Is your crowning glory a peruke? I hope not. Unless you’re rich. Even then, people would probably make fun of you in this day and age, because a peruke is a powdered wig, and they went out of fashion in the late 18th century.
The practice of wearing perukes made sense at the time. Diseases such as syphilis rendered victims with patchy baldness, and lice were a common problem in the 18th century. Shaving one’s head and wearing a wig just made sense — IF you were a man of means. These perukes were expensive, often costing two months’ wages or more, depending on how long and elaborate they were. It’s where the phrase “bigwig” comes from. Those who had more money had more voluminous perukes.
The wig maker who shared this history with us in Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia explained how they were made from human, horse, and goat hair. They were then colored/powdered with various natural pigments from resources such as lavender, turmeric, ashes and even urine.
Those without the means to buy a peruke could buy a hair extension. I found it fascinating to think that these were tied around their heads.
It wasn’t until after 1770 that women began wearing wigs. Theirs were the more pastel-colored wigs, unlike the white powdered perukes worn by prominent men.
Eventually, the practice ended altogether. Brits stopped wearing wigs after William Pitt levied a tax on hair powder in 1795, and as with most things, the American colonies followed suit soon after.
For fun: what would drive you to pay exorbitant fees to wear a peruke (assuming it were fashionable to do so)?