Make Your Own: Mid-19th Century Headdress

A Simple, Illustrated Guide

During the 1840s and 1850s, hairstyles covered the ears and usually had hanging braids or curls that puffed out around the face while a bun secured the rest of the hair behind– admittedly, not the most flattering look. However, ladies would dress up their hair for special occasions with beautiful flowery, feathery, and beaded headdresses like this:

19th century headdress

It’s a magical 180° flip! The addition of the pretty falls makes weird hair gorgeous! They make ballgowns look complete and make day dresses look romantic. Mid-19th century headdresses are really easy to make and fun to wear, too.

Time to make your own!

This is the set of falls from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston that inspired me. They have a whole collection of headdresses from this time period all made from different materials and in different styles. I adore flowers, but you can also use ribbons and beads to dress up your falls.

Materials

Faux Flowers
Metal Headband(s)
Green Floral Tape
Wire Cutters
Exacto Knife

I got all my materials from the local Hobby Lobby and Dollar Tree. All together, I spent less than $15 on materials and had enough supplies to make three sets of falls!

Step 1: Trim your flower stems to a workable length (4-8 inches long)

Faux flowers vary widely in style. In my case, I chose some cute paper blossoms attached in a bunch on the end of a long stem. I had to remove the big stem to get to the individual flowers. You want to keep the stems of your flowers long enough to attach to the headband. Depending on the stem, 4 to 8 inches usually works well.

Step 2: Decide how you want your falls to hang.

The first flower is always the hardest! I wanted my falls to be medium length– barely long enough to reach the neck, like the original set. The best way to figure out how long you want yours to hang is to put on the headband and hold a stem up to the band until you find the length you want. Wrap the wire stem around the headband and use floral tape to secure the entire length of the stem, making sure to cover the end of the wire. The worst thing is wearing your falls to a dance and getting poked with stray wires all night!

Step 3: Add more stems until you reach the fullness you want.

Add the next stem over the tape and wrap it up as well. You can set your flowers as close together as you like. You can mix flower types and foliage to create more texture. I found a long, leafy stem softened the look of the crisp paper flowers. To attach this kind of stem, cut it to the length you want, then carefully attach it to the headband, maneuvering the tape around the leaves so they don’t get taped down.

Step 4: Once you reach the desired fullness, repeat on the other side.

Your falls can be symmetrical or not. Either way is historically accurate. If you like, you can make your flowers go all the way around the top of the head as well. Queen Victoria wore a hair wreath for her wedding that went all the way around her head instead of just falling at the sides.

Step 5: You’re done!

Taadaa! Here’s my completed headdress! :)

I decided to connect the two sides by wrapping the top of the headband with floral tape. Much more comfortable!

How to Wear Your Headdress

The best way to wear your headdress is with a period hairstyle. Since my hair is currently a little too short to properly style a la 1840s, my gracious sister, Minnie, allowed me to muddle up her hair for a photoshoot!

This is the style we chose for her hair since her locks are very fine and don’t hold curl very well:

The placement of your falls really depends on how you designed them, the hairstyle you choose, and what feels comfortable. It’s historically accurate to wear them behind or in front of the ears. At first she wore the falls behind her ears, but she decided that wearing them in front of her ears was much more comfortable in the long run and more readily displayed the pretty flowers!

Alternative Styles

You can adapt you falls for many different eras, and occasions! I have made a full version a few years ago for my Dia de los Muertos celebration headdress.

You can also wear both the fall-style and wreaths to make beautiful Edwardian costumes, especially Art Nouveau and Japonisme-inspired gowns. Nothing accents nymph-like beauty like lovely blossoms twining through your hair!

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Learn more about mid-19th Century Headdresses here!

As with all my articles, all of the images in this article are either linked to larger versions, articles explaining them, or other fact-filled sites to help you explore, so please feel free to check them out!

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UPDATE!

