Boys' Headwear


Figure 1.--This American boy wears a soft sailor cap with his sailor suit. The image is undated, but we would estimate about 1930.

Fashion begins at the very top. An important part of dressing used to be the child's headwear. Now generally considered less important, how the hair is cut or styled continues to be very important. Boys over the ages have worn a great variety of headgear. Although many boys today generally do not wear hats, other than baseball caps, once a boy would have always worn a cap or hat. They have also worn a wide variety of hair styles.

Headwear

Boys have worn many types of hats and caps over the yars as well as many other types of headgear like berets. In fact man and boys used to always wear some type of headwear. It was an esentially part of dressing up, in sharp contrast to modern trends where boys rarely wear any headwear except baseball caps--except for cold weather. One fashion analyst speaking on BBC radio explained, "Once, you knew a man by what he wore on his head. A hat was like a flag is to a ship: it denoted an origin, a home port. Nobody - as Sir Neville Cardus said - would have dreamed of going out without a hat when he was a lad. Now, few go out with a hat. And modern males are as anonymous as chips without vinegar." [Mather] While caps and hats are today much less common, historically, they were a very important aspect of fashion. We are not sure yet just why headwear began to go out of style in the 1950s.

Hair

Hair styles are not precisely clothing styles, of course, but because they are such an integral part of how boys looked and were dressed during the past 500 years, that we would be remiss in not briefly addressing the topic. 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.

Sources

Mather, Geoffrey. "Capped for England" BBC Radio 4, 2001.







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Created: March 12, 2000
Last updated: 12:36 AM 7/26/2014