German Boys' Hair: Hair Care

Figure 1.-- This is a charming family snapshot of a little German boy having his hair combed or brushed by his older teenage brother. It was pretty clearly taken in the 1930s. The little boy, about 6 years old, wears a white open-collared shirt, a sleeveless sweater, short trousers and rather heavily ribbed woolen long stockings obviously held up by a Strapsleibchen or bodice with four hose supporters. The older boy wears Kniebenhosen (close-fitting knickers almost like like knee breeches that fasten below the knee) with woolen hose also ribbed. We are mot sure if they are knee socks or long stockings. A reader tells us that they are definitelky long stockings. Notice also the older boy's well-tailored tweed jacket worn over a dressy white shirt and necktie. The older boy is obviously having fun with his young brother--a rare moment of family intimacy and affection. The clothes look to us like what relatively affluent parents might choose for their children for a weekend in the country at a hunting lodge or some other country estate. The older boy looks as though he were about 16 years old.

One interesting topic is when boys begin to comb and take care of their own hair. We believe that boys begin to do this at a fairly early age. Or at least they attempt to do so with varying results. There are a number of issues involved here. First are the physical abilities of young children to comb hair, similar to the issues involved with dressing, such as going buttons and tieing shoe laces. We suspect that boys by about 5 or 6 years are able to comb their own hair, although it probably takes a little longer for them to learn to get the part reasonably straight. For this to be done correctly, they need mom's help for a few more years. And for special occassions, when mom wants the hair combed just right, she may step in well after the boy is able to do it himself. Of course in Germany, for many years this was not an issue because many boys in the 19th and early-20th centuries had close-cropped hair that did not need to be combed. Another issue is that many boys are not all that concerned about their appearance. This varies from boy to boy, but little girls tend to be much more interested in clothes and hair styling than little boys. This is in part the result of their upbrinning at home, but much of it has to do with the variable interests of individual boys.


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Created: 11:11 PM 3/25/2011
Last updated: 11:11 PM 3/25/2011