1860s Ball Style

Psalm 100:3

3Know ye that the LORD, He is God; it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.
We are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.

Galatians 3:3

3Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

I’ve chosen two verses for today, and both speak about humility and tie into the verses in my previous post.  The verse in Psalms talks about how we came into this world.  There was nothing we could do about it; God chose to create us and give us our family.  Galatians 3 tells us that there was nothing we could do to earn Heaven; we can’t even do good works in our own strength.  God has given us our abilities and brings people into our lives.  Everything we are, have, or have done is by the grace (gift) of God.

*Drumroll, please!!* Today’s tutorial is for my humdinger, show-stopper, super-authentic, how-did-she-do-that 1860s ball style. This is for all my readers who re-enact the Victorian era, specifically the 1860s, and even more precisely the American Civil War. I’ve had this one in progress for forever, even before I started my blog (and pre-tripod and pre-paint). I use almost every technique I’ve shown you on this blog, but it’s actually pretty easy. I’ve included lots of links to the basic techniques. The pictures aren’t the greatest, but I hope the instructions make up for them. Enjoy!

1. Part your hair in the center from your forehead all the way to your neck.

2. Working with one side at a time, twist a section near your forehead. Add sections and twist as you go until you reach your neck keeping the twist snug. When you’re done about half should be included in this giant twist.

3. Secure the section with a hair tie. Flip the ponytail like this so the twist stays tight.

*If your hair is considerably shorter than mine, you can stop now, curl the ends, and pin them across the middle.*

Now, at this point, you have a lot of different options.

4. Braid or rope braid the ponytail until you have about 6 inches left and secure with a hair tie or you could just twist it. Repeat steps 2-4 on the other side.

5.  The next step is to do something with the length of your hair.

You could do one big bun like in this tutorial or two smaller buns (scroll down).   If your hair is shorter, simply tie the braids in a knot or cross them to the other side.

But for those who want a real challenge,

You could figure-eight bun each of the two braids.  Which ever option you choose, make sure you don’t get the ends caught in the bun.

6.  Set the ends in sponge curls.

7.  Decorate as desired.  I threaded a satin ribbon into the twists like a headband and pinned little bunches of flowers at the base of the ribbon, the top of the bun, and in the middle of the buns.

This style demonstrates my primary line of thought for nearly every long hair style.  1)  Secure the hair above your ears.  2)  Do something with the length.  3)  If you want, treat the ends separately.  Your options are only limited by your creativity and how much length you have.

There are a gazillion ways you can change this style for different occasions.  For a day look, you can skip the curls.  You can change the accessories to anything you like– flowers, ribbons, a comb, a tiara, or sparkly pins.  Experiment with different combinations of braids/twists and buns; I came up with at least 20.   For a modern version you could part your hair on the side.  And if you want, you can see the rest of the dress on my other site on this page.


36 thoughts on “1860s Ball Style

  1. I love it! I’m going to have to try something like this on my hair. My hair isn’t as long as yours so I think I’ll have to modify it.

    ~ Melinda ~

  2. Ooo, how pretty! And simple! We do a couple historical balls every year, but never know what to do with our hair. This is a great style to try 🙂 .

  3. LOVE it!!! SO pretty.. that is neat, though, that you can do several different things to either dress up the style, or keep it elegant but simple! Thanks for sharing!

    In Christ Alone,

  4. Thank you!!! This hairstyle is absolutely beautiful on you and I am adoring it! I love the curls! I definitely will have to practice this hairstyle for future balls! Thank you again!

    Kindest regards,


  5. Oooooh! Thank-you sooo much for doing this website! It has definitely become my favorite resource!!! I love every one of your posts and it is such a blessing to see the Bible verses at the begining of your posts! I also love your dress! What pattern did you use??


    • I started with Simplicity 5724, but I changed a lot of things and didn’t bother with the skirt included in the pattern. The only thing that I kept was the sleeve design, and even that, I probably altered.

  6. Hi there! 🙂
    I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy your site, and I made a post about it at my blog. I especially like the Emma Proposal hairstyle! I do my hair in that style fairly frequently now, usually with most of the hair up and then some curled on the side.

    ~ Hannah

  7. (This is Rebekah G, but since there’s another Rebekah who comments on your site, I decided to change my screen name to eliminate confusion.)

    God has certainly given you a gift in being able to figure out elegant, feminine hairstyles. Thank you for sharing this gift! And thank you for the Scriptures you put on your posts. It’s encouraging to know there are other Christians on the ‘Net!

    What an elegant hairstyle! I’ll have to try a simplified version this Summer. It’s actually fairly similar to the way I wear my hair sometimes (only I usually just merge the two twisted sides into a braid).

    God bless,
    ~Rebekah G.

  8. That is simply beautiful! And I LOVE your dress!! It’s beautiful too!!

    My biggest problem with trying all the hairstyles that I want to try from your site is time… I know once I do them a few times, they’ll become faster but I never seem to have the time to “do them a few times”! lol I will have to try this one sometime though – it’s so pretty!

