Hairstyles Through Menswear History


Hairstyles have always been a significant part of men’s fashion. They are not just a way to keep hair tidy, but they also serve as a reflection of the times, culture, and individual personality. This article will take you on a journey through the history of men’s hairstyles, highlighting their evolution and importance in menswear history.

From the ancient civilizations to the modern era, hairstyles have played a crucial role in defining a man’s appearance. They have been influenced by various factors, including religion, culture, social status, and even political events. Let’s delve into the fascinating world of men’s hairstyles and their impact on menswear history.

Understanding the history of men’s hairstyles can provide valuable insights into the evolution of fashion and culture. It can also help you appreciate the diversity and creativity involved in hairstyling. So, whether you’re a fashion enthusiast, a history buff, or just curious, this article is for you.

Early History of Men’s Hairstyles

The history of men’s hairstyles dates back to ancient civilizations. In ancient Egypt, for example, men often shaved their heads and wore wigs made from human hair, wool, or plant fibers. This was done to protect their heads from the scorching sun. In ancient Greece and Rome, men typically wore their hair short and curly, often adorned with wreaths or diadems.

Religion and culture had a significant influence on early men’s hairstyles. In ancient India, Hindu priests wore their hair in a topknot as a sign of their religious devotion. Similarly, in ancient China, men wore their hair long and tied in a bun, reflecting Confucian values of respect and discipline.

These early hairstyles not only served practical purposes but also symbolized social status and cultural identity. They laid the foundation for the diverse range of men’s hairstyles we see today.

Middle Ages and Renaissance Men’s Hairstyles

During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, men’s hairstyles were heavily influenced by royalty and nobility. Kings and noblemen often wore their hair long and curly, a style that was considered a sign of wealth and power. This trend was particularly prevalent in France and England, where the aristocracy set the fashion trends.

Among the general populace, however, hairstyles were much simpler. Most men wore their hair short and neat, often with a simple cap or hat. This was largely due to practical reasons, as working-class men needed to keep their hair out of the way while working.

Despite these differences, hairstyles during this period were generally conservative, reflecting the religious and social norms of the time. It wasn’t until the 17th and 18th centuries that men’s hairstyles began to become more elaborate and diverse.

Men’s Hairstyles during the 17th and 18th Centuries

The 17th and 18th centuries saw a significant shift in men’s hairstyles. Wigs and powdered hair became the norm, particularly among the upper classes. This trend was largely driven by King Louis XIV of France, who wore elaborate wigs to conceal his balding head.

The French Revolution had a profound impact on men’s hairstyles. As a reaction against the extravagance of the aristocracy, men began to wear their hair short and natural. This marked the beginning of the “sans-culottes” style, which was characterized by short, unkempt hair and a clean-shaven face.

This period was a turning point in the history of men’s hairstyles, as it marked the transition from elaborate wigs to more natural and practical hairstyles.

Victorian Era and Edwardian Era Men’s Hairstyles

The Victorian and Edwardian eras saw a return to more conservative hairstyles. The influence of industrialization led to a focus on cleanliness and neatness, with most men wearing their hair short and well-groomed.

Popular hairstyles during this period included the side parting, the pompadour, and the flat top. These styles were often complemented with a well-trimmed beard or moustache, reflecting the Victorian ideals of masculinity and respectability.

These hairstyles also had social implications. For example, a man’s hairstyle could indicate his social status, with wealthier men often sporting more elaborate hairstyles.

Men’s Hairstyles during the Roaring Twenties

The Roaring Twenties was a time of significant cultural change, and this was reflected in men’s hairstyles. The influence of jazz culture and prohibition led to a shift towards more relaxed and casual hairstyles.

The slicked back hairstyle emerged as a popular trend during this period. This style, characterized by hair slicked back with oil or pomade, was often associated with the rebellious youth of the time.

This period also saw the rise of the short back and sides hairstyle, which was easy to maintain and suited the fast-paced lifestyle of the time.

Men’s Hairstyles during the 1930s and 1940s

The 1930s and 1940s were marked by the Great Depression and World War II, events that had a significant impact on men’s hairstyles. During the Great Depression, men often wore their hair short and neat, reflecting the economic hardship of the time.

During World War II, the military cut became popular. This style, characterized by short hair on the sides and back with slightly longer hair on top, was practical and easy to maintain, making it ideal for soldiers.

