Boys' Hair Styles


Figure 1.--This style of bangs became quite popular for American boys in the 1990s. I'm not sure what the popular name of this cut is. As you can see it and similar bang styles were worn by boys of various ages.

Boys hair fashions have ranged even more significantly than their clothes and have varied from the long sausage curls of the 1880-90s to shaved heads in Germany in the early 20th century and the short crew cuts in the America of the 1950s. Long hair became popular again in the 1970s and early 1980s. Boys in the 1990s have been more free to select a style and length that suited them with no one style predominating. The long hair worn in the 1970s, however, is now rarely seen. One style popular in the 1990s has been shearing the head off at the neck giving a bowl-cut look. In our modern age the 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.

Terminology

We are trying to develop information on all the different styles of boys hair styles. The problem here is that our information is very limited. We do not know the names of many styles. In other instances different terms were used for various styles. And the same terms were used for different styles over time. Further complicating the situation, barbers at any given time often had different ideas about hair styling terms. A reader writes, "I think terms can mean different things to barbers. Barbers usually take 'over the ears' to mean long enough to cover the ears, but sometimes a barber takes it as meaning short enough not to touch the ears (all of the hairs ending over the ears)." HBC is primarily a clothing fashion site. We have begun this hair styling section only after encountering different hair styles in our historical work on fashion. We hope that readers with insights on hair styling or who remember their boyhood hair cuts will help us build this section of HBC.

Specific Hair Styles

We have listed here the boys' hair styles with which I am familiar. Unfortunately hair styling us not a topic with which we are familiar. In many cases we do do not know the formal names for these cuts and style or very much information about them. We know much more about clothing. As with other areas of HBC, we have begun to collect some information using the photographic record. We hope to eventully learn some basic information bout these styles. Please let me know if you are aware of any others or have any childhood memories about your hair styles. Hopefully someone with barbering experiences or other expertise will eventually help us analize the various cut styles.

Other Styles

HBC is primarily a clothing site. The hair style information is something we have added largely because we observed haie styles as so imortant to many clothing outfits. It wold have been incomplete, for example, without also discussing ringlet curls. Unfortunately we have not yet been able to research hair styles in detail yet. In particular we do not have good information on what some of the old time hair styles were called. Our information on some modern styles is also limite. A HBC reader, for example. asked " hi could you please tell me what the name of the haircut with a flick at the front and just normal lenghted hair at the top." HBC does not know. We are hoping that a reader with knowledge about either historical or modern cuts will provide some information or point us to some useful sources.

Parts

A hair part is the ividung line in separating the hair of the head when combing. The hair is combed in opposite irections on the differn sides of the head. Many, but not all boys' hair styles include a part. Normlly boys have one part whih can be located on either side of the head or in the center. Parts can also vary depending on how far down the side of the head the part is made. Although less common, there are some styles that incoroirate twin parts and some that round the back of the head. There are also soft parts and much more defined sharp parts. The populariy of parts and the particular part ype has varied over time. In some contries, hair parts have had gender connotations, although this has varied over time.

Chronology

We have primarily focused our work on specific hair styles and have not yet pieced the information we have collecte together to form an overall chronology of boys' hair styles. This we plan to do as we expand our knowlege on diffeent hair styles and the chronology of those styles. We have at this time, however, only very limited overall chronological information developed,although we have developed some more detailed chronological information on specific styles.

Age Trends

Hair styles were in part affected by age, although this varied over time. Styoles akso varied from country to country. Most boys had short hair, although there were times when even older boys had long hair. Usully it was more common for younger boys to have long hair. This was especially the case before boys were breeched. At times there were substantial differences in hair styles for boys of different ages. At other times there were much less difference. Some syyles were especially common for younger boys like ringlet curls. Other styles like bangs were worn by boys of more varied ages, although varied by time.

National Trends

Hair styles also varied between 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. 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.

Real Life Hair Styles

We have chosen for our hair style pages, primarily images of boys with carefully combed or styled hair illustrating the many different styles of boys hair styles. In many cases the hair was carefully done by mother for a portrait. Older boys might be taken to a barber in preparaion for a portait. At the minimum mother probably at least gave the hair a final comb before the portrai was taken. In real life of course boiys often had less perfect hair styles and many were not combed at all. Others were in real need of a hair cut. Of course if a boy had close-cropped hair, it required little maintenance. Other longer styles might require constant combing. While it is relatively easy to identify hair styles in formal portraits, often it is much more difficult in family snap shot in which the children have not been spruced up to have their picture taken.

Hair and Breeching

Breeching and cutting a boys curls was a tremedously varied peocess with differed greatly from family to family. In most families mother decided how and when to conduct the process of breeching and cutting a boy's curls. In some families father controlled every thing, but in most families it was mother's decission, especially for younger children. Many fathers would eventually intervene if mother delayed the process beyond what he felt was appropriate. The conventions for both breeching and cutting a child's curls varied over time. Outfitting boys in dresses and other skirted garments was quite common throughout the 19th Century. Hair styles were much more variable. Long hair esecially ringlet curls were much more common in the 1880s and 90s than earlier in the centurty. We note several different options for both younger and older boys.

Individual Experiences

W have noted a number of personal experiences concerning haor. 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.







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Created: March 5, 1998
Last updated: 1:30 AM 8/23/2007