Boys' Hair Styles: Parts


Figure 1.--This American boy was photographed around 1910, perhaps as late as 1915. He has a rular-straight hair part. It is a left part, but not very far down the side of the head. He wears a plain shirt waist with a detachable Eton collar and floppy bow. I'm not not positive about the color of the bow, but it looks to be white. Note that the bow is not tied as "fully" as in the past and that there appears to be only one tail--perhaps the other is obscured under the wing of the knot. Also notice his razor sharp part and wonderful cowlick. My guess is that mom did the combing here.

A hair part is the dividing line in separating the hair of the head when combing. The hair is combed in opposite directions on the different sides of the head. Many, but not all boys' hair styles include a part. Often the part is lost in the overall affect of the style. Normlly boys have one part which can be located on either side of the head or in the center. Some center parts can not be seen at the front if the boys hair is done in bangs. 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 incorporate twin parts and some that round the back of the head. There are also soft parts and much more defined sharp parts. The popularity of parts and the particular part type has varied over time. In some contries, hair parts have had gender connotations, although this has varied over time and we have not yet developed details on those connotations.

Definitions

A hair part is the dividing line in separating the hair of the head when combing. The hair is combed in opposite directions on the different sides of the head.

Terminology

We do not yet know many foreign language terms for "hair parts". The French term is "raie dans les cheveux". A British reader tells us that they used the term "partings" rather than "parts" which is standard in America. The German term is "Scheitel", center parting = Mittelscheitel and side parting = Seitenscheitel. Scheitel has many meanings in German, generally mean the apex or maximum in geometry or mathematics. When used in connectin with people, however, the meaning is hair part. The German word for hair is "Haar". Hair parts in Italian are called "riga dei capelli".

Common Ferature

Many, but not all boys' hair styles include a part. It is difficult to comb hair without some kind of a part somewhere on the head. Sometimes the part is lost in the overall affect of the style. More commonly it is an important feature of the hair style.

Origins

Hair parts are useful devices in combing the hair. If hair is goung tp be neatly combed it has to be combed in a direction and this requires a beginning point which is what the part provides, be in side, center, or back. The great number of boys' and men's hair parts that we have noted are left side parts. We believe that this originated in the fact that most people are righted handed and for a right handed person, a left part is easier to comb than a right part. In addition until relatively recently, left handed people were often forced to become right handed, further increasing behaviors such as left parts. Today wher left-handedness carried no stigma, we are unsure how if lefthanded peole tend to part their hair on the right. Of course their hair is first combed by their mother, so some may simmply follow the pattern set in early childhood. Hopefully some of our HBC readers can provide some information here. An Australian reader tells us, "I had no problem as an older boy say 13 when parting my hair but when I was around 7 years of age my left hand did seem to not be as normal as the right hand via coordination and my hair part done with the left hand was rather messy. I used to get my left hand hit by the teacher if I attemped to use it for writing and sometimes tears would be involved because as a 6 year old I did not understand their tough regimentality towards me favouring my left hand for writing. I now write with my right hand because after lots of smacks and constant badgering I soon got the message that one does not use ones left hand for writing. I can still do a good part with either hand but no longer bowl a cricket ball or bat with my left hand."

Location

Hair parts for boys are generally left or right parts. Left parts appear to be the most common. We are not sure, but this may be because most people are right handed. A complicating factor here is that boys' hair is first parted by mother. I'm not sure how she decided on the side to part. This may have changed when a boy got older and began to comb his own hair. Less common for boys was a center part. These center parts were bery common for girls in the 19th century. We note boys with center parts in the early 20th century. A good example is Clarence Rogers in the late 1900s. We note some boys wearing center parts in the late 20th century. The side parts, however, were always the most common style for boys. A good example is Dan Brown, an American boy in the 1870s. We note diagonal parts cross the crow, but they are very rare. Almost all parts are either side or center parts. The side parts vary as to how far they go down the side of the head.

Type

We have noted a wide variety of hair parts. Normally boys have one obvious, clearly defined part which would be located on either side of the head or in the center. Left parts have been the most common. Presumably because most people are right handed and did the combing with the left hand. Of course mom did the early combing, but perhaps used dad as the model. Here I am not sure, but will assess this as we collect more information. There may have been chronolgical as well as national differences cncerning the side parted. Parts especially if combed by mother could be razor sharp. Often they were more informably combed. The parts are not always clearly visible. Some center parts can not be seen at the front if the boys hair is done in bangs. 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 incorporate twin parts and some that round the back of the head. There are also soft parts and much more defined sharp parts.

Styles

The part is an element in a wide variely of hair styles, including both short and long styles. These have included styles worn by both genders. Sometimes because of the styling, the part can not be seen at the front. The parts have been both side, center, and back parts. The use of the part may have had some gender connotations with some of these hair styles, but we are still developing information on this.

National Trends

We have just begun to collect information on individual countries. The great majority of photographic images we have noted in which parts are destinct, show boys with left parts, although center parts were often common during certain periods. Right parts are much less common. This is true in each country we have assessed, although admitedly for many countries the number of available images is very limited. This is definitely true for American boys and in other countries where we have large number of images such as Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. Right parts are not absent from these countries, but they are much less common than left parts.

Chronological Trends

The popularity of parts and the particular part type has varied over time. HBC has not yet, however, been able to assess the hair part chronlogically. This is an undertaking that needs to be persued. It is a topic I have not yet conidered in detail, but of course we have a huge number of images archived that the can use to drawinformation from. Our information on the early-19th century is limited. Many younger boys in the late-19th century had long hair. Some had poorly defined parts, but some of these hair styles had defined parts. here were also boys with short hair and defined parts. A good example is Charley Rosewater in 1876. In the 20th century short hair with defined left parts became increasingly standard. Centr parts were popular at the the turn of the century. Gradually left parts becme stndrd, but not universal. Some of the popular shorter cuts in the mid-20th century had no parts.

Gender

In some contries, hair parts have had gender connotations, although this has varied over time and we have not yet developed details on those connotations. We note that in mid-19th century, for examole, younger girls often parted their in the middle. It was worn at different lengths, ofren with a ribbon or headband to keep it out of thecway. As girls got older before or in her early teems she would usually let her hair grow longer. Boys on the other hand generally wore short hair styles and parted it on the side. I'm not sure if the choice of which side was important, but as most people are left handed the left side was probably the most common. Of course it was mother who generally did the parting until the boy was well into his school years. By the turn of the century, center parts had become very fashionable for boys. We should stress that while there may have been some conventions concerning hair parts, availableimages show that many mothers ignored those conventions. Not infrequently mothers would just comb all of their children's hair with the same part.







HBC






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Created: April 18, 2002
Last updated: 12:18 PM 8/29/2007