Edwardian pompadour hairstyles were often arranged over hair rats. Hair rats helped to create a fashionably big and fluffy pompadour roll. Edwardian hair rats were usually made out of hair, celluloid or wire. Here I’m showing you how you can make your own DIY wire hair rat. So that you can create a perfect Edwardian pompadour hairstyle!
‘The pompadour, to be conventional and correct, must be drawn over a “rat”‘ (Los Angeles Herald, 1903).
Edwardian Hair Rat Details
In the Edwardian era, hair rats were also known as pompadour frames, pads, rolls and pompadour combs. As I’ve mentioned before, popular materials for hair rats were the wearer’s own hair, tortoise shell, celluloid – an early type of plastic – and wire. I chose aluminum wire for my Edwardian pompadour frame because aluminum is lightweight and often used for hair accessories.
‘Hair rolls are commonly known as “rats.” They are made of all kinds of material, such as moss, vegetable fibre, horse hair, wire, crepe fibre, and lastly of natural hair. The form usually employed is that in the shape of a horseshoe’ (Beauty Culture, 1911).
Edwardian hair rats came in different lengths: They were usually between 4″ and 15″ long . While shorter hair rats were used for the sides of parted pompadour hairstyles, long rats were used to create a complete pompadour halo.
Why Use Wire Rats Instead Of Hair Rats?
Wire hair rolls ‘are most desirable for the pretty pompadour effects now so much in vogue. The only sanitary rolls made to produce fullness in any part of the hair. Can’t become musty or damp from perspiration or injure the hair as do the rolls made of hair. No obstruction to hair pins. Comfortable, cool, cleanly and delightful.’ (Sears Catalogue, 1902)
Rats ‘are invariably injurious to the hair of the head, owing to their tendency to retain heat, which is bad for the scalp and roots of the hair. For that reason the light, open or ventilated frames are best’ (Beauty Culture, 1911).
How To Make A DIY Wire Hair Rat
- aluminum insect screen
- wire cutters or strong scissors
- optional: hair comb
- optional: fabric in the color of your hair
1. Cut out a lemon-shape from the aluminum screen.
2. Then fold back about 1/2″ (1cm) all along the lemon-shaped aluminum screen. You can either use needle-nose pliers for this or simply your fingers.
3. Unravel a long piece of wire from the leftover screen. Then fold the lemon-shaped aluminum screen lengthwise and sew the folded back edge together with large overhand stitches. If you’ve never worked with wire before, be careful that the wire doesn’t twist because then it usually breaks. If your aluminum wire isn’t long enough or breaks in the middle of the seam, just use another piece of wire and continue to stitch the hair rat together.
4. When you’ve finished the seam, bend the rat into a horseshoe shape. You can either use the wire rat as it is or you can sew a hair comb to the hair rat with a piece of wire and overhand stitches. And you can also cover the wire frame with fabric in a color that matches your hair.
How To Use A Hair Rat
Rats ‘can be used on the front of the head, the sides or back. They are used by putting them on the head after the hair has been divided the same as it would be for crimping.
When used on top, pin the roll on each side and in the center, then comb the hair, either crimped or straight, over the roll, covering it entirely and giving the hair the appearance of pompadour, often called the pompadour roll.
When used on the sides, comb the hair over the roll at each side and comb it back flat on top, allowing the hair to roll out on each side only. It can be used in the back the same way.’ (The Manual On Barbering, Hairdressing, Manicuring, Facial Massage, Electrolysis And Chiropody, 1906)
The hair ‘must be drawn tightly to properly outline the “rat.”‘ (Los Angeles Herald, 1903)
Contrary to my expectations, the DIY wire hair rat is really comfortable to wear: lightweight and cool just like they advertised it in the Edwardian era!