Ahh the roaring twenties. Beads, fringe and the flapper revolution. There hasn’t been a decade since the 1920s that has loved sparkle and bling as much, especially in headpieces. Notorious for rhinestone beaded headbands, skullcaps and feather hair clips, the 1920s woman knew how to dress up her short flapper hairdo.
While cloche hats were worn during the day, headbands, called Bandeaus, were seen in the evenings with the most formal dresses. The trend started when King Tut’s tomb was discovered in 1924. Soon after, every woman wanted to look like an Egyptian queen. Head-wraps, crowns, tiaras, full headdresses, and small hair clips were all made of beautiful precious stones, feathers and pearls. Flapper movie stars were frequently seen wearing headpieces creating a demand for them everywhere.
There is not just one style of headpiece nor one way to wear it. Here are the six of the most popular evening styles of headbands.
The 1920s Headband- Wrap Style
The simple but elegant headpiece of the 1920s was the head wrap
style. Made of one continuous piece of beads, rhinestones or pearls, it wrapped around the top of the head to the back of the skull. Some headbands featured long strings of beads dangling off the forehead or on one side.
During the day, a ribbon or scarf was rolled and tied around the head, sometimes with a big fluffy bow tied low and on the side. Strands of pearls could also be wrapped around the forehead, skull, buns, and braids for more formal events.
On the right: the character Daisy from the 2013 Great Gatsby movie wears an ornate silver headband with leaf and pearl accent. You can buy a cheap replica of this headband online.
The 1920s Brain Binder
The Brain Binder headband circles the forehead or back just a tad. It was also called a headache band for its tight fitting appearance worn mostly by teenagers. They usually matched the dress or at least other accessories. They ranged from thin 1 inch wide ribbons (called brow bands) to thicker bandeau wraps and even entire long scarves swirled into a turban.
For parties and weddings, this style was elaborately decorated with silver and gem stones. This look was best with perfectly smooth, short cropped hair associated with the later ‘2os. Egyptian inspired designs of pharaohs, spiders, cats, and hieroglyphs were carved into the most fancy of brow bands.
The 1920s Skullcap
The intricately beaded skull cap is one of the exclusive symbols of the 1920s. It is also sometimes called the Juliette cap after Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. This beaded cap required very thin flat hair that the cap covered entirely. Caps were either beaded onto a form fitted hair net with long bead tassels and fringe hanging down the forehead or were cloth caps completely covered with beads and shaped into a brimless style cloche. The expense of these caps made them affordable only by the very wealthy and were usually made to order to match the beading on the dress.
An alternative to the heavily beaded skull cap was the head scarf or head wrap. It was simply a rectangle silk scarfed tied around the entire head and left to dangle down one side or the back. Some were plain while others had large floral appliques.
The 1920s Tiara
The gold Egyptian tiara and princess diamond style tiara were another style of evening head wear. Small and pretty, they sat perched on the crown of the head buried slightly in a mass of fluffy early ’20s style hair. Hair combs secured the tiara in place.
Later styles blended the tiara and headband into one, lowering it on the forehead yet keeping the overall crown look of the tiara.
The 1920s Hair Clip
Peacock feathers were still quite popular in the 1920s. The green, blue and gold tones were common Art Deco colors of this time. Feathers were clipped onto the hair on one side of the head. Sometimes blue and green jewels and pearls added extra bling to the feather clips. Other types of feathers could be used as well to coordinate with the outfits.
Jeweled hair combs also called Spanish combs or back combs were popular hair accessories to hold back long hair knotted in a chignon bun. It was stylish to wear them at an angle so they were seen poking out of the side of her head. Combs were often made of celluloid (plastic), and they were available in all shapes and sizes in both hand-carved and rhinestone versions.
The 1920s Headdress or Evening Bandeau
The king of all head wear style was the large headdress. Whereas the other styles remained small and dainty, the head piece was bold and garish. Different materials made up the many variations.
Elaborate leaves, butterflies, dragonflies, and gems covered headbands on one or both sides, such as the example to the left.
A simple bandeau grew taller with the addition of an egret feather, either real or gold, sticking straight up out of the center of the forehead. Although this trend started in the previous decade, the sprays of gold and silver peacock-inspired designs made forehead crowns the in style of the ’20s.
1920s Headband Styles Today
A 1920s style headband, cap or bandeau is a must for an evening affair. The most stunning tiaras and hair clips are usually found in wedding specialty shops or Asian import stores. These are often made with faux pearls and rhinestones. Even the cheapest ones are quite beautiful set into your 1920s styled hair.
I like to keep my evening looks simple with one of these options:
1. A silk or satin ribbon tied around my head and in a big bow at the back. Very simple yet very accurate to the 1920s.
2. A pretty feather clipped to one side of my head such as a peacock feather.
3. A lace or rhinestone headband designed to be more around the top of your head and often be worn across the forehead, too. If you have a wide head you may need to cut the band and bobby pin the sides in place.
4. Some of my favorite local stores to buy 1920s inspired headband and hair clips are Forever 21 and the ICING store.
Online here are some great 1920s headband choices: