Hair Bows: Gender Trends


Figure 1.--It was not always the girl rather than the boy who wore hairbows. These unidentified American children were photographed in the 1910s. The child on the right is clearly a boy as he is wearing kneepants. Notice his ringlet curls and hairbow. We believe that the child on the left is his sister. Notice the clearly differentiated hair style and that she does not wear a hair bow.

Hairs bows are today primarily associated with girls. In fact girls did very commonly wear hair bows, much more commonly than boys. And quite old girls wore hair boys. While boys wore hair bows less commonly, in fact we find many images of boys wearing hair bows. It was for girls that it was most important to keep up with the latest style for hair bows. The memoirs of many well known women touch upon the hair bows they wore as children. The famous 1920s film star Gloria Swanson, for example, commented on the hair bows she wore. Her mother and grand mother appear to have believed that young Gloria had large ears. Althogh noted at birth, the impact of her large ears was not felt until she was old enough to have her hair styled. Some boys have also had their hair done up in bows. The boys involved were the boys who wore dresses in the late 19th century. In all cases that I know of they were boys still in dresses that had not yet had their hair cut to short boyish length. I have only limited written information on this style. Much of what I know comes from paintings or photographic images.

Girls' Hair Bows

It was for girls that it was most important to keep up with the latest style for hair bows. The memoirs of many well known women touch upon the hair bows they wore as children. The famous 1920s film star Gloria Swanson, for example, commented on the hair bows she wore. Her mother and grand mother appear to have believed that young Gloria had large ears. Althogh noted at birth, the impact of her large ears was not felt until she was old enough to have her hair styled. Swanson wrote, "While all the other girls my age were wearing teeny tiny hair ribbons, my mother made giant silk bows and poufs for me to hide my ears." It appears to have been less important to follow the latest styles of hair bows when doing a boy's hair. Even so, hair bows for boys have varied in size, color, knot, and position. Some of these changes have varied over time. Others have shown no clear time line change. Following these trends is complicated as they varied sometimes significantly in different countries. The custom of tieing bows in boys' hair, for example, seems to have been most common in France.

Boys Hair Bows

Some boys have also had their hair done up in bows. The boys involved were the boys who wore dresses in the late 19th century. In all cases that I know of they were boys still in dresses that had not yet had their hair cut to short boyish length. I have only limited written information on this style. Much of what I know comes from paintings or photographic images.







HBC






Navigate related Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site pages:
[Return to the Main hairbow page]
[Hair styles] [Collar bows] [Dresses] [Kilt suits] [Kilts] [Fauntleroy suits]
[Fauntleroy dresses] [Sailor dresses] [Pinafores]
[Smocks]

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Introduction] [Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Topics]
[Bibliographies] [Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Images] [Links] [Registration] [Tools]
[Boys' Clothing Home]




Created: 2:54 AM 6/10/2005
Last updated: 7:07 PM 5/26/2008