Bob’s got shingles

Lady Walpole was not impressed with the modern woman of the 1920s

“Girls these days are insane, inane, Eton-cropped, useless, idle and mannish. They smoke doped cigarettes, use bad language, wear practically no clothes and are an abomination to their fellow creatures.’


Lady Walpole was not alone in her opinion. And many blamed this change in young women to the rage for short hair.

“While King George took no official position on the controversy surrounding bobbed hair, Queen Mary preferred if ladies with short hair would in some way conceal that fact at court functions or royal ceremonies. Hair additions were commonly used to cover the shingled back. Many women actually saved their long locks just so they could use them over their new haircut.


A teacher in New Jersey was ordered by the Board of Education to let her hair grow back. The Board claimed that women wasted too much time fussing with bobbed locks. Preachers warned parishioners that “a bobbed woman is a disgraced woman.” Men divorced their wives over their haircuts and one large department store fired all employees who had the new cropped styles.


According to an article published in a New York City paper, “some devotees of the hair-bobbed fashion are complaining of ‘shingle headaches.’ ” The medical profession believes this is nothing but a form of neuralgia caused by the sudden removal of hair from the tender nape of the neck, thus exposing it to the blustery winds. In any event, a new medical term — shingle headache — was coined from the bobbed fad.


Young men didn’t fare much better when they started a fashion trend of their own.

“Flannel trousers 20” wide at the base have become the rage at Oxford. They come in startling shades varying from canary yellow to wisteria blue. This announcement was followed by a symposium of opinions from the sort of people who always contribute to symposiums – a bishop, a general, an elderly actress and a Harley Street surgeon. All these persons tied themselves up in knots about Oxford trousers, hinting that they were somehow connected with atheism, effeminacy, the decline of the English theatre and chills on the liver.”

Published in: on November 16, 2010 at 7:19 am  Comments (38)  
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38 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I think it was Ornella Muti who appeared bald in a film – she looked gorgeous! And here in the UK, we have presenter Gail Porter who lost her hair to an illness; she looks gorgeous too! Paradoxically, IMHO, bald everywhere is not so good…..perhaps it’s the focus that’s shifting.

    • Ah.. The Girl from Trieste… she really was gorgeous

  2. Chills on the liver? I’ve had those. But I called them hangovers.

  3. I wonder what Oxford Bags would be today?

  4. Talk about the ‘seat of learning’, those pants are ludicrous!

    It’s all going to shit (and has been for some time).

    The King

  5. i, for one, wouldnt have survived the era.
    have had short hair all my life.

    • I like short hair on girls. Especially Jean Seberg and Mia Farrow.

  6. That dude in the chesty blue could have any hairstyle, and he would still be a hottie.

    • I think he’s one of the guys from Lost.

  7. Thank goodness things have changed now! (I hope) Although when I was in school (an all girls school in the mid to late 90’s), really short dos (cropped, almost boyish ones) were banned because the discipline teacher said they’d lead to lesbianism (ahem, naturally being a girls school, some of the girls did experiment – the head girl had quite a number of admirers ;))

    • I am shocked and need to obtain details in order to further ascertain the level of my disturbance.

      • Of course you do mothboy.

  8. “a bobbed woman is a disgraced woman” but a bobbing one ain’t so bad.

    • I think most men would agree with you there bearman

  9. Haha for a second I was going to commiserate with Bob on catching shingles.

    The bishops and doctors are right liver troubles shot up and the quality of theatre productions nosedived.

    I’m glad that the not wife keeps her hair at bum length, She cut it short once and she looked dreadful

  10. Canary yellow flannel pants? i think i like.

  11. Ah Nurse, sorry to be away so long, and returned under a new internet label (new career, low profile, etc.). Fantastic bit of history. Crazy pants and bobbed hair. We’re so much like colorful birds, preening and flashing colors and feathers. What a curious species, eh. I’m just glad corsets are part of it!

    • Are you blogging again Dan or just commenting? Either way I’m glad to see you back.

      • Just commenting these days. Thanks NM!

  12. 1920’s – Oxford Bags; 1970’s – Flairs; 2020’s – ?

    It may heretical but I enjoyed flairs. They probably inspired my atheism. Although I was of the opinion that theatre in the 1970’s was not too shabby.

  13. all this bullshit about how we are, and aren’t, supposed to look? just makes me want to have my tits surgically moved to the top of my flippin’ head…

    • well that would be an interesting look…..

  14. Somehow reassuring to know that humanity doesn’t change much. Every generation deplores the fads of the one after it. 🙂

    The Josh Holloway picture with the Cindy Lou Who hair made me chuckle. 🙂

  15. Most of my life, I’ve had long, long red hair. My grandmother used to say–in her very Southern accent–“Wouldn’t you be so much more…comfortable…if your hair was shorter?” I know she would have felt comfortable if my hair was shorter. 🙂

    • I love long red hair

      • Maybe I’ll do a Rapunzel shot on my blog, stay tuned.

  16. I thought my chilly liver was caused by wearing short skirts and boots. Who would have thought my flannel pants did it? Very informative post.

  17. I’ve always enjoyed women with short hair. They often seem to have more personality and humor than their long locked peers.

    So what was in those ‘doped’ cigarettes?

  18. Bell bottom blues been around longer than Eric ever thought possible. It’s also amazing how society freaks out with every new wave of change. The sixties long hair explosion sent supposedly sane people into la-la land.

    Can you imagine bald women in bell bottoms? The fun never stops.

  19. Josh Holloway rocks that ponytail like Skid Row rocks ballads.

  20. Those poor people of the ’20s would have killed themselves, rather than survive in a post-nuclear-holocaust, bald world.

  21. Back in the days of Northern Soul back in the 70s, one of my schoolmates had a pair or 72 inch bags. They were utterly astonishing, a bit like he was wearing two wigwams joined at the hip.One day he walked off with all the teachers’ briefcases tied round his shins.

  22. I’d wear those bad boys

  23. As an atheist, I would like to say that my pants do not flare out like that. They are of a common and sensible cut, most suited for being on the floor of a sassy woman’s bedroom.

  24. Mmmm…Josh Holloway…

  25. I prefer to suffer shingles and headaches separately.

  26. I think a lot of women look cute with that haircut.

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