Unlike menswear trends, chopping and changing your hairstyle is generally discouraged. It stands to reason. Few things compare to the crippling fear of returning to school after your mum got trigger happy with the clippers, and that anxiety endures in adulthood. The theory goes: pick a hairstyle that works and cling onto it for dear life.
While it’s understandable to want to disaster-proof your barnet, haircuts are like dairy, and soon after their use-by-date they start to stink. Not convinced? Rod Stewart, Liam Gallagher and Simon Cowell have all stuck to their tried-and-tested styles long after they should have faded into history.
But before you bound down to your local barber, take a look at these five key hairstyle trends for AW17, which have been given the seal of approval by some of the industry’s most follicularly informed experts. This is, literally, cutting-edge style.
Scientifically speaking (probably), back in the nineties any boy band worth their salt spray had at least two curtain-headed members. All that was needed to get the look was a pair of scissors, a steady hand and a ruler.
And just like gum sole sneakers and bum bags, the style is back. “A modern twist on a classic nineties haircut, ‘millennial curtains’ are pretty versatile,” says Denis Robinson, creative director at leading barbershop chain Ruffians.
To make sure you’ve got the AW17 update and not the Backstreet’s Back version, Robinson recommends letting your barber know you want loose, long curtains. “If you don’t currently have enough hair length, they can cut the shape in. Your barber should use a round layering technique to give the hair the shape and texture required.”
As well as marking you out as a man with an eye for the trends, the throwback cut can be used to help round-out pointed facial features. “The style works particularly well for square and rectangular face shapes,” adds Robinson, “but if you have a longer face, then best avoid.” Unless you want to look like Gareth from The Office, of course.
Styling is relatively easy: dry the hair forward using a paddle brush, then sweep back when dry; apply hairspray or a light pomade to your palms and push through your hair, working your fingers out to either side. You’re ready to get up off the stool for the chorus key-change.
Ah, the skinhead, a haircut that has the unique ability to make you look like either a vintage David Beckham or a vintage hooligan. Undeterred by previous bad PR, this follicle flashing cut is staging a comeback among respectable menswear types.
Oliver Woods, a celebrity hairstylist to the likes of Robbie Williams, reckons it’s all down to the cut’s bold appeal. “The skinhead’s recent popularity is all about empowerment, either worn simply or dyed with bold colour,” he says.
If you’re not as cool as Frank Ocean, you should probably give the bright green dye job a miss for now. And if you’re on the fence about the cut’s severity, Woods suggests toning it down a bit. “A high fade with more length on top and a natural finish at the front is popular at the moment and more forgiving, too.”
Yes, you’re going to have to see a lot more of your barber to keep this style in check, but day to day all it requires is a little scalp oil to add nourishment and lustre. Ergo, it’s impossible to have a bad hair day.
The Loose Quiff
The quiff is always knocking around in one form or another, with success measurable on the scale from Kim Jong-un to Elvis Presley. Right now the coolest way to wear this gravity-defying hairstyle is closer to the latter, fortunately.
The loose, textured quiff riffs on the good hair history of the pompadour, but is “a classic style worn longer for dramatic effect,” according to Robinson.
As with any quiff hairstyle, you’re going to need hair, and lots of it. “Thicker hair works best to ensure that there is a good ‘wave’ shape,” says Robinson.
Face shape is no problem (phew) but you’ll need to ask your barber to get creative. “Ask for the traditional quiff haircut, but explain that you’re going to be wearing it loose. Your barber will remove some weight and chop down into the length.”
Styling will require a bit of technique to achieve the best results. Start by applying two to three squirts of salt spray to the roots of damp hair before blow-drying backwards with either a round or vent brush. Next, create the looseness by working a small amount of styling paste through from root to tip with a wiggle motion the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll would approve of.
The Long French Crop
Adding to a list that already includes wine, Marion Cotillard and ridiculously cool menswear brands, 2017 is about to bless us with another thing to get all Francophile about: the long French crop.
Essentially it’s a much more interesting take on a timeless men’s cut, says Woods. “A short back and sides is key, but you should ask your barber to leave the top heavy and full.”
For anyone with thicker or less obedient hair, this should be music to your rebellious follicles. The cut turns what can be a styling nightmare into an advantage because the texture can hide cow’s licks and other unruly elements. It just looks like you styled them that way.
That gives the style’s the whole ‘woke up like this’ French thing and, merci-fully, once you’ve nailed the cut, styling is a pretty laid-back affair too. “I would suggest a dry styling product to create some structure and texture, pulling the hair forward into a long heavy fringe. Finish it off with a thumbnail-sized amount of styling clay and mould into place.” Et voila.
The Cropped Blunt Fringe
Suspend disbelief (and logic) for a moment because Star Trek’s Spock is this year’s most unlikely source of hair goals. Before you spit out your food, yes we’re being serious and no, we’re not trying to ruin your chances on Tinder this weekend. For cropped blunt fringe hairstyles done well, take a look at pretty much any men’s catwalk from the last 12 months.
Aside from its #menswear credentials, it’s a pretty democratic haircut, too. “This style is best suited to straight hair, but works well on most hair types due to its short length,” says Robinson.
All face shapes are welcome here, although those blessed with a square jaw will have the most success with this look. It’s another inventive take on the short, back and sides, so Robinson advises asking your barber for “tight and faded sides with a blunt cut forward fringe”.
To steer clear of any bowl cut vibes when styling, use a hair dryer with a flat concentrator nozzle attached and finish with texture dust or a styling clay to add separation and definition. All done and set to stun.