Boys' Hair Styles: Individual Experiences

Figure 1.--Oliver Ingraham had his portrait taken in the early 1900s. He was photographed by Champney of Rockport, Maine. The resulting portrait was an interesting record of his first haircut. Click on the image for a second view.

We have noted a number of personal experiences concerning haor. Some are literary described in biographies and other books. Others have been submitted by HBC readers. We have accounts from only a few countries at this time, but hope to gradually expand ouir country coverage.

The 1850s--England: Pen Barett Browing

Elizabeth Barett Browning and Robert Browning are two of England's most noted romantic poets. Elizabeth grew up in a priviliged, wealthy family. She had 11 brothers and sisters. Her mother dressed the boys just like girls in long hair and dresses. Elizabeth was very upset when her father had the boys' hair cut. After marring Robert they had one son, Pen in Italy. Pen was the light of Elizabeth's life. She spoiled him outrageously. He was schooled at home by Elizabeth and Robert. While not interested in clothes herself, she bought elaborate expensive outfits for the boy. Elizabeth kept Pen in dresses with the same flair as her romantic poetry even at 9 years of age and at 11 wore a tunic with lacey pantalettes. Robert was dubious about how Elizabeth dressed Pen, but apparently did not intervene. Until Elizabeth's untimely death, Pen wore long carefully curled hair. Pen did not object as a younger boy, enjoying the attention and compliments from his mother's friends. As an older boy he began to object, but with little success in the face of his strong opinioned mother who had very definite ideas on the subject.

The 1850s--England: The Tennyson Brothers

Mrs. Tennyson appears to have been partial to long hair. The boys' blond hair was kept in long gilden locks, not only as little boys, but also as they got older. Their hair was not curled as was to become popular in the 1880s. Rather Mrs. Tennyson lert their hair a shoulder length in a long flowing style. I do not believe that this was a common style of the day in England. Long hair may have been more common in France. Images of French boys waring long shoulder-lenth hair with hairbows are available for the 1870s, I'm not sure, however, as to just when it became fashionable. Looking at the images of Lionel and Hallam I note that there hair is often rather unruly and not carefully combed for the photographs.

The 1870s--America: Joseph C. Brenkenridge

Joseph mother clearly liked ringlet curls and she has carefully styled his hair. She chose ringlet curls a decade before the publication of Little Lord Fauntleroy popularized the hair style. She was also one of those mothers who thought it appropriate to breech her son well before she was willing to clip his curls. Many other mothers chose to cut their boy's curls before breeching. Joseph actually at age 4 seems to have been breeched at a relatively young age, 5 years was probably a more common age. Joseph's mother, however, was not about to clip his curls, but even added the hairbow for a little color and flare. This may have in part been because boys clothes in the 1870s were more plain than was the case in the 1880s when velvet Little Lord Fauntleroy suits and lace collars became popular for boys, even boys much older than Joseph.

The 1880s--America: Robbie Casatt

Robbie was the favorite nephew of the American impressonist artist, Mary Casatt. There was apparently quite a diuscussion in the family as to when Robbie's curls were to be cut. Mary's brothers also wore long hair when they were younger.

The 1880s--America: Vivian Burnett

Cedric Erol was of course a litterary character. But in many ways, the author's youngest son Vivian was the inspiration for Little Lord Fauntleroy. Vivian was dressed in velvet suits and he did have long shoulder-length hair. In fact he was the model for Reginald Birch who illusrated the first edition of Mrs. Burnett's book. Vivian spent the rest of his life trying to disassociate from his mother's creation.

The 1880s--England: Allingham family

Little information is available on the hairstyles of Helen Allingham's children. We do know from her paintings, however, that Henry's hair was worn long, but kept short of shoulder level. It appears to be naturally curly. She did not curl his hair into ringlets.

The 1880s--France: Delesseps family

The younger children have long hair and hair bows and dresses with patent leather strap shoes and white socks. It is difficult to destinguish the boys from the girls.

The 1890s--France: Jacques Zola

Most of the available photographs of Jaques as a younger boy show him with extremely long hair. Only one photo, however, shows him with ringlets, so I think his hair was curled only on special occaisions. There is one exception. The photograph of Jacques in Rome wearing the large sailor hat and a coat over the dress appears to show him with short hair. I have no idea why this would be. As he became older his hair was cut shorter, first to his chin in a pageboy bob and later in a Dutch boy cut. The first bob and bangs had his hair much longer at the sides than the Dutch boy bob he finally wound up with.