Just found this 1840s painting featuring a very full lace headdress:

Queen Alexandra and all her Edwardian Jewels

Dazzle me, Darling!

The Edwardian Period officially lasted from 1901 and the coronation of King Edward VII and lasted until his death in 1910. However, the timeline for Edwardian fashion is debatable. I believe the Edwardian fashion era extends not only to the beginning of WWI in 1917, but also stretches back to the 1890s, when Alexandra became fashion’s royal guide and the wild, artistic abandon of the Gay Nineties lay the foundation for the Flappers movement 50 years later (Art Nouveau, traditionally associated with Edwardianism, began around 1890, too!).

After the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Albert,  in 1861, Victoria began to withdraw from the public life.  She had been a fashion icon for years, so her withdrawal left a large inspirational void. In 1863, Queen Victoria’s son, Edward, had married Alexandra of Denmark. Alexandra was beautiful, fashionable and charming: the perfect candidate for fashion’s next muse. Alexandra rocked the tight-laced corset and bustled train of the 1870s and 1880s, covering herself with lace and wearing plenty jewels, including glittering tiaras befitting of her royal status. This picture of her was taken in 1889:

Va-va-voom! Look at those curves– and those gems!  It wasn’t just fashion and the monarchy that was changing. Jewelry during the Edwardian era was much different than the Victorian jewelry before it. Victorian styling favored ornate, heavy designs with large stones and lots of goldwork. Turn of the century jewelry was much lighter, brighter, and happier as European and American cultures flourished. People wanted to have a good time: going to the opera, cheering at cheap theaters, visiting carnivals, traveling the world, and generally indulging in joyous frivolity. Jewelry reflected this optimistic attitude.  Platinum, which had originally been dismissed by Europeans as an inferior metal and was rarely used in jewelry before 1860, was growing in popularity as the skills and technology to work with this difficult metal developed. Platinum, it turns out, looks absolutely fantastic with diamonds and does not tarnish like silver.

It became the most fashionable metal to wear during the Edwardian era, topping even gold as the fashion favorite. Platinum is not as soft as gold and could be shaped into increasingly delicate filigree patterns that were more air than metal. Lace and bows, so popular on dresses, also became fashionable to wear as jewelry.

Edwardian fashion developed a long, languid silhouette– the early stages of what we call “flapper” fashion today. Long strands of pearls, glass beads, or delicate chains that hung to the waist became a staple in every lady’s wardrobe. Often a brooch or watch would be pinned off to the side and the long chain draped over it, accenting another favorite trend: asymmetry and idealized natural forms.

Popular Motifs and Materials in Edwardian Jewelry

I’ve already covered the most iconic motif and material of the Edwardian era– diamonds and platinum filigree– but there are plenty of other designs to tickle your fancy and brighten up your outfit!

Pearls and Gold

History’s favorite gem, pearls never go out of style! Gold was still widely used in the Edwardian world even as platinum exploded in popularity. Gold jewelry became lighter and lacier alongside its silvery competition and was still the most popular metal for long drop necklaces called lavaliers.

Flowers and Enamel

Edwardians loved flowers, especially pansies, roses, dahlias, and daisies. They wore them everywhere they could: tucked into their sashes, pinned to their necklines, spilling from their hats, and blooming on their brooches, bracelets, necklaces and earrings.

Enameling masters like the world-renowned House of Faberge revived the popularity of enameling on jewelry, especially realistic florals and miniatures. You’ll notice the back of this locket– one of the most common pieces of Edwardian jewelry– has a pattern of wavy lines engraved under the enamel background. This technique is called “guilloché” and became very popular again in the 1950s, so you can find inexpensive vintage pieces pretty easily!

