The large hairstyles worn by women during the eighteenth century came to a dramatic end in 1795 when the Titus cut, a short, layered hairstyle, ushered in a fad for short hair among women. The French Revolution (1789–99), which overthrew the French system of nobility, helped popularize short hair as part of a fad. The short hair was meant to imitate the way the executioner sheared off the hair of those prisoners of the revolution who approached the guillotine so that the blade could cut cleanly through the neck. Short hair styles were worn combed up, away from the neck, and the bare neck was wrapped with a red ribbon to symbolize the sacrifice of the guillotine victims.
As with most fads, the Titus cut did not last long. Within a year the Titus cut was worn as a morning style and then covered with a variety of long wigs for the events of the afternoon and evening. As with clothing styles, by the end of the century people had developed a taste for changing hairstyles. Some women changed the style or color of their hair several times a day with the help of wigs.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Corson, Richard. Fashions in Hair: The First Five Thousand Years. London, England: Peter Owen, 2001.
Laver, James. Costume and Fashion: A Concise History. 4th ed. London, England: Thames and Hudson, 2002.