Figure 1--This American boy in an undated photograph (circa 1885) taken in New York City sports slender, long ringlet curls carefully on the boy's lace collar. Note the kind of curled bangs the boys wears. He looks to have had the hair on the top of his head or even his forehead bangs styled

Ringlet Curls: Characteristics

There were not only different styles with ringlet curls, but the ringlets could be varied in diameter and length. Some mothers curled their sons' hair into long, thick curls. Other mothers preferred a larger number of more slender curls. Other variations included the number of curls and many other factors like bangs and the treatment of the part and the rest the boys' hair. In part this was determined by an idividual boy's hair, especially how thick it was. But again mothers' preferences were also an important factor.


The thickness of the curls varied from boy to boy. They looked to have been curled at about 1 centimeters in diameter. The thickness seem to have been related to the number of curls rolled. A few available images suggest thicker ringlets, perhaps as much as 1.5 centimeters.


Ringet curls most commonly were long, extending below the shoulders. Mothers loved to carefully lay the curls on the boys choulder so they would show on the photograph to maximum affect. Hair this length would generally have to be on boys at least 5 or 6 years of age. Todler hair doesn't grow this long. Some boys with long curls would have been 12 years of age or older. This probably is the upper limit of the number of curls rolled. Perhaps some boys might have had 14, but I doubt it there were boys styled with larger numbers of ringlets. Concerning the question of length. I think this was primarily a question of a boys' age. A little boy could not have long ringlets. By the time a boy was 5 or 6, a boy was old enough to have ringlets falling down to his shoulder and longer. I do not think a older boy ever had his curls trimmed so they didn't get to long, but I could be wrong about this. Almost all available images of ringlet curls show the boys with at least shoulder-length ringlets. Presumably this means a boys hair was not curled until it was long enough to be at least shoulder length. Some of the older boys, however, have much longer ringlets. Some seem ti fall to as far as the mid chest.

Figure 2--This American boy in an elegant Little Fauntleroy suit sports a full head of ringlet curls. Based on the number visible he appears to have had about 12 ringlets in all. Let me know if you think I counted incorrectly. He looks to have had blond hair and you know his mother must have cried when all those curls were cut.

Number of Ringlets

Boys varied greatly in the number of ringlets that their mothers styled. Sometimes thee were only two major ringlets. Often their were six or more. Spmetimes the boy had two ringlets laid on their shoulders and the rest of the hair uncurled. Unfortunately the vast proportion of the photographic images of boys in ringlet curls are photographed fron the front. It is thus not readily apparent as to how many ringlets the boy has. The mother is careful to lay at least two ringlets pn the boys lace collar or shoulder of his jacket or dress. But this leaves open the question of how many ringlets are cascading down the boys' back.


Some boys have very tightly curled ringlet curls where each ringlet is very distinct. Other boys have hair where the ringlets are loosely curled. Their hair in some cases almost does not look like they are wearing ringlets curls. The hair looks like it is curled, only not in tight individual ringlets. HBC is unsure at this time as to whether this is a fashion and that the hair was curled for this effect or whether the hair might have been curled a day or so earlier and had lost their tight ringlet look. As some of the images of boys with these styles were potrait taken at a studio, you would have thought that their hair would have been done epecilally for the portrait, so it may have been the style and not ringlets that had lost their tight look.


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Created: November 24, 1998
Last edited: August 4, 2000