The pompadour hairstyle is one of the most iconic and timeless looks throughout history. Not only does it convey a sense of class and sophistication, but it also has an undeniable cool edge that’s been popularised in many generations since its start in 18th-century France. Whether you want to channel your inner rockstar or simply give your look a bit more character, the pompadour is the perfect hairstyle choice for any modern gentleman looking to make a statement. In this article, we’ll explain not only how to achieve this classic ‘do, but why it remains so popular today and provide some helpful styling tips along the way!
History of The Pompadour
The existence of the pompadour can be traced back to the royal court of King Louis XV of France. It is believed to have been introduced by the King’s mistress, Madame de Pompadour. Initially associated with women’s hairstyles until the 1950s, the pompadour gained a prominent male ambassador in the form of Elvis Presley, who embraced the greasy-haired look. Alongside stars like James Dean and Little Richard, Presley challenged the notion that the pompadour was solely a feminine style during the 1950s and 1960s.
While many believe that Presley was drawn to the pompadour due to its exaggerated shape and larger-than-life appeal, it could also be interpreted as a deliberate rebellion against conservative social norms, considering its popularity among women until the 1940s.
By the late 1970s, the rigid pompadour fell out of favor, as men preferred a more effortless approach to their hair care routine. However, the pompadour experienced a resurgence in the 1980s with the rise of psychobilly.
Although the classic pompadour is now seldom seen, it remains one of the most favored hairstyles for men today. Prominent style icons such as Jon Kortajarena, Zayn Malik, and Zac Efron proudly sport this look.
Types of Pompadour Haircuts
1. Modern Pompadour
Although the pompadour has proven itself to be an utterly classic hairstyle, a contemporary twist can make it more relevant. The modern pompadour exaggerates each of the haircut’s components to construct a look that is striking and edgy. You can completely own this version of the cut as long as you wear it with confidence. The angles of this haircut are more defined than the original version, using height to make your face appear longer. As such, the style is particularly well-suited to those with different face shapes.
2. Pompadour Fade
Faded sides are an element of many men’s hairstyles at the moment. The fade’s popularity stems from its ability to bring structure and neatness to what could threaten to be a messy style. Pompadour fades combine the contemporary style of tapered sides with the classic pompadour. By graduating down to a short length above the ears, you create the illusion of more weight and height on top, so keep the pompadour neat and tight for best results.
3. Side Part Pompadour
For a slightly different take on the pompadour styling, you can bring a side part into the mix. While the classic pompadour is usually a backward-swept cut, the side part pompadour utilizes your part line as the base of the quiff. It’s a versatile look and lets you get away without too much styling when compared to the swept-back pompadour. While the side part can look great with a firm hold wet-look hair product, you can have even better results with a matte finish and some natural-looking texture.
4. Short Pompadour
Wanting to rock a pompadour without committing to the traditional length and volume of the cut? The good news is that you can still get that look with shorter hair. Short pompadours are a neat yet striking style that can suit almost any situation. For a more modern interpretation of the short pompadour, style your hair from your temple near the part line. For the neatest look, opt for a strong-hold wet-finish hair product.
5. Undercut Pompadour
The undercut is a no-brainer to incorporate its aesthetic into the pompadour. The undercut pompadour offers a similar juxtaposition as faded sides but in a far more impactful way. The sudden shift in length from clipped sides up to the volume-heavy top makes for a jarring but strong style. It also offers excellent versatility, meaning you don’t need to worry too much about always styling your hair. The longer hair on top can look just as good falling over the short sides as a neat style does.
6. Curly Pompadour
When you think about a pompadour, your mind doesn’t immediately relate curly hair to the mix. But curls can bring a look that you could never achieve with straight hair. Greater texture and volume and much more interesting, a curly pompadour can look outstanding with the right cut. Avoid pretending your hair is straight, you won’t be able to emulate the super neat pompadour styles out there. But by integrating short sides, or even an undercut, you can celebrate your natural curls with this style.
7. Wavy Pompadour
While a perfect pompadour comes across as sharp and sophisticated, a wavy pompadour feels youthful and fun. Ideal for a fashion-forward weekend look, this style doesn’t take itself too seriously. On top of appearing approachable and easy-going, this look is also much easier to create than a traditional pompadour.
8. Pompadour Quiff
Combining a pompadour and a quiff is an excellent way to create a stylish appearance. The look, which still boasts plenty of volume up top, focuses more on the front section of hair. Emulating a wave shape, this combined hairstyle is eye-catching and impressive. It can also easily be adjusted to create a more dramatic or simplistic style by making the quiff larger or smaller. Likewise, a neat and tidy quiff pompadour will appear more structured and intense, while a messier version will appear softer.
