United States Boys' Fashion Conventions: Hair Style Age Gradeing

Figure 1.--These two boys in an undated cabinent card portrait wear identical cut-away jacket suits. Curiously the oldr boy has a ruffled collar added. They wear identical floppy bows. Mother has, however, chosen a very destinctive top curl for the younger boy's hair. The photographer was Webb in Columb??, O--perhaps Columbus Ohio. The portrait was not dated, but looks like the 1880s to us.

Clothing was not the only element in age gradeing. Hair styles were also used. Some mothers used clothing items and others hair styles. As different hair styles had age connotations at any given point in time, we notice hair styles as well as clothing being commonly used for age gradeing, a common practive in the late-19th and early-20th centuries. Often mothers employed both hair and clothing styles to complement the ages of their boys. This practice often continued into a boy's mid-teens when he began to chose his own clothes and hair styles. Hair styling in age gradeing was most pronounced in the late-19th century. This was because afe gradeing was most common during this period and the clothing styles for younger boys particularly destinctive. By the same token there were some very elaborate hair styles for younger boys. Some approaches may seem a little strange. We note some younger boys in the mid-19th century dressed in rather mature suits, but with juvenile hair styles. We note boys in the late-19th century with both juvenile clothing and hair styles. Age gradeing continued into the 20th century, but with less dectincive outfits and hair styles.


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Created: 1:23 AM 6/25/2008
Last updated: 1:23 AM 6/25/2008