Boys' Hair: National Styles


Figure 1.--One of the most popular hair styles for younger boys were Dutch boy bangs worn with Buster Brown or other tunic suits. The comination was so strong that the hair style began known as Buster Brown bangs. The children were Arthur and Elsie and the photograph was taken in 1914.

Hair styles also varied between countries. Some boys hair styles are particularly associated with specifically associated ith individual countries. Some styles are generic and worn in many countries. Here we have just begun to collect information. We are of course most aware of American developments. Some styles were destinctly national. A good example was the American crew cut. Long uncurled hair was worn by French boys while ringle curls were most common in America. Flats tops and crew cuts were once standard American styles. German boys once commonly had closed cropped hair. I'm not sure if Dutch boys bangs was once a common Dutch style, but presumably it was. Other styles were worn in many countries. The bowl cut, because all mothers had bowls in their kitchens, were worn around the world. Some styles such as the British short back and sides were worn in many countries, although we often do not know what it was called in different countries. Some of these trans-border styles often had varying chronologies from country to country. Destinctive national styles began to decline in importanmce with the appearance of the Beatles in the 1960s. Since the 1980s, boys hair styles in the United States and Europe have been remarably varied, although not destinctive by country. After the turn of the 20th century close cropped hair has become increasingly popular. Here is some limited information about boys' hair styles on various countries. Currently we have information on only a few countries, but hope that HBC reades will provide details on hair styles in their own country.

America, North


America

American boys wore generally short hair in the early 19th century. Bowl cuts were common in frontier America. Hair styles by mid century had become longer, often worn to or even over the ears. Some younger boys wore long-shoulder length hair, often done in ringlet curls but there were various styles. Ringlet curls were worn during the Fauntleroy craze of the late 19th century and were more common than in Europe. Most boys American boys wore short hair, but the number who sported ringlet curls was considerable. As Fauntleroy ringlet curls declined in popularity during the early 20th century, many mothers adopted Dutch boy bangs for the boys wearing Buster Brown and other tunic suits. After the turn of the 20th century, short hair became increasingly common for school age boys, especially after World War I. Very short hair became popular after World War II, especially in the 1950s. Flats tops and crew cuts became standard American styles after World War II as many men had become accusyomed to short military haircuts during the War. Destinctive national styles began to decline in importanmce with the appearance of the Beatles in the 1960s and longer hair became stylish for boys. Since the 1980s, boys hair styles in the United States and Europe have been remarably varied, although not destinctive by country. After the turn of the 20th centuiry close cropped hair has become increasingly popular both in America and Europe.

Canada

As far as we can tell, Canadian boys have worn the same basic hair styles as American boys. We can detect non significan differences, however, our information is very limited. There appears to have been some French influenc among French Camdian boys, but even here the basic fashion inluence appears to be American.

America, Latin


Argentina

We do not notice any specifically Argentine hair styles for boys or girls. We see the same styles that American and European boys have worn. The same influences which affected clothing also affected hair styles. We think Spain was a particularly important influence was Spain and that Italy was also important. We see boys in the late-19th century with cropped hair. Younger boys commonly had bangs. We see some boys with ringlet curls, but some boys may have been European expatriats. This is difficult to assess from the photographic record. And we do not have a large archive of Argenine images. American styles do not seem to have been very influential in Argentina. We do not see Argentine boys wearing the crew cut popular in America during the 1950s. We do see Argentine bots wearing the longer styles hair cuts that became popular in Europe during the 1970s. This waas affected somewhat by the political situastion. The military which seized control of Argentina and regarded long hair as a indication of leftist sympasthies.

Asia


Europe


Austria

We have limited information on Austrian hair styles at this time. On the basis of our limited archive, we note many similarities with Austria and Germany. During the late 19th and 20th century, many boys had cloesed croped hair. This seems especially the case of boys from working class families. I think some schools may have required it. We also note some boys with llongist hair., This seems especially common with boys from aflluent or upper-class famolies. This seems to have been more common in Austria than in Germany. It may have been in part a French influence. The NAZIs absorbed Austria with the Anschluss (1938). From that point German and Austrian hair styles as far as we can tell have been identical.

Belgium

HBC has not yet acquired dextensive details on the hair styles worn by Belgian boys. We believe they were largely similar to French styles, but there may be some differences between trends in Walonia and Flanders. We have noted that short hair styles have predominated since the late 19th century. Long often shoulder-length, but generally uncurled hair was a popular fashion for younger boys in the late 19th-century. By the 1910s, shoulder-length long hair had become less common, but fashionable boys might still wear their hair over their ears. HBC has noted Belgian boys in the 1930s-50s wearing the the "choupette" curled hair style that was also popular in in France.

