Boys' Hair Styles: History

Figure 1.--This unnamed youth was painted by Lorenzo di Credi. The painting is variously dated at 1490. He looks striking modern. His long hair looks like the hair commonly worn by American and European boys in the 1970s.

Hair has absorbed humankind since the beginning of history. Cultures have often defined themselves by it. The Egyptians hated it. The Greeks loved it. The Persians curled it. Warring parties, the Whigs and Roundheads of the English Civil War have focus on their hair styles. Within cultures succeeding generations adopted new styles and conventions concerning hair length. One generation reviling in long hair might be followed by a generation committed to long hair. Americans came to associate long hair with protest and civil disobedience. In previous generations it was short hair that was seen as modern and progressive. Especially notable is the intensity of feeling concerning hair length. Text exceeding 2,000 years reveal Greek civic leaders railing against the "atrocious" hair of young people. In our modern day, war veterans question the patriotism and manliness of long -haired protestors. Long haired youth saw the attitude of parents and school officials as repressive and unreasonable.

Many styles and processes have been employed to lend greater beauty or improve the appearance of the hair on one's head. In our modern age rhe greatest attention is given to women's hair styling. Lesser attention is given to that of men and children. This has not always been the case. Men have given great attention to hair styling in some ciltures and historical eras. In our modern era, boys have begun gicing great attention to their hair. This began with Elvis Presly and his side burns in the 1950s and the Beattles in the 1960s with what was at the time considered long hair. The teenage boy in the 1990s might spend considerable time preening in front of a mirror. Perhaps not as much time as the modern girl, but certainly more than was common in the 1950s.


Hair styling has been practiced from pre-historic days and among all known peoples from the most primitive to the most civilized. Hair is styled for two basic reasons. First hair was styled for utility. Long flowing hair can get in a person's way and thus early man may have styled to keep kit out of his way. The other baic reason is for adornment or fashion.


Hairdressing is not new to our modern era. Man since the dawn of human history has stylled his hair. Ancient civilizations have given as much attention to their hair as modern man--although in ancient socities it was often on the wealthy that could afford elaborate hair styling. Today hair styling is a fashion persued by all classes. Hair styles varied greatly from society to society. Hair arrangement could also proclaim age and majority. Boys in ancient Greece cut their hair, and Hindu boys shaved their heads when they reached adolescence.

Christopher Wagner

Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main hair page]
[Introduction] [Activities] [Bibliographies] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Clothing styles] [Countries] [Literary]
[Contributions] [FAQs] [Glossaries] [Satellite sites]
[Boys' Clothing Home]

Created: March 5, 1998
Last updated: December 19, 2001