Hair Oil and Doilies

The Fonz
We have a feeling
Mrs. Fonzarelli probably had 
stock in antimacassars.

In honor of the 2014 Handwoven for the Home Design Challenge we’re going to focus the next few BeWeave It’s on the history and other fun facts related to household textiles. If you’ve ever wanted to know why people place doilies on the top of chair backs the answer can be found in the 19th century. While it might seem like a leftover of the Victorian idea that doilies make everything better, these cloths, known as antimacassars once served an actual purpose.


During the 1800s and beyond it became the fashion for men to oil their hair Macassar oil, an oil usually made from coconut or palm oil. When men would lounge in chairs, the oil from the hair would transfer and stain the back of the chair, and so women began covering the chair backs with a decorative and easily washable cloth to catch the oil and protect the chair. Over the years hair oil has gone in and out of style, but antimacassars have remained. 

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