Figure 1.--The portrait id this rather serious little chap was taken in Dorset, probably some time in the 1880s. He wears ringlet curls with his Highland outfit. Image courtesy of the MD collection.

English Boys' Ringlet Curls: Unknown Dorset Boy

A British reader has forwarded us a portrait of a an unidentified boy photographed in the 1880s. He was photographed at Weymouth, Dorset. He is outfitted in a Higland kilt outfit with ringlet curls.


This image is undated. Given the outfit and the style of the portrait, we believe that it was probably taken in the 1880s.


The boy in this portrait is unidentified. All we know is that the portrait was taken in Weymouth, Dorset. We believe that he is English. Dorset is about as far as you can get from Scotland in the United Kingdom. It is possible that he was on holiday in Dorset, but more likely his mother was English and simply liked the Highland kilt style. He looks to be about 5-6 years old.


This boy wears an elaborate Highland kilr outfit. This is quite different than the kilt suits worn by many American boys. He wears an actual Higland kilt outfit. We at first thought that he had a Glengary cap complete with feather, but on closer examination it appears to be some kind of rounded headwear. He has a small white collar, but we can not make out the style and a bowtie. His jaclet is balck with military detailing. We do not know the color of his tartan kilt. Strangely it seems to have a bow which we have not seen before. The bow is hard to make out because it blends with the color of the kilt. He has the required sporan. His kneesocks are a solid dark color rather than tartan. The wearing of these socks with kilts, id the first use we have noted of kneesocks by boys.

Hair Style

The boy's hair style is difficult to make out, both because of the exposire and the cap he is wearing. Often American mothers had boys with ringlet caps take off their caps for portraits. This mother wanted her son in full Highland gear for the portrait. He does appear to be wearing ringlets, although they are not the tight, clearly defined ringlets so common in America.

Christopher Wagner

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Created: May 28, 2002
Last edited: May 28, 2002