The Art of Vintage Manliness: The Vintage Haircut

Annex - Gable, Clark_26

This article will be updated as new tips & photos come in.

I spent a great deal of my mid-teens to late 20s trying to get a good vintage 1930’s/40’s men’s haircut, first à la Swing Kids, and later à la the kind of haircut the swing kids had before they grew it out. This took me quite a lot of trying to explain what I wanted and produced mostly mediocre results. The main reason was I didn’t know how to communicate exactly what I wanted, and during most of that time my stylists had hardly ever done a vintage men’s haircut.

Thankfully, men’s vintage-ish haircuts are coming back into mainstream fashion — whether through the influence of Mad Men, or the indie fashion of people like Arcade Fire front man Win Butler, or European soccer/football stars, or Justin Timberlake— and so it should be easier for stylists and barbers to know what you’re talking about when you say you want a men’s vintage cut.

sax-section-1934Luckily, most styles of the 1930s to 50s have these basics in common: a short back and sides (also known as “high and tight”) and a longer top, especially near the front of the head. However, one should know that there are still a lot of variables at play. Where the variations mostly come in is how high, how tight, how long on top, and how dramatic the fade you want between the sides and top.

This basic vintage cut is the same for most hair types; super curly, curly, wavy, straight…they will obviously look different, but you’re still telling your barber the same details.

Also, please note my use of the word “vintage” is speaking more about the general spirit of the hair cut. Clearly some of the pictures below are very modern twists on the vintage “short back and sides” style. (Which is what The Art of Vintage Manliness is all about: taking what you like the best in vintage manliness, and making it fit into your modern life.)

High & Tight

“Tight” is the short back and sides of your haircut, and how tight it is means how short it is. You want to have an idea of what you like so that you can show your barber (better yet, bring a picture, or a collage — we’ll talk about that later). To see how varied the shortness can be, check out the diagram below. (I recommend clicking on it in order to see it full size.)

tight vintage hair border

“High” refers to how far up the side of the head you want the short part to go. Here’s a diagram:

height vintage hair BORDER

WARNING: Be careful going into a barber and only saying “give me a high and tight,” as this is also terminology for a military-style haircut, which will probably take off a lot more than you’re expecting from on top. Again, the best bet is to bring in pictures to your barber/stylist.

The Fade

The “fade” is how your hair transitions from the short back and sides into the longer top part. This can be done gradually or abruptly:

fade vintage hair BORDER

Another aspect of the fade to consider is the line the fade makes across your profile:

line of fade vintage hair

Length on Top

The final big piece of information you will want to give your barber is the length you want on top. For the truly vintage look, you want the front to be longer than the back. However, the difference can be severe or only slight. (Also, you should note that the longer your hair, the harder it will be to manage.)

length vintage hair border

The Back of the Head

Ladies & Gentlemen, the back of Cab Calloway's haircut, and a man's vintage haircut doesn't get much cooler than Cab's.
Ladies & Gentlemen, the back of Cab Calloway’s haircut, and a man’s vintage haircut doesn’t get much cooler than Cab’s.

Finally, there’s the shape of the back of the head. My stylists recommended that, rather than try to explain what you want to happen there, one should bring in some pictures (he said that was probably the best all-around advice for someone trying to tell their stylist what they want).

Now, it’s actually hard to find pictures of the back of vintage men’s haircuts on the web. So I recommend that the next time you see a haircut you really like, ask the person if they would mind if you took a picture of it so you could show your barber. I’ve done this probably a dozen times, and every single one I’ve asked has allowed me to do it. (Even random people in airports.) Most are flattered and appear more than happy to do so. Here are some examples of the backs of vintage haircuts. (Please note that all the dimensions of the sides of your haircut will dictate a lot of what is possible with the back of your haircut.)

back of haircut 1

Close up of a male student having a haircut

back-view 4

back of haircut 3
So those are the basic dimensions of the vintage haircut. However, a good stylist or barber knows there are some more subtle ways each of these dimensions can be altered for various effects. If the person cutting your hair offers a good reason for trying something different, it might be worth a try. Also, please note that hair comes in many different varieties — the exact haircut you want might not be possible with the hair you have. Again, that’s something to discuss with the person cutting your hair.


