A Versatile Classic
They say less is more – and when it comes to having hair that looks good with minimal effort, the French crop has little competition. What exactly is it? Similar to a Caesar cut, the French crop consists of hair that is cut short on the back and sides, and kept slightly longer through the top, either combed forward over the forehead or pushed to the side depending on length. It’s an easy to maintain, versatile haircut that works for men of all ages and style persuasions.
The Classic French Crop
The classic French crop is achieved by cutting or clippering the hair at the back and sides just enough to give the edges a little sharpness, but not so much as to dramatically contrast with the length on top. It’s all about balance and proportion. The hair on top can be cut in a variety of different ways. For a slightly rugged, textured finish, have your stylist point cut into the hair to create a sawtooth effect. This is a particularly good way of reducing weight for those with thicker hair, or accentuating a natural curl. For a sharper, neater appearance, blunt cutting is preferable. Producing a more solid shape, it also enables your stylist to ‘flatten’ your hair, which is great if it tends to stick up around the crown area.
Classic French Crop Examples
Longer Length Styles
If you desire more versatility from your cut, choose to leave the hair on top ever so slightly longer. This additional length will allow you to create a range of short styles that can adapt to multiple occasions, from tidy quiffs and side partings for work to dishevelled, textured looks at the weekend. Just remember to try and maintain that balance between the back and sides and top:
The Contemporary French Crop
Those looking for a more contemporary take on the French crop should consider opting for increased scalp exposure through the back and sides, which helps create a dramatic, disconnected feel. The higher the clipper work and the shorter the grade used, the more eye-catching your French crop will look:
Unlike buzz cuts, undercuts and pompadours, the French crop can be adapted to suit any face shape and – aesthetically – pairs well with pretty much any personal style. No surprise, then, that several celebrities count themselves as fans of the cut. Long-time Hollywood leading man George Clooney sported one of the most famous French crops during his tenure as Dr. Doug Ross in US medical drama E.R. Throughout his stint on the show, Clooney maintained a classic tapered back and sides and styled the hair on top either forwards or to the side slightly. If it’s good enough for Clooney… British TV personality Dermot O’Leary has also been sporting a French crop since switching from his skin tight buzz cut. Having naturally wavy hair, O’Leary is restricted in terms of the variety of styles he could try without going high maintenance, so opting for a French crop allows him to have a little more length through the top, yet still keep everything neat and tidy. To strengthen the shape of his crop, he chooses to keep the front section quite close to the hairline – something that works particularly well if you have wavier hair:
Over the last few years, I’ve had numerous clients ask me for a style similar to Take That front man Gary Barlow’s. His is a modern French crop, with the back and sides taken tight to expose the scalp and create a clear contrast between these areas and the top of the head. As well as contrast, Barlow varies the length of the hair on top, allowing him to play around with a variety of finishes and styles:
Styling The French Crop
Now that we’ve got your choice of cuts clear, here are several ways you can style the French crop, depending on the finish you’re after. For a natural look, try applying some American Crew Light Hold Texture Lotion to clean, dry hair. This product gives a particularly textured finish, but it’s best suited to fine hair, as it doesn’t offer much hold. If you need something a little stronger, try Tigi Hard To Get or Shu Uemura Shape Paste, both of which offer fine to medium hair types good hold and texture:
For a healthy, glossy finish, wash and dry your hair and then apply some American Crew Pomade or Grooming Cream. The Grooming Cream offers a strong hold and works particularly well for thicker, wavier or curlier hair types. Pomade, on the other hand, is best used by fine to medium hair types and produces a sophisticatedly slick finish. However, if you don’t want the high shine look produced by pomade, try styling with a gel and then finish with a little Fudge Shine Spray:
To achieve a matte finish, I suggest using Fudge Matte Hed or Matte Hed Extra. Matte Hed is good for medium hair types, but if you’ve got particularly thick, wavy hair, then consider Matte Hed Extra, which has a good deal more guts to it and produces a richly textured finish – provided it’s worked well into the root area. As an alternative, you could consider Kevin Murphy Rough Rider or Baxter Of California’s Clay Pomade – both are super-firm clays which work well on all hair types:
Just like the crew neck white T-shirt and black leather jacket are considered menswear classics, the French crop is one of the most timeless, adaptable and low maintenance hairstyles a man can choose. Is this a cut you’d consider, or do you think it’s a little too safe? If you’re a fan, what’s your favourite finish, and how do you achieve it? Let us know in the comments section below.