I’ve decided that I’ll be doing some short-form posts besides the normal typically long-winded stuff those of you have been reading my posts for a while.
That was even a sentence far too large for an intro.
“Bigwig” is a term with a very positive sentiment these the days.
The “bawlahs”, “ballers”, “shot-callers”, the real money, the too big to fails…
They are the bigwigs.
But here’s a fun story. And one I haven’t heard enough about to make me share it for a quick weekend read.
“For nearly two centuries, powdered wigs—called perukes—were all the rage. The chic hairpiece would have never become popular, however, if it hadn’t been for a venereal disease, a pair of self-conscious kings, and poor hair hygiene.
The peruke’s story begins like many others—with syphilis. By 1580, the STD had become the worst epidemic to strike Europe since the Black Death. According to William Clowes, an “infinite multitude” of syphilis patients clogged London’s hospitals, and more filtered in each day. Without antibiotics, victims faced the full brunt of the disease: open sores, nasty rashes, blindness, dementia, and patchy hair loss. Baldness swept the land.
At the time, hair loss was a one-way ticket to public embarrassment. Long hair was a trendy status symbol, and a bald dome could stain any reputation. When Samuel Pepys’s brother acquired syphilis, the diarist wrote, “If [my brother] lives, he will not be able to show his head—which will be a very great shame to me.” Hair was that big of a deal.
And so, the syphilis outbreak sparked a surge in wigmaking. Victims hid their baldness, as well as the bloody sores that scoured their faces, with wigs made of horse, goat, or human hair. Perukes were also coated with powder—scented with lavender or orange—to hide any funky aromas. Although common, wigs were not exactly stylish. They were just a shameful necessity. That changed in 1655, when the King of France started losing his hair.
Louis XIV was only 17 when his mop started thinning. Worried that baldness would hurt his reputation, Louis hired 48 wigmakers to save his image. Five years later, the King of England—Louis’s cousin, Charles II—did the same thing when his hair started to gray (both men likely had syphilis). Courtiers and other aristocrats immediately copied the two kings. They sported wigs, and the style trickled down to the upper-middle class. Europe’s newest fad was born.
The cost of wigs increased, and perukes became a scheme for flaunting wealth. An everyday wig cost about 25 shillings—a week’s pay for a common Londoner. The bill for large, elaborate perukes ballooned to as high as 800 shillings. The word “bigwig” was coined to describe snobs who could afford big, poufy perukes.”
Expect another post today. We’ve got volatility ahead. Stay safe….from STDs as well as excessive risk from your portfolio.
Now that you know, do you really wanna be a bigwig? 😉
P.S. – The featured image I’ll repeat here. It is of the Palace at Versailles…Adding a little video embed too. Keep in mind this was would’ve been where the Kings of France would live as their primary residence. The tradition started with Louis XIV…which if you read anything above, the relation should be clear.
Hope you’re all having a good weekend.