Hair Bow Designs – Handmade Hair Bows Have History!

The most widely recognized and popular hair accessory, the hairbow dates all the way back to Roman, Greek and Egyptian times! The bow has truly stood the test of time, adapting from industrial use to fashion.

Hairbows– Not Just for Girls?

History shows men were first to understand the use of the fabulous bow. Using bones, even sticks, the first bows were used to secure hair back as a safety measure. Probably the most pivitol time in history for bows was the 18th century. European history shows the great extravagance of appearance, with amazing hairstyles following the “Rocco” artistic style. The bigger the better, what could not be done with natural hair was made with wigs. At the beginning of the century mens hairstyles were shown more elaborate than womens. As the court of King Louis XIV of France all commonly wore wigs, the trend spread throughout the continents. The men’s bow made a consistent appearance in 1715 when France’s new King, Louis XV introduced a smaller white wig. A single ponytail was drawn back and secured at the nape of the neck using ribbons tied in various lengths and colors. Soldiers used this technique as well on the battlefield.

Hair Determines Hair Bow Designs

Wigs were worn by women later in the century, around 1770. France truly set the standard for fashion and women wore colored wigs in pastel colors. The more ornamented the wig, the  more revealing of your social status. Fruit, bows, flowers and jewels were added to the already large, sometimes over a foot tall headpieces!  These elaborate styles were quickly eliminated with the beginning of the French Revolution. A new classic, simple style emerged.

With the start of the 19th century and the newly created United States, our founding fathers were the last to wear the curly powdered wigs tied with a hair ribbon.  During this age of Romanticism, hair became the outward expression of thought. In favor of a now more popular natural look, boys and men secured their long hair with bows and ribbons. Bows were then replaced with shorter hair styles for men.  For women, hair was curled and adorned with ribbons. In the 1820’s, hair was parted and smoothed back making the bonnet the “bow” of choice.

In the “Victorian Age”, bows appeared as an accessory worn in hair and on dresses. The popularity of the bow was certainly affected by the successively changing hairstyles of this period.

During the mid 1800’s, the “Marcel Wave” brought the look of chignons (curls arranged in a bun worn in the back of the head) and hair was adorned with jeweled ribbons, flowers, pearls, combs and even leaves. If you haven’t guessed, he invented the curling iron!

20th Century Hair Bows: A traditional to modern journey

The style of the 20th century was no longer determined by politics, nobles or aristocrats. The world of fashion, movies and models now determined who people would imitate. The bow was no exception!

Appearing in the 1890’s, the Gibson Girl image was illustrated to represent an athletic shaped fashionable woman. Why were these images important to bows? Well, in the early 1900’s mothers twisted, rolled and curled their daughters hair (and their own)  imitating the popular chignon or bouffant style made famous by Charles Gibson. The curls were then adorned by typically large satin bows.

In the early 1900s, ringlet curls and hairstyles were unisex. Bows were popular and worn by both girls and boys, differing in size, color, knot and position. It still remained a popular French custom to tie ribbons in boys hair.

As the popularity of hair bows for boys lessend, (rarely seen after World War I).

The trend for girls was different. The influence of the movies began to play a big role.

Bows are a timeless shape, made by hand for hundreds of years.

Bows make memories!

Stay tuned for Part 2 we’ll give you a hint; think Madonna.


Truly, I think it comes down to where you were raised! If you grew up in the south, that bow had better be big

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