** historical girls' clothing: hair styles

Girl's Historical Clothing: Hair Styling

Figure 1.--Daguerreotypes are typiclly undated. This wonderful tinted dag was probably taken about 1850. Both boys and girls wore ringlet curls, but at the time they were more common for girls.

HBC has some information about girl's hair styling. HBC has collected this information in an effort to help identify who is who in old photographs, but readers specifically interested in girls' hair styles may find it useful. Interestingly boys and girls over time have had some of the same syles, but often not at the same time. One particularly importnt element is the part. Boys have had long hair, even ringlet curls. Girls have had short hair, but not the cropped hair styles worn by European boys in the early 20th century. We have collected information on both hair stules and hair bows.


Hair styles like fashions go in and out of style over time. We have some information on historical era, but really large numbers of images only become available in the mid-19th century and at first only in a few Wesrern countries. Gradually we see more and nore images andfrom countries around the world. This especially true by the 19th centiry, but it is only after World War II that we begin to see really large mimbers oif images from Third World countries.

Country Trends

We have just begun to develop information on girls' hair styles in different countries. Our zrchive ficuses primarily on Western countries, primarily because photography was developed in the West and thed photigrapohic recordd primarily consists of European and North Americzn countries. Latin America might be considered part of the West, but our archive of Latinn American countrides is limited. This is primarily an economic matter. Rich countries almost by defution are going to have larger photographic records than poor countries. Since World War II, this has begun to change as nmore cojuntries dopt capitalist ecinomic sustem and begin to experuence ecoomic prosperity. We notice many hair styles that are popular across national borders. There may be nationl trends and chrionological diffwerwnces. There are some styles that are especially popular in certain countries. Hair styles are in part affected by the type of hair. Therefore their are ethnic differences wjich in par are country differences. This children in African countris and countris with population with African ancestry in particular have destinctive hair styles affected by their courser hair. At this time mych of our infirmatiin is European. We only have pages on girls hair styles in America. WEe have very littlr on Aian and African gaur styles. The only asin page we have is Japan, but we are constantly expnding our site and welcome reader comment.

Girls' Hair Styles

Just as you can not assume that children with long hair are girls, it is also true that you can not assume that children with short hair are boys. What we want to do here is to assess stylistic and chronolgical trends associated with girls' hair styles. We want to assess styles like bangs, curls, parts, and other hair styles. Girls have generally worn their hair long, in some cases very long. We have, however, seen many short cuts as well. This of course has varied very widely over time and among vountries. In general. girls have had much more flexibikity than boys as to how they wore thei hair. We see long, medium, and short hair done in many different styles.

Girl' Hair Bows

It was for girls that it was most important to keep up with the latest style for hair bows. The memoirs of many well known women touch upon the hair bows they wore as children. The famous 1920s film star Gloria Swanson, for example, commented on the hair bows she wore. Her mother and grand mother appear to have believed that young Gloria had large ears. Althogh noted at birth, the impact of her large ears was not felt until she was old enough to have her hair styled. Swanson wrote, "While all the other girls my age were wearing teeny tiny hair ribbons, my mother made giant silk bows and poufs for me to hide my ears." It appears to have been less important to follow the latest styles of hair bows when doing a boy's hair. Even so, hairbows for boys have varied in size, color, knot, and position. Some of these changes have varied over time. Others have shown no clear time line change. Following these trends is complicated as they varied sometimes significantly in different countries. The custom of tieing bows in boys' hair, for example, seems to have been most common in France.


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Created: 4:06 PM 5/21/2007
Last updated: 3:44 PM 3/24/2009