History of Headbands in the Western World

In western civilizations, headbands have taken many shapes and forms over the ages.

The earliest examples of headbands are probably the laurel wreaths in Ancient Greece. These were rewarded to victors in athletic competitions, like the Olympics, and to winners of poetry competitions.

As history progressed the Etruscans and the Romans decorated their wreaths with precious metals such as gold, silver, and gold-plated metals.  They also used gilded woods that gave the appearance of myrtle, oak, olive, or ivy leaves. 

While laurel wreaths were almost exclusively worn by men, wealthy or high-ranking women wore diadems. Crafted in gold, these diadems are examples of beautiful hair jewelry and the incredible refinement of Greek jewelry-making.

As the Middle Ages arrived, women would wear wreaths made of gold, but the wreaths soon lost their popularity once chaplets entered the scene. In 15th century Italy the popular hair jewelry was a narrow band encircling the forehead, with a center jewel like a pearl, a gem or a pendant.   

Headbands received modern-day popularity with the arrival of the 1800s. During this period, women would accentuate their hair with headbands decorated with feathers, jewels, and flowers.

1930 Coco Chanel Styled the headband with belted trousers. During the WWII, the headband turned into a practical hair accessory, as Rosie the Riveter shows with the polka dot bandana. Post-war the headband returned to its decorative roots. Brigitte Bardot, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn even Jackie Kennedy wore them.

With the arrival of the 1960’s and the manifestation of the hippy-era, headbands became a popular hair accessory for both women and men alike. Flower-power youth made their headbands out of wild flowers, ribbons, silk, and scarves.

In the 1990’s the headband would undergo a transformation yet again. Designers began to take the headband as a serious fashion accessory and began creating headbands that were both elegant and fashionable.

From its ancient and humble beginnings in the rustic terrain of the Mediterranean, to the heads of Roman emperors and commoners alike, the transformation of the headband is astounding.

Not only is it a fashion accessory, the headband has become a staple in the fashion industry. Just like every other accessory ranging from shoes to purses, the headband has become a fashion trend all its own. Today, headbands are being worn for their functionality or for pure decoration, as hair jewelry.

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