What did balding men do in the 70, 80s & 90s before hair systems were as cheap & as good as today?

Hair2019

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I was thinking about how lucky we are that hair systems these days are relatively cheap and affordable for almost everyone, as well as being fantastic quality (in most cases anyway) and virtually undetectable if done right.

I've seen some some posts here saying that 'rugs' in the past were bulky and clunky and did not look realistic, and were also very expensive compared to today. I also saw something about Sean Connery wearing a lace system in the Bond films, which looked great and very natural. So which is true? Is it that you COULD get great looking hair systems back then BUT only for a high price? And the 'average Joe' had to settle for something less realistic looking (or pay for it on a payment plan, or just embrace their baldness)?

It does seem that baldness was more acceptable back in the 80s and before that. Even many popular celebrities didn't bother hiding their baldness (think of someone like Phil Collins, for example, who has MASSIVE in the 80s, yet always had receding/balding hair - long at the back and sides, balding on top. With his wealth he could've EASILY afforded to have the very best hair system fitted by the best stylists in the world, yet he did not try to do anything about his baldness. This would be unheard of today. How times change!).
 

hair4meTomorrow

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I believe I've seen this explained before more as the big issue was adhesives as much as anything else.

The adhesives we have today are pretty amazing really.
 

cottonReville

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If you look at a toupee, you might be amazed to see the "technology" it sports.

Do you really think inserting hairs into lace has much room to evolve?

I'm sure the toupee in Bond is better than any stock piece anyone is getting today. I mean, you have a big production w a person or persons whose sole job is to make that hairpiece look perfect.

You can search google images for John Wayne's toupee. It's the same mono/lace you get today - only the base is expertly cut.
 

Jbalding

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If you look at a toupee, you might be amazed to see the "technology" it sports.

Do you really think inserting hairs into lace has much room to evolve?

I'm sure the toupee in Bond is better than any stock piece anyone is getting today. I mean, you have a big production w a person or persons whose sole job is to make that hairpiece look perfect.

You can search google images for John Wayne's toupee. It's the same mono/lace you get today - only the base is expertly cut.
Yes, it’s called the toupee fallicy. Im sure there were some well off dudes back the rocking a hair piece that nobody really knew about. You only notice the bad ones, the good ones don’t even register in your brain. Thats why everyone seems to think they could spot a rug a mile away. It’s about the ones you DIDNT notice.
 

cottonReville

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Ya, I can't tell you how many I haven't noticed as that it'd be impossible, but I have certainly noticed bad pieces on people. Unquestionable toupees.

I saw an older-but-clearly-attentive-to-his-appearance guy the other day shopping in a nice area. I don't think, given his age, he'd be doing things DIY. It would have been fine, but he had a fully exposed hairline - which just looks ridiculous on standard, unmodified stock.

My last serious GF started law school when we were together and it was immediately evident that her advisor wore a piece. This was before I wore, but the density (and maybe other features) of his hair were ridiculous.
 

J_D_R

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I was thinking about how lucky we are that hair systems these days are relatively cheap and affordable for almost everyone, as well as being fantastic quality (in most cases anyway) and virtually undetectable if done right.

I've seen some some posts here saying that 'rugs' in the past were bulky and clunky and did not look realistic, and were also very expensive compared to today. I also saw something about Sean Connery wearing a lace system in the Bond films, which looked great and very natural. So which is true? Is it that you COULD get great looking hair systems back then BUT only for a high price? And the 'average Joe' had to settle for something less realistic looking (or pay for it on a payment plan, or just embrace their baldness)?

It does seem that baldness was more acceptable back in the 80s and before that. Even many popular celebrities didn't bother hiding their baldness (think of someone like Phil Collins, for example, who has MASSIVE in the 80s, yet always had receding/balding hair - long at the back and sides, balding on top. With his wealth he could've EASILY afforded to have the very best hair system fitted by the best stylists in the world, yet he did not try to do anything about his baldness. This would be unheard of today. How times change!).
There are some great videos on YouTube for this sort of thing. British pathé comes up trumps again.
Clearly, good quality Swiss lace wigs have also been around a long time, but these seem to have been the preserve of Hollywood. Basically, "toupees" were generally made domestically and cost A LOT. Earlier ones seemed to have been made using a thick monofilament which attached with clips, although toupee tape was certainly a thing back then too. I remember hearing about "spirit gum" in the 1980s/90s, which was used for front attachment of wigs, and I believe is still widely used in film and TV today.
As with everything else in the 1970s, synthetic became the standard. This made them more affordable, but also further reduced their appearance, and probably gave rise to the enduring image of the "rug".

(Look at the thickness of the base @1:20!)

These two are interesting pieces on "The toupee king of New York"

Incidentally, some Hollywood toupees were clearly never intended to be scrutinised in High Definition. Take William Shatner. This doesn't even look like lace visible well below the hairline:
balanceofterrorhd058.jpg
 
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Fanjeera

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None of them show hairlines, but still look good. Nice ideas of classy haircuts with fringes.
 

Hair2019

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I think this shows that it was possible to get excellent quality hairpieces many years ago, but the way they were attached was not very good and being able to pull them off led to many jokes about 'rugs' etc. I don't know if they had tape or glue for hairpieces back in the 60s - if they did, they would've been fine. This stupid idea that people can pull a hairpiece off needs to die, though! Modern hair systems are nothing like that.
 

J_D_R

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I don't know if they had tape or glue for hairpieces back in the 60s - if they did, they would've been fine.

They did. You can see in that first video that there is some resistance when he pulls his toupee off at @0:52. Although it appears they've just used one vertical strip, I'm sure it wouldn't have been uncommon to tape the whole front hairline, and as I said before, spirit gum was also used.
However, another thing I've noticed is that they didn't shave the hair they still had. They would have had the option to wear or not, but it could also hinder how much tape they could apply and where they could apply it depending on how much bio hair they had on the top of their head.
 

Hair2019

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They did. You can see in that first video that there is some resistance when he pulls his toupee off at @0:52. Although it appears they've just used one vertical strip, I'm sure it wouldn't have been uncommon to tape the whole front hairline, and as I said before, spirit gum was also used.
However, another thing I've noticed is that they didn't shave the hair they still had. They would have had the option to wear or not, but it could also hinder how much tape they could apply and where they could apply it depending on how much bio hair they had on the top of their head.

The tapes or glue back then must've had a very weak hold then if someone could pull the hairpiece off as easily as that. There's no way anyone could do that these days with the ultra strong hold adhesives we now have.
 

BaldAndBalder

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There are some great videos on YouTube for this sort of thing. British pathé comes up trumps again.
Clearly, good quality Swiss lace wigs have also been around a long time, but these seem to have been the preserve of Hollywood. Basically, "toupees" were generally made domestically and cost A LOT. Earlier ones seemed to have been made using a thick monofilament which attached with clips, although toupee tape was certainly a thing back then too. I remember hearing about "spirit gum" in the 1980s/90s, which was used for front attachment of wigs, and I believe is still widely used in film and TV today.
As with everything else in the 1970s, synthetic became the standard. This made them more affordable, but also further reduced their appearance, and probably gave rise to the enduring image of the "rug".

(Look at the thickness of the base @1:20!)

These two are interesting pieces on "The toupee king of New York"

Incidentally, some Hollywood toupees were clearly never intended to be scrutinised in High Definition. Take William Shatner. This doesn't even look like lace visible well below the hairline:
View attachment 158354

Holly sh*t! Kirk was bald?!
 

J_D_R

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