A 21st Century Gibson Girl – Vintage Hairstyle Tutorial

Gibson Girl1

The Gibson Girl was an iconic character that symbolized women’s beauty and independence at the turn of the twentieth century. The recurring character was featured in women’s magazines read by many young women during what is known today as The Progressive Era. The Gibson Girl was characterized as upper class and was portrayed in both a sexy but sophisticated manner. Her hour glass figure and beauty were only part of the character’s modern demeanor. She was adventurous, sporty, educated and flirtatious.

Women’s fashion and style of this era paralleled that of the Gibson Girl. While this era still required women to wear corsets; gowns of this period were more modern and tight fitted, accentuating a woman’s curves. The period also had fashion trends specific for the career or modern day woman. The look was a three-piece suit, often fabricated of bold textures. As for makeup and hair, very little makeup was worn. Hair was styled loosely on the top center of a woman’s head, sometimes clipped with a comb or hat.

Recently I was watching a film that took place in this period and I just loved the hairstyle of the Gibson Girl. It was so chic for the time that I decided to see if I could pull off this hairstyle today. At first I tried to make my ‘do look as historically accurate as possible. With natural untreated hair (they didn’t have blow dryers in the 1890s) I attempted to create a voluminous hair bun, just like the popular character from the turn of the century. While it turned out better than I expected, it was difficult to keep the hairstyle in place. The sheer weight of all that hair on top of the head was not comfortable. Can you imagine wearing this hairstyle all day along with a three-piece suit and a corset?

Gibson Girl Test

Progressive Era indeed.

More recently, I altered the look of the Gibson Girl so that the hairstyle could be worn comfortably in the hectic lifestyle that is the 21st century. Unlike hair bun trends today like that of the sock bun, which I find can sometimes be too severe, this look gives a whimsical but professional look. As summer reaches an end this style will be my go-to hairdo to complement the rich fall fashions like that of the Gibson’s Girl’s once popular style.


Gibson Girl Hair Style Tutorial

Gibson Girl2

  1. Part blow dried hair at its natural part
  2. With a comb, part hair on each side of the head to separate the hair at the back of the head from the front of the head
  3. Loosely tie the hair at the back of the head with an elastic
  4. With a comb, tease the hair at the front of the head to create volume
  5. Pull teased hair back and pin on the top of the head with two bobby pins
  6. Once hair has been pinned, untie the rest of hair and place into a high pony tail on the crown of the head
  7. Spray hairspray on the sides of the head to hold hair in place
  8. With 5 – 7 bobby pins, twist the pony tail into a loose flat bun on top of the head, pinning with bobby pins to hold in place

Gibson Girl3

The makeup used for this look matches that of the natural look of the Gibson Girl. Want to get the look? The makeup tutorial will be available soon on Fanciful Impressions!

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