeweled clips, or elastic bands. For an even less structured look, leave out a few tendrils along the hairline in front and back.

Band of Sisters

If you’ve got shorter locks and a lot of natural curl, try this take on a sassy crop from about 1916: wash hair and set on rollers or diffuse dry with a curl-enhancing product, then wrap ribbon or feminine headbands around your head. Tousle and finger style to fluff curls into place, but don’t pull too hard – you don’t want frizz!

Piled High

In the 1800s, stacked curls tumbling across the forehead were a major trend. And while the style is not as popular today, it can be a great way for brides with natural hair to step up to the style plate. Try foregoing the fussy lengths in the back and directing all of your hair upward into lively curls. You can have a stylist flat-twist or cornrow the back, the two-strand twist the top portion for extra control of your coils. The bang effect is also great for shortening longer or oblong faces.

Side to Side

Okay, we’ve got to admit that the original 1900s version of this hairstyle doesn’t look very appealing for the 2010s. But with a little imagination, even the most demure bride can pull it off. Best for thick hair, the key to updating this look is turning it around. Where the old style pushes the bulk of the hair toward the front of the head, a new wedding hairstyle version might pile it up in the back. Duplicate the loose sideways braid by starting it at the front of the head and looping it back around the other side. Tuck ends in with hair pins or clips, and decorate as you see fit.

Belle of the Ball

This high-contrast look was popular throughout the 19th century and made famous in such westerns and historical dramas. The original is parted down the middle and smooth on the top, to allow for easy hat wearing, while the bottom boasts huge, sausage-sized ringlets. Adorable, functional, and not too hard to recreate with a curling iron, roller set, or curly extensions, this style could be worn to a fancy shindig today without causing too much stir. But since hats aren’t as popular with modern ladies – and because you might not want to be as adorable as your flower girl – try adding height and texture to the top portion as well, leaving this section wavy to maintain the crucial contrast.

Tender Tendrils

A second take on the curls-in-the-back hairstyle shown above is a sexy updo with just a few tendrils peeping out in back. Not much updating is needed; simply gather hair into a bun at the center of the head, leaving out 3-4 one-inch-wide sections at the back and sides of the head. Curl these sections into spirals with rollers or a large-barreled iron, and you’re ready to go.

Not much fuss, right? That’s another beauty of many older styles of the 19th and early 20th centuries: because they had limited styling tools and products, they couldn’t get too complicated. And who wants more complications on a wedding day? Try these and other tips for wedding hairstyles on your big day, and just relax and enjoy it!

Take care of yourselves,


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