*** American girls' clothing fashion hair styles








American Girls' Clothing: Hair Styles


Figure 1.--This beautifully composed Anbrotype portrait shows a lovely, fashionable young mother and her childten, a baby and a todler about 3 yars old. Notice the low cut, box neckline. The todler is a girl, but it is quite possibke that he may be a boy. Center parts usually mean girls, but with very young children we are less sure about the cinvention. This is a 1/4 plate cased ambrotype. It is undated, but was probably taken in the late-1850s. Notice the perfect razor center parts. Put your cursor on the image for a closeup. What you can't see in a front facing portrait (which is how most portraita were taken) that woen with this apparently short hair cuts is that much of he hair was used to create a bun at the back of the head (1840s and 50s).

We also notice American girls wearing a wide range of hair style. This included short, boyish styles as well as long hair styles, both curled and uncurled. we also notice the frequent use of bows. Many of the girls' styles were also worn by boys, but usely not at the same time. A good example was long ringlet curls. They were also worn by boys, especially during the Fauntleroy era. We note that mothers who did their sons hair in ringlets, often refrained from that style with their daughters. There were of course major differences chronologically in the popularity of different styles. There was one consistent element over time in girls's hair styling which was a center hair part. It is the most valid element in assessing unidentified images. Boys at times had center parts, but the primary trend in boys hair styling was and continues to be a side part. Girls on the other hand during the 19th and 20th century genrally had center parts. We are less sure abour very young children, but do note todlers wearing dresses with side parts. A factor here is that girls and women often had long hair and a center part is the most fuctional way of styling long hair. Both short and long styles.

Styles

We also notice American girls wearing a wide range of hair style. This included short, boyish styles as well as a variety long hair styles, both curled and uncurled. we also notice the frequent use of bows. Many of the girls' styles in the 19th century were also worn by boys, but usely not at the same time. A good example was long ringlet curls. They were also worn by boys, especially during the Fauntleroy era. We note that mothers who did their sons hair in ringlets, often refrained from that style with their daughters.

Length

Hair length is an element of style, but is such an important element that it is worth considering separately. We note girls wearing long, medium, and dhort length hair. The popularity of the fifferent lengths varied over time and this can be followed in the photographic record. Style and fashion appears to have been the most important factor, but it was not the only factor. Other factors include economics, sanitation, and time. Some girls had their hair cut short because of lice. It lso took more time to care for short hair making shirt hair more practical. Economics was a factor here. Girls growing up in comfortable circumstnces were more likely to have long hair than working-class girls whose mothers worked outside the home and there was no help at home. In addition, many of these girls had to work at an early age. This assessment is somewhat complicated by the fact that some younger boys also had long hair and their gender is not identified. And some of the children in drsses with short hair are boys.

Chronology

There were of course major differences chronologically in the popularity of different styles. Following these styles, especially for children is alittle diificult before the invention of pjhotograph. ashion historians primarily focus on women's fashions amd hor styling. There is some attention to men's fashions, but relatively little to children. Er have collected some information. Until the 19th century, children's fashions were for the most part simply the sized down versions of their parents fashions. The same tended to be the case for hair styles. This was not quite the same when wigs became important (beginning in the late-17th century). It was a fashion largely emerging from the French court and ending there with the French Revolution (1789). It was a style only those in comfortable circumtsance could aford. Americans were not as affected, but the well to do in the colonies, especially the men, were affected in the 18th century. The wigs for women in Europe, especially European courts were unbelieveable. Children did not wear wigs. Some of the royals may have begun wearing wigs in their early teens, but we do not see that in America. Wigs disappeared with the turn-of the century. We do not know much about hait styles in the early 19h century yet, but thanks to photography we by mid-centyry can follow hair styling in great detail. America did invent photography, but no country took to photography like Americans. And as a result their is a massive photographic record to draw on. What we see at mid-century girls with whay looks light short hair as we see here (figure 1). Their mothers had their hair done into buns. This was less common for girls. With the 1860s we see long hair becoming increasinly common for girls. There wee several different styes. Major changes came with World War I. Simple practical fashions emerged along with comparable hair styles in the Roaring Twebtie (1920s). We see girls short, bobbed hair givin a slightly boish look. A pixie look was very fashionable for younger women. Women liked waved styles, but this was less common for girls. These short styles were easier to maintain than long hair. This symnbolized a new independent, free-spirit for women. Hollywood emerged as a major trend setter rather than royal families and wealthy families. This changed somewhat in the 1930s, we see a little longer styles hair slightly such as pageboys, bobs, or waves and curls. We see women with femine more romantic styles echoing fim stars. Girls were also affected by Hollywood. Shirley Temple curls became all the rage. World War II dominated the 40s putting fashion on abeyance. We recall pigtails as being very popular in the 40s. Boys liked to dip them into ink wells--a ltime-honored gtradition that disappeared with the ball point pens of the 1950s. The 1950s was an era of unbrialed prosperity. We see girls' hair at mid-lengh. We see short modern cuts such as the pixie cut in the 60s. Longer hair was stylish in the 70s amd we see boys wearing long hair as well. This began with with the mop cuts of the Beatles in the 60s, but in the 70s many boys wore their hair down to their shoulders. We see both boys and girls with long, straight hair. Girl's styles were influence by the increasing move of women into the workplace meaning simple to maintain hair style were needed. Pony tails were popular. Since the 1970s we see both boys and girls wearing a wide variety of stes, much less conormity than was the case earlier. We see pulled back styles with scrunchies. Stretchy ponytail holders made from cloth over fabric bands were popular. Claw-style barrettes secured ponytails. There were fully and partially upswept styles.

