Marie Antoinette’s Hairdo, Makeup & Cie

If I say “18th century hairstyle” you think very long hair, 10 hours of intense work and 10,000 products to keep the hair tower standing? Well think twice, cause we will do just the opposite… After the photoshoot and the dress making “how to” last weeks, we tackle the details that will make you a true fool of yourself 18th century reenactor. And if you are patient enough. you will even seem me in Lingerie. Ok, the 18th century version of it, a bit more covering, but still! Oh and you will see which item was a gigantic failure…

Hair Tower, mode d’emploi

Items needed

I had a real field trip about this hair creation. It did not seem that easy at first. A few pros took the time to explain how they made their creations. But it looked kind of scary, technical and needing lots of secret recipes made out of grease and starch.

Actually no, I managed to create my style within 1 hour. This is what you actually need to recreate it:

  • pins (regular ones and bobby pins)
  • a bun roll (the thing from H&M to make a big badass “chignon”) or a rolled sock, yes it works too, I tried
  • curly hair (whatever the method it has to be small to middle size curls)
  • greasy hair (I insist)
  • flour
  • hairspray

Easy enough right ? No need of weird pommade or the likes. It wasn’t even painful to wear all day and it kept its shape for a whole day (well apart from the flour I scattered EVERY WHERE).


Historical inspiration: a portrait of Mademoiselle de Forges by François Hubert Drouais 1770

How to

Your hair has to be greasy so wait 3 days to a week after shampoo to master this style, depending on how your hair works. That state where it sticks together in little packs of hair and are suspectly shiny? There we are!

Then curl away! I used curlers + sprayed water + blow dry

After removing curlers you should resemble a Jane Austen character. Don’t worry it is still ok.

Next step : flouuuuuuur. The same one that is currently sitting in your kitchen in case you finally decide to cook something other than a pizza.  It is going to cover my whole head to give that white/blond/grayish color we see on portraits of the time.

On can see my hair getting whiter. Use your fingers to undo and mess curls up, you can even tease it up for more volume

The gory detail is, flour will stick because of the grease in your hair, replacing pommade mixtures. Just like dry shampoo, but minus the toxic chemical they generally add. Put a fair amount of hairspray on top and the hair dough will be ready for final shaping baking.


Place the bun roll on top of your head. Fix it with bobby pins. Place hair around and on top to form the desired shape.



Ok just like the dress, the hairstyle is not 100% accurate. A Robe à l’anglaise, as we saw in the previous article corresponds to end of the century, before and during the French Revolution (you know one out of the many that we had around that time, but let’s say this one is THE BIG one). At the time, those crazy hairstyles were in fashion:

go bold or go home they said

Unfortunately I had too little hair left on my scalp for such a performance. So I focused on keeping a general correct shape closer to a mid century appropriate look. I read somewhere the bun roll is even kind of accurate. Ladies of the time used horse hair to form the plastic version we use now.

My creation is closer to a “diadème”, the hair fashion right before the “pouf” craziness started. But it is too messy at the back to reach perfection.

Diadème Hairstyle
Marie Antoinette wearing of the many versions of the “pouf”

Only big no no, the lack of hat. As we stated in the previous article a women of good manners wouldn’t dare to set a toe outside without her fancy, feather or flower overflowing hat.

But in the end I liked it so What The Hell. To be absolute expert on the question, headout to Temps d’élégance (available in english) to spot hairstyles evolution over the century.

Subtle makeup, we said, SUBTLE

Just like with clothing, makeup changed depending on your rank and the occasion. It evolved over time too. If I am a marchioness during Louis the 15th and that I am at Versailles I can go full out on rouge. Yet if I am a bourgeoise under Marie Antoinette going for a stroll in a garden, I will look for a much more natural look with “barely there” touches of colors.

Louis XVth’s style, heavy on the rouge
Marie Antoinette’s style, very toned down. Jeanne Louise Henriette Campan – Maid de Marie Antoinette, by Mrs Vigée Le Brun

To get ready, read this (again) very instructive article by chez Temps d’élégance. You will see it is not hard to make. It took me 20 minutes to come up with that face. And I generally use just a bit of mascara and a bold red lipstick so no expert here!

What you will need:

  • 1  foundation 1 or 2 tons lighter than your own (always hated white fondation, result is hideous
  • 1 dark grey eyeshadow  to form a thin line, right above eyelashes
  • mascara on eyelashes, not really proper so be very gentle when applying
  • 1 marroun pencil for your eyebrows (you can go ahead on those, it is what women of the day did)
  • 1 red lipstick rather red, applied by gently touching your lips and cheeks and blending in gently with your fingers. Even better than blush
  • 1  dark pencil to draw moles
Do the duck face, pat your lips, there, and now stop that’s enough

The underwear

No real georgian dress without a fair amount of layers underneath. First a stay:

Laced tight, usually with a chemise underneath which I could not muster the courage to sew

You then add a “Cul de Paris” (ass from Paris, literary). It is a king of bum roll to create volume.
And then the under petticoat.

and voilà !

Touche finale

Last step: a pearl chocker. Originally it is a 20ies inspired long necklace (5$). Once cutted and ornate with satin ribbon, it is ready to serve!

The Big Fail : shoes

I barely dare to tell you about it but  for the sake of honesty, I have to mention this sorry attempt at shoes refashion.  Here is what it should have looked like:

and well… Let’s say it needed more work

The attempt was so discouraging I did not even finished the pair

And yet tutorials seemed very encouraging:  Venefice and La Costumeuse (in french only I believe)

Meanwhile I sacrificed an (old yet) super comfy pair of shoes…Here are pictures of the different steps:

Coming back to modern times

Once pins were removed, this is what I looked like:

It’s me, Crazy Lady

After a good combing and brushing (use a gentle brush or you will suffer) my bathroom was covered in flour

luckily, my sink is white
After thorough combing my hair was looking clean and bigger than ever, just like they should be if they were not weighted down by silicon coating (thank you modern poo).

This article concludes my series on Georgian/18th century clothing. It was great making it, waering it and explaining it to you. Was it good for you too? 

Stay tunes for the rest! a Hokusai inspired jean jacket, summer tops… I have many more creations I can’t wait to show you!

This week, I am off to Peru, a country promising colorful people and clothing! Follow me on instagram to see what it is all about!

In the next weeks we will meet an amazing costume pro and talk sewing wisedom.

Leave a comment if you have question on the dress or suggestions.

To see the previous shooting it is here and the dress construction is here

La bise


4 comments Add yours
  1. Thanks for the great post! Your dress is lovely, and I’ve been curious about how I could try to make my hair fit the dress but with a little less trouble – this looks promising!

    1. Yes I was very surprise too! Of course you can find much better hairstyle with accurate historical product but I did not really want to spend more money (making a costume is already pretty pricy) on products I would likely use once or twice. This is kind of a “low cost”/debutante version of an 18th century style ;-).

  2. I do not portray this time period but found your tutorial fascinating and easy to try. Thank you for the pictures.

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