Other: Parts, Product, and Texture

There are a few tips that can add the final touches to your haircut.

The first is your part. Most vintage men traditionally parted their hair on the left side of the head. You don’t have to. You can part it on the right, down the middle, or between the middle and side. Your part can be well-defined, or simply implied, like a path in a jungle surrounded by bushes. You don’t even have to have a part — a lot of modern takes on vintage hair cut is that the hair is simply swept over from the point of the fade (the line made by the “high & tight” part).

Errol Flynn, his part implied like a jungle path
Errol Flynn, his part implied like a path in the jungle surrounded by bushes

Here’s a secret for getting an awesome part: Your barber can actually shave it in. By using the clippers, barbers in the old days reportedly would made a part bolder so that your hair could easily be managed and you wouldn’t have to worry about creating your part with a comb every morning. You just want to be careful if the person cutting your hair is new to this; if the part’s too wide, it’ll look strange.

Next is product. It is almost a must-have. Oftentimes vintage haircuts only look good with some form of product in the hair, whether that be a little mousse or gel to keep it somewhat in control, or whether you want to pomade it into an oiled-back slick. For product, you will want to test out your own — based on smell, hold, and general annoyance to wash out. I will give a quick plug for water-based pomades, of which there are many now on the market. They do a good job of holding the hair but also are easy to wash out. Some friends of mine use old school products like Murray’s pomade, which they pass over with a cigarette lighter in order to get it loosened up just right.

Bobby's hair border

Also, a little secret: Before you ever apply hair product, rub it between your hands very quickly for a while to create a lot of friction. The heat will make the product more liquid-like so that it won’t clump your hair, and it will settle back into hardness when it has had a few moments to cool off. You can also run a hair dryer for a few seconds over the pomade in your hand before putting it into your hair.

Textured hair
Textured hair

Texture is often added by cutting the hair different lengths. For example, see the picture right. Of course, you don’t have to add texture. Many vintage men just had their hair cut simply straight, since it would mostly just be greased back by oil anyway. However, texture does allow the haircut to be a little more interesting when it’s not slicked back.

Stylists & Barbers

I’ve seen quite a few stylists and quite a few barbers around the world (literally) in my efforts to get a good men’s vintage haircut. Especially today, many cities have men’s barber shops that specialize in vintage cuts.

From my experience, barbers skilled in vintage cuts are good at getting the general effect and they won’t need a lot of explanation when you mention you want a vintage haircut. (And don’t be alarmed if they pull out the clippers and just buzz your head for fifteen minutes — some of those barbers use clippers almost exclusively.)

At a barbershop you may get the added bonus of being around a group of guys enjoying the old-timey barbershop experience, but the downside of that is you also might be surrounded by a bunch of guys trying way too hard to have that old-timey experience, which to some (like me) is annoying. However, if you find a barbershop you like with a barber you like in it, it can be a great experience.

classic-mens-haircutMany stylists at regular hair salons rarely have had practicing in doing vintage cuts, but as mentioned before, that is quickly changing. (When in doubt, I have often mentioned recent movies. “You know, like Inglorious Basterds.” “It’s a Band of Brothers haircut, but longer in the front.” “It’s like in The Artist.” Or I’ve used this handy dandy guide to the right a few times.)

And stylists, unlike many barbers, are trained to shape the haircut specifically for your face and head shape. They are also used to people being picky — and if you’re a guy getting a vintage haircut for the effect it will have on your swing dancing and vintage fashion, you are probably, at the very least, more specific about your hair needs than average.

Now it’s not a hard and fast rule, but I have had some vintage haircuts from barbers that looked amazingly vintage but were not quite right for my face/head, and some haircuts from stylists that that were only vaguely vintage but really looked great with my face/head. (And, a good rule of thumb is, if you go with a stylist, to choose stylists close to or inside your nearby big city, since they are more likely to be up on the ironically modern trend of doing vintage haircuts.)

