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I’m not the historical hair expert that Kendra is, but I dabble and help folks along, especially the farther back you go in time. And my biggest “easy” tip for women who want a historical-looking hairstyle is to part your hair down the center. I have no idea why, but if you look at period images before the 20th century, the VAST majority show women’s hair parted smack down the center. Before the 19th century, side-parts are totally not a thing in western European hair fashion.
While a very slight and very occasional side-part might creep in at points here and there during the early 19th century, the style wasn’t common at all, and it sure a hell wasn’t the deep side-part that’s typical today. Even when a woman’s hair covered by a cap or hat, the hair that shows is symmetrically parted. Maybe side-parts are a sign of the devil or something? IDK, I don’t make the rules, I just research the shit and point it out for y’all!
Thus, it’s a super-obvious modernism when I watch a frock flick set any time pre-1900 and see side-parts aplenty. I was in London last fall and happened to catch a few episodes of Sanditon (2019) before it aired on PBS here in the States. First thing I saw were side-parts! Couldn’t follow the plot because, omg, my eyes were distracted by the hair (also, lack of hairpins). So I’m taking Sanditon as a starting point, but really it’s all the shitty side-parts.
Since I’m starting with Sanditon, let’s look at some actual images of 1810s hairstyles…
1809 – The Repository of Arts, Literature, Commerce, Manufactures, Fashions and Politics, via Wikimedia Commons. What peeks out is centered.
1810 – Madame Recamier with Lyre by François Gérard via Wikimedia Commons. Ever so slightly off-center, but that’s it!
1810s – Paris fashion plate by Georges Jacques Gatine & Louis Marie Lanté via Wikimedia Commons. Centered & contemplating the addition of fake ringlets.
1812 – Morning Dress, September 1 fashion plate from London, England – from LACMA via Wikimedia Commons. Centered curls.
1814 – Ackermann Fashion Plate from Dec – LACMA via Wikimedia Commons. Under a variety of day caps, but centered.
Needs hairpins & a center part!
Everybody gets into the side-part game.
Side-parts, not just for the young ladies!
Finally, the hairpins have been found, but alas, no center part.
OK, now with that out of the way, let’s take a chronological tour of more shitty side-parts! Because the latest Jane Austen adaption is certainly not the only offender, aw hell no.
It goes all the way back to black & white, such as 1935’s The Crusades, supposedly set in the 1190s.
1150 – Comedies of Terence, drawings in the Winchester Bible, at the Bodleian Libraries via Wikimedia Commons. Yep, side-parts were a thing way back then.
Cathedral of the Sea (aka La Catedral del Mar, 2018) is set in the 1400s & some of the women have appropriate headgear. But when there’s uncovered hair, there’s also inaccurate side-parts.
1400s – Conquest of Granada by Pedro Marcuello, at the Musée Condé via Wikimedia Commons. This shows royalty, so the ladies’ hair is uncovered, so you can see the proper center-parts (with bonus head necklace!).
Gold (Oro, 2017) is about a group of 1538 Spanish explorers looking for gold in the Amazon rainforest. Nothing about that explains this woman’s possibly short hair, her bangs, or her side-part (much the less the outfit).
1559 – The Cook by Pieter Aertsen via Wikimedia Commons. Yeah, this is about 30 years later & Netherlandish, but it’s a middling-class 16th-c. woman with uncovered hair, & finding those images is hard, yo. My point about the part stands.
The 1560s costumes are generally lovely, but that part KILLS ME.
This is why mommy drinks.
1568-1572, portrait formerly called Christina of Denmark, via Wikimedia Commons. Even if Marie didn’t have a French hood, she could at least have hair like this!
OK, sure, we don’t expect much from Jamestown (2017) anymore, but I feel obliged to point these side-parts out.
1610s woodcut. And what they should look like, if their hair was uncovered.
Yes, The Master of Ballantrae (1953) fails entirely on the 18th-c. hairstyle, so mentioning the side-part seems petty. But nothing is too small to snark during Snark Week!
Ditto Beyond the Mask (2015), supposedly an 18th-c. flick.
1785 – Gallerie des Modes et Costumes Français via Wikimedia Commons, Just one of many, many 18th-c. hairstyles that never feature a side-part.
I’m not a fan of Billie Piper’s Mansfield Park (2007), least of which because of her hair.
What is that even? JFC.
Piper isn’t the only one — Hayley Atwell also has super-modern hair.
And I found this GIF to clearly show that modern side-part!
The 2011 version of Great Expectations is kinda set in the 1820s-30s, but no matter, the side-part & those massive tendrils are distracting.
1829 – Carriage and Evening Dresses, March fashion plate, London – from LACMA via Wikimedia Commons. Late 1820s & 1830s hair was wacky & could have asymmetrical bits, but center-parts were still super-duper common.
She wears this hairstyle so much during the miniseries, boo!
1836 – The World of Fashion and Continental Feuilletons via Wikimedia Commons. For comparison…
I can’t find a statement of exactly when this Ukrainian TV series Love in Chains (aka Krepostnaya, 2019) is set, but it appears to mid-19th century. Except for some egregious side-parting.
Love in Chains really isn’t trying at all on the hair with this chick.
And the older lady gets 1960s side-swept hair, which is just as bad.
Kinda pathetic that Point of Honor (2015), set around the American Civil War, gets so much wrong, but gets two out of three gals’ hair parted right (none of them have hair pinned UP, obviously).
1852 – Le Bon Ton Journal a la Modes via Wikimedia Commons. If those Love in Chains fancy ladies really wanted to do it right.
1864 – Le Bon Ton Journal a la Modes via Wikimedia Commons. Not exactly parted, but symmetrical.
So just take out that comb and draw it right down the middle of your head, ladies! It’ll improve your historical look easily. After all..
Even Knightfall (2017) could get THAT right!
Have you noticed historically inaccurate side-parts in frock flicks before?