The Gibson Girl was the personification of a feminine ideal as portrayed in the satirical pen-and-ink-illustrated stories created by illustrator Charles Dana Gibson during a 20-year period spanning the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in the United States.
Some people argue that the "Gibson Girl" was the first national standard for feminine beauty.
For the next two decades, Gibson's fictional images were extremely popular. There was merchandising of "saucers, ashtrays, tablecloths, pillow covers, chair covers, souvenir spoons, screens, fans, umbrella stands",all bearing her image. The artist saw his creation as representing "thousands of American girls".
The images of her epitomized the late 19th- and early 20th-century Western preoccupation with statuesque, youthful features and ephemeral beauty.
Hair Piled High On Top Of The Head
The Gibson Girl's neck was elegant and her hair was piled high upon her head in the contemporary bouffant, pompadour, and chignon ("waterfall of curls") fashions.
The tall, narrow-waisted ideal feminine figure was portrayed as being multi-faceted, at ease, and fashionable. Gibson depicted her as an equal and sometimes teasing companion to men.
The Gibson Girl hairstyle has become synonymous with femininity and old time romance.
By the outbreak of World War I, changing fashions caused the Gibson Girl to fall out of favor. Women of the World War I era favored a practical, more masculine suit, compatible with war work, over the elegant dresses, bustle gowns, shirtwaists, and terraced, shorter skirts favored by the Gibson Girl.
How To Recreate A Gibson Girl Bun
Gibson Girl hairstyles included buns, chignons and cascading curls which tended to be soft, loose and built upon a poufy base with the buns, chignons and curls piled high on the head.
Part of the reason the Gibson Girl buns and hairstyles were often loose and soft was because during the time of the Gibson girls the hair was kept in place with a series of tortoise style combs, U shaped chignon style pins made of metal or soft tortoise styled. Rubber bands, Blax, Bungees, metal bobby pins or small clips were not available at the time.
While there is a general hairstyle look to the Gibson Girl hairstyle there really is not right or wrong way to recreate the look. In fact, it's always inspiring to see a classic hairstyle recreated with a modern twist.
A Gibson Girl updo is best created on tresses which have natural texture such as natural waves, curls or kinks.
If your hair is fine, thin or tends to easily flatten you may wish to prep hair with a large barreled curling iron or hot rollers to add fullness. If you prefer you can add individual clip-in extension pieces to help add fullness to the hair.
A Gibson Girl hairstyle is similar to a topknot. It can be worn by anyone of any age or race but works best on hair which is shoulder length or longer. The styles displayed in this article were created on hair which is shoulder length.
Step By Step
Complete these steps on pre-cleansed, completely dry strands which has been prepped with styling creams, gels or mousses as desired. If hair is newly washed then be sure to prep with styling spray or similar.
1. Use fingers or a wide-tooth comb and separate tresses from ear to ear as if you were going to pull part of your hair up and leave the rest down.
2. Clip the bottom section of hair out of the way. Lift the top section of hair and backcomb it to create a full base. Smooth the teased section back and then lift the tail section and pull up in the air. Lift the end and twist the hair either clockwise or counterclockwise. Don't twist too tightly and leave lots of room at the roots for a big and poufy base.
3. Hold the finished twist with your hand and direct it towards the back of your head. Clip into place.
4. Gather the remaining hair at the bottom into a loose ponytail. Lift the tail and twist pulling it up into a coil.
5. Pin the two coils loosely to the head or merge them into one big coil wrapping the bottom coil around the top coil. Pin well.
6. Using the tail of a long tail comb gently pull out some tendrils or baby hair. Twist them around a curling iron and release. Spray with hairspray to help hold in place.
7. Tuck any loose ends under the chignon, and secure with a chignon style of pin.
8. Eliminate stray hairs by using a toothbrush and spray gel. Spray the gel on a toothbrush, and then lightly brush the hair down.
There are a variety of ways to recreate a Gibson Girl hairstyle but the bun listed above is a good basic style to start.
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- Revised Publication Date: 03/03/11