Many people have asked me how I do my hair for the Regency/Federal period, so I thought I would put together a blog post. The first part of this, where I create the hair pieces I am using, can be found here. To be clear, this is not a period method- this is a nonperiod way of mimicking the period look since I don't want to actually cut my hair short in the front.
So, first of all, when I say I have long hair, I am seriously not kidding. It is absolutely *perfect* for doing Victorian hair, but Regency- not so much.
Honestly, the hair is driving- I'm just along for the ride.
Since I don't want to cut my hair short enough in the front for curls, I have to get creative. I used to try to wrap the front pieces around my bun, tack them down in front, and curl them, but that is time consuming, a literal pain in the arm, and requires access to an outlet.
Once I embraced hair pieces, life took a meaningful upturn.
Here are the materials you will need
- Hair pieces on wig clips- see Part I (you may not be able to see it, but I am storing them with the curls tightly pinned up. This not only preserves the curl but helps keep them from tangling while stored).
- Hair brush
- Bobby pins (2 pictured, many required)
- Some kind of larger pin- I'm using roller pins, but large hair pins will do. You want at least 3 or 4 of these to anchor the base of your bun.
- 2 medium-sized claw clips
- some kind of pomade. I had been using the 'blue goop' by Bed Head, but I recently switched to this stuff (the orange one) from Got2b, which is apparently the poor girl's Bedhead.Unlike the more expensive Bed Head stuff, it goes on clear and seems to work just as well if not better. (It does smell like orange, but I'm good with that.)
- Not pictured- a comb with a pick will be helpful when it comes to sectioning your hair. I don't usually use hair spray on my actual hair, because I have found it just tends to accentuate, rather than tame, all my flyaways.
Before you begin, work a little pomade through your hair with your fingertips. This will help with volume in your bun and keep the braid smooth. Especially make sure to get some in what will be the front sections of your hair, because you will want that to be able to lay smoothly over the pieces when you are done. Be careful not to use too much however, as it will make your hair look lanky and could also cause it to separate rather than laying nicely in one piece
Section out the front of your hair on each side of your face, roll it up, and secure it with the clips. You want this section to go back to the middle of your head. Part of this will end up covering the clip in pieces, and the more you section out here the easier it will be to get a nice, neat bun in the back.
From there, take the remaining hair and make it into a ponytail as high as you can. Brush around the base to try and make it as smooth and as high as possible.
Then begin to braid the ponytail, while keeping it as high on your head as possible. I don't use a ponytail holder at the base, because I have found that it makes it harder to keep the hair on my head nice and smooth. Hold it straight up from your head as long as possibly to try and keep it anchored very high. I usually use a small rubber hair tie to hold it in place at the end.
You can work a little more of the pomade over the braid at this point to keep it nice and smooth.
Unfortunately, this is the part that can be a bit of an arm ache.
From there, twist the braid into a bun. The regency style is to have the bun very high on the head, so try to twist it around towards the front and get it as high onto your head as possible.
I usually anchor the base with a few of the larger hair pins/roller pins. Then as you go anchor the bottom of the braid to your head with bobby pins.
You will want to tuck the end of the braid under and into the center. Try to think about where it is going to end up so you can leave a space without bobby pins to tuck it into. Either pull the hair tie off or make sure that it is tucked all the way under so it does not show.
Next you will break up the front sections. This is where a comb with a pick will come in handy.
What you want to do is unroll them, then section out the bottom and roll the top back up. You will be braiding the bottom section and wrapping it back around your bun. The top section will be what covers the clips once they are in place.
When making the top section, you want to think about making it as small as possible in the front so you can get as close to the center of your forehead as possible, but at the same time you need to leave enough that it will cover the clips.
Instead of making two equal sections, I usually try to make the top wider in the back to give it more body, and narrower at the front so I can get the clips close to my part.
Once you have rolled the top bit back up into the clip, braid the bottom section. Angle it back away from your face so that it will lay neatly against your head- if you hold it perpendicular to, or away from, your face while you are braiding, it may bunch when you try to position it back.
Angle it back away from your face in the direction it will end up laying.
Wrap the braid around your bun and pin in place.
Next, clip the curls in place. Get them as close to your center part as you can while still anchoring them securely and being sure they rest flat against your head.
I've added some slightly larger curls, done with a 1/2 inch iron and also mounted on wig clips, to the back to better frame my face.
Since I have a rounder face, I've always found that hairstyles which frame it are more flattering.
Next, you will unclip the top front sections, brush them out, and carefully lay them over the curls to cover the clips (this is why you want to leave a bit of the hair at the top of your curls flat instead of curling it all the way to the clip). Keep the top section as smooth as you can, and pin it in place at the base of your head.
I use to just wrap these sections around the bun, but that ruined the lovely braided look, so lately I have been anchoring both sides at the back, then braiding them together and wrapping that last braid around the bun.
Accessorize and dress it up, like with this comb from Regency Revisited.
In action at Locust Grove.
Photo by Heather Rene of Fox and Rose Photography.
So there you have it! I really recommend trying this out before you have a big event and seeing what works with your hair. Everyone's is different, and this is what worked for me. Hopefully it gives you some ideas!