The best outcome is if you find a barber that can recommend shapes that specifically fit your features, or a stylist with vintage haircut experience. If you like the haircut they give you, stick with them and tip them well. (And, of course, take pictures of the front, back, and sides for future reference. Keep them on your phone in case you find yourself getting a haircut form someone new.)

And of course, your location will have a role in the decision to choose a stylist or a barber. For instance, I figured I’d have better luck explaining to a nearby stylist how to do the vintage haircut I wanted than in being able to track down a vintage barbershop in Rockville, MD. A few stylists were pretty good at it and they did fine for a few years; however, I finally found the perfect stylists for me about a year ago.

Over the last few years, he has begun studying vintage haircuts partly based on the times I’ve come in and we’ve played around with them. He has begun to really enjoy men’s vintage hair fashion, and we get closer and closer to mastering exactly what I’m looking for. It has taken some time and experimenting, but he’s very patient and awesome about doing so.


A lot of what I tell my stylist is what I’ve shared with you today: If you know, let them know how high you want it, how tight, how dramatic a fade, what line you want that fade to have, and how long on top. Otherwise, ask advice on what they recommend. If you wish you can also mention parts and texturing and ask what kind of products they have to try out. And that should get you on your way to a great-looking men’s vintage haircut.

Finally, I came up with a collage that basically has my haircut’s directions taken from the photos I’ve shared with you. I made it in Microsoft Paint in just 20 minutes. I just handed this over, and see the results:

Bobby's haricut profile

bobby vintage

You can help!

If you are a person who has gotten a men’s vintage-style haircut, please consider posting pictures of it in the comments below, as a reference for other people looking to see what is possible, and also as a reference for people to take to their barbers or stylists.

For instance, Brad Pitt, among others, was nice enough to send in pictures of his recent haircut…

group 1

big attempt

If you enjoyed this post…

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Post was updated slightly at 5:30pm EST 11/7/13 to include additional explanation about why certain hair types are not represented (hard to find pictures on web), and a warning about “high & tight” also being the terminology for a military haircut.
Updated to reflect the cold hard fact that many of the modern haircuts used for examples are more vintage in spirit than actually vintage.
Updated 11am EST on 12/10/13 with new haircut pictures, a slight change to paragraph structures, and edited out previous paragraph discussing how it was hard to find vintage pictures of certain hair styles, when it just took learning how to look for them right.
Updated 4 pm 7/7/14 with new pictures of men’s hair cuts at the bottom of the article.

87 responses to “The Art of Vintage Manliness: The Vintage Haircut”

  1. Great post! I’m lucky enough to know a local stylist/barber with an interest in vintage haircuts. I’d post a photo but it’s not obvious to me how to do it.

  2. Great post!

    I’ve never been to a stylist who could do a vintage cut. In fact several of them I have gone to have actually sheered off too much from the top, completely eliminating the locks that I worked hard to grow.

    A true licensed barber will know how to effectively fade, and generally you will see them using a straight razor on the back of the neck to really clean up the lines.

    Pomades were always too much for me, I’ve never liked the feeling of helmet head. After a lot of experimentation I have moved to two products specifically. I use Royal Crown Hair Dressing (different than pomade, more of a medium hold, good clean smell, and high sheen), and Brylcreem (a true old school product. Lighter hold, good smell, high sheen. Generally I use this only during low humidity times like the winter).

    • The best products I have ever used for the 1930’s/40’s look is Aquage Straighting Ultragel and Design Line’s Texture Tossle Hair Spray. Of course you start with Aquage in damp hair and then blow dry and then you finish with the very light hold of Texture Tossle. Best hair product combo I have ever used. The catch with the Aquage is it, as far as I know, can only be bought by licensed beauticians at stylist type stores. My wife is one so that is how I discovered this product. Texture Tossle can be bought at salons including those in Wal-Mart. Try it out. I believe these products are good for any type of hair and will give you that dapper look without the greasy oiley feeling.

