Now before y'all get excited, let me assure you that I know how handy they are. Snoods cover your hair so you don't have to do anything to it.
You can even show off your favorite color with your snood.
You can even make a fashion statement with a snood.
But if you've done any research into authentic Victorian hairstyles, these pictures are making you say what I said: OW!
Not that Victorian ladies didn't keep their hair contained. But they first put their hair up, then contained it... and the "container" (if any) was a very fine hairnet or a highly elaborate ribbon net.
Of course, if she went out she probably wore a bonnet, regardless of whether she also had a net. But authentic bonnets are expensive. So are hair extension pieces, which many ladies with modern haircuts need. So what is a reenacting lady to do if she wants a nice covering for her hair?
First, know that the front of your hair will show. So always part it in the center and smooth it down. If you have bangs, you can use hair gel or hair spray (or both!) to make both sides lay nicely. Sometimes rolling your hair back can also be a good way to contain short hairs.
Next, if your hair is long enough, put the back up into a bun. 1860s buns tended to be in the low-middle portion of the head, not high up like the later 1870s-80s styles. If you hair is not long enough for a bun, put some hair gel or hair spray on it to keep it smooth and in place.
Finally - the covering! In another post, I will cover proper bonnets and hats for the Civil War era. But for now, let's focus on the types of nets that were used. Hairnets of the 1860s were either a fine thin net, or a beautiful thick woven net made of silk ribbon or silk chenille. A pretty band was often attached to the net across the top which included braided or ruched ribbon, flowers, beads, or lace. Nets in the 1860s were not the thick crocheted nets of the 1950s.
Have you ever noticed that many ladies in 1860s photos appear to have some kind of ripple across the top of their head? It's not usually a braid - it's the ribbon band on their hair net.
If you don't know how to create one of these nets yourself, you can often find them at sutler's tents at reenactments. My mom has some lovely ones in her Etsy shop. This is me wearing one I snitched from her stash! :)
I mentioned the ribbon and chenille nets - here are some original pictures of them. Isn't this chenille hair piece absolutely adorable? I'm going to make one for myself one of these days!
This is a ribbon hairnet and yes, those are cute little bees on it! Obviously, with all the beautiful gold and ribbon work on this one, it's meant to be an evening headdress. Wouldn't you look dramatic in this?
And here is my mom, wearing one of those evening ribbon nets, along with a comb and some lovely flowers and ribbons to dress it up. Doesn't she look glamorous? (Just a little secret - my mom's hair is very short! She wears a false bun under her net for evening wear, and she wears a lace cap for day wear!)
So that's the scoop on hairnets! If anyone's interested in a blog on how to do hair, let me know and I may do a post on that in the future. For now... here's a cute picture I took at a recent ball. Even the best designed hairstyle may need a little help from a girlfriend occasionally - here's Mom helping my sis with her hair piece. Isn't that cute?