Whether wooden, metal, jewel-tipped, or uniquely designed, a woman’s hairpins were always functional. The predecessor of the modern day bobby pin, pins held a lady’s hairstyle in place. The Regency era fashions were considered simple compared to the wigs and bouffant styles of the Georgian era, but they were, by no means, plain or unsophisticated. Whatever a woman’s preferred style, it was necessary a bonnet covered her hair when she went out and tied snugly to hold her pins in place.
During the Season, every matchmaking mama contrived to position her daughter in the most favorable light. Decorative pins with jeweled tips were certainly used to attract the eyes of potential suitors. In addition to the pin, hair combs, tiaras, and headbands augmented a coiffure from a simple chignon or knot, a statement declaring one’s wealth and position.
How reliable were these pins for keeping a lady’s hair in place? How many pins might a lady lose in a year?
It surely would have been her undoing if someone caught a lady alone with a gentleman in a room and her hairpins scattered about the floor. As a writer, however, I imagine a betrothed couple found ways to avoid scandal. Perhaps walking in the gardens? Indeed a declaration that the wind was responsible for removing her bonnet and hairpins might have afforded the necessary excuse.
In my upcoming novel, A Fortuitous Wager: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary, I included just such a scene! When Colonel Fitzwilliam sought Charlotte’s assistance in solving a cipher, she requested of him a brief, romantic interlude (before considering herself on the shelf for the rest of her days.) Afterward, Charlotte returned to Longbourn with the good colonel. Having lost several pins during their encounter in the shrubberies, Charlotte’s tresses tumbled about her face and down her back as soon as she removed her bonnet! None of their walking partners looked askance at the implications brought about by her disheveled locks (for who would consider Charlotte to be passionate), yet she excused herself to put her hair to rights.
I find it amusing to consider how many young ladies might have acted accordingly with their intendeds while waiting for the banns to be read or during a long betrothal period, for the passions of the youth are known to dislodge even the bobby pins of today.
Pictorial History of Regency Hairstyles Posted in 19th Century England, Jane Austen, Jane Austen’s World, Regency Life, Regency Period, Regency style, tagged Regency Fashion, Regency Hairstyle on March 17, 2013, Jane Austen’s World https://janeaustensworld.com/tag/regency-hairstyle/
Custom Wig Company “A Brief Discussion of Women’s Hair in the Regency” July 11, 2011 https://customwigcompany.com/a-brief-discussion-of-womens-hair-in-the-regency/
SMITH, SIMONE HARUKO “How to Re-Create Regency-Era Hairstyles” Bellatory April 4, 2022 https://bellatory.com/hair/Regency-Era-Hairstyles
To purchase or see more images of hairpins from the Georgian/Regency period, visit Regency Hair Pin – Etsy