9. Mini Pompadour
Even smaller than the short pompadour, the mini pompadour is a barely-there version of this big-haired trend. The look is particularly suited to two types of men. The first is gents with short strands whose limited length leaves them unable to rock a proper pompadour. As such, the mini pompadour makes a great option and can slowly be built up as locks grow longer. The second is men who want to try this trend but prefer a more subtle style. While a mini pompadour won’t garner much attention, it will still appear stylish and on-trend, making it ideal for minimalistic modern men.
10. Straight Pompadour
For a sharp and classic look, a straight pompadour makes an excellent option. While the style can be achieved on wavy hair with the help of a hairdryer and a round brush, it tends to look best on naturally straight hair. So, if your locks are free from kinks and curls, consider giving this pompadour style a try. For a great professional look, try creating a neatly combed-back pompadour with understated sides. If you want a look that’s a little bolder for the weekend, consider a voluminous straight pompadour instead, and pair it with contrasting short sides.
11. Pompadour With Beard
Pairing a pompadour with a beard is an easy way to create a stylish, standout look. The combination of the bold hairstyle with a beard is sure to catch eyes and make your presence known. But you should be aware that it’s not the easiest of looks to pull off. To start with, you should tailor the length and width of both your pompadour and beard to suit your face shape. Then, once you have your ideal look, you’ll need to regularly style, trim, and maintain both the hair on your head and your face to keep this combination appearing sharp and sophisticated.
12. One-Length Pompadour
While many of today’s pompadours are partnered with an undercut to intensify the style, some still feature longer sides. The one-length pompadour, which is characterized by little to no distinction between the length of hair on the top of the head and the sides, provides a more classic take on this trend. You can achieve the style by combing the side sections of hair back during the process of creating the pompadour. The result is a polished and traditional look that also has a little attitude. For a more youthful and slightly preppy look, you can consider adding a side part to this style.
13. Full-Volume Pompadour
If you believe in the saying “go big or go home,” the full-volume pompadour may be your hairstyle. Taking the original pompadour to new heights (and widths), this look is eye-catching and impactful. Although the style may be out of the question for gents with fine strands, those with thick locks will be able to don the look with confidence. All it will take is a bit of skill with a blow dryer and the right amount of product, and you’ll be able to produce a full-volume pompadour with ease. By shaving the sides of your hair short, you can also help to create the illusion of a fuller pompadour without any extra work.
14. Textured Pompadour
While super sleek and straight pompadours often appear traditional and a little rockabilly, textured pompadours are entirely modern. The less structured look adds a contemporary element to this hairstyle without verging on the messy territory, meaning that it’s ideal for both the office and after-hours. If you have naturally wavy hair, then a textured pompadour is easy to create. If you have straight strands, on the other hand, you may find achieving this look a little more challenging. To nail the style, invest in a texturizer or sea salt spray and spritz on damp strands before styling into a pompadour.
15. Elvis Presley Pompadour
The pompadour may have originated in the 1700s, but it didn’t become a popular hairstyle for men until the 1950s. Thanks to the rockabilly culture and Elvis Presley, the style took off in the decade to become an iconic ‘50s look. Unlike today’s pompadour, which features extra volume and texture, the original men’s pompadour was sleek and straight. To recreate this look today, use plenty of hairspray to keep every strand smooth and expertly in place.
16. Asian Pompadour
The pompadour looks excellent on a range of gents. In particular, Asian hairstyles for men. Sleek, straight, and dark, typical Asian hair is ideal for styling into an eye-catching and suave pompadour. If your hair is already voluminous, you’ll be able to achieve an impressive pompadour with ease. However, if your locks are thin, you may need to invest in some volumizing hair products to help add height to your hair.
17. Slick Back Pompadour
To give your hair a sleek and suave aesthetic, opt for a slick back pompadour. Unlike textured and messy pompadours, a slicked-back version appears straight and polished. It also offers a smart, retro touch and is ideal for formal occasions. To nail the look, be sure to make your locks as smooth as possible by blow-drying your hair before styling. Then, use pomade, wax, or gel to style your strands up and back for the perfect sleek pomp.
18. Disconnected Pompadour
Looking to infuse an extra edge into your pompadour hairstyle? Why not add a stylish disconnected undercut to your look? The combination of a disconnected undercut and a pompadour is fashionable and ideal for the modern man. Far from subtle, this bold hairstyle, which features a sharp contrast between the pomp on top and shaved sides, is on-trend and eye-catching.
19. Relaxed Textured Pompadour
For a stylish “I just woke up like this” look, consider a relaxed textured pompadour. Combining a traditional pompadour with a disheveled touch, this hairstyle is the epitome of laidback cool. It’s especially ideal for gents with thick, wavy hair. However, it can still be achieved by others with the aid of some volumizing powder.
