American Boys' Hair Styles: Specific Styles--Curls



Figure 1.--The most famous style of curls worn by American boys is the ringlet curls that were associated with the Little Lord Fauntleroy style. These boys were Ambrose and Edmund Joseph Pennefeather. The boys were born in 1900 and 1903. They were from Kenosha, Wisconsin.

There were many different styles of curled hair. The most famous is the ringlet curls that were associated with the Little Lord Fauntleroy style. This was particularly popular in America during the late-19th century. Some Fauntleroy outfits were worn with curled hair, but not done in ringlets. This was not very common, but we see a few examples. More common and less associated with a particular style or period were the natural curls that younger boys developed before their hair was cut. Here there were a variety of styles depending on the different types of hair. Some older boys wore their curls longer, but usually had them cut before they entered school. Some times these were not natural curls, but curled in various ways. Normally this was above the shoulders styles.

Age

The age of boys with curls varried over time. For the most part curls were done for younger, mostly pre-school boys. Of course here we are taling about mothers curling hair, not natural curls. Many mothers let boys' hasir grow when younger. Some would have natural curls, but many mothers also curled it. The age of cutting a younger child's hair varied from family to family as did breeching. But most children wee breeched and had their hair curled by the timethey begn school at about 6 years of age. Here socia; class was involved because more affluent parents could affordhelp to deal with family chore and thus had time for realtive frivolities such as curling a boy's hair. And the well-to-do could afford to educate children at home. Even when help was available, some well to do mothers wanted to do this thems;ves. This also varied from family to family. We do not know much about the first half of the century. This changed with the invention of photography (1839) and the rapid development of the photogrphic industry in America. Within only a few years, there were photographic stdios everywhere. Thus we know a great deal avout curls un the second half of the century. We note quite a few older boys with curls during the Fauntleroy era (1885-1905). Other than that boys rarely had curls after they reached school age, at least if they attended school.. While it was normally the younger boys in a family whose hair was curled. This was not always thd case. We see some instances when older boys had their hair curled. We are not entirely sure why this was. Really young boys might not have ebough hair to comb. Or the texture of the hair could be another factor. Perhaps readers may have some insights.

Chronology

The general pattern of curls has been for very young Americn children to have natural curls, both boys and girls. This was very common for girls, but also young boys had natural curls as well, especially in the 19th century. A treasured keepsake of many mothers in the 19th century was a hair bow and curly lock of hair. And this persisted into the 20th and 21st centuries as well. The major milestones in a boy's life in the 19th century were when he had his curls cut and when he was breeched, This might take place at the same time or different imes. Families varied as to which might come first. In the 02th century the convention of younger boys declined, but we still see younger boys wearing curls. Beyond this most boys had short hair, although there were periods in which curls, even ringlets curls were popular for boys (the late-19th century). Long hair again became popular for boys (late-20th cntury), but this did not include curls. We are able to follow this in some detail with the appearance of photography (mid-19th century). The style of curls also varied chronologically. The natural curls worn by very young children tended to be short because very young children tend not to have a lot of hair. As they get older there was more variety because mothers had more hair to work with. A complication concerning gender is that while girls most commonly wore elaborte curls like ringlets, during the time that ringlets were most common for boys, moters often did not do their daughter's hair in ringlets. It was mot unknown, but this was a common convention. While boys wearing ringles were most popular for a short period (late-19th century), we still see some ringlets after the turn-od-the century (early-20th century). We almost never see boys with inglets after World War I in the 1920s). Really young boys, however, still often had natural curls. This varies over time, but has never disappeared. Girls' curls also varied over time. Brcause of Shirley Temple ringlets were particularly popular for girls in the 1930s.

Curl Styles

Curls were done in various ways. The nost elavorate were long Fauntleroy ringlets. There were , however, many different styles besides ringlets.

Fauntleroy Ringlet Curls

The most famous style of curls worn by American boys is the ringlet curls that were associated with the Little Lord Fauntleroy style. This was particularly popular in America during the late-19th century. Many images exist of American boys wearing ringlets. Ringlets appear to have been even more popular in America. Most of the portraits in the ringlet curls section are of American boys. We note boys weraring ringlet curls as early as the 1850s, but thi sprovly ocurred earlier. It appears to have become much more common in the 1880s. Many such hair styles were worn in association with the Little Lord Fauntleroy craze which began in 1885. The ringlet style for boys appeared earlier, but after the publication of Mrs. Burnett's book, it was worn by more boys, including some older boys. Many American mothers in the 1870s and early 1880s cut, albeit reluctantly, their boys' hair short even while they were still in dresses. This became somewhat less common after 1885. The ringlet style for boys continued into the 20th century, but by the 1910s was increasingly less common. Another factor which needs to be considered is possible regional differences. We are not going to pursue the ringlet curl fashion in America in detail on this page. This is primarily because the main HBC ringlet curl section is almost all based on American images and information and thus would be redundant to relicate a new American section here. HBC suggests that readwes interested in the American ringlet curl fashion simply go to the main HBC ringlet curl page.



Figure 2.--This boy wears a Fauntleroy blouse. His hair is curled at the ends, but not done in ringlets. He was from El Paso, Texas.

Other Fauntleroy Curls

Some Fauntleroy outfits were worn with curled hair, but not done in ringlets. This was not very common, but we see a few examples. This was mostly shortr cut styles with the curls well off the shoulders. We note a variety of styles. We note some boys with curls at the end of their hair at the siges and back. This was done in many different ways. Some were only slightly curled. Other boys had elaborate, almost bushy curls. We are unsure what the proper terms are for the different non-ringlet styles. These were not necesarily Fauntleroy styles, bit these fancy styles are most commonly seen with Fauntleroy oufits. Again we see them more commonly in America than Europe.

Pre-School Curls

Some older boys wore their curls longer, but usually had them cut before they entered school. Some times these were not natural curls, but curled in various ways. Normally this was above the shoulders styles

Top Curls

We also notice younger boys wearing tunic suits with top curls. A top curl was a large, uually fat curl, right at the top of the head. There were many variations on this basic theme. This is something that was not common for curls. Riglets were worn by boys ag girls, The top curl was mostly for boys. This was primarily in the mid-19th century, beginning in the the 1860s, This was often, but not always combined with ringlet curl hair styles. We see boys with top curls wearing a wide range of outfits, The tunics were just one of the many styles.

Toddler Curls

More common and less associated with a particular style or period were the natural curls that younger boys developed before their hair was cut. Here there were a variety of styles depending on the different types of hair.

Uncurled Hair

Many American boys wore ringlet curls in the late-109th century and very early-20 century. They of course were a small minority of American boys. But the photographic record is so massive, this was still a sunstantial number of boys. And it clearly shows that the great majority of the boys with long hair had curled ringlets. We see some boys with uncurled, hair, bit not very many. One example is one of the Scott boys in the 1890s. The boys are dressed alike exceot for the younger brother's long hair.







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Created: 5:50 PM 3/21/2009
Last edited: 1:41 AM 10/2/2017