In Victorian times, hair pins were an essential part of every woman's attire. Respectable women over the age of 15 or 16 were expected to wear their hair up and hair pins were a useful tool as well as desirable ornamentation. Hairpins continued to be worn throughout the Edwardian era but fell out of favour with the shorter hairstyles of the 1920s. However, just as many women continued to wear their hair long, hair pins continued to be worn.
A simplified version of the hair pin is still worn today although often only as a way of holding thick hair in place (for example when worn to hold a chignon) and not as a decoration in itself. Today's most common incarnation of the hair pin is the everyday 'bobby pin' or 'hair grip'.
Traditionally, hair pins came in matching pairs and could be worn in a variety of ways - horizontally, vertically or at an angle. They could be worn alone or as part of more elaborate ornamentation. Simpler ones were worn by day whilst evening hair ornamentation could be highly decorative.
Hair pins generally came in two varieties:
One-point Hair Pins.
These are comprised of a single long, straight piece, with a point at one end and usually an ornament on the other.
During the Renaissance period a type of one stick hairpin known as a 'Bodkin' was worn by the wealthier classes. It was made of precious metals and was often embellished with diamonds and pearls and other gemstones.
Two-point Hair Pins.
These are comprised of a ornament with two prongs. (Two-point hair pins will sometimes be called 'hair combs' because they are very similar to hair combs but have only two teeth and not multiple teeth.)
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