An Iconic Style

The pompadour is an all-time classic hairstyle that was actually named after the mistress of King Louis XV, Madame de Pompadour. After being adopted by fashionable women in the 18th century, it remained a female dominated style right the way up until World War I.

However, during the 1950s Elvis sported the pompadour as part of his signature look and the rest, as they say, is history. Still considered a classic rockabilly/rock ‘n’ roll-inspired hairstyle due to this connection, the traditional pompadour is styled by sweeping the hair upwards and away from the face, often worn slick with swept back sides.

That being said, the style has evolved quite dramatically since the King’s heyday, with modern takes on the pompadour experimenting with length through the top while keeping the back and sides sharp and short.

This haircut is a lot more flexible than you would first imagine and suits many face shapes and hair types. It’s also popular with men of all ages, although the variation and extremity of the cut needs to be taken into consideration – the end result should complement not only your personal style, but lifestyle and profession too.

The Inspiration: Justin Timberlake For T Magazine

Although it’s a cut that has been in vogue for a couple of years now, the pompadour really took off again at the end of last year, which was in no small part down to one of FashionBeans’ best dressed men of 2013, Justin Timberlake.

Seen sporting an expertly styled pompadour in his superb editorial for T Magazine, shot by none other than Saint Laurent’s Creative Director Hedi Slimane, the cut became an instant classic, with images of the shoot spreading like wildfire on social networks, menswear blogs and tumblrs across the world.

Men immediately clamoured to get the look, which was the epitome of classic with a contemporary twist. Keeping the sides short and tight while leaving length through the top, it’s still one of the best examples we’ve seen to date:

Justin Timberlake shot by Hedi Slimane for New York Times T Magazine

The Classic Pompadour

If you want to keep your cut classic and refined, the back and sides still need to be clippered, but not so short that it exposes too much of the scalp.

Ideally, the edges should be tapered really tight while maintaining some length throughout the haircut. Tapering around the edges not only strengthens the overall shape of the pompadour, but also makes facial hair appear thicker and bushier – perfect for men who maintain a short/long beard and want to emphasise their rugged/masculine appeal.

Choosing to keep more length through the sides will suit most face shapes, especially those with longer faces who need to maintain a balance between the top and sides.

For a more timeless aesthetic and a slightly squarer result, avoid taking the clippers beyond the curve of the head. Alternatively, if you’re feeling brave, get your stylist to take the sides higher to slightly disconnect the top and sides:

Men's Classic Pompadour Hairstyles Lookbook

The Modern/Extreme Pompadour

For a more modern or individual take on the pompadour, get your stylist to clipper the sides on a grade one. You could also consider opting for a skin fade (no grade on the clippers) where the base of the haircut begins.

The hair should be clippered really high into the curve of the head, keeping more length through the top section. This can be worn connected into the crown or completely disconnected, allowing the hair to hang below the crown area (think undercut hairstyles).

Choosing the right balance for your face shape is important. If you have a round face then taking the sides tighter and allowing more volume on top will help elongate your features. If your face is narrow then I suggest keeping a little bit more length through the sides while trying to keep the top slicker and closer to your head.

As always, it’s best to ask your stylist for personal advice before getting your hair cut:

Men's Modern/Extreme Pompadour Hairstyles Lookbook

Celebrity Examples

Some major celebrities have sported this hairstyle over the last few years, with everyone from Bruno Mars to David Beckham choosing to style it in extremely different ways, depending on their look, personality and hair type.

It just goes to prove how versatile a cut it really is:

Celebrities Sporting The Pompadour Hairstyle

Styling Tips

There are a quite few options available to you when working with this hairstyle and, as proven above, it looks good styled in a number of different ways.

To create a nice crisp finish with shine, apply a wet pomade (for medium shine and hold) or stronger grooming/styling cream (for a stronger shine and hold) to towel dried hair. Alternatively, you could try slicking the hair back while it’s still wet with something like American Crew Superglue or Kevin Murphy Super Goo.

When working with high shine styling products, it’s important you start off with a small amount and work it into the sides of the hair – you can always add more if required. This approach will help avoid making the hair appear too greasy, which will force you to start the whole process again.

For those that want more volume, try blow drying the hair – using your fingers or a vent brush and push the hair into the direction you are going to wear the style – to create volume and then sprinkling American Crew Boost Powder or L’Oreal Texture Dust into the root and massage well.

If required, you can apply another finishing product on top to create texture, whether it’s wet or dry look. To keep your style in shape, apply hairspray – especially if the top has been left with some length.

  • American Crew Superglue 100mlAmerican Crew Superglue 100ml
  • Soft Water Pomade Baxter Of CaliforniaSoft Water Pomade Baxter Of California
  • American Crew Crew StylingAmerican Crew Crew Styling
  • American Crew Boost Powder 10gAmerican Crew Boost Powder 10g
  • Loreal Tna Texture Dust 22gLoreal Tna Texture Dust 22g
  • Silvikrin Maximum Hairspray 250mlSilvikrin Maximum Hairspray 250ml
  • Denman Vent Brush D200tDenman Vent Brush D200t
  • Kent Tortoiseshell Effect Fine Pocket Comb – Small FotKent Tortoiseshell Effect Fine Pocket Comb - Small Fot
  • Ghd Air™Ghd Air™
Final Word

So there you have it, a timeless and versatile hairstyle that is only set to become more popular throughout 2014.

However, the one downfall of the modern pompadour is that it can be an extremely high maintenance haircut, both in terms of styling time and upkeep. In order to keep it looking its very best, I would personally suggest going to get the back and sides tidied every couple of weeks.