England

Short hair cuts appear to have become standard for English boys by the turn of the 19th century. Younger boys might be kept by their mothers in curls. Boys educated at home might be kept in long hair, if their mothers thought that stylish. The ringlet curls American boys wore in the late 19th century were less common in Britain. Boys would have their hair cut short before being sent off to school. Short back and sides were a common hair cut at English private schools. Some styles such as the British short back and sides were worn in many countries, although we often do not know what it was called in different countries. Some special styles have been reported by British observers. Mayhew in London Characters and Crooks, a fascinating volume of first-hand accounts of the poor and working-classes of Victorian London. He describes the fashion of the working-class coster-boys (street stall sellers) of wearing their hair long in front. It is interesting to note that these boys, though living on the bread line, were as particular about their dandyfied hair styles as the teddy-boys, punks or fashion-conscious child of the 21st-century.

France

Many French boys in the 19th century wore long hair. HBC is unsure about the chronology. Boys in the eraly 19th century wore short hair. I'm not sure when long hair became more common. Long hair This was particularly popular among boys from affluent families. Boys from working-class families were more likely to have short hair. Long uncurled hair was worn by French boys. The ringlets that were commonly worn by American boys with long hair were much less common in France. As a result, the long hair worn by French boys often looks unkept. Perhaps for this reason, hair bows were more common for boys than in other countries. After the turn of the 20th century, long hair declined in popularity. Boys that did continue to wear long hair tended to wear it at lengths well above the shoulder.


Figure 2.--Even younger school boys often had closely cropped hair. This school photograph was taken in 1913.

Germany

HBC has at this time only limited information on hair styles worn by German boys. German boys have worn a variety of hair styles. Virtually no information is available on early 19th century styles. German boys by the mid-19th century generally had short hair. In the late 19th century, many school boys appeared to have had very short hair, even shaved heads. We notice numerous photographs of German boys with shaved heads or very short hair. The long hair worn by some boys in the late 19th century was less common in Germany, especially long hair done in ringlets. HBC has noted that this style continued into the early 20th century, especially in the era during and before World War I (1914-18) often wore closely cropped hair. This may have varied regionally and was especially common in Prussia. This was less commion with boys from wealthy families. This style continued somewhat into the 1920s, but was little seen by the 1930s. Apparently this rather military-inspired style was not of intetest to the NAZIs. Perhaps for the same reason that they did not introduce school uniforms. Many photos of the Hitler Youth show boys with rather short hair on side and back, but fairly long on top. We have not noted photographs of Hitler Youth boys with shaved heads. The long hair styles worn by some French and American boys do not seem to have been as popular in Germany. This is not to say, however, that no German boys had long hair in the late 19th and early 20th centuty. This would not have been favored by the NAZIs and even younger boys during the NAZI era had short hair. In the early 20th century, Dutch boy bangs (probably called page boy cuts) were popular for younger boys. This style appeared again in the 1970s--perhaps one of the many cultural impacts of the Beatles.

Italy

No information available at this time.

Netherlands

HBC has little information on the hair styles worn by Dutch boys. At this time it is believed that they were rather similar to the hair styles worn by German boys. One well known style are Dutch boy bangs. HBC is unsure, however, what the origin of this hair style and just what the association with the Netherlands, if any, is. HBC has noted modern Dutch boys wearing bangs, but they do not seem to be especially popular. Most available images show Dutch boys wearing a variety of other styles. In the early 20th century the style was more common, although the term "Dutch boy bangs" is an American or English term--unknown in the Netherlands. HBC is not sure if there is a similar term in other European languages like Italian or Spanish. The style with bobbed hair is calle "pagekopje" in Dutch. It is similar to a "page boy" hair cut. Page is the word we use for the boy who assisted or served a knight in the Middle-Ages. These pages are often pictured with this hair-cut. "Kopje" means head. This style was popular for a long time for young boys (first quarter of the 20th century). Older boys revived it in the early 1970s--probably mimicking the Beatles as in America and other European countries.

Romania

We do not yet have much information on Romanian hair styles. Our initial assessment is that there were many similarities with Germany. This seems to be the case throughout Central and Eastern Europe. The same is true of clothing styles. We are not entirely sure why, but the pull of the German cultural and economic system before World War II seems to be the key factor. And of course Romania had a German monarchy. Also we need to consider that the Austrian and subsequent Austro-Hungarian Empire helped to promote Germann culture uncluding fashions in the area. We notice a lot of boys with closely cropped hair in the 19th and early 20th century. This may be another German influence. There may also be public health considerations. Cropped hair seems to have continued longer in rural than urban areas. Ringlet curls do not seem to have been common for younger boys, but we do notice boys with Dutch boy bangs, at least city boys in comfortable circumstances. We note alot of girls wearirg hair bows. This is, however, a topic that needs a lot of work before we can make any basic assessments.