Hearts and Turquoise

Hearts are another timeless motif. One of the most popular charms and brooch styles during the Edwardian period was a puffy heart paved with seed pearls, diamonds, garnets, or turquoise cabs. Turquoise was rapidly rising in popularity after remaining an obscure gemstone throughout much of the European world. Most Victorian turquoise was Persian in origin, preferred for it’s uniform blue color. Turquoise from the American Southwest gained popularity late in the era as train lines to New Mexico and Arizona introduced tourists to Native American jewelers, but such jewels were treated more like curiosities rather than fashionable accessories until the 1920s.

Romanticized Bohemian Style and Garnets

The bohemian movement as we know it began in the late 19th century with the alternative lifestyles of the era’s blooming artistic and intellectual population. The name began as a term for Romani Gypsies and was made famous by the association with the roaringly popular opera La Bohème beginning in 1896. More traditional Edwardians may have initially frowned on the non-traditional lifestyles of the bohemians, but the culture’s ornate fashion was infinitely mysterious and fascinated the general public.  The perfect gemstones for this trend are aptly named “Bohemian Garnets,” mined in what we now call the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia). These seductive, wine-colored garnets were often rose-cut and set in the popular pavé style, covering the surface so that the back metal was nearly invisible.

Animals and Insects

Animals are always popular motifs, but their use in jewelry changes during the Edwardian period. Realism with stylized accents replaced the old fashion for more stereotypical animal designs. Dogs, always popular in jewelry, are joined by cats and birds as popular motifs (it’s so rare to find cats in jewelry before 1890 because they were still shaking off their negative reputation). The bird became the most popular animal to depict because of it’s graceful beauty, but also because it was adopted by feminist writers as a symbol of Women’s Suffrage.

Insects had been popular since the 18th century. A craze for natural specimen collecting began around 1800 and became a world-wide hobby for Victorians. By 1900, the trend for collecting butterflies from the jungles and beetles from the Egyptian desert for display was beginning to wane, but insects blossomed as a fashion statement. Spindly spiders, jewel scarabs, delicate butterflies, and elegant wasps (they called tight corsets wasp waists for a reason!) were huge favorites.

Feathers and Haircombs/Tiaras

Alexandra of Denmark’s signature tiaras soon became a favorite piece of jewelry for America’s royalty– wealthy industrialists– to copy. Many of these tiaras, including this one, were fitted with clips or rings in the back to hold an abundance of feathers, especially peacock feathers (Here’s another tiara from the period that still has its feathers). Birds were the quintessential Edwardian motif, so it makes sense that feathers would be popular, too. Just look at their hats!

Circles, Diamonds, and Arts and Crafts

The Edwardian era was the heyday of the circle. Art Nouveau designs were based entirely on the curve as the perfect creation of nature, shunning straight lines as the construct of man. However, by the time of the Titanic in 1912, Art Nouveau was beginning to give way to the Arts and Crafts. The naturalistic, flowing forms of the 1900s were beginning to shift towards geometric designs and stylized lines that would soon morph into snazzy Art Deco. The Arts and Crafts style is the bridge between Art Nouveau and Art Deco. It still emphasized being handmade with care and skill, but unlike Art Nouveau, it embraced straight, architectural lines.

All these gems and jewels are definitely upper-class, but machines made mass-produced jewelry of similar style but of inexpensive materials available to the public. Sterling silver or pot metal plated with rhodium was used in place of platinum and gold electroplating and gilding was done over brass to give the glow of gold without the high cost. Many of these pieces are still inexpensive today, perfect for those of us who want museum pieces but don’t have $2,000 dollars to spend on this beautiful brooch:

But (here comes the shameless self-promotion) I have a gilded  Edwardian enamel pin that I wore in a production of The Miracle Worker listed on Etsy for 98% less:

There is plenty of Edwardian or Edwardian revival jewelry available on Etsy, Ebay, at flea markets, consignment shops, or even in your mom’s jewelry box! One of my jewelry standbys is a long string of interesting beads. I usually just go to the bead shop, find a 32 inch strand of beads and wear them straight out of the store– after paying, of course! : )

This is the companion article to Costuming on a Budget: Edwardian Edition

I’m really looking forward to seeing all the costumes people will be sporting this spring! between the anniversary of the Titanic, vintage wedding season, Civil War reenactments, and Renaissance fair, there’s plenty of history to get excited about this season. If you go to an event this spring and have a blog entry about it, feel free to post it in the comments. I’d love to see what everyone’s been working on!