    Keep up the good work! 😀

    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

  9. I am so thankful you share all your hair knowledge with us! Now I know what to do with my hair for the ball next month.
    I do have a question though, did you use real flowers or fake ones? If they were fake, were they paper, fabric, etc.? Did you pin them with regular bobby pins? And how did you attach them to the pins you used?

    Thank you for sharing your time. 🙂

    • I almost always wear fake flowers. I love real flowers, but they don’t hold up very well where I live. The flowers from this tutorial aren’t attached to anything because they’re so little. The blue ones are paper on a wire stem. I folded the end of the wire up toward the top and twisted it. That way, when I stuck it in, it wouldn’t come out because the little wire would catch. The white ones . . . [moseys to other room, checks flower basket, meanders back] . . . are fabric on a plastic stem. For that kind, I stick them in and then catch the stem with a bobby pin at an angle. Does that make sense? I could do pictures if it doesn’t.

      • I think I understand what you’re saying. 🙂
        Pictures would be appreciated but not exactly neccesary.
        Thank you for anwering my questions!

  10. Just a question: How tall are you?

    I’m 4’10”, and I can’t do things like leave 6 inches to curl because that just looks silly on a very petite woman. I’m pretty good at figuring out the proportional equivalent if I know what I’m basing my reference on.

    • I am 5 feet, 2 inches or 157.5 centimeters for my non-US readers. That puts me in the petite category, too, but my neck is somewhat long for my height. For this style you basically need enough curl for it to brush your shoulders. Also, the pictures of me in the dress were taken after the ball so the curls had loosened somewhat.

      • I also found that my hair is so thick that I can’t do it with only four curls. They just won’t hold. I ended up making the rope braids into a heart shape and doing tons of tiny curls below it.

  11. I just wanted to let you know that I wore this style to an 1861 ball on Friday. The things I changed on it though, was that I skipped the curls and added the flowers differently.
    I recieved so many complements on it! Thank you for putting it up. 🙂


  12. This is quite possibly the prettiest hairstyle I have ever seen! How long does it take for your sponge curls to set? Do you put them in at night and take them out in the morning (hoping that you don’t ruin the style in your sleep), or do you put them in in the morning and take them out in the evening? I’m basically asking if there is a way to wear this style all day and not just in the evening.

    • I did the style and put the curlers in first thing in the morning and took the curlers out that afternoon. In the past, I have done the night before thing, which worked ok, but not great, especially when the curls were such a small part of the finished style like this one. It would look kind of fuzzy. But, then again, I haven’t tried doing it the night before since I figured out how to do the bandana thing so that might make a difference. My one concern would be that the curls would fall by the evening (for a “battle and ball” reenactment).

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  14. How did you get started in re-enactments? I’m really curious… because it would give me a great excuse to have dresses like that, and wear them, and “be involved” in history… all of which I love 🙂

  15. I adore this hair style, it is so pretty. I love the vintage/historical hairstyals so I am looking forward to giving this one a try 🙂
    Thanks for shareing

  16. me encantó, es la primera vez que paso por tú blog y es fantástico, gracias por tantas ideas distintas para poner en practica.
    Gabriela .Chile

  17. Making a half ponytail version of this for a dance tomorrow… let’s hope this works! My hair is upper mid back, but has layers, so it wouldn’t stay in how you have it. And it’s thick. Really thick. So doing twist all the way back gets heavy.
    I’m planning to braid to just past the ears, then pull the ends together. Take a piece of hair from underneath, braid it, and add it to make a bun. Going to do a braidout on the rest of my hair so I don’t have to curl it!
    Thanks for the inspiration!

  18. Most the pictures were blurry… oh the perils of getting pictures of someone dancing the Cotton Eyed Joe! There’s a front view and a side view (Couldn’t find a clear back view). I ended up not doing the bun in the back for lack of time (6 hour drive + left an hour late…) – I used a fancy clip instead. It turned out more like a braid crown with loose hair under it than fancy civil war updo, but I liked it.
    I’m in the black dress with red ribbon.

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  20. WOW! Thank you for this! My husband and I are going to our first Civil War ball in August, this will be PERFECT!!

  21. I went to a ball last night and this hairstyle held up beautifully.
    My hair is comparatively short, so I just did braids and crossed them. I had a recital earlier that day so instead of sponge curls I got my sister to use the curling iron on them. The curls that came out were interesting. 🙂
    Thanks for a wonderful hairstyle!

  22. You have the same color, and nearly the same length hair that I have! (and you like the same color t shirts lol) Elizabeth is even the name of my sister!!! ha ha! I love all of your styles. I just have to pick one to wear to church tonight!!!

  23. I am attending a ball next week, and I believe this hairstyle will be beautiful. My hair is probably about 2-3 inches shorter than yours, but I have had a difficult time trying to find a ball hairstyle that wasn’t done on shorter hair. Thank you for the wonderful detailed tutorial!

    Yours Truly,
    A Southern Belle

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