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History of the Headband

Did you know that History in High Heels all started with a headband? It was one of my first semesters in grad school and I wore what I thought was an innocuous pink headband to work. By the day’s end, my advisor had pulled me into to her office and warned me against wearing such things as she feared people would not take me seriously.

It was in that moment that I realized there was a different set of rules for female academics when it came to the way we dress and, in general, how we look. That realization inspired me to create History in High Heels. It became a space where I could express my interest in fashion while countering the assumption that women who are fashionable or appear “too feminine” cannot be serious scholars.

My blog and social media channels became an important outlet for me in grad school. Not only was I able to connect with so many like-minded and talented women, I also found myself empowered by my blog and growing online community. It gave me the confidence to embrace my feminine style and challenge the academic status quo. I now regularly wear subtle and not-so-subtle headbands to my university job.

As you can see headbands now have a lot of sentimental meaning for me, and I am absolutely loving the current statement headband trend, which remind me of 16th century hoods.

In fact, headbands have been a popular accessory in European cultures for more than 2,000 years! In ancient Greece and Rome men and women wore hair wreaths to mark special occasions and significant events. The tradition of wearing a head wreath of flowers continued well into the middle ages. Eventually, wealthier ladies replaced real floral crowns with gold, silver, and bejeweled head pieces. Most women, however, continued to wear a simple “fillet” or “torque,” which was a stiff, narrow cloth headband used to secure a woman’s veil. By the 16th century, noble women donned elaborate headwear. Anne Boleyn famously popularized the scandalous “French Hood,” which, like a modern day headband, exposed the front part of the hair.

From the 17th to the late 19th centuries, hats reigned supreme when it came to women’s fashion. Although, elaborate jeweled headbands (and feathers) were popular for evening attire. Headbands really made comeback in the 20th century when hats began to fall out of fashion for everyday wear. Anyone who has dressed up as a flapper, 50’s bopper, or flower child knows the importance of the headband when it comes to recreating those looks.

I think 2019 is going to be another banner year for headbands. Height and shape or key. Look for lush fabrics and elevated profiles. I have rounded up my favorite headband splurges and steals below.



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