Gibson Girl Hair Tutorial

Monday, October 6, 2014
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Illustrator Charles Dana Gibson created the “Gibson Girl,” which came to represent the ideal American beauty in the early 1900’s. She was poised and lady-like but had a confidence that gave her a bit of sass. Her hair, in particular, became a highly sought after style at the time.

Illustrations by Charles Dana Gibson

Illustrations by Charles Dana Gibson

Soft waves, piled high on the head with an ample amount of volume around the face, the look was extremely feminine. Interestingly, though much of the focus was on her beauty, the Gibson Girl was an empowering icon for young women. In addition to emulating her hair and dress, they adopted her attitude and verve as well at a time when the women’s movement was underway.


One of these young women was Eleanor Roosevelt, whose fashion choices continuously reflected the changing times. In the image above, she poses with Franklin and their two children sporting the Gibson Girl hairstyle.

A friend of mine requested this tutorial because her daughter will be Ms. Roosevelt for Halloween this year. (How cool is that?) I was more than happy to oblige! Thanks for the inspiration; this one’s for you, Julie!

The step-by-step "Gibson Girl" hairstyle tutorial is after the jump.

Gibson Girl Hairstyle Tutorial

For this hairstyle tutorial, you will need:

Triple barrel waver or 1" curling iron
Sectioning comb
Small hair band
Teasing brush or comb (a regular boar brush or comb will work too)
Bobby pins
Pincurl clip (optional)

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1. Start by waving your hair with a triple barrel iron. If you don't have a triple barrel waver, you can achieve the same effect with a single barrel iron. Clamp the iron on the strand near the roots then remove it, turn it over and clamp a little farther down the strand. Continue alternating the iron working down to the ends to create the wave. Spritz each section with hairspray before waving.

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2. Repeat until you've waved all your hair.

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3. Section away the front from the top of your head to the back of your ear on both sides.

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4. Gather the back section into a high ponytail at the top of your head and secure it with a small hair band.

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5. Apply hairspray and tease the ponytail using a teasing brush or comb.

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6. Wrap the teased ponytail into a bun and secure with bobby pins.


7. Remove your clips and heavily tease the entire front section all around your face.

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8. Hold the top front out at a 45 degree angle from your head.

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9. Roll the section down and pin in place. Be sure to cross your pins to secure.

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10. Repeat this on both side sections.

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11. Arrange the three pinned sections together as desired and use hairspray to set. I took a small section of my bangs and created a little pin curl on one side but that is optional.

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Viola! You are now a "Gibson Girl" from the 1900s.


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