20. Pompadour with Shine
For a sleek and dapper take on the pompadour, shine is essential. To ensure you pull off an impressive pompadour with shine, it’s important to ensure your hair is as naturally healthy as possible. Then, you can boost your hair’s natural shine by blow-drying it smooth before applying pomade for styling and finishing with a shine spray.
21. Pompadour with Extra Volume
If your motto is “go big or go home”, you’ll love the look of a pompadour with extra volume. Although a pompadour is already a full style, it is possible to go higher. However, you’ll need to have the length and natural thickness to be able to nail the look. Likewise, you’ll also need to aid of volumizing products, a blow-dryer, a round brush, pomade, and hairspray to ensure this oversized pomp stays in place all day long.
22. Blond Pompadour
When rocking a pompadour, there are a lot of different elements with which you can experiment. Along with size and texture, you can also play with the color of your hair to achieve a different appearance. For example, a blonde hair pompadour can look particularly striking. Thanks to its full volume yet light shade, a blonde pompadour appears unique and eye-catching, especially if the hue isn’t your natural tone.
23. Pompadour with Mid Fade
For a cool and contemporary take on the classic pompadour, consider partnering it with a mid fade. By graduating from a long length on top to shorter hair around the temples and ears, a pompadour, mid fade can add a sense of sharpness and structure to your look. Smart enough for the office yet sufficiently edgy for evenings out, this style is a truly winning look.
24. Textured Mid Length Pompadour
Mid-length cuts are perfect for modern-day gents. Short enough to appear smart yet long enough to allow for exciting styling, this great length is always a good option. In particular, a medium length haircut looks fantastic when paired with a textured pompadour. Messy in the best of ways, the look creates an on-trend appearance that’s ideal for fashionable gents.
25. Short Curly Pompadour
For a subtle take on the pompadour, a short version can work, especially if your hair is curly. A short curly pompadour can still appear full and stylish thanks to the natural volume of curls. Best of all, it’s also easy to style. You only need to use a wide-tooth comb to smooth your hair back after washing. Then, allow your locks to air dry or, if you want extra volume, gently blow-dry the roots upwards using a cool setting to avoid frizz.
26. Short Pompadour with High Fade
A high fade is a fantastic way to add a sharp military hairstyle edge to your pompadour look. However, it’s essential to consider proportions when rocking this look. While a large pompadour and high fade can often appear overly contrasting and elongate the face too much, a short pompadour with high fade looks balanced and seriously flattering.
27. Pompadour with Hard Part
If you like the look of a side-parted pompadour but want more distinction, a pompadour with hard part could be the hairstyle for you. Featuring a shaved part, this style appears sharp and smart. To maintain the clean look created by the hard part, ensure your pompadour is sleek and neatly combed to the side and back.
28. Pompadour with Low Fade
While a pompadour is an on-trend and stylish look, it can also appear somewhat intense. So, if you’re looking to soften the appearance of your pompadour, consider adding a low fade. By adding such a fade, you’ll be able to offset the large proportions on the top of your head without causing too much contrast.
29. Pompadour with Bald Fade
The bald fade is faded on the back and sides, with the hair gradually shortening to skin level (bald). It can be paired with various hairstyles, including the pompadour, for a sleek and edgy look. The addition of the bald fade is an excellent option for those wanting to give their haircut a fresh update and is one of the more noticeable fade hairstyles, making it a bold and expressive choice.
30. Spiky Pompadour
The pompadour is a hairstyle that is all about volume and is great for creating fullness at the crown. It is a wonderful way to draw attention to your hair and can be adapted to suit various hair textures. While many men opt for a look that is slicked back and neat, you can create a modern finish with textured hair, for example, with soft spikes. Your spiky hair will add to the overall volume of the look.
31. Colorful Pompadour
One of the easiest ways to transform your appearance and create a daring and ultra-cool look is with color. A bold choice of hair dye will instantly draw the eye to your pompadour and can make it even more noticeable. It is also an excellent way to make your hairstyle feel more personal and expressive. If you are someone who wants to stand out from the crowd or show that you do not like to confirm, this is the look for you.
32. Long Pompadour
The pompadour has been in existence for hundreds of years but enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in the 1950s with big stars, including Elvis Presley favoring the hairstyle. The hair is worn longer on the top and contrasted with shorter back and sides, but you can experiment with just how much length you want to leave on top depending on the fullness and volume you wish to achieve. A long pompadour could be more challenging to style but it will look undeniably sleek and cool.
