Figure 1.--Bangs have been worn over time by boys in many different countries. Here a Belgian boy in 1926 wears bangs for his First Communion. Click on the image to see the full portrait.

Bangs: Country Trends

A HBC reader informs us that she has cannot find any mention of the word "bangs" being used anywhere else in the world (except Britain) in relation to hairstyles. We do know that bangs have been a common hair style in various historical periods. Our HBC reader reports that she was "recently reading an Updike book about medieval Denmark when I was suddenly transported from old Denmark to not so old America, which was unsettling". Bangs were really popular during the 1960s in America. Before the Beatles hit, long bangs in the front were the "Surfer" look that boys, especially in Junior and High school really liked. If you were blond, or could bleach your hair, you were really cool. The rest of the haircut was short, except for the bangs, which could hang down to your eyebrows. When the Beatles got popular, the rest of the hair on the head caught up with the bangs. Bangs in our modern age are not an exclusively American hair. Even here we say "Dutch boy bangs" although the Dutch call it a page boy cut. We have seen 20th century images of European boys wearing bangs. Bangs have been worn in France, but do not appear as popular as in America. We know less about other European countries. The question of whether bangs has been more common in America than other countries, that may well be the case, but it is a question we have not yet persued in details--so I can not give a definitive answer yet.

America

A HBC reader informs us that she has cannot find any mention of the word "bangs" being used anywhere else in the world (except Britain) in relation to hairstyles. We have few details about chronological trends with the bangs fashion. We do know that many American boys in the 19th century did wear bangs. This may have been in part the unintentional result of a "bowl" cut which was common for frontier and rural boys whose mothers cut their hair. Interestingly, bangs were often used in combination with ringlet curls for boys, often from affluent city families, receiving very fancy hair styles. Bangs were really popular during the 1960s in America. Before the Beatles hit, long bangs in the front were the "Surfer" look that boys, especially in Junior and High school really liked. If you were blond, or could bleach your hair, you were really cool. The rest of the haircut was short, except for the bangs, which could hang down to your eyebrows. When the Beatles got popular, the rest of the hair on the head caught up with the bangs. The rather shaggu bangs of a young John F. Kennedy Jr, in the early 1960s also had an impact on boys' hair styling. The question of whether bangs has been more common in America than other countries, that may well be the case, but it is a question we have not yet persued in details--so I can not give a definitive answer yet.

Australia

An Australian reader tellsus that he wore bangs at age 12-14 years in 1973-1975. He remembers wearing a white shirt and flared pants. A family photograph shows his maternal grandfather also wearing bangs in the 1910s.

Belgium

We note many images of Belgian boys with their hair cut in bangs. This was a very common style during the 20th century. We are less sure about the 19th century aa we have so few Belgian images to assess. There were many variations on the the basic bangs style, including the cut, shape, and fullness. Some were cut straight across while others were more shaped. This of course depended on the fullness of the boys' hair. This was also a popular style in neigboring countries and we are not yet sure if there were any variations associated with Belgium. We do not know if trends varied among the French and Futch speaking Belgians as to the poularity of bangs. Bangs may have been more common in Dutch speaking Flanders. Belgian girls also wore bangs, but often the sides and length of the hair was dome differently. We note boys to their early teens wearing bangs.

Canada

A French Canadian reader tells us, "About bang, it was called "page boy" in Canada . Even in Québec, the English term was used without translation. I found some boys with such a hair in 1973 but really longer." The pageboy is bangs with long hear at the sides covering the ears. This is of course just one of the ways in which bangs can be dome. There are two basic variables here. First is how and what length the forehead hair is cut and arranged. The other basic variable is jow the hair at the side is cut and arranged. The bangs or fringe as they are often called in England is just the front hair combed down over the forehead. Bangs styles, hoever, include how the hair at the side is cut. As far as we can tell. the Casnadian bangs' styles were essentiaslly the same as those in America and followed the same chronological trends as those in America. We have no details on the portrait here, other than it is Canadian. It looks to us to have been taken about 1910. The children all look like boys, but this is just a guess. Two boys are dressed identically. The three older boys all have bangs, although one of the children looks to have had his hair curled at the side. The youngest child looks to have choupttes uggesting that the child is a boy.

