Figure 1.--This American boy wears his kilt suit with bangs and long hair which does not appear to be curled into ringlets. HBC dates the image at about 1895.
Boys outfitted in sailor-style kilts sported a variety of hair styles. The styles varied over time and from country to country. The kiltsuit was worn in Europe, but it was in America that it reached its greatest popularity. American boys wearing sailor-styledf kiltsuits were more likely to be kept in curls than boys outfitted in proper knee pants sailor suits and especially longpants sailor suits. Boys in kilted sailor suits, however, were less likely to have curls than their counterparts still wearing sailor dresses. The general trends can not be relied upon because there was just no widely followed conventiions. It was sinply up to the disgression of the mother, and nothing much was thought of the matter. Mother rather much had free reign before her son began school, longer if he was schooled at home. British boys would usually have their hair cut by the age of 8 years as by the 1880s this was becoming the accepted age to begin preparatory boarding schools. This age was less fixed in America and France where mothers were less likekly to send such young boys to boarding school. While there are examples of boys knee pants sailor suits sometimes still in curls, it was not the common practice. Long hair and curls for boys became increasingly popular for boys in the 1880s, in part because of the Fautleroy caze. Many boys wearing sailor dresses and even sailor suits in the late 19th and early 20th Century were kept in long curls. It appears, however, that based on the images I have seen that boys in sailor dresses and suits were somewhat less likely to have curls than boys wearing other popular outfits, especially sailor suits. I'd be interested in any insights on this observation by HBC visitors.
Boys outfitted in sailor kilts had a variety of hair styles. These styles spanned the gammet of very short styles to very plain styles like ringlet curls. This was esentially due tonthe lack of consensus as to when a boy's long hair should be cut. Mothers could also not agree as to wheter they should cut their sons' long hair or breech him first.
Figure 2.--This American boy wears his kilt suit with bangs and very carefully rolled long ringlet curls. He wears bangs with his ringlets, but note how they have been tapered rather than the more common level cut. HBC dates the image at about 1890.
Boys outfitted in kilt suits after being breeched and graduating
from their dresses are most commonly seen in short
hair--based on a sampling of available photographic
portraits. There was, however, no widely accepted convention aabout the age that boys should be breeched or whether it should occur before or after his hairs was cut. The very limited influence of the media and the way affluent children were closeted were key facvtors here. It was up to the boys parents, usually the mother, to make such decissions. This in part explains the wide variations in style. While it was primarily up to the mother--although the father might step in if the mother delayed the process too long. As a result, many boys who wore sailor kilt/skirts wore them with short hair often associated with older boys. T Boys wore many styles of short
hair cuts with a variety of parts. Most of these boys before
wearing kilt suits probably wore dresses much like
those of their sisters. Thrifty mothers may have actually
used an older sisters outgrown dresses. Thus for the
boy, a kilt suitbat the time was often considered a
definite improvement. Mothers varied on whether to cut
a boys's hair before or after breeching. The most
common pattern appears to have been to cut a boys'
curls before breeching which is why so many boys
appear in kiltsuits with short hair. Many appeared to
have cut their son's hair while still in dresses or at the time he began wearing more boyish kilt suits. Boys wore many styles of
short hair cuts with a variety of parts. One HBC contributor comments, "I agree completely with your comments with regard to kilt suits. It suprised me how few boy
wearing kilts suits or outright dresses have long hair. Most of these kilt outfits are not feminine at all and the boys wearing them
are immediately recognizable as boys. I can see why little boys may not have objected to such outfits since no one would
confuse them with girls."
Bangs were part of many ringlet curl hairdos. This is commonly seen with the boys wearing kilt suits. Bangs as a style of their own were less common with kilt suits. This was primarily becausde bangs as a hair style was not yet popular when kiltsuits were such a popular style. Bangs became much more common in the early 20th century and often worn with tunic uits--including sailor tunics.
French boys also wore kilt suits, but the style was much less common than in America where it was a standard style for boys. The boys that did wear sailor kilt/skirts with long uncurled hair. Such uncurled hair styles were much less common in America.
Mothers did not always cut a boys hair before breeching. While short hair appears to be the most common style, there are
many images of boys in kilt suits wearing various styles of long hair. As most of the available images are American, many of the
boys with long hair wear ringlets. While in kilt suits, it was not unusual for boys to wear ringlet curls and perhaps
bangs--although bangs were not a very common hair style while kilt suits were popular. Bangs were, however, employed as
part of the treatment of the front hair with ringlet curls.
While in kilt suits, it was not unusual for boys to wear ringlet curls and perhaps bangs--although bangs were not a very common hair style while kilt suits were popular. Bangs were, however, employed as
part of the treatment of the front hair with ringlet curls. Boys in kilt suits, especially in America, often wore them with ringlet curls. The chronology of these garments closely parallel that of the popularity of ringlet curls for boys.