Russia

HBC has little information on Russian hair styles. We note many Russian boys with shaved heads in the late 19th and 20th century. This seems paruicularly common with school-age boys. It probably as in Germany and other European countries primarily a sanitary measure at school. I'm not sure to what extent this was a style popular with the parents or eforced by the schools. A also do not know what the children themselves thought of it. After World War I and the Russian Revolution, these shaved ahir styles did not disappear, but became gradually less common. We rarely see images of Young Pioneers, for example, with shaved heads. School age boys, however, did generally have short hair. This continued through the 1960s. The Soviet Union was affected by Wstern fashions long before Western politcal and economic thought was successful. First it was jeans in the 1960s. Next long hair styles became popular in the 1970s. I have few details, but assume that Soviet school adkinistrators had the same difficulty over hair length that administrators in America had in the 1960s and 70s. The boys apparently won the contest od wills and longer hair styles were actually being shown in Soviet movies by 1979--presumably meaning that longer hair was being accepted in the schools.

Scotland

We have very limited information on hair styling trends in Scotland as our Scottish archive is still fairly limited. Our basic assessment at this time is that Scottish boys' hair styles were essentially the same as styles in England to the south. We see the same styles we note in England in our Scottish archive. We do not know if the popularity or time line varied to any degree. We have little information about the 19th century. We mostly note short hair in the 20th century. We note some of the fancy styles like long hair and ringlets that were worn by Enhlish boys, but not vert commonly. We note long hair in the 1970s and 80s just as in England. By the 1990s we begin to see many Scottish boys wearing short cropped hair. We hope to refine our assessment as more informtion becomes available on Scotland. Hopefully our Scottish readers will provide us some insights here.

Sweden

We know very little about Swedish hair styles at this time, but hopefully Swedish readers will be able to offer some basic information to this section. Our relatively small Swedish archive has not allowed us to develop much hair styling information at this time. Much of what we notice in our Swedish sction looks very similar to German styles. We have almost no Swedish images from the 19th century. We suspect cropped hair was common as in Germany, but we do not yet have the images in our small archive to confirm this. We know more about the 20th century band hair styles do seem similar to Germany. We nore rural boys wiyh bowl hair cuts. Bangs seem very popular. Parted hair syles seem very similar to Germany, but our assessment is still tentative. Longer hair lengths appeared in the 1970s and were similar to those elsewhere in Germany. We notice cropped hair again in the 1990s.

Oceania

Australia

An Australian reader tells us, "I had dead straight hair and cockies (hair sticking up and refusing to stay down) on the crown and no matter amounts of gell, water, hair oils, Brylcream, and other chemists (drug store) remedies could deal with it. In the early days my dad did my hair with central, left, and right parts and cowlicks and comb ups. A HBC reader in 2003 reports that little boys under 5 seem to be having crew cuts or even more severe close cropped cuts. Lots of boys over 5 have short back and sides haircuts with blond hilights and combups, college cuts, crewcuts, and even bald or number ones.

New Zealand

We do not have a great deal of information about New Zealand hair styles. As far as we can determine they were essebtially indestinguishable from British hair styles. Thus the styles we have seen from New Zealand photographsare the same that we see in England. We see the same fads such as Little Lord Fauntleroy ringlet curls in the late 19th century that we see in Britain. Here is a studio portrait from Christ Church, New Zealand (figure 1). There is no date or name. We would guess that it was taken in the late 1890s or early 1900s. He has a small white bow in his curls. Looks to be 5 or 6 years old. Unless we had the name and location of the photograoher, we would have assumed the boy was British. (The portrait looks American, but the short socks rather than long stockings is an indicator that the boy was British, or in this case from New Zealand.) As in Britain we do no note the same cropped hair that we see in Germany. We do see the straight back and sides hair style that was popular in Britain durung the first half of the 20th century. After World war II, New Zealand seems less influenced by American hair styles then other aspects of American culture.

Personal Experiences

Here are some personal experiences regarding hair styles noted in various countries.

United States: 1940s-50s

An American boy from a cathloic famuly in Rhode Island during the 1940s and 50s describes the hair styles that he remembers.

Individual Experiences

We have noted a number of personal experiences concerning hair. Some are literary described in biographies and other books. Others have been submitted by HBC readers. We have accounts from only a few countries at this time, but hope to gradually expand ouir country coverage.







HBC






Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing hair style pages:
[Return to the Main hair page] [Return to the Main Long hair page]
[Bangs] [Ringlet curls] [Hair bows] [Curls] [Caps] [Collar bows]


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: 8:28 PM 2/24/2009
Last edited: 3:01 PM 5/26/2016