  3. Bobby, great post. I, too, struggled with finding a barber to get the vintage look down since I was a kid and liked the way everyone looked in old movies. Since this whole vintage inspired fashion is all the rage these days, even outside the Lindy Hop community, I wonder how many of us noticed the stark difference between Golden Age Hollywood and the dress/grooming of our day and gravitated towards the former?

    That said, I’d like to pile on the traditional barbershop wagon. Most of the time, if you tell them you want a traditional men’s cut, give them a number to use on the sides (I usually request a 3), they will go get it.

    As far as products, there are pomades, like Murray’s, which are petroleum based, and there are gels/cremes etc that are water based. If you want to go strictly vintage, petroleum based is the way to go as this is period correct. This is where Murray’s, Black and White, Tres Flores etc come into play and yes, they are similar in some ways to petroleum jelly. I myself used a blow dryer to heat up my Murray’s but a match, the stove, etc are other ways some people do it. This pomade will not wash out with water or regular soap but will last several days, you do not need to apply every day. This does mean that your hair will collect all sorts of crap and if you want to wash it out, you will need to use a clarifying shampoo or dishwasher soap that has a grease fighting element. Again, this is the period authentic but many people think it is more trouble than it is worth. Your pillowcases will also look interesting.

    I prefer a water based product, some examples include American Crew Pomade (a misnomer, but this is what they use on set for Mad Men) and Lay-Rite by Hawleywood’s. These wash out like any other gel, and Lay-Rite in particular achieves a very vintage esque result. Lay-Rite Extra Hold is my pomade of choice and I’ve been using it for years after giving up on Murray’s and other traditional products, essentially, it was made up by a Rockabilly barber to have the look of pomade but the convenience of modern gel. It is expensive, but I can’t recommend it enough to those who want to experiment with the vintage look. Side note, it smells great and my ex-girlfriend used it to assist with victory curls, too, although in small amounts.

    Last thing, I’ve moved cities numerous times since I committed to this vintage look, and using the Lay-Rite website to find the nearest dealer has honestly been the best way for me to find a barber who is going to know what I want when I ask for a vintage inspired cut. It’s not sold in a lot of places and it’s been a backdoor way to find who I want. I suggest y’all try it out if you’re looking for someone.

    I can provide pictures of my hair if y’all want. It took me almost a lifetime to get it just the way I like it, but I’ve pretty much finally ended up where I wanted to be all these years. Now if I could just dance like the guys in those old movies I saw….

  4. The problem with barbers is that they’re “one-size-fits-all”. If I go in and ask for a high-and-tight with my hair (I have a lot of it, but it’s very fine and has strange grain), I’ll look like a fuzzball. A stylist is expensive, and often times aren’t as versed in the art of the vintage cut. I’d love to find a barber who understands varying hair types and how to adjust a vintage cut appropriately.

    I have a great stylist here in Austin, but he’s getting out of the business and moving soon, so I need to find a replacement!

  5. Awesome post. I might show this to my ballroom newbies so they can figure out a good haircut for them. The high and tight that’s sprayed or gelled makes for a good ballroom look and swing look out on that floor.

    • Russell at Profiles Hair studio in the Kentlands (Gaithersberg?) He also works at a salon in Georgetown on some of the days of the week. He’s awesome — he’s very thorough, and takes his time, and is a little pricey, but with great results, in my opinion.

      • Bobby, do you have any information on when/where he is in Georgetown? I’m a student there looking for a cut, and he sounds great.

        • I don’t. I recommend calling profiles in Gaithersburg and getting that info from him. Otherwise, if you can wait a couple weeks until I see him again, I’ll get that info and put him up.

  6. Great guide, been looking for something like this for a long time! I would suggest having a look at the following Pinterest page if you want to replace any of the photos to more accurately convey anything specific:

  7. Sadly, there exist very few good pictures of me and my hair cut.

    My variation (which Bobby has seen) is a high undercut that’s very long on top and very short on the sides. I generally comb it asymmetrically unless I’m going heavy with my wax and pulling it straight back. I really need to shorten up the back though.

