The definitive haircut for 2011 has got to be what is traditionally known as a short back and sides. This classic male style has been the most worn haircut of the last 100 years and has developed an iconic status as “a MAN’s haircut”. Up until the mid-1960s it was seen as the only respectable cut for men and boys; in fact some establishments made it a compulsory requirement – schools, the armed forces and even some private clubs wouldn’t allow anyone too unmanly looking sip a Quintar (Gin and tonic with a twist of lime) in the library.
The short back and sides has lot to answer for. My memory of it was being used as a threat by my parents when I made a fuss about having my 1970s mid-length hair shampooed and the knots ripped through with a metal comb; “if you don’t keep still I’ll take to Mr Spanker the barber (honestly, I swear that was his real name) and get your hair cut into a short back and sides” my Dad would yell, and believe me it was like putting a loaded gun to my head – in the mid-70s only old men, Vicars and Billy No-Mates wore their hair like that.
So once a symbol of respectability, a MANish badge of honour and a parental weapon, it has now come out of retirement, re-modelled and re-styled into a neo-classical adornment – worn proudly about town by the most fashionable of MANish boys and boyish men.
This haircut isn’t for the feint hearted. You need to be willing to show some skin for it to really work – but the beauty of this style is it’s ideal for most hair textures and can be worn at various lengths on top, although it tends to look its best worn longer with a foppish fringe (wavy or straight).
Ask your hairdresser to take the sides and back down to a number three if they use clippers or scissor over comb, leaving the top left longer. If the hair on top is left long, complete with a long fringe, this will give it a 1930s feel – which is definitely an emerging style. The practical solution however is to leave around an inch or two on top, as this will look great in a quiff or just worn messed up.
To get a traditional 30s finish (with hold) use a defining creme applied to dry hair with the flats of your hand and fingers. Coat the hair, then comb into place – either slicked back or flat with a side parting – then loosen with your fingers to get the exact finish you want. Follow the same method with wavy hair but use your fingers to style not a comb; you may also find using a heavier leave in conditioner works well with wavy hair.
To style a shorter top, first apply a paste or putty with the flats of your hands and fingers, then comb the hair up and away from your face. You can loosen the style up by pulling the front apart, which will allow it to break up and fall over the forehead slightly.
To create a messed up shorter style, use a clay or paste – this should look messed up but not too choppy or texturised. Apply the product by pushing it back through the hair with your hands, then either style to one side or back – just make sure you allow the hair to fall loosely.
As I have always advised, it’s essential to use a shampoo to remove any finishing products, and then condition to keep your hair manageable and healthy. Most waxes, pastes and putty type products contain petroleum which over a period of time causes damage to hair; waxes in particular leave a residue which can prevent hair absorbing moisture naturally from the atmosphere.
Deep cleansing shampoos remove products without damaging the hair and allow the conditioner to be absorbed. Ideally you would use a deep cleansing shampoo to remove products, then cleanse your hair with a suitable shampoo for your hair type.
OK, image may not be at the top of your list when your slacking it at a festival for a couple of days soaking up some sun, fun and freedom. But if you don’t want to model yourself on a hobo and the queues for the solar showers are around the block, you are going to need some tricks and one or two hair products to keep your hair looking and feeling fresh.
By far the easiest solution is to wear a hat. Although this won’t do much to improve your hair, it will keep it out of view – see Spring/Summer Accessories Part 2 or Fashionbeans Guide To Hats: Trilbys & Fedoras.
If hats are a last result (or you just don’t suit one), then try a dry shampoo. These are usually a fine powder with cleansing and deodorising additives incorporated. They are dead easy to use, convenient, and give a pretty good result – admittedly, they don’t give that freshly washed feel but they are a good substitute. I tend to use them on models when I am working on photo shoots, as models sometimes turn up with hair un-washed from a previous assignment or I need to clean up a model for a second look at a show.
Dry shampoos fit the bill perfectly for this – you can use talcum powder as a cheaper option but it’s messy and tends to clog on the hair. The 3 below are my favourite dry shampoos from personal and professional experience. My two most regular used are the Osmo Essence Day Two Styler Dry Shampoo, which comes in 150ml and is great for travel, and Tigi Rockaholic Dirty Secret Dry Shampoo, which apart from the dodgy sounding name is a fantastic product. Finally, I have heard great things about label.M’s dry shampoo, and it was also recommended by Duncan in his Festival Grooming guide.
Remember that these products don’t just have to be on standby for festivals, they are a convenient way to freshen up hair just before a meeting, interview or a night out. Also, if you are like me and wore the festival t-shirt many years ago… just stay at home, wash your hair properly and watch it on TV!
As this article is over a year old, the comments are now closed.
If you have a specific question about one of the points raised in the article, why not join our free fashion & style forum and start a thread? The FashionBeans community will always do their best to help you out, and our writers also frequent the forums regularly.
Alternatively, you can get in touch with us on our contact us page.