The Importance of Finding Color: Edwardian Autochromes

It’s sometimes hard to think of the past beyond the black and white…

Making your costumes look and feel real is one of the greatest challenges in costuming. To accurately design a realistic outfit, you have to do research, often using primary sources like images. It’s important to not only get the seams and silhouettes down, it’s important to really feel like you know the era for which you are reenacting, and, therefore, living in! I’ve already covered how using unusual sources of extant images like Valentines and Stereographs can help inspire your costumes, but there’s another type of image I haven’t really explored before: Autochromes.

It began a few years ago when I discovered an autochrome in an antique shop. Wow! A COLOR photo of an Edwardian! I didn’t even know of their existence, having thought that colored photos beyond hand-tinted ones only arrived in the 1930s. I was curious, but never really delved too deeply into the history because, frankly, I hadn’t really become interested in photograph research just yet. The past few years I’ve gotten much more interested in photos as resources. Today, my interest was reawakened by this post at American Duchess.

This image of Ms. Emily Winthrop, piqued my interest in autochromes because of one small detail: her red necklace (which appears to be coral or art glass). It’s amazing how such a small detail like the color of a necklace can make such a difference! The rest of the image is pretty standard: dark hat, dark dress, white lace collar, even her blue eyes would all have translated fairly recognizably into black and white. Those beads, however, aren’t anywhere near as eye-popping in black and white:

It made me realize how important these autochromes could be. Color goes beyond just proving something red or blue, but also highlights textures and shapes in ways black and white photos can’t, especially since some colors, like red and green or even blue, look the same in greyscale, so prints with such color combos look much different. The difference between orange and red is important for fashion design, but black and white can render them indistinguishable. Traditional colorblindness dot tests prove how minute differences in color can make a world of difference. Here’s an even simpler test showing the importance of color:

Square A
Square B

These squares are the same colors, I just greyscaled the second one. You can test this for yourself by making a color square in paint or Photoshop and then editing the image by desaturating the color 100% (I used Microsoft Picture Manager) or using a black and white filter. The difference is huge! All those wildly different colors suddenly become indistinguishable. That’s also why Victorian ladies’ skin looks so flawless and smooth: any splotches and redness grey out to almost perfectly match the underlying skin tone! It’s like Photoshop Edwardian Edition:

After realizing how important colored photos really were, I found a new love of Autochromes! Invented in 1903 by the Lumière brothers, Autochromes aren’t as harsh as modern color pictures, providing softened hues and tones. They are amazing at making photographs look less rigid and distant and more like an attainable reality. They are so beautiful!

Some of my favorites don’t involve everyday activities, but people in antique costumes and fantasy shots. Since autochromes were so new and special, people used them to capture scenes that could only be achieved with hand-colored prints and paintings before.

You can find a fine article on autochromes by Mark Antman here.

Hair To Dye For: Radical Redheads

Famous Red, Orange, and Auburn Haired Ladies
Flaming hot since 1558!

I’m a sorta-redhead. My hair can’t decide whether it wants to be mousy, dishwater blonde or a snappy strawberry (which makes picking out outfits a drag since some colors look good with redheads, but not with blondes and vice versa). My hair’s indecision began when I was just a baby; I have a natural pink mohawk in most of my baby photos thanks to my light strawberry blonde curls piling on top of my ivory skin. My hair turned blonde and straight when I was two, then switched back to curly auburn when I was 16. By junior prom, I was sick of my hair flip-flopping from red-to-blonde-to-brown-to-all-three. L’Oreal Excellence Creme in it’s cute, pink box promised to even out my hair color in just 30 minutes and a shower. Who was I to refuse? Dousing my unruly hair with dye disguised my hair’s spotty nature, and it’s pretty historically accurate at that!