    • I sympathize, I do! I looked for photos of people with tightly curled hair, and couldn’t find hardly any in that vintage style (except the guy in the “severity of fade” picture.) If you can point me to photos of guys with super curly hair and vintage cuts, I’ll gladly add them.

      I tried to at least cover the idea that everyone, regardless of hair type, is still telling their barber the same thing when I said:

      “Please note, this basic vintage cut is the same for most hair types; super curly, curly, wavy, straight…they will obviously look different, but you’re still telling your barber the same details.”

      • Awesome post! I love the photographic references. So essentially. Thank you for braking this down. I have 4 sons and I love giving them haircuts which have been pretty ok. And recently tried cutting my husband’s hair too. That was a complete disaster because I was terrified and had no proper guide. Videos tutorials on you tube can help up to a certain extent. But this post has broken down the entire process which has given me confidence to try again. Thanks so much.

  8. Great post. I’ve been getting the vintage cut for a while now (Tomcats in Brooklyn, $30 and all the free beer you can drink!) so I’ve kind of made it my own. Only question I have, for you author, is what kind of product did you use in that last set of photos? I use Suavecito pomade ($10 at Tomcats) and although I like it, I’m thinking this is more of a mousse with a blow dryer? Care to tell me the product name and what you did to get the look?

  9. Where can I find that 5th pic in the little guides? The one second from the right in all of them? I want to take it in to my barber next time I get my hair cut.

    • Hey Juisy! if you click on any of those pictures, it should give you the full size, larger version. There you should be able to save the picture, or take a PrtSc picture…it should be large enough for a barber/stylist to get the gist.

  10. I go to Omar from Vinny’s Barbershop in Los Angeles for my cuts. He has been my barber for six or seven years now, and has done every vintage cut in the book. When I say the book, I mean the 1930s copy of the California State Board of Barbering Standards on display in his shop. They also offer straight razor shaves and even have those crazy 1940s Stim-U-Lax massagers.

    In my experience, most barbers and stylists struggle with creating a vintage fade/blend, as the technique to get it right actually goes against modern approaches to barbering.

    I do own a couple of water-soluble pomades, however I prefer traditional greases. As a dancer, I’ve found that the water-solubles can sweat out if you are someone who perspires alot. I discovered that the hard way when a pompadour full of layrite melted down my forehead right into my eyes. I swear by Black and White, but Sweet Georgia Brown in the red tin is a close second. When I was younger, I used to use Murray’s for hold, followed by a Royal Crown chaser for shine. My hair is considerably thinner now, so I’ve since dropped that routine.

  11. It’s win-win. Today I went to the hairdresser and asked her just to cut the back and sides and leave the top. She charged me only half-price! When I asked why, she said: “well, it was just the sides.”

  12. Cool and funny post!

    Very Happy with my – at the moment traveling – friend, swingdancer and Dj Stomping Stoff ( I tried about 10 different hairdressers, and almost anytime they screwed up the basics (lines, lenght of hair in front, fade…) which caused 3cuts with Stoff to get it back in ‘shape’. A reason to look for somebody appropriate to do this. Rather somebody who wants to learn and invest then somebody that sais ‘they know old style haircuts’ which sometimes lookes good in the beginning, but after a week seems to be a bad haircut (for eg fade at the back is bad –> jumping hairs).

    For daily or long term use I use and even mix Dax (red, blue, purple), Murreys (normal and hard), Sports n Wave (black n Gold) en ‘Brielcreme’ to soften it when necessary.

    For performances ‘Glued’ by swartzkopf seems to be a winner, after trying 25 other brands and kinds of gel, glues, waxes…ps: I have a lot of hair..

