John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
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 But it remains on display at the delightful weird-history blog Modern Mechanix (or actually, an archived version because the site appears to be down).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.