Boys' Ringlet Curls Chronology: The 20th Century


Figure 1.--This portrait of two Chicago brothers is undated, but looks to us as if it was taken in the 1900s. At the time, tunic suits wee popular for younger boys.

Ringlet curls for boys were not common in the 20th century, but we do see them at the very beginning of the century. We contunue to see American boys wearing ringlet curls after the turn-of-the 20th century, especially the early 1900s. Some mothers kept to the traditional practices well into the 20th century. Usually ringlet curls in this era were for younger boys, but some mothers might wait until a boy was 10 or even 11 before allowing him to have his long curls cutting. The fashion, at leasy for boys, declined in popularity substantially during the 1900s and was much less common by the end of the decade. World War I as with clothing and other soicialconventins was a major turning point. After World War I in the 1920s it was no longer a major style, although we do continue to see a few boys with ringlets. Some very young boys might wear natural curls until their first hair cuts, but this was usually onlt to ear length. Ringlets becae a girls style and became extrodinarily popular for girls when Shirly Temple began her famed movie career with her trade mark bangs. After this long ringlets virtually disappeared for boys. Usually ringlet curls in the early 20th century were for younger boys, but some mothers might wait until a boy was 10 or even 11 before allowing him to have his long curls cutting. Even after graduating to kilts or boyish suits such as sailor suits and other outfits such as little Lord Fauntleroy suits, a boy might be kept in long-flowing curls. Dresses for boys passed from fashion by the 1920s. Little boys instead wore rompers, smocks, or short pants. Boys in these new styles might have longish hair, but the uncommonly wore ringlets. Most boys in the early 20th Century wanted short hair. A boy with long hair, especially a school-age boy was apt to be teased if he still had long hair, especially long ringlets. As more and more boys attended public school mothers increasingly found they had less leeway on how they dressed their sons and styled their hair and had to increasingly conform to emerging national consensses on such matters.

Decade Trends

Ringlet curls for boys were not common in the 20th century, but we do see them at the very beginning of the century. We contunue to see American boys wearing ringlet curls after the turn-of-the 20th century, especially the early 1900s. Some mothers kept to the traditional practices well into the 20th century. Usually ringlet curls in this era were for younger boys, but some mothers might wait until a boy was 10 or even 11 before allowing him to have his long curls cutting. The fashion, at leasy for boys, declined in popularity substantially during the 1900s and was much less common by the end of the decade. The fashion of long hair for boys, which had existed for decades, suddenly became less common in the 1910s. We see far fewer portraits with ringlet cirls in the 1910s. The fashion rapidly disappeared in the 1910s, especially after World War I. World War I as with clothing and other soicialconventins was a major turning point. After World War I in the 1920s it was no longer a major style, although we do continue to see a few boys with ringlets. Some very young boys might wear natural curls until their first hair cuts, but this was usually onlt to ear length. Ringlets becae a girls style and became extrodinarily popular for girls when Shirly Temple began her famed movie career with her trade mark bangs. After this long ringlets virtually disappeared for boys. Even very young boys by the 1930s no longer had their hair doe in ringlet curls, although often small children did have natural curls.

The 1900s

As the 19th century passed boys were less frequently kept in dresses and their hair was cut earlier. Curls for boys continued into the 20th Century, but became increasingly uncommon. While unusual, many boys well into the 1900s were kept in curls. Some mothers kept to the traditional practices well into the 20th century. Usually ringlet curls in this era were for younger boys, but some mothers might wait until a boy was 10 or even 11 before allowing him to have his long curls cutting. Even after graduating to kilts or boyish suits such as sailor suits and other outfits such as little Lord Fauntleroy suits, a boy might be kept in long-flowing curls.

The 1910s

Ringlet curls declined in popularity during the 1910s, especially after World War I (1914-18). As so often happens as a result of war or major social upheavals, a major change in fashion ocurred after the war and the War can be seen a a major dividing point between 19th and 20th Century fashions. Ringlet curls still common at the beginning of the decade were rarely seen at the end of the decade. Many boys' fashions also disapperared, including kneepants, long stockings, Buster Brown suits, Fauntleroy suits, kilts, and other styles. We are not ebntirely sure why ringlets curls declined in popularity at least in the early 1910s. It appears to be largely changeing fashion trends.

The 1920s

Ringlet curls for boys and other long hair styles declined sharply in popularity after World War I (1914-18). Some very young boys might wear natural curls until their first hair cuts, but this was usually onlt to ear length. We see a few boys wearing long ringlets in te 1920s, but not very many. Dresses for boys passed from fashion by the 1920s. Little boys instead wore rompers, smocks, or short pants. Boys in these new styles might have longish hair, but the uncommonly wore ringlets. Most boys in the early 20th Century wanted short hair. A boy with long hair, especially a school-age boy was apt to be teased if he still had long hair, especially long ringlets. Thus, but not all of the boys kept in long ringlets were from more affluent families with the time to devote to curling a boys' hair and the ability to give such attention to fashion trends. Long shoulder-length ringlet curls virtually disappeared for boys in the 1920s. We note no images of shoulder-length ringletsin the 1920s. They were no longer worn, evn by boys from afluent families. Younger boys might have long hair over their ears and natural curls. It was rarely worn at shoulder length or curled into ringlets. We are not entirely sure why ringlets largely disappeared in the 1920s. A factor may be the work associated with curling and maintaining ringlets and the declining availability of domestic servants. We think fashions, especiall the gender conventions, were thecprimary factors.

The 1930s

Short hair had become standard for boys in the 1930s. Most available images how boys with short hair. Some younger pre-school boys might have curls, but short hair was much more common even for little boys. The boys that did have curls most had natural curls. A few boys may have still have had their hair curled. Th curls would have at most been of ear length. Ringlet curls in the 1930s became a girls style and became extrodinarily popular for girls when Shirly Temple began her famed movie career with her trade mark bangs.

The 1940s

By the 1940s, however, ringlets were increasingly less seen. Other hair styles required less trouble to maintain. Even at mid-century, however, ringlets had not totally disappeared. We note for example a French Algerian boy just beginning school in 1949.

Ages

Usually ringlet curls in the early 20th century were for younger boys, but some mothers might wait until a boy was 10 or even 11 before allowing him to have his long curls cutting.

Clothing

Even after graduating to kilts or boyish suits such as sailor suits and other outfits such as little Lord Fauntleroy suits, a boy might be kept in long-flowing curls. Dresses for boys passed from fashion by the 1920s. Little boys instead wore rompers, smocks, or short pants. Boys in these new styles might have longish hair, but the uncommonly wore ringlets.

Boy' Preferences

Most boys in the early 20th Century wanted short hair. A boy with long hair, especially a school-age boy was apt to be teased if he still had long hair, especially long ringlets. As more and more boys attended public school mothers increasingly found they had less leeway on how they dressed their sons and styled their hair and had to increasingly conform to emerging national consensses on such matters.






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Created: 9:58 PM 4/23/2008
Last edited: 9:58 PM 4/23/2008