Modern Mechanix/Popular Science

Can anybody explain why this wig-topped, heavy-plaster helmet didn’t last?

Earlier this month people were freaking out about a bike helmet that looked like a Lego person’s plastic hairdo. But its inventors were late by half-a-century, as proven with this blurb on a stylish lady’s hair-helmet in July 1964’s Popular Science.

In reflection, this “[n]ewest fashion for women cyclists” did not have a remarkable half-life. But it remains on display at the delightful weird-history blog Modern Mechanix (or actually, an archived version because the site appears to be down). “Both of these cyclists are wearing crash helmets—the lady’s a nylon-hair wig on a heavy plaster-composition base,” the article states. “Made by a London hairdresser in a variety of colors and hairdos, the wigs are the rage with women riders. Skintight, they are waterproof and can be worn on any occasion.”

Who knows why the wig-armor never caught on. Maybe it had something to do with making the cyclist look like a Stepford wife, or maybe it was the neck discomfort and severe sweating caused by “skintight,” “heavy plaster” head gear.

About the Author

John Metcalfe
John Metcalfe

John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.

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