Natural redheads are mutants (with recessive variant genes). Our superpowers are sticking out in a crowd and looking awesome. Many have scorned our powers by flogging us with insults (“Gingers have no souls!”) while others have venerated our hair’s glory with paintings, festivals, films, and flattery. If imitation is the highest form of flattery, redheads are the most flattered of all hair colors: Sixty percent of women who dye their hair do so at home. Of them, twenty six percent choose to go blonde, twenty seven percent go brunette, and over thirty percent choose to become redheads! Feel the power!


Jean Grey: Exploring both sides of the redhead stereotype since 1963.

The see-saw between scorn and veneration has been going on since redheads were first documented in Greek writing. Boudica, the warrior queen, is said to have had long red hair that–in addition to her stature–was a terrifying, powerful sight on the battlefield. The idea that redheads have fiery tempers stems not only from the flame coloring, but also from the politically powerful redheaded women like Boudica who were just as powerful and intelligent as men (if not more). This was naturally unnerving to a society in which women were expected to be subservient. Throughout history– even through the 1950s– redheaded ladies have been breaking rules and changing social norms!

Queen Elizabeth I

Perhaps the most famous redhead in history is England’s Queen Elizabeth I. Born to Hanry VIII’s most notorious wife, Anne Boleyn, Elizabeth inherited her father’s golden-red hair. When she took the throne in 1558 at the age of 25, she brought wit and unprecedented political prowess with her. She refused to marry and actively participated in the jurisdiction of her country. Though she was affectionately called the “virgin Queen,” she is reported to have taken many lovers and favorites throughout her long reign. Beloved by her subjects and lauded for her role in England’s victory over the Spanish Armada, Queen Lizzie changed red hair from a fashion faux pas (blonde was the previous preferred color) into England’s must-have shade.

Elizabeth’s striking red hair set off the creamy whiteness of her skin. Light skin was considered to be the most important aspect of beauty and since the recessive gene that creates red hair also causes paler skin and lighter brows, natural redheads in Elizabethan England became suddenly fashionable. Creamy skin and ruby-tinged hair also meshed well with the rich jewel tones and heavy golden ornamentation that prevailed in courtly fashion. Ladies who weren’t in the lucky 4% of the population with the variant gene, there were all sorts of hair treatments:

For coloring the hair so that it is golden. Take the exterior shell of a walnut and the bark of the tree itself, and cook them in water, and with this water mix alum and oak apples, and with these mixed things you will smear the head (having first washed it) placing upon the hair leaves and tying them with strings for two days; you will be able to color [the hair]. And comb the head so that whatever adheres to the hair as excess comes off. Then place a coloring which is made from oriental crocus, dragon’s blood, and henna (whose larger part has been mixed with a decoction of brazilwood ) and thus let the woman remain for three days, and on the fourth day let her be washed with hot water, and never will [this coloring ] be removed easily.

I’ve highlighted the word henna because this particular plant was the primary source of red hair colorant since the age of the Pharaohs! Henna is mostly famous as a skin pigment, but this semi-arid shrub also works as a semi-permanent hair dye and was the most popular way to get red hair until synthetic dyes were invented in the late 1800s.

Queen Elizabeth herself dyed her hair as she aged and her hair became white. The auburn-red of her earlier portraits fades into a light pinkish-orange since henna is a naturally orange dye that only reddens the base color. If the base color is a brown, it tints it red. If the hair is blonde, henna creates a golden strawberry. By the end of her reign, Queen Elizabeth’s hair was fine and white, so the true color of the henna is revealed in her portraits.

