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Ringlet hairstyles, some history and their continuing popularity
Ring a ding, ding...the ringlet style has long history
If you hear the word "ringlet" and think only of Shirley Temple (below) or Cindy Brady (farther below), then you just haven't been paying attention! Ringlet hairstyles have lasted across centuries and throughout the decades of the 20th Century and now in the 21st Century. From iconic ringlet-wearers like Cindy Brady, or Shirley Temple or even Phyllis Lindstrom (don't remember her? just keep reading), ringlets have always had their special place on women's heads. Today's ringlets range from everyday casual 'clip on curls' to elaborate ringlet-dos for special occasions.
Ringlets have been popular for thousands of years, since some woman first realized that by gently heating a rod with a candle's flame and wrapping hair around it, she might NOT burn her hair off (!) and she just might get a gentle feminine curly ringlet. Then, of course, she realized that she'd need a maid or two to maneuver around her entire head and keep a series of rods warming and at-the-ready to create a head full of ringlets. but ringlets have maintained their appeal without maids, or candle-heated rods...take a look!
A bevy of ringlets from female portrait early 1800's
First Century Roman Woman statue shows ringlet's popularity even thousands of years ago
A brief historical review of ringlets
Ringlets are closely associated with many eras, the large long neck draping ringlet of Marie Antoinette's 18th Century France. The petite forehead and before-the-ear ringlets of the Federal (USA) or Regency (England) eras of early 19th Century. The ponytail full of ringlets of the Victorian era (mid 19th Century) and so on to this very day, although ringlets now usually reserved for special occasion hairstyles.
As the 20th Century began, ringlets were very popular for women of all ages. Silent Era movie stars like Mary Pickford and Lillian Gish frequently wore ringlet hairstyles. By the time Shirley Temple came along in the 1930s, ringlets no longer required heated rods, just soft rag scraps to tie up rings of hair that one's mother, (or one's servant) had wrapped around her finger (like a ring, get it? A ring of hair around one's finger?). Sleeping all night in these knotted rags wasn't always comfortable, but the next morning...Voila!...ringlets!
By the 1960s two inventions made ringlets once again fashionable for grown women...hair tape, to hold in place that oh so precious ringlet worn just in front of each ear, and the electric curling iron which heated to produce ringlets all over, without a maid or candle in sight.
(Image above from wikimedia.org)
The extravagant ringlets of England's 17th Century King Charles II's mistress, Nell Gwynn
Shirley Temple made ringlets a 'must do' for girls in 1930s and '40s
Actress Julia Roberts, with a head full of loose tiny ringlets
Meg Ryan goes for full head of loose ringlets in 2008 movie 'The Women'
Marie Antoinette, a ringlet lover from 18th Century
A more modern Marie Antoinette and her king...look even he had ringlets, horizontal style!
Early 19th Century Ringlet popularity
The ringlet style stayed popular as time moved from the 1700's into the 1800's. From the ornate costumes, wigs and hair-dos of the European courts to the relative simplicity of the Napoleonic era, called the Federalist period in the USA, and commonly known by many women as the age of Jane Austen in England (the Regency Era). The ringlet became simpler than Antoinette's elaborate styles, but was still extremely popular. Women wore them across their foreheads, in front of their ears, across the back of their necks under a bun, or a ponytail made of nothing but long ringlets!
USA's Dolly Madison portrait reveals ringlet popularity in 19th Century. Forehead ringlets, before-the-ear ringlets were all the rage for stylish First Lady
Actress Kate Winslet gets a head full of ringlets for her role in the Jane Austen tale, 'Sense and Sensibility'
Tons of ringlets needed for this cast from PBS production of Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' Series
Emma Thompson as Jane Austen's Miss Dashwood with casual ringlet hairstyle
And continuing on through 19th Century
Ringlets didn't end with Jane Austen's women though, but adorned heads, popular as ever, throughout the 19th Century. Can one wear a hoop skirt without a head full of ringlets? Check out these images Bette Davis (Jezebel) and Vivien Leigh (Gone With The Wind), with their ringlets, from period movies about the mid-19th century.
Actress Bette Davis, as "Jezebel" with a head full of ringlets displays the Victorian Era fondness for ringlets
Viven Leigh as Scarlet O'Hara with a very prominent 'sausage' ringlet
Actress Mary Pickford, from silent movie era, famous for her 'sausage' (long and large) ringlets
Forget the drudgery of creating ringlets, just clip them on!
Another version of clip-on ringlets, the 'Tony Pony Curly Hair' accessory, suggested retail $24.95
Sleeping with a head full of knotted rags was the Shirley Temple method for a head full of ringlets
Model Lauren Hutton with ringlets on 'Vogue' magazine, 1960s
Ringlets, still a popular and lovely touch for weddings, proms, special occassions
Cindy's 'Brady Bunch' Ringlets...they can't be ignored...or forgotten!
Side ponytail ringlet style...so early 1970s!!
The Queen of 1970s ringlets, "Phyllis" character on Mary Tyler Moore TV Show, played by actress Cloris Leachman
Ringlets in recent decades
Ringlets have been popular in recent decades, more or less. The Vogue magazine cover above shows a lovely version of the ubiquitous ear tendril ringlet so popular in late 1960s and 1970s. The 1970s ringlet popularity hits its zenith with the TV character, Phyllis Lindstrom (played by Cloris Leachman) from the Mary Tyler Moore TV show. The Cindy Brady photo also reminds us of the popularity of ringlets for young girls' hairstyles as well. The small before-the-ear ringlet was extremely popular for everyone from Tricia Nixon on her wedding day to teen model Cybil Shepherd in Seventeen Magazine, and all women everywhere in USA who went to bed with their little ringlets taped to their head with the newly invented hair tape.
Invented in the 1960s, the product that created ear ringlet frenzy, Scotch Hair Tape
If any woman's ringlets would kill this style it would have to be the vicious Glen Close in 'Fatal Attraction' movie
A current ringlet hairstyle, great for special occasions. This one from Michael Christopher Salon, Lyndhurst, Ohio
Sarah Jessica Parker in shorter hair, loose ringlet look
Ringlets through the ages
It seems that ringlets are here to stay. Let's face it....are their any 2,000 year old statues of women with stacked bob hairstyles a la Victoria Beckham? Have we seen any portraits from the 17th or 18th Century of women sporting closed cropped 'man' styles like Ellen DeGeneres, Suze Orman or most every woman over age 50 in the USA? Would Vivien Leigh be the same spirited southern woman in her green dress without her bouncy, sassy sausage ringlets? And let's face it, would Shirley Temple have captured the hearts of movie audiences if she'd had hair that was flat-ironed board straight?
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