Victorian London - Clothing and Fashions - "fronts"

[ A band or bands of false hair, or a set of false curls, worn by women over the forehead. OED]

When I think of the gay young golden-headed, frizzled, waved, and curled grandmothers of to-day, I can hardly believe my grandmother existed, but I know she did, I can remember her so very, very well. She could not have been fifty years old when I first began to see her in my picture-gallery, but she must have looked an elderly hundred and ten. In the first place, the unbecoming fashions of the early fifties were adapted to her venerable age, and she wore unfailing black, more especially because I think she and my grandfather had been very rich and were then very poor, than because she was in mourning for any one. I think her gown was of rep, it was very horrid to touch, and she wore, as did all ladies in those days, a big apron, alpaca or cashmere in the morning, silk in the afternoon, trimmed with rows of narrow velvet and tied round the waist with cords and tassels which hung down in front; moreover she always crowned herself with a large cap tied under her chin, and which concealed where her "front" began and left off; a front being the mark of a married lady in her days, for although she had most beautiful long black hair, it was cut short after she was married, and the cap and front donned at once. Indeed, the first wedding in her family, my mother's, gave her a severe shock, for Mama declined both cap and front and set her face against the almost universal travelling bridesmaid.

Mrs. Panton, Leaves from a Life, 1908