Parts

There was one consistent element over time in girls's hair styling which was a center hair part. It is the most valid element in assessing unidentified images. Boys at times had center parts, but the primary trend in boys hair styling was and continues to be a side part. Girls on the other hand during the 19th and 20th century genrally had center parts. This was sometimes hidden ny styling, but it was fairly standard. Notice the meticulous center parts here . virtually razor perfect (figure 1). We are less sure about very young children, but do note some todlers wearing dresses with side parts. We believe these children are largely boys. This is all a little different to sort out because young boys and girls look so much alike. This is whu the hair part is such a iseful indicator in sorting out whi is who in old photographs. A factor here is that girls and women often had long hair and a center part is the most fuctional way of styling long hair. This was true of both short and long styles. Thus center parts are a very strong indicator of gender, but they are not definitive. We see this in earliest Daugerreotypes through to modern snapshots. This was true of America children ans children throughout Europe.

Hair Bows

We know that there were very popular for American girls in the early-20th century. We have a very extensive American archive and the prevalence of hair bows for girls stands out in the photographic record. We are still working on the chronology. They seemed most prevalent in the 1900s-20s, especually the 1910s. There are countless images of girls wearing hair bows, especially around the turn-of-the 20th century. The girls in the Maryland class here are a good example (figure 1). They continued to be popular during throughout the early-20th century. We have little information about the early-19th century, but with the advent of photography we have information beginning in the mid-19th century and that informtion only increases each decade with the expansion of the photographic industry. What we are not entirely sure about is if the studio portraits are a good reflection of actual prevalence. We are not sure if girls were more or less like to wear hair bows when they went to a photographic studio. A good example of a studio portrait is the Keck girls, we think in the 1910s. Girls of all ages, including teenagers, wore them. American girls continued to be worn after World War I in the 1920s, but by mostly younger girls. The hair bows could be enormous. The girls on the previous page are a good example. Both girls and teenagers wore them. White was very popular, but we see colors as well. A good indicator of actual prevalence is school photography which by the late-19th centuey was a well established tradition. Hair bows for American girls seem especially popular and particularly large in the early-20th century. The peak of popularity and size was the 1910s. Most girls hair bows were white, but we also notice some colored ones, both light and dark colors. Unfortunately because of the black-and white photography of the day, we do not have any idea about the popular colors.








HGC





Navigate the Boys' Historical Clothing Web Site:
[Return to the Main girls' hair page]
[Return to the Main American girls page]
[Return to the Main American girls hair styling--Gender trends]
[Return to the Main girls country page]
[Return to the Main girls page]
[About Us]
[Activities] [Biographies] [Chronology] [Color] [Countries] [Difficult images] [Fashion] [Families] [Garments] [Gender conventions] [Hair] [Literature]
[Photo intrpretation] [School] [Sisters]
[Return to the Historical Girls Clothing Home Site]






Created: 2:09 AM 2/17/2016
Last updated: 12:25 AM 4/22/2022