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The Pre-Raphealites

Red hair gained popularity again in the mid-1800s, culminating with the Pre-Raphealites and their beautiful models like Fanny Cornforth, Alexa Wilding, and Elizabeth Siddal: ladies with deep burgundy and  ginger-flamed hair. The Pre-Raphealite Brotherhood, a group of artists, began in 1848 and lasted for an all-to-brief decade. Their influence on artistic style and fashion was much longer lived. The mauves, greens, and blues of dreamy pre-raphealite paintings were perfectly suited to complement cascading red hair.

Paired with swaths of roses and loosely draped gowns, pre-raphealite paintings recreated classical Greek, Medieval, and folk fashions with a heavy dose of dreamy fantasy quite unlike the rigid world of corsets and hoopskirts in the 1850s and 1860s. There was plenty of controversy surrounding these sensual models, especially considering that many were mistresses of the painters themselves! These ladies appear unfettered by any social, sexual, or fashion restraints in their pictures: clinging silks drenched in rain hug every curve, a corsetless waist is girdled softly with gold, and hair flies around their shoulders freely. Though the fashions might be too much for the everyday Victorian lady, glowing crimson locks were well within the average woman’s reach. The red-haired beauties filling the canvases inspired women to once again run to their nearest druggist for the reddening power of henna dye.

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Lucille Ball

No list of spunky, game-changing redheads would be complete with Ms. Lucy! The saucy sit-com queen is famous for her brilliant red mound of spunky curls. From 1951 to 1960, Lucille Ball entertained the world on her TV shows I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. Though these are her most famous accomplishments, Lucille’s resume includes much more, including modeling, a brief stint as a Broadway chorus girl, and acting work in films alongside the Three Stooges, Ginger Rogers, and Katherine Hepburn. She’s known for being outspoken and participated in a few small tiffs with social norms, most famously her marriage and divorce to Desi Arnaz.

Ball met and eloped with the Cuban bandleader in 1940. Lucy was 6 years older than Desi, sparking a little social friction since some people thought an older woman marrying a younger man was improper. During her first pregnancy, Lucille continued to film I Love Lucy even though she was showing, but the broadcasting company forbade any mention of Lucille’s “condition” on-air.  Lucille’s and Desi’s first child, Lucie Désirée Arnaz, was born when Lucille was almost 40 years old! Lucille’s second pregnancy, however, is the one she is most famous for. TV in the 1950s was heavily censored and everything that went on air had to be approved by a committee. This time around, Lucille’s real-life pregnancy was worked into I Love Lucy’s plot. In a magnificent segment, she appears on camera, glowing, to surprise Ricky with the news. It was a huge moment in television history.

Even though much of her film and TV work was done in black and white, Lucille Ball’s hair was a key part to her personality and characters. In fact, we associate the color red with her so much, it’s hard to recognize her with any other haircolor:

Here’s a bit of a surprise: Lucille Ball was not a redhead. Lucille Ball was actually a natural brunette/dark blonde, but she dyed her hair using that fabulous plant dye, henna. As her fame grew, so did the demand for red hair dyes, driving the sale of  natural henna color through the roof. The queen of mid-century comedy continued to dye her hair throughout her life, maintaining the titian tint that came to define her.

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Today, most hair dyes are synthetic and can be done at any hair salon, or at home with a box kit. The coloring agents come in liquids, foams, brushes, and sprays in every color under the sun! With all these magic concoctions so readily available and inexpensive, it’s hard to imagine that such a seemingly innocuous thing like dying your hair for prom or using a color rinse shampoo before a date could have such a huge impact on fashion and society. What if Elizabeth had been raven-haired? What if Pre-Raphealite painters preferred blondes? What if Lucille had never dyed her hair that brilliant orange-red? Knowing that so much of who you are as a person can be linked to something as simple as hair color makes me wonder: What’s my “true” color?

Discovering Victorian Fashions in Antique Valentines

Be my Valentine?