The 1890s--France: Renoir family

The great French impressionnist loved to paint his children. There are several portraits in which they were used as models. They isually appear with long uncurled hair, sometimes with hair bows.

The 1890s--France: Jean Daubeville

French painter Felix Vallotton was a contemporary of Pierre Renoir. A painting he did in 1906 was included in a book on Renoir's Portraits and compared with Renoir paintings of children. The painting shows a little boy, Jean Dauberville, wearing a pinafore and dress with long hair and a hair bow.

The 1900s--France: Paul

An interesting book provides some fascinating details on French boyhood during the 1910s. It offers insights on several different topics, clothes, hair styles, and school life. It is the memories of Paul Vailland-Couturier who was born in 1893. Paul as a young boy wore long hair and curls even to school. At home mother added a hair bow.

The 1900s--America: Ivan Maicie

While some American mothers chose long hair and curls for their boys, most American boys wore their hair short. Some mothers even chose short hair for their boys from a very early age.

The 1900s--America: Oliver Ingraham

Oliver Ingraham had his portrait taken in the early 1900s. I would say about 1905. He was photographed by Champney of Rockport, Maine. We have no other information about Oliver. The elegant sailor outfit and elborate hair style suggest that Oliver came from an affluent family. He looks to be bout 5 or 6 year old. The resulting portrait was an interesting record of his first haircut. There are a series of three early photos showing Oliver in a white sailor tunic before and after his first grownup haircut that trims away his beautiful long curls. Oliver wears a rather elegant all-white tunic sailor suit.

The 1900s--America: Ernest Heminmgway

Ernest's mother Grace was not consistent with his hairstyles. Sometimes she wanted identical styles, but not always. Ernest sometimes wore his hair in a loose, tapered coiffure that was nearly as long as his sister's hair. Interestingly she also had him in short hair almost like the modern crew cut. Her favorire though appears to have been bangs, a square-cut bob extending down well over his ea rs, very similar to the way his sister wore her hair. Grace reportedly liked to refer to each of the children, with their Dutch boy bangs, as her sweet Dutch dolly.

The 1900s--America: Tom Wolf

The American author, Thomas Wolfe, described his long sausage curls which his mother insisted that he wear even after starting school. The family was not wealthy. While his mother kept a boarding house, Tom pitched in by selling papers--while still in curls. His curls did not endear him to his fellow paper boys or school mates. He seems to mention being teased by other boys selling papers more than at school. Wolfe also mentions the torment of having his hair curled every night.

The 1960s--America: John

Note: An HBC contributor has provided the following article publihed in May 1963. An American boy liked his long hair, but it was so out of style that he ran into trouble.

1967--America: John

Of all the many haircuts of my life I remember especially one I received in Summer 1967, when I was 14 and a half. Summer of '67 is recalled fondly by some as the "Summer of Love." Hippies, love-ins, and psychedelia were icons of the time. Not everywhere in the US, however, and certainly not in the southern, conservative town where I was growing up. At 14 and a half I was aware that the times, they were a'changing - in more ways than one. Fads and fashions were becoming "mod," and I was growing up. I wanted to look like my peers - longer hair and stylish clothes. Nothing extreme, but I didn't want to stand out, to look different. I'd let my hair grow a little longer, and with dad out of town on business, I could get away with it - up to a point. Then, the axe would fall, or more exactly, the clippers.

The 1960s-70s--Australia: Patrick

I had a variety of styles as a teenager. As a younger teenager I had a pageboy cut. Then I wore my hair long. I then rmember getting a buzz cut. This was a truely American style. A Mormon missionary or elder told me so. It was originally a college (university) hair cut style. It was usually very short at the back. My old school friend Lloyd, an American boy but living in Australia, told me that his brother in college, had this cut. He liked it and wanted one. So we had it done. My dad went ballistic, but let me be because 2 years later I had moppy long hair which annoyed him a lot. So I had this style once and thought it was cool except at the back of my head and upper neck with chilly winds of winter giving me goosebumps."

The 1980s--America: Willie

You mentioned mullets as a popular hair style . That was definately a major hairstyle from 1985-1993 for boys. In 85, I was 12 years old, and very noticeably, many boys in my school had that haircut, and my school ranged from kindergarten to 8th grade. Not only was the mullet the major haircut, most other boys were feathering their hair.


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Created: September 27, 2002
Last edited: 9:21 PM 10/25/2005