Many French boys in the 19th century wore long hair. HBC is unsure about the chronology. Boys in the eraly 19th century wore short hair. I'm not sure when long hair became more common. Long hair This was particularly popular among boys from affluent families. Boys from working-class families were more likely to have short hair. Long uncurled hair was worn by French boys. The ringlets that were commonly worn by American boys with long hair were much less common in France. As a result, the long hair worn by French boys often looks unkept. Perhaps for this reason, hair bows were more common for boys than in other countries. After the turn of the 20th century, long hair declined in popularity. Especially after World War I (1914-18), most boys wore short hair. Only younger boys, usually pre-school boys wore longer hair styles by the 1920s. Mothers that chose longer hair styles for their younger boys, tended to wear it at lengths well above the shoulder. Even into the erarly 1950s mothers would take great care with theie hair styles of their younger boys. As in te rest of Europe, longer hair styles became increasingly popular for boys in the 1970s. This lasted until the 1980s when shorter hair returned, although there tended to be general acceptance for the few boys who wanted to wear their hair longs.
A woman's hair in the 10th century was her crowing glory. This was true in part because the fashion of wearing wigs had ended with the French revolution. Victorian 19th century morals, however, requited that a lady be coberec from toe to neck, except for formal evening wear which might have a low neckline (décolleté). This because her hair was the one physical assett (besides the face) that did not need to be cobered, it was the hair that received tghe greatest attention. Arguaably it was in France that hair was given more attention by woman than any other country. Many French women has systems such as brushing their hair at least 100 times daily. Of course affluent women with householod help could adopt a more intensive susyem than less afflient women. It was thus only natural that French mothers would give the same attention to the hair of their daugthers and sons that were still under their almost total supervision. (Often fathers did not interefere until boys had reached a certain age--although this age varied from family to family.)
Assessments of hair styles in the many different countries is complicated by the foreign langiage terms for the various styles. Some of the French words associated with boys' hair cuts and styles may be useful to English-speaking readers. Some are similar to the English terms others are entirely diffrent. Our French readers have provided us many of the French language terms.
There are a varierty of observable conventions associated with both clothing and hair styles. Many of these conventions are international in character. One of the most widely observed today is in buttoning, right for girls and left for boys. There are also color conventions such as pink for girls and blue for boys. Another is hair parts, left for boys and right for girls. Very often these rules were not formal. Many boys in France could have their hair part on the right. There wre also differences associated with social class. One French reader also notes that it was very rare to see a girl with a left part. He is not sure why. Many of these conventions are discussed by HBC. Many are poorly understood. We often do not know how or why they originated, although there are many theories. While many have become international conventions, there are national differences. Thr time frame for developing these conventiins varies some what and of course certain countries habe played important roles in developing the conventions in the first place. In this section we want to assess the development of hair style conventions in France.
Many French boys in the 19th century wore long hair. HBC is unsure about the chronology. Boys in the early 19th century wore short hair. I'm not sure when long hair became more common. After the turn of the 20th century, long hair declined in popularity. Especially after World War I (1914-18), most boys wore short hair. Only younger boy, usually pre-school boys wore longer hair styles by the 1920s. Mothers that choose longer hair styles for their younger boys, tended to wear it at lengths well above the shoulder. Even into the early 1950s mothers would take great care with the hair styling for their younger boys. A French reader confirms that "Long Hair in the 1950s was not very common
for boys after after 2 years of age." As in the rest of Europe, longer hair styles became increasingly popular for boys in the 1970s. This lasted until the 1980s when shorter hair returned, although there tended to be general acceptance for the few boys who wanted to wear their hair longs.
Long hair during the late 19th and early 20th century was particularly common for boys from affluent families. This included both weatly families as well as comfortable middlr class families. This also seems to have been the case for hair bows. Boys from working-class families were more likely to have short hair. Working class boys might even have shaved heads. As long hair became less common in the 1910s, especially after World War I, shoulder-length hair was no longer seen. Mothers in well-to-do families, however, continued to be interested in fanvy hair styles for their children. Usually this was only possible, however, for pre-school boys. Thus younger French boys through the 1950s might still have such fancy styles.
