18th Century Wigs

Wigs in popular culture have had different social standings by the century. It seems that in societies where royalty had a great deal of pomp and importance, wigs became a more central part of culture for that culture. For example, many eras of Chinese culture had very elaborate ritual surrounding royalty. And in those cultures, wigs and highly ornate robes and crowns were appropriate for any formal gathering.

In western culture, a time where great ornamentation and pomp in dress was the norm especially in high society was the 18th century. This was the time of powdered wigs and elaborate hairstyles for men and women that were so overstated that sometimes when the women of the period walked into a room, they often had trouble getting their hair under the tall doorways because the styles were so large.

It is easy to think that the extremes of dress and wigged hairstyles might be over dramatized by our love of making movies or spoof of the time frame on television. And there is no shortage of drama that is based in the period that always has a big budget for hair, make up and costumes to try to capture the opulence of this period in history. But what is surprising is that history tells us that the lifestyle and the extravagance of the 18th century was every bit as over the top as it is depicted in films and that excess of luxury and fashion came out in clothing and wigs to make each member of society look beautiful as the beauty was understood at the time.

It has really taken us until modern times to see wigs become an integral part of modern lifestyle. Unlike in the 18th century, we generally do not seek out wigs to call attention to ourselves or to create an extravagant or luxurious statement on our heads, as was the norm in that society so long ago. In contemporary society, except for being in a play or skit or for a costume affair, the daily use of wigs is almost entirely functional. That means that our wigs are made to look like routine hairstyles and we go to great lengths to make our wigs blend so they do not draw attention to themselves.

This utilitarian use of wigs makes the craft of wig making more central to the way we live. And because of wigs, many people live happier lives and more successful ones as well because they are more confident and ready to meet the world each day. From time to time, the art and craft of wig creation becomes part of creative society because of movies and films where great expense and effort is made create phenomenal effects with costume as well as make up and hair creation. But the majority of wigs made today are for regular people who are making their look more complete with a well made hairpiece.

It is fun to look back and other cultures and other times when wigs were wildly creative and expressive. It is even more of a kick if you have a hairpiece as part of your daily life because it is hard to imagine living in those times. But it makes for great films and television and its always good to get some perspective on how far wigs have come in society since those early excessive times.


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