DFW Beauty Guide: Origins of the Pompadour/Bouffant Hairstyle

Spring 2015 runways confirmed that 1960s beauty trends are indeed on the rise. Besides from winged eyeliner, one of my favorite 1960s beauty looks is the bouffant. A bouffant is raised high on the head, not dissimilar from the pompadour hairstyle, in which the hair is once again worn high on the head, swept away from the face, and sometimes upswept around the sides and back. 

The origin of the pompadour and the bouffant overlap – both derived from 18th century France, Versailles in particular. These hairstyles were developed in synchronicity with the rococo; a late baroque artistic style that held flowers, seashells, and all things feminine in the highest regard. The rococo is characterized by asymmetry, ornament, elegance and pastel colors. The pompadour was named after Madame de Pompadour (1721-1764), King Louis XV’s mistress and cultural advisor. The bouffant, on the other hand, was supposedly crafted to fit the needs of Marie Antoinette, who had thin hair and wanted to create the illusion of a full head of hair. In 18th century paintings, aristocratic women are almost always wearing a hairstyle somewhere between a pompadour and a bouffant. 

After the French Revolution, big, bouffant hair fell out of style (along with the aristocrats who loved it). The style, however, was revived in the 1890s with the iconic Gibson Girl look, and remained fashionable until World War I. Then, once the bob came and went, this romantic, extravagant look returned in 1940s, and again in the 1960s with First Lady Jackie O. 

To get the look, which gives you Texas worthy volume and height, tease the hair at the front and sides of the head, then comb up and over the teased hair, fastening it in back. Pull the front hair back, and the sides towards the center, pinning them if necessary, to give it a neat look. While an 18th century pompadour would have ended in a long curl at the nape of the neck, modernize your bouffant style with a full, low ponytail, or a messy bun or chignon.