Scottish Boys' Fashions: Hair Styles

Figure 1.--This was what went for smart beachwear in the late-19th century. Notice the spade for diggig sand. The three unidentified were photographed by Wm. Robeertson in Gourock, N.R. We think it was a CDV portrait. Gourock was a Scottish coastal town noted for rope making, copper mining, and kipper (cured herring) production. In the 19th century a new industry developed, Gourock became a thriving tourist resort at the end of a rail line from Glasgow. (We are not sure what N.R. meant, perhaps Northern Ross. An English reader wonders if it could be "Northern Railway".) The portrait is undated, but was probably taken in the 1890s. The children look to be about 5-8 years old. All three children have ringlet curls. The girl wears a huge hat, white dress, and white long stockings. The boys wear white tams, ruffeled blouses, knee pants, and three-quater socks.

We have very limited information on hair styling trends in Scotland because our photo 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 late-19th and early-20th centuries. We note some boys with what looks like cropped hair. We note some of the fancy styles like long hair and ringlets that were worn by English 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.

Hair Styles

We notice a variety of hair styles worn by Scottish boys. They seem very similar to English hair styles. Our Scottish archive, however, is fairly limited so we have not yet been able to pursue this topic in any detail.

Cropped Hair

We note some Scottish boys with what looks like cropped hair in the late 19th- and early-20 centuries. This seemed to have been prevalent among working-class boys.

Long Hair

Ringlet Curls

We note some of the fancy styles like long hair and ringlets that were worn by English boys to the south. We notice a few Scottish boys wearing riunglerts curls in both the 19th and 20th centuries. Herre we see an example from the early-20th century (figure 1). Our limited archive makes it impossible to assess just how common ringlet curls were in Scotland. They do not seem to be very common. We think they were less common than in England, certainly less common than in America. We think social class and income levels were major factors. Ringlets were time consuming and were not a style that were worn by working-class boys, even younger boys. The examples we have found so far were relatively short ringlets, sat least avove the shoulders. We are not yet sure of the age range. We think it was mostly pre-school boys wearing them.



Hair styling is of course an important fashion statement. And here have been notable gender destinctions over time. Our HBC website relies heavily on the photographic record. This presents a range of problems as many availble photographs are not identified, thus we often have to guess about gender. Long hair of course usually means that the child is a girl and short hair a boy. This is, however, not always the case. Many youngwr boys had long hair and quite a number of girls short hair. A sometimes more reliable inducator is a center part, but this also is not infalible because there were times when center parts were popular for boys. As a result we can usually establish gender with a fair degree of accuracy as clthing usually helps, but there are portaits that we find difficult to identify.

Social Class


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Created: 8:36 PM 2/24/2009
Last updated: 6:52 AM 6/5/2014