If you’re still sporting last year’s faux hawk or using gel to spike your hair into a perfect bed-head, we’ve got advice for you straight from a famous blues legend (and possibly your mom): Get a haircut and get a real job (at least you’ll have a better chance getting a real job if you get one of these do’s).
“Faux hawks and spikes are over,” says Kendall Ong, owner of Mane Attraction salon in Phoenix and a judge at the annual North American Hairstyling Awards. “Hair trends and clothing trends are always closely related,” he says, “and what we’re seeing in both worlds is a move away from angles and texture, back to a more streamlined and traditional look.”
Shorty Maniace, a New York City master barber and instructor, agrees. “Hairstyles for men tend to bounce between the late ’50s and the early ’70s,” he says. “Right now, it’s all about the former.”
This means you’ll see a whole lot of shorter, shinier coifs and deep side-parts — evoking a vibe of both businessman and beatnik.
While it’s obvious the trend is directly related to the popularity of certain era-specific TV shows and movies (who wouldn’t want to be impossibly cool Mad Men or bold and brazen Inglourious Basterds), experts also agree our current economic crunch may play a role. “Until we come out of this recession and get back on top of the world, haircuts are going to remain more mainstream and conservative,” says Maniace. “Businesses are looking for people who can represent them to make money, not make a personal statement.”
Need more direction? These looks will help you land the right part (pardon the pun) — martinis optional.
“This is the short and clean cut that pretty much defines the geek-chic look of the late ’50s and early ’60s,” says Ong. “It originated right along with ‘nerd herd’ fashion (think: tailored suits, tweed, pocket squares and skinny ties).” The hair itself is tight and tapered at the sides and back, and a little bit longer and fuller in the front. “It’s like a classic businessman cut with nice clean lines,” says Maniace, “but now people are mixing it up a little bit with a messier, dryer look.” The best product to use for this style is grooming putty. Adds Ong: “It offers a strong hold with a natural shine and you can use it to mold the hair so it looks really neat.”
Slicked-back Side Part
“Just like the schoolboy look, this one is tight and tapered on the sides,” says Ong, “but it’s shorter on top, with a deep sharp part on the side.” It’s the shiny and tidy look popular in the lean post-World War II days, when men were somber, serious and intent on looking completely pulled together.
“With the revival of this style, though,” notes Maniace, “we’re seeing less of a deep, combed-in part (when you force it to go left or right starting at the receding line at the forehead), and more of a natural part.” (If you’re not sure where that is, comb your hair back when it’s wet and push it forward from the back — wherever it starts to split is your natural part.) “To achieve a really high shine, use a pomade,” offers Ong. “If you’re worried about it looking too greasy, try a water-based version.”
Now for a real trip back in time: This style is also called the “Regency” because England’s King George IV first worked it during his reign as Prince Regent (1811-1820). It was the age of the “dandy,” when men traded in their lacy frills and wigs for crisp collars, finely tailored suits and longer, textured hairstyles. The look itself features hair that’s a bit longer, with everything brushed forward into the face and really heavy bangs that fall past the eyebrows, almost into the eyes. “It’s the polar opposite of the schoolboy look,” says Ong. “It’s rougher, making it a younger, hipper look.” For a style that’s a little more “lived in,” Ong suggests using grooming paste. “It offers a more pliable hold than putty.”
To go along with these hairstyles, the new year will see a lot less facial hair. “Everything is going to be more tailored and trim,” says Maniace. For the geek-chic beatnik look, he recommends an anchor beard — a small chin beard grown into a point, accompanied by a pencil-thin mustache. But if you want to stay true to the retro look, stick to a nice, clean shave. “It’s a classic look that will always be in style,” says Maniace. “In terms of men choosing a clean shave over facial hair, it’s always going to be 60 percent in favor of the clean shave.”
Jessica Lothstein is a freelance writer and former editor at Best Life magazine. She writes on a range of subjects, including grooming and fashion.
Image credit: Therese Branton
Men’s Life Today is an independent editorial program edited by Rob Medich and brought to you by Gillette.