Authentic 18th Century Style, Part 2

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This is the hairstyle I wear for my colonial persona, Thomas Jefferson’s daughter Martha “Patsy” Jefferson.

When I was doing research for this style, it took me a while to figure out how it was done. My mom looked at some of the images and said “Honey, it’s a wig. Not even that, it’s a painting of a wig. It isn’t possible in real life.” After many failed attempts, I finally figured out how to replicate what I was seeing in those old paintings. The first time I wore this style, several people commented with “Nice wig!” I guess I did something right! πŸ˜‰

If you want to use pin rolls to curl your hair, and you don’t mind how they look while drying, I would do the same basic technique as this style. I would, however, roll all the curls down and not bother clipping the front, just do another 2-ish rolls.

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1. Clip a section of hair above your eyebrows. Feel free to make it poofy-er than mine.

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2. Roll the middle half of the clipped section up.

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3. Roll the remaining bits of the clipped section up and pin them next to the first roll so that it looks like one big, curving roll.

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4. Separate both sides out of the way for now.

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5. With the hair in the middle, make three horizontal sections.Β  Starting from the top, roll each section up. You could do more sections/rolls, if you like. Between the last and second to last roll, I pinned out a section for a ringlet like I did on my Pirates of the Caribbean tutorial.

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In this picture, you can see that the rolls are pinned to the scalp, but they are also pinned to each other to keep everything neat.

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6. Make three small forward rolls with the hair on the left. Again, you could definitely do more rolls.

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7. On the right, I did two larger forward rolls. You can set your ringlet in sponge curls, but I didn’t have time for them to dry, so I made fake curls for the picture.

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You can ornament this style with paper flowers, like I did. I’ve also seen pearl necklaces prettily draped around the rolls.

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I also like to wear some larger roses over the ringlet, as well.

You can see a slightly different version of this style with my gown here.

“Jo’s nineteen hair-pins all seemed stuck straight into her head, which was not exactly comfortable; but dear me, let us be elegant or die!”

This quote from Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women is probably the most famous quote about hairpins in literature. After I took this style apart, I counted 40 hairpins, which actually seemed low compared to the other times I’ve done it.Β  And, because the weight of the hair is evenly distributed, this style is very comfortable.


21 thoughts on “Authentic 18th Century Style, Part 2

  1. Wow! If I can figure that one out, maybe I’ll do it for Thanksgiving … We are dressing up in colonial style (mixing our eras a little but – we needed a reason to wear those dresses again!) If I can’t figure it out, maybe Bethany can … πŸ™‚

    You played the role of Patsy Jefferson? Fun!

    To the KING be all the glory!


    “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15

  2. Let me knows how the hair ‘do goes! Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday!

    Didn’t I tell you about my Patsy Jefferson thing? I’ve done her for the Andre Rieu Concert/PBS vip dinner for a couple of years.

  3. That is amazing!!! I just found a link to your site from and am so excited seeing these tutorials! For some years I have taken Richard Corson’s Fashions in Hair: The First Five Thousand Years from our library and “drooled” over the hairstyles trying to reproduce them on me and my sister, but figured they didn’t come out good because they were most likely all wigs. I can’t wait to try this and see how it works. Our family has done Colonial re-enacting since I was very young and believe a good hairstyle adds such a beautiful finishing touch and adds to the historical look if done properly… and yours is outstanding! I am so inspired… Thank you!

    For His honor and glory,

    P.S. This was the last attempt my sister and I made last month while visiting VA: She is in the blue and I am the one in red in the back.

  4. Melanie, Thank you for your kind words! I’ve never heard of that book; I’ll have to see if my library has it or if I could get it on inter-library loan. I agree that hairstyles can make or break a historic look. I’m an American Civil War re-enactor primarily, but I’m seriously considering switching to colonial.

    I love your hats, by the way!

  5. Oh Elizabeth! Switching to colonial? Why then I would have to switch too, you know! Just kidding, though I have sooo wanted to make something colonial for next year’s AHF. Having to wait till after hours to hang out with the nice colonials is a sad thing… πŸ˜‰

    the multi-era-addicted

  6. But Jordan, the Civil War people can’t bear to loose both of their redheads! It would be an unbearable deprivation. Just kidding. πŸ˜‰ Right now, I really want an excuse to make something 1890s. Hmm . . .

  7. I wish I had a chance to wear my hair like this, Ive always wanted to do historical re-enacting but my family is terribly dull and never doe’s anything like that and I’m not sure how to start, I haven’t really heard of anything like that going on around were I live.

  8. That looks beautiful! We go to a vintage home-school ball, and this style would be lovely for that. I never know what to do with my hair. It’s VERY long and VERY curly!!

  9. I can’t wait for my layers to grow out so I can do this style! I tried it but, alas, all my shorter hairs kept falling out of the rolls. I must say, I am impressed that you figured this out on your own! Oh, and I have one question: how wet do you get your hair before putting it in the sponge curls? Do you wet it before or after you have the curlers in? (Okay, I guess that’s two questions).

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  11. This is lovely!! Something straight out of history. πŸ™‚ Also, I was wondering if you could give some pointers on specifically how to pin the curls. Thank you!

  12. Are you a reenactor? If so, what part of the country are you in? I’ve been doing colonial reenacting for about a year and am looking for people my age that do the same!

  13. Hi! Do you have a video of how to do this style? I just can’t get the 3 rolls underneath the 1st to look right 😦 Maybe I don’t have the same hair type as you. My hair seems to slip all over the place and not roll up tightly. You do a lovely job! Thank you for sharing all of the styles that you do! It is something I have been looking for “forever”! Thanks again!

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  15. Thanks for the tips! I am at a theatre company in Oregon and one of the girls will be replicating this look in 1776 as Martha Jefferson! So stoked that you gave us a tutorial to follow.

  16. Absolutely wonderful tutorial! I have hair very similar to your in texture, thickness, and length, so I have found many of your styles most suitable. I tried this style yesterday and was delighted by the results: I was asked what hairpieces, rats, or supports I used because of the remarkable volume made by this style. Thank you so much!

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