Women's Hairstyles From the Romantic Period

Queen Victoria's coronation in 1838 influenced the popular hairstyles of the Romantic period.Queen Victoria's coronation in 1838 influenced the popular hairstyles of the Romantic period.

Style your hair like a fashionable woman of the Romantic period and brace yourself for some strange looks. During the Romantic period, from approximately 1820 to 1850, women often wore a strict part down the middle and a mass of ringlets on each side of the head. Dresses were also severe with a 15-inch waistline celebrated as ideal in periodicals of the time. Heavily corseted waists enhanced full skirts and sleeves. Clothing restricted movement to such an extent, some dresses prevented women from lifting their arms. Though corsets and thick crinolines continued to dominate popular women's clothing, dresses acquired more freedom of movement as the 20th-century progressed.

Apollo Knot

Make yourself the height of 1820s and 1830s fashion by finishing your outfit with an Apollo knot hairstyle. Like other popular styles of the time, the Apollo knot had a horizontal part stretching from ear-to-ear, plus a severe center part in the front section of hair. Instead of hanging curls, however, the Apollo knot had tighter curls worn closer to the scalp in mounds on either side of the head. The hair in back of the horizontal part was gathered and elaborately arranged in towers on top of the head. Hair frames, pinned in place, held the hair high. Women used hair pieces or their own hair to create Apollo knots by twisting and folding hair over the frames. Women finished the styles by adding jewels, flowers and decorative combs.

La Chinoise

Create this style by parting your hair horizontally, from ear to ear, and pull the hair in back into a knot or bun. Women added large curls at the temples, forehead and sides hanging in ringlets, also called "spaniel curls" or "sausage curls." The style held favor among fashionable women during most of the Romantic era. Another variation of the style replaced the side curls with thick coils (think Princess Leia). Women dressed up a la chinoise with braids wrapped around the back bun or with flowers placed above the curls. Some women added a ferroniere to the top of the style. This ribbon held a jewel pendant which hung down onto the forehead.


Study fashion plates from the Romantic Era and you notice the hairstyles look less extravagant with each decade. Queen Victoria of England heavily influenced world fashion of the time. With her coronation in 1838, women emulated Victoria's hairstyle with a braid on either side of the temple hanging in loops around the ears. The braids attached at a bun in back. After her husband Prince Philip died, the Queen subdued her dress and hair arrangements. As a result, later hairstyles became plain in front, with a center part, and hair held close to the head at the temple. A coiled bun in back replaced the towering Apollo knots. Hair also took on a sleeker look as women applied oils to keep the look smooth.

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About the Author

Jennifer Marlowe is a seasoned journalist with experience since 1994. As a former reporter and columnist, she has written for a variety of publications including "The Cleveland Plain Dealer," "Sew Simple Magazine," "Northern Ohio Live," "Ohio Game & Fish" and "The Country's Best Log Homes." Marlowe holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Akron.

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