Victorian Ariel and Ursula: Wigs

In my last post I covered how my mum and I were inspired to and created our Victorian Ariel and Ursula cosplays. On today’s edition of Katie&Cat I’ll explain how I styled the wigs.

For my Ariel wig, we ordered the Ariana wig in Mermaid Red from Fairytale Wigs. I was very excited, because Fairytale Wigs styles Disney character wigs that look just like the wigs the characters in the Disney parks wear. Fairytale Wigs also has a ton of photos and videos on their instagram. Ever over confident in my abilities, I figured I’d be able to style an Ariel wig no problem. In my dreams I saw a wig with the classic Ariel swoop bang, and then a Gibson Girl style poof.

The wig arrived, and I was so excited I took a picture of the box.

Victorian Ariel Wig

Yep. That’s a box.

Anyway, I took the wig out of the box and put it on our styling head. Then I watched every instagram video Fairytale Wigs has put up involving styling Ariel wigs. Three or four times.

Victorian Ariel Wig

I was terrified of having to cut in the Ariel bangs, but then I realized the lovely sellers had already cut the front hair the proper length for the bangs. After watching all those videos, I had determined the secret to wig styling: backcombing. So I carefully backcombed. Then smoothed the hair down, and realized the bang poof was not nearly as large as I wanted. I tried again. Still not poofy enough. So I went to town making the hair into the biggest mess I could. And oddly enough, that actually ended up doing the trick.Victorian Ariel Wig

The photo below isn’t at a good angle to see it, but the bangs were looking pretty on point here.

Victorian Ariel Wig

After finishing the Ariel swoop bangs, I was ready to get onto the Gibson Girl hair. That’s when I realized that it would be easier to do a bun of some sort. No problem, I said. I’ve watched all the FT Wig videos on doing Cinderella’s hair, I got this.

I did not got this.

Things I had failed to consider: the wig used to create Cinderella’s up-do is much shorter than the wig used for Ariel. This means there is less hair to get pull up. I tried and failed to get my wig to look like the Cinderella wig because there is so much more hair. No problem, I figured I could just try some other methods for getting the hair up.

I stopped taking pictures at a certain point, but I cannot stress to you how many different ways I tried to get the hair on this wig into some sort of an up do. Many hours later I was frustrated, covered in sticky hairspray, and no closer to getting the wig to look the way I wanted it to look.

 Victorian Ariel Wig

So I did what anyone would do and angrily gave up and watched some episodes of Voltron (the show I was on at the time). How could it be that I, someone with no training in hair or wig styling, have possibly failed to get the wig to look exactly the way I wanted? IT IS A MYSTERY.

Eventually, I calmed down enough to realize two things that were causing my problem: 1) the wig is very long and very thick. 2) It’s a wig, so it doesn’t have a natural back hairline.

Women in the Victorian Era certainly had hair as long and as thick as my wig’s hair. However, they also had the ability to pull that hair as tight as needed to get it up. I couldn’t pull the back hair up too tight or it revealed the hairline, something I didn’t want. If I cut the wig I would be able to get it up, but with such a nice wig I didn’t want to do that. A professional might have been able to do it, but a professional I am not. So it was back to the drawing board. I wanted to find a 1890s hairstyle that involved having some of the hair down.

The thing is, there is really no historical basis for that sort of thing in the 1890s. During that decade they really liked to wear their hair up. But! If I went backward in time a couple of decades to the 1870s into the early 1880s, I could find what I was looking for. Ladies during this period did sometimes style their hair with cascading ringlets – example and example. It wasn’t the decade match I was hoping for, but it did give me a historical reference to use for styling my wig.

I didn’t get a picture of the back, but I ended up doing a half up, half down hairstyle. I did it in two mini ponytails so that I could keep the hair draped softly over my ears and avoid pulling back any of the bangs hair.

Victorian Ariel Cosplay

Ursula’s wig was far less trouble to style. I started with the wig my mum chose: the Jeannie Classic by Arda Wigs. It comes with a long clip on ponytail that my mum removed and braided. I didn’t end up needing the braid hair. The ponytail underneath is smallish, and it comes with long bangs you can style.

Victorian Ursula Wig

My mum was pretty flexible with what she wanted. She knew she wanted the Ursula hair swoop in the front, and the hair to be up. The rest was up to me.

I sectioned off a little bit of the bangs on either side and pinned them back to use as tendrils later. Then I went crazy with the teasing. I wanted a lot of volume, and knew that the teasing would also help the bangs hold their shape. After forming the swirl with the bangs, I looped the tendrils I had pinned back to form more little swirls on the sides of the wig.

Victorian Ursula Cosplay Wig

For the back, I just wanted to create a bun because I knew that my mum would be wearing a big hat. I took out the hairband around the ponytail and sectioned that hair into four chunks – one on each side of the head, one with the top of the hair, and one with the bottom back hair. The sides I teased to get a little more volume in the wig, and then smoothed over. Then I used the two side bits and the bottom part of the hair to create a ponytail. I pulled the hair from the ponytail into 5 or 6 segments that I looped over and pinned down. These I gently pulled loose so that it looked like a solid bun. The top part I had put aside I separated into two, and then I wrapped each around the sides of the bun.Victorian Ursula Cosplay Wig

Then I used what felt like an entire can of hairspray. I touched up the hairpins I left in with some white nail polish to help disguise them.

Victorian Ursula Cosplay Wig

In hindsight, I would have styled the wig a little differently. My mum’s hat ended up covering most of the swirl and so from the front it mostly looked kind of poofy. It also made it a challenge to pin the hat on. When we wear these costumes again, I’m going to restyle the wig so the swirl comes down over her face more.

While my Ariel wig didn’t turn out the way I planned, I am happy with the final wig looks. Next up, the accessories!

What problems did you have the first time you tried styling a wig?

Katie and Cat

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