33. Pompadour for Thin Hair
The pompadour hairstyle can be adapted to suit various lengths and hair of all textures and types. For thin hair, it can also make the hair on the top of the head appear fuller. This is a great option for someone with thinning hair and can be incredibly flattering. The style is created by brushing up the front of the hair to create volume and then brushing it backward to give a neat and polished finish.
34. Widow’s Peak Pompadour
A widow’s peak refers to the V-shape on the hairline. Some men wish to disguise it while others choose a hairstyle that will complement it or even show it off. The pompadour is one of the most stylish choices and the volume and the crown will distract from your hairline and complement the natural shape of the hairline.
35. Side-Swept Pompadour
There are variations of the pompadour and versatility in how you can style it. This makes it an appealing hairstyle for men who want a neat and polished haircut that also creates volume. One of the most effortlessly cool ways to style hair is to brush it to the side for a side-swept look. There is less structure with this hairstyle, appealing to those who want a more laid-back aesthetic. The way the hair is parted can also be flattering and frame the face.
36. Japanse Pompadour
Japanese men typically have thick hair and can wear many variations of the pompadour haircut. Adding height to the pompadour will create the illusion of a longer face shape to help balance out proportions. This can be achieved by incorporating an undercut to a high fade to the pompadour and growing the top out longer.
Things to Consider Before Getting a Pompadour Haircut
The pompadour is cut with more length on the top of the head and is brushed up and backward to create volume. It is contrasted with the shorter back and sides, which gives the cut structure and adds to the fullness of the hair on top. It is a surprisingly versatile hairstyle that can be worn with different hair textures and adapted to various lengths. However, there are some things to consider before getting a pompadour haircut.
The pompadour works best with hair that is naturally thick and full, which will complement the style. While it can be worn by those with thinning hair and a receding hairline, this look can be more challenging to pull off and require clever styling. It can be adapted to all hair textures but is best suited to men with straight hair. It is also easier to style straight hair to create a sleek and polished finish.
Hair Length & Cut
You need length to be able to create the pompadour and it is recommended to have at least 4 cm in height at the fringe. You want your hair to be full and have length throughout the top part so that it can contrast nicely with the shorter back and sides. Before attempting any pompadour hairstyle, ensure you have grown out your hair.
The haircut can be adapted to complement your face shape, but this is something to consider before getting the cut. Men with long faces will want to keep more length at the sides. Whereas a pompadour and an undercut can be flattering on a round face and elongate it. The haircut looks great on men with oval face shapes and wide jawlines.
The pompadour looks great when worn with facial hair, and the right look can accentuate the cut. Different beard styles will also complement your face shape and can be used to make the jaw look more defined or elongate the face. While the pompadour looks great with facial hair, a clean shave is just as stylish.
How to Style a Pompadour
- The first step is to towel dry your hair.
- Next, blow-dry your hair while combing it with a round brush.
- Grab a decent size amount of pomade with your fingers, and warm it up in the palms of your hands.
- Work the pomade through your hair with your fingers. Start with the sides, then the top. The front portion of your hair will require the most hair product as you will need the added strength to hold up this hairstyle.
- Comb your hair to get the product to the roots and create a better hold.
- Brush the front part of your hair up to spread the pomade through. With one hand holding the comb, brush the front of your hair up and into your free hand. Your free hand will act as a guide for your hair to fold over and also serve as a limit to how high the front will go.
- Finally, comb your hair up, and pat it down. Finish with hairspray for extra hold.
Pompadour Haircut FAQs
What is a pompadour haircut?
A pompadour haircut features length and volume on top, swept-back, while the sides and back are either slicked down or short. Elvis Presley was one of the most famous faces to rock a pompadour; however, the cut has evolved to incorporate more variations and modern styling.
What's the difference between a quiff and a pompadour?
A quiff and pompadour are very similar styles. A pompadour features volume along the entire top section of the head, slicking everything back. On the other hand, a quiff focuses on creating volume in and slicking back just the forelock, or the area of hair on top that sits in front of your ear. A pompadour tends to be a neater, more precise style, while a quiff can have more texture and be more causal.
How long does hair need to be for a pompadour?
Ideally, the hair on the top of your head needs to be around three to four inches long, while the sides and back can vary depending on how you style it. This length will allow you to blowdry enough volume into it to get the best results.
How do you do a pompadour hairstyle?
Start with clean but damp hair and apply your chosen styling product throughout. A water-based pomade works best. Then dry your hair with a blowdryer on high heat, brushing the hair on top up and back to create volume. If your sides are longer, use a similar technique, brushing back and smoothing down as you dry so you can easily slick them down. Next, use some more of your styling product to finish the look, styling the hair back, and using a brush or comb if you need. Finish with a coat of hairspray.
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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