Coiffing your tresses - a fashionista 's How-To guide from 1790

If you ever wondered what was it like to be a fashionista hundreds of years ago - here is a glance back into the days long gone.

A Russian-language news portal Meduza published an excerpt from a satirical book that was printed in 1791 and posed as a How-To Fashion Guide for visitors of Moscow, the Russian Empire’s Capital.

We translated the hair-style related part of the guide, doing our best to preserve the old language ‘look and feel’. Enjoy!


6. Coiffing your tresses

Nowadays your coiffure serves as a sign of foppish charm and fashionable touch.

Abandon your provincial groomers and rather seek out estimable citified hair architects. Spare no expense for a stylish hairdo and every day try out which one suits your face the best.

Use yellow, grey, pink and white face powder.

Daub and grease your hair with pomades and scent out which one of them is more redolent and the more so, smells more fashionable.

Take turns in having your hair arranged up as well as down; using thick or thin ringlets; fastening your locks either high and tight or low and loosely; neatly or opulently.

Have regard even for the adornments you add to your tresses.

Carry out all the aforesaid within the sight and in attendance of three or four dandies. Furthermore, if you can’t rely on the approval of those fashion adepts, invite a dozen more and convene a council on your hairdo. Consider their advice shrewdly and opt for one that suits you best. Solemnize that moment as a day when you appeared to obtain a new head or else regained the one, which you had once lost due to а prolonged stay in a village. Young ladies have their heads preoccupied by French and English crape bowers and little houses, so that no space seems to be left for orchards and flower gardens that one makes out of hair.

If, however, fashion demands that the hair dangles over the shoulders in locks or is plaited in a manner of a rope, or else supported by a decorative comb, ladies are free to make their choice upon the advice of ingenious and knowledgeable female friends.

They should also take a good look at which hairstyle suits them the best. The type of the toupee, look of the curls, frizzle or smooth hairdo should be opted for according to stringent order of fashion. Ringlets and every single lock of hair are to be hanging pursuant to the foppish order.

In a word, both male and female dandified society are to consider their hairstyle beyond their heads, and the hair jewels beyond mental accomplishments.

Currently the noblemen are well aware that curls and powder make all the worth, required from their nifty heads. The form of the toupee and the redolent scent of pomade passed down the names of thousands dandies and dandizettes to further generations and made them ever-living in the chronicles, registries and books of charges of hairdressers and makeup artists. And even in current times the hair-comb has achieved countless victories! Thanks to their enchanting power, fragrant grease and white powder turned foppish toupees into a kind of battery, which no hearts can henceforth resist.



Image source: Ney York Public Library