  13. Thanks for the post! This is by far the most realistic and comprehensive post on vintage hairstyles. I was kind of on the fence on what kind of hairstyle I wanted to choose, as my hair is getting really long and I wasn’t sure what to do with it. Well this post gave me some ideas, but mostly just motivated me and shows that YES what I had in my head was a real hairstyle, and is totally possible to do. I went to Walmart and bought a mirror and $15 Conair clipper kit, and I am impressed with what I was able to do. I nicked around the ear a bit and the fade isn’t perfect, but the imperfections will grow out in a few days and all in all I’m satisfied with how it looks. Thanks a ton for the blog!

  14. Thanks for the very informative, helpful article. I pulled up the article for my stylist tonight and received the best haircut I’ve had to date!

  15. Germans and Europeans had the best looks in the 1920s/30s. Americans rarely wore the same style in the period (just look at GI haircuts).

    Really the trick is letting your hair grow….And putting grease or hair tonic on it….
    The only good modern interpretation I ever saw would be Leonardo in Titanic (although his version is EXTRA long on top).

  16. Keep adding to this site. I grew up with 40s, then moved to 50s styles. Great seeing more barbershops…now we need to guide them. Add more 40s and rockabilly pictures please?

  17. Thanks to your site I am having all of my male high school theatre kids get the CORRECT hair cuts for our 1930’s musical! I owe you big time! :)

  18. Hey! I recently read this blog and felt very inspired! I went to my local barber and we came up with this ( Its a textured retro haircut with a light fade and a high top. Sorry the pictures are not the best but I had to take them alone. Let me know what you guys think!

  19. Good info, HOWEVER barbers in the old days would never cut in a part with clippers. That was a big no-no. (My grandfather was a barber in the 30s & 40s) Parts in the 30’s, 40s & 50s were always “drawn” with a comb and combed aside. Look at Clark Gable’s part again, It’s combed by hand!

  20. Hi,

    I’ve had the good fortune of being barbered for many years by an old-school barber from Italy who intuitively understood how to do the short-back-and sides haircut with comb and scissors only. Seems like electricity was an interesting but very newfangled concept. His cuts were perfection but he’s been under the weather recently and it’s unclear if he’ll be back to work at his shop here in Manhattan. I’ve had a hard time finding someone who understands this cut and can do it. Any recommendations for someone in Manhattan?

  21. I’m on the lookout for a vintage stylist or barber in the Fredericksburg, VA area.
    Yeah, I know.
    Should I call salons and shops and ask if they do vintage styles, and then let their response, or lack thereof, inform me?
    Or, I can go south to Richmond, VA. The Fan area is pretty hip, what with all their vintage clothing stores. Maybe I just answered my own question…

  22. Love the old school vintage look vintage feel. I wear suspenders wing tip shoes the whole nine even shave with a safety razor(love wet shaving by the way) getting ready in the morning for the day used to be an art but to them it was life. More people should slow down and enjoy being awake and alive. Also have a combover looks great all my guests at my store love it

  23. Great post. If you ever find yourself in P.G. county, do yourself a favor and stop by Seabrook barber shop. One of the last old school Italian barber shops around.

  24. There’s a barber shop in the suburbs of Philadelphia that knows the cuts by the vintage star. Aka Cary grant if you say give me a Peter.gunn aka Craig Stevens. He knows!

  25. I know I am late to the game and all, but I wanted to add my $2 (inflation) to the discussion on product. I found one that I will forever have in my bath cabinet. It is put out by Dollar Shave Club and is called Boogie’s Casual Hair Clay.

    It is one of those “a little goes a long way” kind of things, but sweep out about the size of a quarter if your top is long like mine (down to the nose), rub it in your hands, and spread all through the hair, paying close attention to the ends of the hair. Then brush or comb your style preference.

    It stays in your hair 3-4 days if you do not wash it, but it does wash out clean with regular shampoo.

    I cannot rave enough about the clay (it is the color of clay). It is the only thing keeping this mass of hair up above the shaved sides.

  26. Love you in your ungodly pomade pic! Thanks for this… Our favourite hairdoist just moved back to our city so I’m looking to get my hair cut (Jo of Ishi, Marchmont, Edinburgh) after 2.5 years growing! This page is just what I need.