Postcards are a great place to look for fashion inspiration! Their benefit is two fold:

1) Many Postcards are stamped and dated by the post office, giving you an almost exact date for the fashion.

The post office is one of the oldest public dating systems. They are reliable and not only date things, but let you know where the card was send from as well.

2) Postcards are easy to find, relatively cheap, and fun to collect.

Holiday postcards are especially fund to find and they often feature creative fashions to draw inspiration from! Antique Valentines are some of my favorites because they’re often humorous or ornately decorated, but especially because they provide clever glimpses into life and fashion at the time.

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Valentines reveal unique color trends

For example, here’s an exceptional early postcard from the 1850s or 1860s that has a secret feature–her skirt swings aside to reveal her bright red petticoats!

The great thing about postcards is that they are often sentimental or satirical. This particular one is poking fun at ladies who were scrambling to wear red petticoats, which were extremely fashionable, under their enormous new dresses. It’s absolutely superb! This little valentine just gave you a little insiders note on being a fashionable mid-Victorian lady. Also, notice the magenta color of the girl’s gown. The dye has somewhat faded on her dress, but it was probably rather brilliant and garish when it was first printed. During the Industrial Revolution, new petroleum-based dyes and chemical colorants were discovered, allowing manufacturers to produce vivid, rich colors at a fraction of the cost of “natural” dyes. A chemistry student named William Perkin discovered a bright mauve and soon Europe was bathed in mauve fever! Queen Victoria wore it to her daughter’s wedding in 1858, and the highly influential Empress Eugénie adored the color because it matched her eyes. The very fashionable young lady in this postcard would have been quite a sight indeed with her stunning Perkin’s Mauve silk skirts and vermillion petticoats–a great color combo if you’re looking for something special to wear to your next Victorian Tea!

Fashion has always loved contrast. Victorian Valentines play on color contrasts, too, like blue with red or green with pink. Most cards contain as many rainbow colors as possible. Here’s another great Valentine from a few decades later featuring a very handsome couple:

The marigold color of her dress is supremely gorgeous! Yellow isn’t a color you see very often at 19th century events, especially this shade of buttery orange. Though probably done more for design unity of the card itself (the orange pairs so perfectly with the blushing roses and sage green), the cut and color look amazing and are certainly unique! The card’s aesthetic unity is also a good jumping off point for a color palette of your own: sorbet orange with accents of rose, sage, and crimson. I particularly love the gold ink stripes accenting her dainty, corseted waist, the cascading ruffled sleeves, and the fun circle pattern “embroidered” on her skirt. Her companion is looking quite dapper himself in a classic long suit coat, creamy waistcoat with bold brass buttons, and a pop of fashionable turquoise at his tie!

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Valentines reveal changing styles and modes

Here’s a beautiful postcard Valentine from the Art Nouveau period (about 1890s-WWI):

The highlight of this this Valentine is the girl’s exotic hairstyle of gold-tinged auburn waves, the favored hair color during the Art Nouveau era, that is partially tamed by a ruched pink snood/turban accented with chains and a large filigree dangle. I love this postcard because it also helped me figure out some period make-up styling. The girl in this postcard is wearing very smoky make-up– dark, lined eyes with a brown shadow, rosy rouged cheeks, and dark red lips– precursors to the outrageous makeup of the Flapper era. Just like today, strong brows were a trend at the turn of the 20th century.

Ok, so this isn’t exactly a “Valentine,” but it’s super cute and scathingly cheeky! The little poem lets the flapper girls know they look like men in too much make-up. Personally, I think she looks adorable by my modern standards, even though my Edwardian self should be righteously scandalized by her menswear get-up. :)

For more Valentine’s Day postcards, check out The Stock Solutions Vintage Valentine Art Collection. It’s full of even more great cards and designs, including plenty of photograph cabinet cards with lovely pigeon-pouf gowns, adorable children in costume, and more fabulous hairstyles than you can count!