Historical Trends in Male Wigs
The tradition of wearing wigs dates back to the 15th century BC. While women wearing wigs did not become as widespread or fashionable as it is today until the mid 1900's, wigs for men have a long and interesting history that has only been strengthened by the ebbs and flows of the account. Some common examples of male wigs throughout history include:
Ancient Egyptians- The Pharaohs in particular wore wigs, but it was not uncommon for the general public to wear wigs as well. Male wigs were worn to keep the sun off their shaved heads.
16th century Europe- Most notably, Louise XIV brought male wigs to the forefront of vogue when he returned from a lengthy exile in France where wigs for men were at the height of fashion. As it is today, France was the forerunner of fashion and style. As wigs for men became more popular, and therefore more elaborate and expensive, they were reserved for court judges, aristocracy, noble men, and royalty.
Colonial America 18th century- Prominent political members such as John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and even George Washington wore wigs. Different statuses wore different colors. Tradesmen wore brown wigs, professionals donned gray wigs, and white wigs were reserved for formal occasions and aristocracy. Colored wigs for men were often powdered white so men didn't have to purchase additional wigs for infrequent occasions.
There are also a number of reasons why male wigs were worn.
Portray the European Majesty: The male trend of wig wearing was made popular by Louis XIV, who made male wigs a dignified part of dress. In an attempt to appear well bred, Americans continued the style.
Distinguish classes: Wigs were expensive, especially considering the vast collections that many people owned. Only members of the upper class and royalty had the means to accrue such collections. As such, wigs become something of a status symbol, and wearing a wig distinguished a person's class or level of affluence.
Age: Men used wigs to make themselves appear older than they really were. Young men wanted the maturity owned by older men, and older men wanted to seem even older and more sophisticated. This was particularly the case with married men who wanted to appear older, and therefore more venerable, to their wives.
Apparel: Wigs were worn as an accessory with different wigs being worn for all situations. From casual wear to formal attire and even sporting events, upper class members had wigs for every occasion.
Conservative Appearance: Towards the end of the 18th century, male wigs began to lose popularity. Older individuals still wore wigs because of their conservative appearance, as well as to continue the tradition of earlier generations.
The male wigs trend continues until today. Men suffering from premature balding or natural or medically induced hair loss can find relief in male wigs. Today, there are numerous styles and colors for men to choose from, and the present day wigs for men are often completely undetectable. From the earliest ages, male wigs have been an important part of men's dress. And the tradition continues on until today.
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| February 23, 2019
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