American Boys' Specific Hair Styles: Top Curl--Gender Trends

Figure 1.--This portrait shows three children, presumably siblings. The little boy looks to be about 2 years old. He wears a Faunterloy suit with a fancy ruffled collar. The suit is probably black velvet, has knee pants, and is worn with dark, but perhaps not black, long stockings. A decade earlier he probably would have not yet been breeched. Notice the large top curl. His sister looks to be about 4 years old. She wears a frilly white dress with black long stockings. Notice that she has a similar hair cut, without the top curl, but with a hairbow addded. Their old brother looks to be about 7 years old. He wears a tailored knee pants suit worn with the jacket open, a white shirt, bow tie, and black long stockings. Notice the pocket watch worn with a chain that attaches to his lapel button-hole. It looks as though the collar might be detachable. The portrait is undated, but we would guess was taken around the turn-of-the 20th century.

The top curl seems to have been primarily a style for boys. That is just a prelimary assessment at this time, but we are beginning to think that this was the case based on our assessment of the photographic record. We see mostly boys wearing these top curls in the images we have found. The images we have found are mostly boys, albeit younger boys. We have noted a substantial number of boys with these top curls during the 19th century. We are not yet entirely sure about girls. We have seen some examples, but are not yet sure how popular it was for girls. We have only found a few portraits of girls with this top curl hair do. That does not mean that there were none, but we have so far found very few examples. We think it may have beeb a matter as to the anount of hair acailable. Girls tended ti have more hair and in such cases mother were more intereted in doing ringlets. We do note some family portraits that suggest this was primarily a boys' hair style, especially the pronounced top curl. We are only hoing on the photographic record here. We have not yet found any references in the ladies magazines and home guides of the time.


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Created: 5:14 AM 9/24/2010
Last edited: 5:14 AM 9/24/2010