Vintage Hair Accessories

Since humanity first dragged itself from the prehistoric caves, women have probably been adorning their hair with trinkets to highlight their 'crowning glory' and draw attention to their facial features. As civilization developed, at different times hair accessories became symbols of social standing (for both sexes), had religious significance and/or were an indication of age, fashion awareness and social status.

In the 20th century Western culture, adorning the hair has become less significant in terms of the above, yet hair accessories still remain a popular fashion item - from casual clips, bands and ties to sparkling barrettes and tiaras for special occasions. Interestingly, apart from the 20th century, there have been very few periods in human history when loose, flowing hair was considered acceptable -prior to the modern era, hair was always restrained via some sort of hair accessory..

Ribbons and Bows
Ribbons and bows have never completely gone out of style, although as a widespread, cultural fashion item, they were probably at their most popular during the 17th and 18th centuries. In France in particular in the 1600s ribbons were worn by women of all ages, as well as men. In the Edwardian period a popular style for girls and young women was a long ponytail, worn low with a huge bow at the back and in the 1940s and 50s bows for children were very popular, either on the end of plaits or worn on one side of the forehead. Bows had a resurgence in popularity in the 1980's when they were teamed with the big hairstyles of the era.

Cutesy bows in vintage fabrics from kisforkani's etsy shop

Headbands date back a long way and were one of the very first types of hair ornament. The Mesopotamians were using them around 3500 BC to hold their hair in place. The style continued in various forms throughout the centuries - in the middle ages fashionable women wore metal ringed bands on their heads with veils attached and in the 1800s, the metal band gave way to fabrics,  the veils were dropped and they were worn Greek style. As hats and bonnets grew in popularity, headbands lost favour and didn't really return again until the 1920s when they were often ornately decorated with beads, jewels, feathers and art deco motifs, especially for evenings. Headbands have remained relatively popular ever since, perhaps because hats and bonnets haven't made a popular comeback yet.
1920s inspired headband from Alofashion's etsy shop
Vintage Headressses
Vintage Headresses specialises in tiara-style headbands in vintage designs. these are very glamorous and glitzy and I would imagine, strictly for special occasions.
Barrettes (a rectangular, metal spring-loaded clip) have been around since the mid-19th century and have decorated with an infinite variety of styles and materials, including tortoiseshell, wood, plastic, mother of pearl and bakelite. .In the 20s, 30s and even 40s, they were influenced by the art deco style- geometric shapes and in colours of green, black, orange and cream. In the 50s  shapes got more experimental, with interesting curves and glittery decorations.

1920s/30s bobby pins. Images from Accessories of Old
Accessories of Old  has a terrific range of old hair accessories, including fancy clips and barrettes, as well as plain pins -some miraculously still on their original cards from the 1930's.The classic Marcel Wave hairstyle of the 20s and 30s looked great with a glittering side clip or an art deco pin.

They also have some great clips from the 50s, including the glamorous, stylised ones below. I could easily spend an hour or so wading through the catalogue.

Great Vintage haircuts

French barrette  circa 1950s.

Vintage French barrette still on its original card.