  27. very well said! Barbershops are ready and need a book like this!
    Nicks Barber Shop
    1308 Easton Road
    Roslyn, Pa. 19001

  28. Very enjoyable post! I was brought up loving “old school” (I happen to be a big fan of the 30’s and 40’s movies and music—even the 20’s too—as is my mother who, I guess, reinforced it). My hairstyle has always been tapered and blocked in the back (leaving full at the top of the back of my head), short on the sides and blocked right at my cheekbones. The top of my head is cut short while the front is left a little long (just about eyebrow level). I part it right above my eyebrow arch. I have a natural wave and so just actulate that with the blow dryer. I sometimes leave the rest hanging down across my forehead or comb it back in wave. I’ve never tried using a product since I have super thick hair and it just stays pretty much in place. I’m not sure what era I would place my hair style in, but to get a good idea, I’ve attached a picture of Michael Collins ca 1920.

  29. Wow, beautiful. This is perfection. I was trying to explain the term high and tight. Google led me to your kind heart. I tend to refer to folks virtue and strength as high and tight. Although, I’m not military, I have come to appreciate the high and tight perfection behind the military. Your masterpiece of information, is perfect. I would like to share this with my boys and a friend whose well on his way. He has been working hard for his dreams to come true. He embodies the light that you share amongst many others. Lighthouses. My sons went through some of the obstacles you shared. Its getting better, but as their mom, and my folks going with them, and being perplexed by why the cut and style did not match what was asked.Great barbers and stylists. I have nothing but respect for people who cut hair. Its an art. So, id have to say collectively, this is the best research and well said guide to a boys to men cut and style. Nice job sir, I shall share with my peeps, and see if we can get some donations. I pray God will provide safe travels, good health,pure beauty and love, and peace of mind during your time here on eaRth. Here’s to many more dates for you and your girl. Thanks again, so sweet of you to share what you have learned. That’s what it’s all about…takes a village to raise a human. Peace brother and Godspeed.Bobby.
    Kelli Michelle

  30. Vintage haircuts only look good with some form of product in the hair, whether that be a little mousse or gel to keep it somewhat in control, or whether you want to pomade it into an oiled-back slick. This post is informative. Very well-done!

  31. I’ve had so many unsuccessful experiences trying to get a vintage style from professional barbers. The traditional style goes against everything they’ve been taught.

    All they want to do is thin, thin, thin, all the way up the back of the head. Snip snip snip all the way up both sides. And then short on top.

    If you’re lucky enough to find an older barber, his experience probably only goes back to the early 1960s, which is when styles finally transitioned from vintage to modern. The first thing they do is comb over my high part (usually with a disapproving “tsk”) and then they snip snip snip me into looking like a young Dick Van Dyke. A real 1963 style, but not the vintage I’m looking for.

    In the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s men had LONG hair on the top, and it was trimmed short up the neck. The top hair was swept back and kept in place with pomade. High parts were also popular.

    Sometime in the late ’50s, men were scared by the “Are you still using that greasy kid stuff” commercials. Suddenly, pomade was out, along with the long slicked hair.

    Modern Jazz hipsters were the first to go in for short styles. Every hair being the same length; top side & back. The modern Jazz hipsters saw Cab Calloway’s entire esthetic as corny. His music AND his hair. Of course the military types and conservatives were going with buzz cuts, to separate themselves from the Cab Calloway styles.

  32. Continuing my comment, I’ve never had a good experience trying to show a photo to a “traditional” barber. I had one old man tell me “I don’t work from photos.” And younger stylists in the “unisex” salons don’t know how to do a real neck taper. It’s not in their skill set.

    I finally have the vintage hair I want. How did I get it? I stopped visiting barbers. I trim myself. I bought a set of clippers. I taper up my neck (but not too far up, the way barbers do), I trim around under my ears. I let my top hair grow out, and I brush it back with a high part.

    I’m glad some of you have found understanding barbers but that was rarely my experience.

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