20th Century

Making the best of your hair in 1911

Some suggestions of hairstyles to suit your face from the Girls Own Paper, Christmas 1911:

For long faces:

And a side view of that style:

For older women and round faces:

And the back view:

My favourite.  I do love a side part:

I think this is just so sweet:

A hairstyle for dressy occasions:

For young faces, or narrow faces:

And the back view:

Aren’t they fabulous?  I particularly love the little glimpses of collars and necklines.


  1. Lynne says

    What a delight! I would love to know how they managed to achieve these looks by themselves. They look as if they had full, wavy hair to start with, but then there were probably rats, and a lot of tricky comb and pin work. As a woman with stubbornly straight, fine hair, these styles make me feel rather wistful.

    • Stella says

      I have straight, fine hair too. I have experimented with these styles before and can tell you that a lot of it has to do with the fact that they washed their hair very seldom. These styles are a lot easier when the hair needs washing. In practice, of course, that’s a bit yuck from a modern perspective so hairspray is the best option!

  2. ellipsisknits says


    They didn’t have directions, did they?

    Old hairstyles are at once mysterious and impressive to me. I suppose if that’s what you were used to you would understand how to construct them from just looking at the pictures, but from an outside perspective it’s just unfathomable.

    It is funny how much women’s/girls’ magazines have stayed the same.

  3. Stella says

    I love these. I like the styles, but would need to do a lot of work with rats to achieve them.

  4. Well, well, how perfect is your timing! I was *just* wondering how to lend a certain becoming piquancy to my face, and now I know! 😉

    No, but seriously, one of my favorite things about vintage publications is their awesome ad copy.

  5. I wish there was a little more instruction on how to do that… Oh well, I won’t be doing any Gibson girl hair until mine grows anyway…

    Very pretty and lovely.

  6. I’ve been wearing my hair short for years thinking that my face is filling up with fat and wrinkles and my long flowing hair from my youth was not working. It framed my double chin too much and was drawing the eye to it. Then along came historical costuming and I am growing my hair out. But, what to do with it so I don’t have the double chin issue. I was toying with a gibson girl look for a costume and low and behold I discovered that poofing the hair on the top made my face look longer…ie thinner! I needed a hair piece when I really needed a gibson girl look but I do a quicker, more modern version of it for every day (not so much poof at the side). My hair is still too short but I do have thick wavy hair…eat your hearts out girls….one day, I too can try for a piquant look for my face.

    My next costume is 1850s now there are some looks that wont do my fat wrinkled face much favors…those rolls at the ears….

  7. Lovely. I love these tips and tricks for finsding a suitable hairstyle, no matter what period!

  8. Sophie says

    As Lynne said in a comment, I have straight and fine hair and any kind of hairdo is extremely difficult to achieve for me, so I wonder how I would have done at that time. Am I the only one who doesn’t see much of a differene between the first two illustrations? the one for the longer faces and the one for round faces

    • Well, like Stella said, I think not washing your hair helps a lot. I also know that women often braided their hair when wet before going to bed to add a bit of frizz and wave to it.
      Rats and other supports would add body and shape. And finally, just like now, I suspect few women really lived up to the idealised vision of hairstyles & fashion.

      My hair may do vintage hairstyles beautifully, but its absolute rubbish at fringes and bobs and most other modern hairstyles! I’m sure I had a 1911 counterpart who just resigned herself to smooth, sleek hair!

      I *think* the difference between the first two hairstyles is that the first one, for long faces, is lower and squatter and poofs out over the forehead, and the 2nd one goes up from the forehead more, and has more height. But they are pretty close!

  9. I don’t know; somehow I think that hairstyle for long faces would not suit me, even though my face is rather long. But it’s not the forehead, it’s the chin, and I doubt it would do something for that! I rather need something at the sides of my head, and that hairstyle has all the hair up.
    (Not that I follow my own advice, wearing a single braid most of the time.)
    Probably why I love 1840s hairstyles, except that:
    Side part, yes please! I like my side part, I can do with historical hairstyles with the same! Even if I don’t do 1911, it’s nice to see some! And as this one does not have all the hair piled up at the very top of the head, but rather falling gracefully around the cheeks, too, I think I’d like seeing myself in it. 🙂

    • Come to think of it, that “piquant” look is more or less exactly the same shape as my mum’s hair takes on when it grows out a bit! She wears her hair short, but it’s wavy, and forms what father calls “tufts of hair on the ears like a squirrel” – mom’s not too happy about them herself (so shh!), but we all love them. 😉

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