Given the warm reception to Cysterwigs posting a couple of Instagram postings of me – with some magnificent hair – in my 17th century Spanish Army kit, I am honored to be able to post this blog entry explaining how I came to this particular place. As both a history professor at a local college and living history 16th, 17th and 18th century Spanish Army re-enactor at a local National Monument, I strive to ensure that every item that I’m wearing is as period correct as one can be from the shoes to the headgear and everything in between. Of all the items that make up my uniforms, I’ve found that aside from my muskets and swords which generate great interest from all but primarily men and children, many park visitors – always women – are always very interested in, and inquisitive about, the hairstyles worn by men from the mid/late 1500s to the mid/late 1700s. I must admit that I encourage this by wearing period correct wigs that do an excellent job of convincing all that whatever wig that I’m wearing is indeed my actual hair.
Not having any hair on top myself – I’m bald – and wanting to be period correct, I decided to try wearing a wig and not finding anything suitable among wigs typically worn by re-enactors, I discovered this whole new world of women’s wigs – thank you to the wonderful staff at CysterWigs for helping me through this – that offered me the opportunity to wear some very realistic wigs that looked natural and represented how a common soldier in the Spanish Army would typically wear his hair way back in the day.
- I portray a common Spanish soldier and from the 1500s through the late 1700s and the Spanish soldiers that I portray did not wear wigs except as noted below:
- 1500s to about 1621: No wigs are worn and both officers and soldiers wear their natural hair, natural color, either short or more commonly shoulder length in a style known today as a long bob.
- 1621 to about 1690: Hair for both officers and soldiers is worn long, oftentimes well below the shoulder, natural in color and parted in the middle (known then as the Nazarene style). Curly hair is in fashion and the more curls combined with lots of lace and ruffles, the more masculine/soldierly it is.
After 1690, officers will begin to wear wigs – white wigs or hair with big curls (4 on both sides of the head) started to being used, as a norm, in Spain in the mid-1700s although some nobles and other high ranking officers may have started wearing them a bit earlier. White hair wigs will not normally be worn in the field on campaign and officers will instead use brown wigs…with their natural hair being cut very short. Common soldiers will continue to wear their natural hair long, parted in the middle and after about 1700 or so, tied in what is now known as a low pony tail.
I would also like to thank the truly astounding staff at Cysterwigs for assisting me in this journey. Specifically, I find that JR’s Mila and Gwyneth works best for the 1500s; Gabor’s Runway Waves and JR’s Blake (cut like Runway Waves) for the 1600s and JR’s Sarah (as it is) and Blake (Blake also cut in the same length as Runway Waves) for the 1700s. Given that firing muskets wearing synthetic hair is dangerous, I wear human hair wigs (no hairspray) when I’m using gunpowder and synthetic when not. All of the aforementioned wigs are very realistic and out of every 100 women (about 25 women on a typical day) – always women, not men – who ask me if I’m wearing a wig, only about one or two can tell that it’s a wig; ladies, if I can pull this off, you should have no problem, whatsoever! Unfortunately, I can’t wear my hair when not in uniform…sigh…
The attachments are 17th century paintings and the photos are of me 1) grey coat, 16th century wearing JR’s Mila (8rh/14) and in 2) 17th century with hat Gabor’s Runway waves in Sunlit Chestnut and 3) without hat in JR’s Blake in 8/30.
Mila by Jon Renau
Runway Waves by Gabor (also available in Large)