In conclusion: Women are wearing pounds and pounds of extensions. The landscape of coiffure has changed dramatically. What was formerly perceived as elegantly tressy is now seen as verging on balding. No gal feels she has currency unless she has ramparts of fakery adorning her scalp.
In fairness to hair, it should be pointed out that hair is merely trying to keep pace with the other features of madam's appearance. Coiffures are on a frantic quest to compete with dramatic, pneumatic increases in the size of bust, lips, lashes and high heels. So cut hair some slack and let her have her historical, hysterical moment.
Now what about us men? During Charles II's reign the dudes were every bit as wiggy and powdered as their women, if not more so. I wish that were the case today. Alas, no. While women are busy adopting ever more outrageous coiffures, men seem to be headed in the opposite direction, radically and lazily simplifying their tonsorial approach. Scruffy beards and shaved heads are the norm.
I, for one, look back nostalgically at the era when men made more of an effort. I miss those halcyon days of comb-overs, hair plugs, and aerosol scalp-flocking. And rugs! Remember when toupees were ubiquitous and the men who wore them strenuously avoided roller coasters at all costs? There was something so appealingly poignant about the wearer's delusion.
Back to the 17th century and the reign of Charles II: Lest I have painted a too rosy picture of life back then —or no picture at all — let me remind you that the Black Death was sweeping through Europe at this time, and Samuel Pepys was dithering and journaling about whether or not he should buy a new wig.
Was he worried about the cost? No. He was convinced that any new purchase would be fabricated from plague victim hair.