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Hair and Wigs

The colonial wigmaker created wigs which were sold to the gentry and  successful businessmen of Williamsburg. They could get them made of horse, goat, yak, or human hair. The wigmaker's could weave hair into the latest fashion look from Europe.

In colonial times, a few women wore wigs, but  most had their own hair styled, with added bows, or dried flowers.

Near the end of the century, hair got bigger -- they were gigantic that took a long time to arrange, and they were left like that for many weeks.  

There was wire in the hair and padding to make it bigger.  Wool or thread was made into curls and added to the hairdo. These huge hairdos might be three feet tall (as high as a doorknob is from the floor)  and it could be covered in pins, feathers, ribbons and fake flowers. Keeping all that in place was tricky and women would sleep with their head on a wooden block to sleep!  For folks who weren't taking many baths, unwashed hair could have fleas and lice. 

Formal events were a busy time for the barber and wigmaker, especially twice a year during "Public Times," when courts were in session . 

Wig Styles

Periwigs or perukes are styles of wigs. they were buggy, expensive, and hot. They came in brown, black or grey, which they called grizzle. Some men shaved their heads so wigs would fit better and not be so hot.

The bag wig was held in a bag at the back of the head. A bob wig was very fluffy on the sides, and a ramillies wig had a braid called a queue. Wigs might be powdered. They were sent out to the wigmaker or barber to be cleaned with sand and curled with curlers made of clay and called buckles. They still came back with bugs in them.

In Colonial Williamsburg today, guides in costumes demonstrate how to make wigs from human hair as in colonial times.

Girls kept hair covered all time, even in the house they wore hats and hoods or kerchiefs. Boys had long hair, and some boys wore wigs. Some wigs are of real hair, and some horsehair, cow, goat hair.

They wore wigs made of wire. Some men put white powder on wigs, on a windy day, which blew away like snow

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