Despite these challenges, this period also saw the emergence of some iconic hairstyles, such as the pompadour and the quiff, which remain popular to this day.

Men’s Hairstyles during the 1950s and 1960s

The 1950s and 1960s were a time of significant cultural change, and this was reflected in men’s hairstyles. The influence of rock ‘n’ roll and counterculture movements led to a shift towards more rebellious and individualistic hairstyles.

The pompadour and mop-top hairstyles emerged as popular trends during this period. The pompadour, characterized by hair swept upwards and backwards, was popularized by rock ‘n’ roll icons like Elvis Presley. The mop-top, characterized by long, shaggy hair, was popularized by the Beatles and became a symbol of the youth counterculture.

These hairstyles represented a break from the conservative hairstyles of the past and reflected the changing social and cultural landscape of the time.

Men’s Hairstyles during the 1970s and 1980s

The 1970s and 1980s saw a further shift towards more diverse and individualistic hairstyles. The influence of disco and punk rock led to the popularity of long hair and mullets.

Long hair, often worn loose or in a ponytail, was a symbol of the hippie movement and the counterculture of the 1970s. The mullet, characterized by short hair on the front and sides and long hair at the back, was popular in the 1980s and was often associated with rock music and youth culture.

These hairstyles reflected the spirit of rebellion and individualism that characterized these decades.

Men’s Hairstyles during the 1990s and 2000s

The 1990s and 2000s saw a shift towards more minimalist and practical hairstyles. The influence of grunge and hip-hop culture led to the emergence of the buzz cut and faux hawk.

The buzz cut, characterized by short, evenly cut hair, was popularized by celebrities like Brad Pitt and David Beckham. The faux hawk, characterized by a strip of longer hair down the center of the head with shorter hair on the sides, was popularized by footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.

These hairstyles reflected the changing fashion trends of the time and the influence of celebrity culture.

Men’s Hairstyles in the 2010s and Beyond

The 2010s and beyond have seen a resurgence of vintage hairstyles, influenced by social media and celebrity culture. The undercut and man bun have emerged as popular trends.

The undercut, characterized by short sides and a longer top, has been popularized by celebrities like Justin Bieber and David Beckham. The man bun, characterized by long hair tied into a bun at the back of the head, has been popularized by actors like Jared Leto and Chris Hemsworth.

These hairstyles reflect the influence of social media and celebrity culture, which have become major drivers of fashion trends in the modern era.

The Role of Hairstyles in Men’s Fashion

Hairstyles play a crucial role in men’s fashion. They can complement different clothing styles, enhancing the overall appearance. For example, a slicked back hairstyle can add a touch of sophistication to a suit, while a messy hairstyle can add a casual vibe to a smart-casual outfit.

Hairstyles can also impact a man’s overall appearance. A well-chosen hairstyle can enhance facial features, create a sense of balance, and even make a man look taller or slimmer. Therefore, choosing the right hairstyle is as important as choosing the right clothes.

Moreover, hairstyles can express individuality and personality. They can reflect a man’s lifestyle, values, and even his mood. Therefore, they are an essential part of personal style and self-expression.

The Future of Men’s Hairstyles

The future of men’s hairstyles is likely to be influenced by various factors, including fashion trends, technological advancements, and social changes. Predicted trends include a continued interest in vintage hairstyles, a move towards more natural and sustainable hair products, and an increased focus on individuality and self-expression.

Technology is also likely to impact hairstyle trends. For example, advances in hair loss treatments could lead to a resurgence of hairstyles that require more hair, while virtual reality could allow men to try on different hairstyles before making a decision.

Regardless of the specific trends, the future of men’s hairstyles is likely to be diverse, creative, and exciting.


The history of men’s hairstyles is a fascinating journey through time, culture, and fashion. From the ancient civilizations to the modern era, hairstyles have played a crucial role in defining men’s appearance and expressing their identity.

As we look to the future, it’s clear that hairstyles will continue to be a vital part of men’s fashion. They will continue to evolve, reflect the times, and express individuality. So, whether you’re choosing a hairstyle for yourself or just appreciating the art of hairstyling, remember the rich history and significance of men’s hairstyles.


For further reading on the history of men’s hairstyles and their impact on menswear history, check out the following resources:

These resources provide valuable insights into the world of men’s fashion and can help you understand the importance of hairstyles in shaping a man’s appearance and style.