HFM 155 | Why Did British Men Wear Powdered Wigs in the 1700s?

September 29, 2016



You’ve seen the look in historical dramas. You laughed at the foppish dandies that appear on Masterpiece Theater. In grade school you sneered at pictures of King George with his powdered wig, adjusting it ever so slightly while drinking a cup of tea with his pinky finger extended, wondering how he further extort colonists with new taxes.

You didn’t know that we call important people “bigwig” due to the aristocracy tradition of fancy wigs.

But where does the powdered wig come from? Why was such a peculiar look the sign of nobility in England during the 1500s-1700s?

It all has to do with syphilis, head lice, the shame of male-pattern baldness, and the fashion tastes of Louis XIV.


This episode is brought to you by Hillsdale College. They would like to invite you to learn more about the incredible life of this fascinating man — one of the greatest leaders and statesmen of our time: Winston Churchill.

You can get exclusive access to this new free online course studying the life of Churchill by going to Hillsdale.edu/h5m and signing up today.

Almost a million people have taken Hillsdale’s renowned courses like Constitution 101,  American Heritage. As a history fan, you won’t want to miss this one.

Get exclusive access to Hillsdale College’s new course on Winston Churchill right now. Go to Hillsdale.edu/h5m and sign up today.

About Michael Rank

Michael writes history books on dictators, the Middle East, and insane rulers, not necessarily in that order. He lives somewhere between Europe and Asia (literally)

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