Figure 3.--This 3-year old American boy was photographed in 1890. His name, John was inscribed on the back of the photograph. He still has curls, but not long hair like some boys his age. He wears a middyblouse with a skirt rather than a sailor dress. Notice the piping around the sailor collar and bow tied in an un-sailor fashion. Also notice his wide-brimmed straw sailor hat. His mother wanted it in the photograph, but did not want him to wear it as it would hide his curls.
The sailor kilt/skirt was seen by many mothers as a transition from little boy dresses and the the trousers that their sons woukld soon be wearing. As a result, hair styles reflected this transitional period. The variety of hair styles was affected by the lack of consensus among American mothers as to whether their son should be breeched first or his long hair cut first. This was certainly the case in America. HBC knows less about European trends.The skirted sailor outfits like kilt suits were developed after the sailor suit per se. Mothers liked the style so much they did not want to delay buying sailor garments until their sons were breeched. As a result, the boys wearing these skirted sailor garments exhibit a great variety of hair styles. Boys wore three basic types of skirted sailor outfits: dresses, kilt/skirts, and tunics. HBC has noted a number of stylistic variations in the kilt suits, but these variations do not appear to have had a great impact on the hair styles worn.
The hair styles worn with skirted hair styles varied over time and from country to country.
Figure 4.--This boy wears a white sailor kilt or tunic with ringlets. Notice how the collar falls over his shoulders. His brother who is only slightly older wears a kneepants suit with large Eton collar. One sister wears numerous hairbows. Click on the image for a view of the family.
Kilt suits were very commonly worn by American boys in the late 19th century. This was an interesting development as it was not common for American boys to wear actual Highland kilts. The boys wearinf kilt suits with sailor styling were more likely to be kept in curls than those outfitted in knee pants sailor suits. The boys were, however, somewhat less likely to have short hair than the boys still in sailor dresses. This was not always the case because of the subtantial variations between countries. It was sinply up to the disgression of the mother, and nothing much was thought of the matter. Mother rather much had free reign before her son began school, longer if he was schooled at home.
Kiltsuits were less common in England than in America. This is surporising as the kilt came from neoghboring Scotland and Queen Victoria was so enchanted with the kilt. Some English boys did wear kilt suits, but the hair styles especially for older boys was not as varied as in America. English boys would usually have their hair cut by the age of 8 years as by the 1880s this was becoming the accepted age to begin preparatory boarding schools.
French boys appear to have worn long hair even more commonly than American boys. French boys also wore kilt suits, but not as commonly as American boys. The boys that did wear kilt suits very commonly had long hair--usually uncurled. The riblets common in America were much less popular in France. The age of boys wearing skirted garments and long hair was less fixed in America and France where mothers were less likekly to send such young boys to boarding school.
HBC has little information on Germany, but believes that longer hair styles weere less common here than in France and America.
HBC as for other topics has no information on Italy.
HBC has no information on Scotland at this time--either how common kilt suits were and what hair styles were worn with them. Kilts of course are associated with Scotland, but HBC believes that kilt suits were not very common there. This initial assessment, however, needs to be confirmed.
Figure 5.--This boy looks to have been photographed in a kiltsuit during the 1870s. Notice the piping. He wears a very short hair cut. Notice the pntalettes that the boy is wearing.
While there are examples of boys knee pants sailor suits sometimes still in curls, it was not the common practice. It was much more common vfor boys in kilt suits to have curls. HBC has first noted boys in kilt suits wearin long hair in the 1870s. Long hair and curls for boys became increasingly popular for boys in the 1880s, in part because of the Fautleroy caze. Many boys wearing sailor dresses and even sailor suits in the late 19th and early 20th Century were kept in long curls.
HBC began to commonly note boys with kilt suits in the 1870s. At first short hair styles were common, but increasingly long hair styles began to appear by the late 1870s.
Ringlet curls in America became very popular in America for younger boys wearing a variety of clothing--including kilt suits with sailor styling. The publication of Little Lord Fauntleroy was a major factor here. Ringlets were worn by boys before the book was published, but the book helped to popularize it. Available images, however, substantiate that not all boys wore these ringlets with skirted sailor garments, many boys even during the peak of the Fauntleroy craze had quite short hair cuts.
Kilt suits had significantly declined in popularity by the 1910s as did longer hair styles for boys.
Figure 6.--HBC believes this American boy was photographed in the 1870s. Note that the ringlets are not as precisely set as was often the case in the 1880s. The boy wears a sailor "V" collar, but notice the almost plaid trim rather than the nautical stripes.
Boys who still had ringlet curls when finally breeched (allowed to wear pants) often had his curls cut, an occasion which would
brought tears to the eyes of many a doting mother. As a result, even after a boy began weraring pants, his hair was not always
cut. This was especially true during the Faunleroy craze of the late 19th century when mothers loved to combine fancy velvet
kneepants suits with ringlet curls.
It appears, however, that based on the American images I have seen that American boys in sailor kilt suits were somewhat less likely to have curls than boys wearing other popular outfits, especially sailor suits. I'd be interested in any insights on this observation by HBC visitors. HBC has much less information on European trends.
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