While certain hairstyles come and go, the gentleman haircut has stuck around for decades.
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On a general level, the gentleman cut hits the right notes. It’s a short- to medium-length style, depending upon the era, that features a strong side part and variable length. By itself, it doesn’t require the same degree of upkeep as a fade – all you really need to do is get a trim every few weeks – and a touch of pomade or gel pulls it all together.
In turn, looking sharp just requires you to run a comb through your hair. And, no matter what your natural texture is, a gentleman haircut always seems to work. Before you request this the next time you go to the barber, here’s what you should know.
What is a Gentleman’s Haircut?
At a glance, a gentleman haircut is a shorter style that features a defined side part. One side of your hair is cropped short in comparison to the other, which is longer and may feature a combover. Traditionally, a shorter length overall has characterized the gentleman cut, but modern versions play around with body and contrast.
Due to this rather straightforward nature, the gentleman cut has developed a low-maintenance reputation that, with the right tools, never looks easy or like you’re playing it safe.
First, no matter which hair length you’ve got in mind, you need to think about product. A gentleman haircut requires some hold; otherwise, you’ll end up with a few cowlicks or stray ends throughout the day. For a short to medium cut, you want to have one or more of the following available:
- Pomade: Pomade is that middle-of-the-road hairstyling product that does everything. It makes short hair appear slick, it can give a bit of texture, and it has enough hold without being too hard to wash out. Especially if you’re going for more of a classic gentleman cut, pomade gets the job done on a day-to-day basis.
- Wax: Sometimes, you want a stronger hold, or you’re seeking to give your cut the appearance of volume and texture. Wax goes on like pomade, but should be used in smaller quantities, to offer a stronger, stiffer hold. Unlike with pomade, you’ll want to work wax into your hair first before you go over it with a blow dryer.
- Mousse: Is your hair already textured? When you’re rocking a gentleman haircut with curly hair, mousse is less likely to straighten or muss up your locks while adding the right amount of hold, polish, and definition.
As the final tool, make sure you have a fine-toothed comb on hand after applying product. A hair shouldn’t look out of place with a gentleman cut, and a standard brush won’t help you fully achieve this degree of precision.
With all this said, a gentleman cut is one of the most universal hairstyles out there. It works for the spectrum of Black and Asian hair textures, and opens the gate to multiple variations. Today, that might look like some fringe on the top or sides, a slight pompadour, or even a fade leading to a longer top.
Gentleman Haircut Styles
In the present, the gentleman cut is not a single style. Rather, it encompasses shorter and parted hair to longer lengths with more body yet possessing that familiar pattern and definition. To some degree, it lends itself to more hybrid options, which expands the variations out there.
Keeping these points in mind, never show up to a barber saying you want a gentleman haircut. They’ll likely have the traditional style in mind, and while you can let it grow out, a picture, as the saying goes, says a thousand words and provides a stronger reference point.
Gentleman cuts tend to be divided amongst the following:
Classic Gentleman’s Haircut Styles
Also called an “ivy league” in some circles, a classic gentleman haircut is characterized by a shorter length on top, on both sides of the part, and tapered sides. This can be achieved with clippers, shears, or a combination of them and tends to offer the lowest degree of maintenance. As long as you keep it short, all you really have to do is work in some pomade and run a comb through it, making sure to leave a defined part.
Especially for the workplace, the classic gentleman’s cut won’t make it seem like you’re testing any boundaries. Additionally, the length here accommodates the greatest number of hair textures – straight to wavy and curly and thin to thick.
Modern Gentleman’s Haircut Styles
Just as the pompadour itself has evolved, the gentleman cut has taken on more of a modern form that strays far from its more crewcut-like origins. Today, the updated style features a longer, more medium length on top, allowing for a greater spectrum of styling options:
- Gentleman’s haircut with a pompadour: This is more of a hybrid style that lessens the maintenance a pompadour requires while giving the gentleman a bit more body. Generally, this style stays short on one side and features a medium length on the other that can be textured, straightened, or styled like a traditional pompadour.
- Gentleman haircut fade: Today’s fade haircuts offer more length on top and defined sides that contrast against yet have an almost gradient-like progression. If a single, defined part seems too simplistic, this hybrid option ultimately throws in more angles and gives the fade a classic yet modern twist.
- Gentleman’s haircut with beard: For many men, the beard seems almost secondary to your haircut. Yet, with the volume a more modern gentleman cut provides, particularly with a pompadour, you need to consider your beard in the mix. As a general rule of thumb, think about your beard’s proportions in relation to your haircut: if your hair’s well-groomed and defined, your beard should be, too. As well, if you decide to keep it long on top, have your beard grow out. Similarly, if you’re opting for a more classic gentleman haircut, the lumberjack-esque beard of the last few years will throw off the balance.
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Ivan Yaskey is a Philly-born menswear fashion blogger and copywriter. When not writing about men's style he's also an EDM and synthpop enthusiast.