*** girls hair styles

Girls Hair Styles: Specific Styles

girls hair styles
Figure 1.--Long hair for girls and short hair for boys is the general rule, but there were plenty of exceptions. when we first saw this cabinet card portrait we thought the childre were boys, especially the oldest child despite his dress. The hand written inscription on the back identifies them as 'Cora & Ella Bingham'. The mount pinking suggests it was taken in the 1880s. The studio was Cheney and Christmas, Lansing, Michigan.

Women's hair styles are commonly more elaborate and more complicated than men's styles. we theorize that the success and safety of women was more dependent on their beauty allure than that of men where physical prowess was important. This commonly often meant long hair while boys had short hair. This has been the case throughout the ages. You can see it in the art even of ancient socities--not all, but most. Of course our interest is children's hair styling. But the same ynmic seems to be the case. Mother's generally give more attention to styling the hair of theirvdauhters than their sons. And girls seem nore interested in fashion and hair styling. this difference seems to appear at a very young age. This is a helpful clue when attempting to establish the gender of unidentified photographs. Most of the photigraphic images we have archived are not identified. Thus we have to attempt to assess gender and ages and sometimes even countries. This was while a general rule, however, not always the case. We see many boys with long, elaborate ringlet curls and many girls with short hair simple hair styles. we know that bobbed hair became popular for girls in the 1920s, but even in the 19th century we see many girls with short hair. Oddly, mothers o chose Fauntleroy ringlet curls for their boys ofren chose plainer styles for boys. We are not sure if this tells us anything about the children involved such as were they less fashion concious. One especially important style for girls hair is hairbows, but here again they were also worn by boys.


Short Hair

One HBC reader reports that in the early 20th century before World War I, short hair for a girl was not considered stylish. We have, however, seen girls with shorter cuts appearing in fashion magazines. We note, for example, a book about French fashions (Children's Fashion 1860-1912) which showed short hair for girls at the end of the 1880s and the beginning of the 1890s. A German reder reports, "This trend is supported by photos I have seen in books. And I have also seen a painting with girls and short hair from about 1900." This was not, however, the ominant trend which was for young women to have long hair. Here we notice that more girls than young women had short hair. HBC notes very large numbers of girls which had short hair, especially in school portrits. We are not entirely sure why. A reader provides some possible reasons for girls having short hair: practical, convenient, and to discourage vanity." Another reader agrees that it had to with lice. She also points out that it may have to do with tangled hair or some other event that made long hair impractical. HBC is not convinced that these were the only reasons, but we do believe that they are part of the reason. We do not yet have sufficent information to assess country trends. One significant factor may have been social class. We believe that working class girls were more likely to have short hair. This may be because their mothers had less time to devote to careing for their hair. Factors suuh as huygene and practicality may have been especially important to working class families.

Long Hair

Long hair was highly prized and considered to be very important to any young woman in the 19th and early 20th century. We note large numbers of portraits of girls who did have long hair, often with a right or center part. Clearly many girls, however, had short hair. I am not sure if that was a style seen appropriat for girls before they got older, or if there was some other reason for all the girls with short hair. A British reader tells us, "The only reason that comes to mind is hygiene - perhaps the girls with short hair had their heads shaved at some time because of head lice / nits? Still an occasional problem at schools nowadays, when I was at junior school in the late 1950's we had regular inspections by the school nurse looking for nits in our hair."



Bangs are a popular ctyle for children, both girls and younger boys. They are called a fringe in Britain, but we have not heard that term used in America. Bangs are a shaped cutting and combing of the front of the hair so that it falls down over the forehead. Bangs are commonly cut rather straight at or above the eyebrows, but we have also seen them tapered at the side. They also vary in length. Some come down to the eyebrows and others leave vary anounts of the forehead exposed. The term bangs originated from the term cutting bang-off (straight across the front). This was derived from the practice of cutting horses' tails straight across. We are not sure about early periods, but by the mid-19th century there is an extensive photographic record showing how popular bangs were for boys and girls. It was used as an element with many other style. This is less true for boys. With short hair, the bangs rather dominated the style. With the many longer hair styles popular with girls, the bangs were just one of the stylistic elements.


One style that girls have worn, although the popularity has varied over time has been ringlet curls. The popularity of ringlets has varied significantly over time and among countries. We believe that during the time that ringlets became most popular for boys, about 1880-1905, that they were less popular for girls. One major difference between boys' and girls' ringlets is that quite old girls even young women might wear them. Also girls, especially in the early 1900s might wear them with very large hair bows.


We are not sure how to describe this style. The only term that comes to mind is a molded style. We will use this term until we can find the proper name for it. Some of the examples seem to be slicked dowm hair, basically modeled on the head. Other examples show molded styles that do not just follow the contours of the head, but jut out to the sides, but not so much the top or back of the head. It seems to be a style of short hair well off the shoulders, some times even above the ears. We do not know how much hair was use to bulk up the molding in the examples that do not follow the head contours. We see examples both in America and Europe, although we are not sure of which contries besides Britain. As best we can tell, it was a mid-19th century Victorian style. We do not know when this style first appered. We are not sure about the 1830s. We see examples in the 1840s and 50s. It may have continued into the early-60s, but was no longer very common.


Hair waves are a style usually reserved for women. This is largely because it can only be achieved through hair styling and permanents. It was usally used with long hair and so named because the classic style sought to reproduce ocean-style waves in the hair with crests and depressions. The high maintenence made it impractical, but not unknown, for girls. While waves were most common with longer hair styles, we do see them with a least one style of short hair--the iconic flapper style of the Roaring 20s. It was nammed after the fashionable young woman of the decade intent on enjoying herself with abandon and flouting conventional standards of dress and behavior. Which of course is why we see few girls with flapper hair styles and mostly advant guard young women. Most did not see it as an appropriate style for girls. We do see, however, a few girls with the flapper look. A good example is American girl Lo Benta with her cousin Ben. We think that this was most common in America, but certainly not unknown in Europe.


We note girls with a range of hair parts in the various styles worn. Some girls hair styles do not show an apparent part. Others show side parts. By far the most common were center parts or parts very close to center parts. While we have found boys with center parts, we note center parts have been much more common for girls. We have found large numbers of portraits showing girls with center hair parts. This of course was often with long hair, but girls also wore short hair with center parts. This was very common throughout the 20th century. A center part is often a very good indicator that an unidentified child in an old phootogrph is a girl, but there is no way to be absolutely sure. The popularity of the different parts has varied ovcer time and among countries.

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. Although 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, hair bows 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: 2:32 AM 3/21/2006
Last updated: 4:42 PM 1/2/2022