I bought the hair for my hairpiece at a beauty supply store. It was a long piece, with just a little tie up top. They had some that were on some kind of large thing, but those didn't seem like they'd work. It was $2.99. I suggest bringing someone with you for an opinion on matching your hair. The first time I went alone and that made it difficult to check color. I braided the hair, because I thought that would make it easier to form into a bun, and I was right. I twisted it onto a bun, then I just stuck a zillion bobby pins in it to hold it. You need to make it into an oval shape, slightly raised in the middle. My first attempt was circular and flat. That didn't work at all. :)
To do my real hair, I parted it in the middle and added a ton of gel. Then I started at the top and twisted two pieces, then twisted again, adding more hair. i did this all the way down to the nape of my neck. Kind of like a french braid, but with two strands. It's hard to explain, I hope this makes sense. I'm a complete dunce when it comes to hair though, so if I can do it, anyone can. This didn't really add the width of the CW period, but it did keep my hair under control and looked pretty. Anyway, I've seen pictures of Princess Alexandra with a similar style (pulled virtually straight back starting near the part) around the time of her wedding (which was in 1863), and since she's one of my favorite members of the royal family now, I figure me in 1863 would have loved her as well.
To attach the bun I put pin curls in the loose hair that was left, underneath the place I'd attach the bun. I read this tip on the 19c Woman mailing list. This gives a surface to attach the bun to. Worked great. I used about 10 or 15 hairpins to keep it in place. These worked better than bobby pins, plus when I took it off I could just take them out instead of the bobby pins that hold the hairpiece together. I took industrial strength hairspray and plastered the front. It stayed all day, no problems. The picture of me in the ballgown is from the end of the day.
One tip. Synthetic hair is very scratchy. I wore my test run hairstyle around the house for about an hour. I had the bun pinned very low on my neck and it rubbed. If I had worn it much longer my neck probably would have been raw. So make sure you pin it slightly above the hairline so your hair protects your skin.
Here are the hairpiece pictures.
The first picture is of the top, the second is of the bottom, and the third the side...
Take me home!