China

Bangs were a popular hair style for both boys and girls in China.

Denmark

Our HBC reader reports that she was "recently recently reading an Updike book about medieval Denmark when I was suddenly transported from old Denmark to not so old America, which was unsettling".

England

Bangs are a popular hair style for boys, including English boys. The English term for bangs was 'fringe'. There are a range of styles for bangs. Some bangs were done very sharply. Others were more of a roughly done effort, in part because sharpky cut bangs becamne rougher as the hair grew. And biys varied as to how frequently their hair was cut. They were done with other style elements, including both longh and short styles. The chronology is another topic of interest. We are not yet sure about the chgronology of bangs. It is a topic we are working on. We have little information on the 19th century. Bangs were very commonly worn by primary school age boys in the 20th century, especially the younger boys. This means the age at which mother determined how the boy's hair was cut without any real consultation with the boy. As they got older boys were more likely to wear hair styles with parts like a short back and side cut. Many turn of the 20th century school portraits show boys in bangs and girls with long hair, although there were many exceptions here. A good example is the photograph from an English village school in the early 1900s (figure 1). Popularity and age convetions varied over time. Notably the Beatles started out with bangs, although the length of their hair (rather modest at first) at the time elicted the mosr comment. Girls also wore bangs, but it was less common as center parts were so common for girls.

France

Bangs have been worn in France, but do not appear as popular as in America or England. Bangs in France were wirn by both boys and girls. Some French mothers did not do their younger sons hair in bangs because it would have been difficult to do a "choupette" once the hair was cut in bangs. The bangs cut has always existed in France, but usually for a realitively small minority of boys. Bangs reportedly became very popular in France during the 1920s when the boys' hair becam shorter. It was also became popular in the 1970s after the 1968 Paris student riots. In the 2000s bangs are a style mostly worn by very young boys. A similar, but some what different style is the "coupe anglaise" (English cut) which can seen on the boys 4-14 years old.

Germany

HBC has noted German boys wearing bangs, but we do not yet know how common this hair style was and how it has varied over time in Germany. HBC has noted German boys wearing bangs, but we do not yet know how common this hair style was and how it has varied over time in Germany. We note German boys wearing bangs in both the 19th and 20th century. In the early 20th century, Dutch boy bangs (probably called page boy cuts) were popular for through their early teens. The Germans use "pony" or "ponies" terms of course derived from English. According to a dictionary, the word is used for the hair cut, because a pony has a similar fringed mane. This would explain its British word "fringe". An older form for "pony" (a juvenile horse) is "powny", Old French "poulenet", French "poulain" is from Latin "pullanus": "pullus" meaning "foal". Both terms were introduced in German during the 19th century. This of course would be confused in English where a "pony tail" hair cut is a girl's hair style where the hair is shaped into one or two stands that are worn behind the head, much like a "quque" that men wore in the 18th century. A good example of German boys wearing bangs is information developed on two Desseldorf brothers.

Italy

No information available yet.

Japan

Bangs has been a popular style for girls and younger boys in Japan.

Korea


(The) Netherlands

Americans associate bangs with the Dutch. Bangs are reffered to as "Dutch boy bangs" although the Dutch call it a page boy cut. I'm not sure how this expresion developed, but bangs have indeed been worn by Dutch boys. A Dutch reader writes, "I am not satisfied with what it says about the Dutch calling bangs a page boy cut. I checked the terms with friends and dictionaries and here is what I found. Page boy cut ("pagekopje" in Dutch) refers to a style worn by girls and women and refers to bangs in front AND a short cut at the back. You would not normally call a boy's cut a "pagekopje". Although still seen today it was once much more common. We associate it with the Charleston-look of the 1920s. I understand that what Americans all bangs in the above and other pages refers to the front only. This is called a "pony" in Dutch and is used for both boys and girls. Thus a girl might wear braids at the back and bangs in front and we would not call this 'een pagekopje' but 'een pony' and the same word is used for a boy's bangs whatever the style of the hair at the nape of his neck." Some caution has to be given to the word Dutch in America. The word for German in German is "Deutch". Americans confused that with Dutch. Thus the Pennsylvania Germans are commonly referred to as the Pennsylvania Dutch.







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Created: March 2, 2002
Last edited: 10:14 PM 1/26/2007