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The Gentleman’s Vintage Haircut

Today’s article has been inspired by one of our reader’s personal request. I was asked if I would do an article on vintage haircuts for men. After much thought and processing I said “yes” to this article. Please understand that by I am not a professional barber or hair stylist. This article is simply compiled from my research on this particular subject. I hope it assists you in what you’re searching for and benefits you greatly.

Honestly I never had a desire or passion to pursue a vintage hair cut until I started to really study the lifestyle of a gentleman and watching a series of Madmen episodes.   It was in my pursuit of the gentleman’s lifestyle that I was directed to finding a professional barber and seeking out a different haircut. Of course at first I had no clue what I was talking about. It took me a great deal of time to explain what I wanted as well as a lot of pictures. I honestly had no clue how to properly communicate to my hair stylist at the time what I really desired. The other obstacle I was facing, was the fact that the hair stylists I was dealt had never done vintage hair styles before.

The good news gentlemen are these haircuts are making a comeback. Some people ask me where or why they are coming back. My simple answer is: “I don’t know and I don’t care, because they’re epic.” So if you’re seeking to get a good vintage haircut, begin with a good and experience barber. If you haven’t read my articles on barbers and what to look for then I suggest you click here. If you have already read those articles or have a barber then please continue reading. So what does a vintage haircut entail? Let’s dive into this.

The Basics. First vintage style haircuts ranging from the 1930’s to the 1950’s have some basics.   They generally have a short back, short sides (which is known as “high and tight”) and then a longer top. Generally the length is found more near the front of the individual’s head. Next you have the choice of super curly, curly, wavy, or straight. Look for what will compliment your face and body type. Be sure to tell your barber these details. Finally, feel free to play around a little with what you have by exploring some variations of cuts such as how high do you want it, how tight, how long on the top, or how do you want the fade between the sides and top? These are all things to consider before you sit down in the chair.

Understanding Terminology. Honestly, before I understood hair styles for men, I had no clue what any terms such as “high,” “fade,” or “tight” really meant. If you’re like me, I like to know what I’m talking about instead of “fudging it” with others.

High and Tight. This terminology is used for a military-style haircut. Generally if you would sit down and ask your barber for a “high and tight” hair cut he will probably take off more than you would expect from the top of your head. The term “Tight” means you want the back and sides of your haircut short. The term “High” refers to how far up the side of your head you want the short part to go. I personally suggest you bring a few photos to your barber.

Length on the Top. Another important part of the hair puzzle will be the length that you desire on top of your head.A good barber will ask you how long you want the top to be.If you’re a die-hard vintage hair enthusiast then the front will be longer than the back.

Fading. The term “Fade” means how your hair will transition from the back and sides into the longer part on the top of your head. You can have a gradual or an abrupt fade.

Finalizing the Style. Now that you understand the terminology and have a good idea of what to look for, we need to finish it off right. A great “finisher” to a gentleman’s vintage cut is having a part. Most of the time the part will be on the left side, but this can be changed. Usually your barber will create the part for you while he cuts your hair. Another avenue you can take with this is to have the part shaved in to your hair cut. Doing this will make your part stand out more and it also makes it easier to do. Next make sure you get some good hair product for your new style. You want a product that will keep your hair in place, but at the same time won’t look like you stepped out of the shower. A few products I recommend are Crew and most of all any of Imperial’s Barber Products pomades. They have a fantastic style guide that matches the right product to your hair style.


Well gentlemen you are now on your way to embarking on a new vintage haircut. You are armed with the proper terminology and some insights. Do you have a vintage haircut? Let’s see it. Post it on our blog so we can learn from you. Did I miss anything? Please let me know. We appreciate your support.

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