When it comes down to it, there isn’t competition for a haircut that boasts longer proportions up top and distinctively shorter sides. Hairstyles with these proportions have been popular since the early 1900s and were most popularised in the forties and fifties, where volume reigned supreme. The Noughties, however, cemented the popularity of haircuts with these proportions for good. Why the constant fascination with this style of cut? Well, it’s favorable for many good reasons. Haircuts with short backs and sides are clean, presentable, and most importantly, allow you to add shape to your hairstyle in a way that product can’t. Thus, in celebration of these cuts, we’ve compiled our top ten coolest men’s short back and side haircuts which you will absolutely not regret.
1. French Crop
The French Crop is the embodiment of minimalism. Typically shorter, very neat, and highly manageable, the French Crop is an appealing option for the gent who is always on the go and doesn’t like a whole lot of product in his hair. Be cautious if you have a thick, wavy, or curly hair type, given the French crop tends to work better for blokes with poker-straight locks. If you do have a more unmanageable hair type, ask your barber to cut strategically to ensure your French crop won’t hassle you too much with styling.
2. Faux Hawk
The faux hawk allows you to get a little punk rock but also lets you enter your office building without getting stared down. A less extreme version of the mohawk, the faux hawk allows you to play with the proportions of the original cut but rework it for a more manageable, proportioned aesthetic. Now, our guide refers to haircuts with shorter backs and sides, so you will need to make some alterations to the typical faux hawk. Just make sure to tell your barber to preserve a somewhat longer strip of hair down your head but to give it a tidy-up from the back to ensure you have a good amount of distinction between the top and the back of your hair.
3. Side Part
The side part is the ultimate hairstyle for every stylish gent. What’s not to love? It screams traditional gentleman when styled in a certain way (yes, a tonne of shiny, wet-look product will help you achieve this with a comb), or it can also read more contemporary with the help of a matte hair mousse. For added texture and dimension, have your barber fade out the back and sides of your hair so that it gets progressively shorter. This hairstyle is also a versatile pick; it will work for a wide range of face shapes and hair types, ensure you use a product that will work cooperatively with your hair type.
4. The Buzz Cut
Sure, it is a military cut, but trust and believe that for some gents, a buzz cut can completely change up your facial proportions (in good and bad ways, you will need a specific face shape to pull this off!). Oval and square face shapes work best with this cut, but we cannot stress the importance of retaining at least a little bit more hair up top, just for some texture and dimension for your whole look. The greatest part about the buzz cut is that it is entirely maintenance-free, effortless, and super neat and tidy.
Now we are talking quintessential short back and side haircuts. The haircut of the fifties, the pompadour was the beloved hairstyle of Elvis Presley, which means it was very well preserved throughout history. Gents who love a lot of volume rejoice because the pompadour lets you take your love for thick, well-blow-dried hair to the next level. Just keep in mind that when you are styling this beloved cut, you choose a product that will work well with your hair type. Even though the back and sides will be very short, still apply some product to maintain consistency throughout your entire hairstyle.
6. Crew Cut
Perpetually prized for its iconic shape and simplistic proportions, the crew cut is one safe, yet stylish haircut. To achieve the crew cut, the hair is tapered to the shape of the head, leaving more volume toward the front of the hairline. This cut also needs shorter proportions to work, so ensure your barber is neat and tidy with the back and sides. Style accordingly with a matte hair product for a modern take on this most identifiable cut.
7. Ivy League
With its strong collegiate influence, the Ivy League is gentlemanly and masculine alike. It is also easily adaptable for different hair lengths and textures, meaning that it can work for both thick and unruly to straighter, less voluminous hair types. This ‘do, however, relies on great styling so ensure you are blow-drying your locks right for a stronger hold and finish off your styling with a light pomade and quick coat of hairspray for added longevity for your hair throughout your day or night.
8. Box Fade
The box fade earned its popularity with men with thicker, more unmanageable hair types. When it comes to the box fade, however, beware. It doesn’t suit a lot of gents, and it relies on a pretty darn good barber to get right. We recommend weighing up whether this cut will actually suit you and if you have the right hair type for it. Also, ensure that you are working with a great hair product to ensure your styling is less tedious.
9. High and Tight
The high and tight haircut needs barely-there proportions on the back and sides of the head, and a tad more length up top. It tends to suit gents with longer face shapes, as its shorter proportions do well not to exaggerate longer dimensions. The primary thing you need to remember about the high and tight is that it really does work much better for gents with straighter hair. Curly hair that is styled in this haircut may not work as well, but experiment with lengths and determine the appropriate dimensions to suit your face shape and features if it’s a haircut you are dying to try.
10. Flat Top
The flat top is identifiable by its longer proportions up top which are cut horizontally, allowing the taller locks of hair to lay, you guessed it, flat. Be careful when determining whether this look can work for you. It isn’t very office friendly, and it may startle your nan. It can, however, be reworked with some good hair products and a little bit of patience. Our most important tip when going for this cut is to be seated in a familiar, dependable barbershop. You shouldn’t be experimenting with this cut too much, as it can be unforgiving and will make you regret the minute you had it cut for a good few weeks if you do it incorrectly.
Short Back and Sides Haircuts FAQs
What is a short back and sides haircut?
A short back and sides cut is just that — a hair cut that is short on the back and sides, often with length on top to create a contrast and strong silhouette. It’s neat, easy to maintain, and looks stylish. Examples include a French crop, faux hawk, side part, a pompadour, crew cut, Ivy League, a box fade, high and tight, and a flat top.
How do you cut short back sides and long on top?
You’ll need a pair of clippers with different sized guards, sharp scissors, and crocodile clips. Section off the hair you want to keep long, then use your chosen clipper length to trim from the bottom to the top around the sides and back. As you approach the top, scoop the clippers away to blend better. If you want a fade, start with a long setting, then move through shorter attachments, repeating the process but stopping lower than the previous section. Lastly, scissor cut section by section the hair on top, holding the hair between your fingers, and using the previous section as a length guide.
Roger Grinstead is a senior apparel designer for X2U with over 25 years of expertise in the fashion industry. He has expertise in menswear and womenswear trends and product development. When Roger is not designing the latest fashion garments, he enjoys writing about men's fashion, hairstyles, and grooming.
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