French boys have worn a wide variety of hair syles over time. Many are the same styles commonly worn in other Eropean countries. Others were destunctive to France ir more pronounced in France. HBC has collected the following information about boys' hair styling in France. As in America and other countries, some mothers used a kitchen bowl to cut theor son's hair, thus the name of the cut. In French it is "coupe au bol". This was especially common in rural areas or for families that could not afford barber fees. Interesting this look has become rather fashionalble as is in France more commonly called "coupe anglaise" (the English cut). French boys have not worn curls as commonly as boys in seberal other countries, including America. HBC has noted, however, one curled hair style. A French reader describes a "coiffure de garçonnet avec une choupette". He reports that it was was common from the 1930s and early 50s with mothers who wanted to make a younger boy look nice and he himself wore such hair styles. The English cut, or "coupe anglaise", according to a French reader, gives a boy the look of good family. ("Un air de bonne famille.") This style by the early 1990s was very popular throughout France. At first in was mostly found on boys from affluent, fashion concious mothers, those mothers that were especially concerned with how a boy looked. Perhaps the long hair worn by French boys during the late 19th century was often not curled into ringlets. Hair bows appear to have been more common in France than in other countries. We are not sure when French mothers began using hair bows for their sons. We have observed this as a relatively common style through the early 20th century, but much less common after World war I (1914-18). In France, hair bows were generally associated with long uncurled hair, unlike America where it was most commonly used with ringlets. Long uncurled hair was worn by French boys. The ringlets that were commonly worn by American boys with long hair were much less common in France. As a result, the long hair worn by French boys often looks unkept. Long hair became popular, even for older boys, during the late 1860s and continued until the early 1980s. While long ringlets for boys were not as popular in France as in other countries, some boys dod wear them. They were know as "Anglaises" (coiffure des cheveuxthe) or "English-style curled hair. This was a very commonly used word before 1980, but a French reader tells us that it is a bit forgoten to day. French boys in the mid-19th century wore hair that usually showed their ears, but was not cut short at the side. Some boys worelonger styles. French boys of school age have generally worn short hair since the late 19th century. Around the turn of the 20th century we have even noted school children with short cropped hair. This seems especially associated with schoolwear. French mothers liked to style the hair of their younger school-age boys (6-10 years old) with a wavy hair style (" cran "). Some boys had naturally wavy hair. Most did not, so for the wavy affect, mothers woulf put a boy's hair in rollers (" bigoudis ") over night. One of the several meanings of the word "crimp" in English is "to make wavy" and is used in connection with hair and the naturaly waviness of wool fibers. A French reader reports that teenagers were also found of the wavy look, "especialy for going ro a party or a ceremony. This wavy hairstyle necessitated relatively long hair.
HBC is just beginning to research the part (raie dans les cheveux) in French hair styles. One French reader tells us that with the short hair that was common for boys in the 20th century, especilly after World War II, that the boys in France usually parted their hair on the left and the girls on the right. Rgere was no definitive rule on this and boys could be seen with both left and right oarts. The left part for boys, however, was much more common. This convention not as strictly observed for the boys from affluent family and with especially attentive mother. One could thus see boys with part on both the left or right. Today in France this convention is completely lost. Today a boy could have a left part one day and a right part the next.
As far as we can tell, the hair styles French boys wore to school were the essentially the same as the popular styles of the day. School portraits are a good reflection of populsr hair styles. We do not know to what extent the schools enforced ny kind of hair style rules. Some of the Catholic schools in the post-War period may have had some rules about long hair, but we are not sure about that. Hopefully some of our French readers will be able to provide us some background information on this topic. We do note a few younger boys withj long hair in the late-19th and early-20th century. Our experience in America and most other European countries is that a boy's curls were cut at least by the time he began school at about 6 years of age. This is generally the case in France, but we notice some exceptions. We note a written account about a boy named Paul in the 1890s. We also occassionally notice a few scattered boys with long hair in school portraits through the 1930s. One gets the impression that French boys were a little more accepting of these differences than boys in many other countries. Here we are talking about a period when the other boys had short hair. Of course by the 1970s long hair became very common for boys.
HBC has relatively few historical images showing the hair styles of French girls to compare with the styles worn by French boys and with girls in other countries. The French fashion magazine La Mode Illustrée provides large numbers of images beginning in 1860, although we are not sure how acurately it relects fashions and hair styles commonly worn by French girls. Certainlu it must reflect girl's from relatively affluent families. We note that most of the girls depicted in the late 19th and eraly 20 century wore long hair, sometimes down their backs, but almost always over the ears and to the name of the neck. For some reason in 1988-89 several girls were shown with short almost bouish looking hair. Some girls have heavily styled hair. We note realtively few with basic ringlet curks styles. As La Mode Illustrée commonly showed girls wearing hats, many images do not show the hair styles. In particular we have difficulty making out parts. We note far fewer girls in the 19th century with center parts than woulod have been the case in America.
HBC has noted French boys in institutions like schools and orphanges with shaved heads during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. We are not sure at this time, however, how common such styles were.
We note numerous French post cards following World War I (1914-18) showing French boys wearing fancy hair styles. We noted some before World War I, but only on very young boys. After the War post cards often show school-age boys with these fancy hair styles. Commony they are not long shoulder-length styles, but over the ears styles, often curled with a wave. They are quite similar to styles worn by some girls. At first glance the boys look like girls, bit the fact that they are wearing short pants rather than dresses, clearly identifies them as boys. French girls did not wear shorts in the 1920s, especially when dressing up. We are not sure justv how toi date these images. We beloeve that they are mostly 1920s or early 30s images, but not eraly 1920s images. Short pants were still wirn quite long in the early 1920s. Thus we suspect that these cards often showing boys weraing short cut shorts date to the mid- or late-1920s. As best we can tell, the hair styles depicted were not commonly wirn by school age boys. Virtually the only images of school-age boys with these hair styles come from these postcards.
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