Louis XV was infamous for the many mistresses he had during his reign, the most celebrated being Madame de Pompadour and Madame du Berry. But what is a woman to do to catch the eye of the French king in the eighteenth century. Well, fashion, of course!
The more one could stand out the better, and what better way than one's hairstyle. Women (and men) of the period were well known for wearing powdered wigs with lots of curls and twists. Though we shy away from gray hair in this era and do everything in our power to hide our roots, in the eighteenth century, it was a distinguishing mark to sport gray or silver hair.
Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour
Not only this, but the taller one could make it the more eye-catching one would be. Madame de Pompadour, for example, would wear her hair so high that it was almost gravity defying. She must have been very cautious when passing underneath a chandelier for fear of knocking it over. And ribbons in your hair may be one thing, but try filling your wig with miniature nests, flowers, and small faux birds, or even a model sized galleon!
Hairstyles of the 18th Century
On top of that, to attain further height, one could attach tall plumes or wear a small tricorne hat. Hours would go by simply trying to achieve these standards. Whereas beauty may be held in high regard today, at least we no longer have to break our necks trying to take in these extravagant styles. The pompadour hair style (named for Madame de Pompadour) of today is noticeably tamer.