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Coiffure belle-poule

Ghastly Affair Presenters (and Game Masters of any system) can use the following tables to select or randomly determine the outrageous coiffures of haughty noblewomen, self-indulgent courtesans, and scheming social climbers of the 1770’s or 1780s. Players of such characters can also use the tables to select the style they will use to grab attention at the next masquerade ball, salon, or dinner party. Note that many fashionable hairstyles of the time are so elaborate and time-consuming to create that they might be kept in for up to a month! It was not uncommon therefore for ladies to use wigs and hairpieces. As one might expect, the heavier and more elaborate styles caused constant neck and back pain that women of the time endured in the name of fashion.

While the table are intended to reflect the elaborate hairstyles worn by wealthy women in the late eighteenth-century, the first two can be used to help determine the appearance of male fops and “macaronis”.

Hair Color (d20)
Deep natural colors will usually be powdered to a paler shade. It is 50% likely that the hair is wholly or partly a wig.

1 – 4: Gray (powdered)
5: Natural Black
6: Natural Auburn
7, 8: Natural Blonde
9, 10, 11: Natural Brown
12: Natural Red
13: Natural Strawberry Blonde
14: Palest Blue (usually a wig)
15: Palest Pink (usually a wig)
16: Palest Purple (usually a wig)
17 – 20: Pure White (usually a wig)

Coiffure Shape (d6)
Frameworks and cushions are used with fat-based pomades to shape hair into the large “pouf” styles. Hairstyles in the 1770’s can be well over 2 feet high. Hair in the 1780’s is seldom more than a foot high, but enormous hats and headgear are worn on top. The most extreme hairstyles are often wigs. Coiffures of all shapes are usually accented with wide, cylindrical curls.

1: Balloon (like an inverted pear)
2: Conical
3: Hanging Curls
4: Heart-shaped
5: Ovoid
6: Spherical (a mass of curls)

Headgear (d12)
Ladies in the 1770’s seldom wear hats. Hats and caps are usual in the 1780’s, however. The hats of fashionable ladies can have brims over 2 feet across. The wide straw hats of the 1780s are meant to evoke those of shepherdesses, albeit the kind that could somehow afford to also wear luxurious gowns and jewelry!

1, 2: None
3: Bizarre Decoration (see table below)
4: Cap, soft (similar to working woman’s “mob cap”, but much bigger). 1 – 4 Decorations (see table below)
5, 6: Decoration Only – No Hat (common in 1770’s). 1 – 6 Decorations pinned into hair.
7, 8: Round Hat (high crown, broad brimmed). 1 – 6 Decorations
9, 10: Straw Hat (low crown, broad-brimmed). 1 – 4 Decorations
11: Tricorne Hat. 1 – 4 Decorations
12: Turban (loosely wrapped). 1 – 6 Decorations

Decorations for Hair and Headgear (d12)
Both the pouf hairstyles of the 1770s and the large hats of the 1780s tend to be luxuriously decorated. Select of randomly determine the exact decorations on the table below. If you roll an item more than once it indicates a large quantity of that Decoration. If it all feels overdone to you, its probably about right for the time period!

1, 2: Bow(s)
3: Flower(s)
4: Leaves
5, 6: Ostrich Plume(s) (usually dyed bright colors)
7: Peacock Feather(s)
8: Ribbon(s)
9: Ruffle(s) (gauze, lace, etc)
10: String of Semi-precious Stones/Beads (pearls especially)
11: Swag(s) of Fabric (gauze, lace, silk, etc).
12: Tassels

Bizarre Decorations (d20)
The “pouf” coiffures of the 1770’s sometimes include Bizarre Decorations, which may make reference to gossip or news items of the day. The Bizarre Decoration may be placed on top of the hair (in the case of figurines or a model ship), be formed from the hair itself (as in hair sculpted into the form of a swan), or be placed in the middle of the pouf (in the case of a small framed painting or open book).

1: Bird Wing(s)
2: Birdcage (with birds or butterflies, real or simulated)
3: Book (new philosophy, love poems, a scandalous novel, etc,)
4, 5: Figures (cupids, shepherdesses, horsemen, ribald scenes, contemporary scandals, etc.)
6: Fruits (apples, cherries, a pineapple, etc.)
7, 8: Hair Sculpture (a swan, a dragon, ocean waves, etc.)
9: Miniature Cannon (possibly operable)
10, 11: Model Building (castle, palace, shepherd’s cottage, etc.)
12: Model Hot Air Balloon (after 1783)
13, 14: Model Landscape Scene (mountains, forest, streams, etc.)
15: Model Ship (especially one that has just won a great victory)
16: Painting (framed)
17: Parasol
18: Stuffed Animal(s) (birds, mink, monkey, etc)
19: Urn
20: Vase(s) (with water and flowers)

If you are describing the hairstyle of a witch or Vampyre in her lair, you might include such Bizarre Decorations as:

  • A Skull
  • A Mummified Baby
  • Hair Sculpted Into a Kraken (or Giant Octopus) Attacking a Ship
  • A Hand of Glory (mummified hand with candles between the fingers)
  • An Imp Bottle (with Imp inside)
  • A Giant Centipede (preserved, or made of gold and gems)
  • A Large Spider made of onyx and silver
  • Bats(s) (stuffed, or made of velvet)
  • A Raven (stuffed, or possible a witch’s familiar sitting on top of her head!)
  • A Human Face
  • A human heart in a crystal container (perhaps mysteriously beating)