Blending the styles of the past with a modern sensibility, the undercut has taken men’s fashion by storm. From Brad Pitt to David Beckham, the most influential style-setters have chosen the undercut to stand out on red carpets worldwide.
This simple throwback style has re-cemented its place as one of the most iconic ‘dos around, having been rocked by everyone from the Hollywood elite to soldiers. And when a haircut has an appeal that broad, it’s safe to assume it won’t be getting the chop anytime soon.
But with so many variations to try, it pays to do the research before sitting in the chair. To give yourself a head start, here is the complete guide to men’s undercuts.
What Is An Undercut?
At its core, the undercut is simple, stylish and versatile cut that works equally well with a manicured quiff or a man bun. The term itself refers to any cut that leaves length on top while the back and/or sides are closely cropped, faded, or buzzed completely.
These days, sculpting the perfect undercut is a precision task for barbers – especially when skin fades and tight graduations get thrown into the mix. However, back in Edwardian era England, an undercut was nothing more than a sign that a man couldn’t afford a haircut from anyone skilled enough to blend lengths. Funny how things change, eh?
As this collection demonstrates, the undercut is a versatile style that covers a host of different cuts and looks. That being said, the tight-on-the-sides, long-on-the-top trim that characterizes the style can be found across this spectrum of cuts.
1. Undercut Fade
There are few styles as visually satisfying as a well-executed fade. If you like your personal style to represent your impeccable attention to detail, the undercut fade might be the right choice. In the hands of a talented barber, a smooth transition through each guard is sure to get attention and turn heads in the office and the club.
2. Disconnected Undercut
If you like the clean-on-the-sides long-on-top look of the undercut but want something a bit more extreme than the fade, the disconnected undercut could be for you. Skipping the gradual transition of the fade in favor of a clear distinction between the sides and the top, this classic style is best for the bold.
3. Long Hair Undercut
One of the best things about the undercut is its versatility. If your style is a bit on the Wildside, the contrast between flowing locks up top and the tightly cropped sides of a long hair undercut is the perfect way to stand out from the crowd and turn heads.
4. Man Bun Undercut
Few styles have become as polarizing as the man bun in the last ten years. For those men that march to the beat of their own drum, the man bun undercut is a great way to show the world that, love it or hate it, your style is all your own.
5. Undercut Curly Hair Fade
Not everyone has straight hair that is usually associated with this classic style. But fear not, the undercut works just as well with curly hair as it does with straight locks. Incorporating the smooth transitions that show attention to detail with the wildness of an unruly mob, the undercut curly hair fade is perfect for those men that are the life of the party.
6. Undercut Viking Haircut
When it comes to a fierce look, it doesn’t get tougher than an undercut Viking haircut. Whether you spend your time hunting wild game in the forest or are a warrior at heart stuck in the city, this extreme men’s haircut will show the world that you play by your own rules.
7. Slick Back Undercut
If you’ve got straight hair that takes well to a bit of pomade, a slick back undercut might be a perfect choice. Bringing the classic sensibilities of the roaring twenties to the 21st century, this timeless style is a no-nonsense look for the no-nonsense man.
8. Low Undercut Fade
A bit less extreme than some of the other styles in our collection, the low undercut fade is a classy choice that works equally well in the office or the club. If you want to show off your impeccable taste and first-class style, this cut may be what you’ve been looking for.
9. Short Undercut
Not everyone wants an extreme transition from short sides to a long mop. A short undercut is a great option for those men who prefer a more subdued look but still want to show off their commitment to grooming and style.
10. Undercut Mullet
Business in the front, party in the back. While the mullet was once a symbol of the fashion illiterate, this backwoods classic has officially transitioned to red carpet couture. If you’ve got a bit of a wild streak and live life by your own rules, the undercut mullet is a great way to showcase your unique sense of style.
11. Undercut With Dreadlocks
Quite possibly the oldest hairstyle in the world, dreadlocks continue to turn heads and show the world that you are your own man. A great way to clean up this look and add a little more personal flair to an already stand-out style, an undercut with dreadlocks is sure to turn heads.
12. Undercut With Pompadour
A bold look that only the most daring of men can pull off, the undercut with pompadour is a stylish take on a classic look. If you’ve got the confidence of a rock star and want the world to know it, this striking cut is a perfect choice.
13. Undercut With Quiff
Similar to a pompadour with a bit more swagger, an undercut with quiff is a daring look that will bring your bold character to the forefront of your style. This unique cut is sure to turn heads at the club or in the office.
14. Undercut With Blowout
Hitting your hair with a blowdryer straight after the wash is a great strategy to create the smoothest and sleekest of looks. Combined with tight sides and impeccable grooming, the undercut with a blowout is the perfect look for the fashion-forward man.
15. Undercut With Fringe
Whether you call it a fringe or bangs, a bit of hair coming forward over the face is a classic style that continues to deliver. A new twist on this timeless look, it’s easy to understand the appeal of the undercut with fringe.
16. Undercut With Caesar
A haircut that takes its name from Rome’s most famous emperor, it’s unsurprising that this classy style remains popular. Keeping the sides tight takes the undercut with Caesar to the next level for the well-manicured man.
17. Undercut With Hard Part
It’s hard to get a look cleaner than an undercut with hard part. Giving a talented barber every opportunity to show off his steady hand and attention to detail, this tight look is perfect for the professional that takes his style as seriously as his business.
18. Undercut With Half-Pony
If you’re a bit on the wild side and want your style to match your personality, an undercut with half-pony could be a perfect choice. Blending tight sides with a go-with-the-flow look up top, this unique style will show off your fun-loving aesthetic and freewheeling style.
19. Hidden Undercut
Everyone likes a surprise, and a hidden undercut is the ultimate stylistic bombshell when it comes to hair. If you like to keep everyone guessing and want to go from long flowing to high tight at a moment’s notice, this unique cut could be a perfect choice.
20. Side Swept Undercut
At this point, we’ve all seen Peaky Blinders, but you don’t have to be a street tough from Birmingham to pull off this rakish look. With a tight cut on the sides and a coif up top, it’s no surprise that the side-swept undercut remains a popular choice for the most stylish of men.
How Do I Know If An Undercut Is Right For Me?
As with any hairstyle, there are a few things to weigh up (the weight of your hair, of course, being one of them) before sitting in the chair.
As well as getting to grips with them yourself, it’s always wise to consult your barber on what they think might suit your face shape, hair type, and lifestyle before committing to a cut. After all, they are professionals.
Any styling choice north the neck – be it glasses or facial hair – is going to be affected by the shape of your face. The same goes when it comes to your hair, which should aim to balance out your most prominent features.
For example, if your face is so long, it’s a smart move to avoid anything with too much height. Instead, opt for a style that can be worn slicked back, or a short haircut with textured length on top that lays flat.
Lastly, and as is usually the case, people with oval-shaped faces will look good regardless. Annoying. Well, for the rest of us anyway.
How curly, coarse, thick or thin your hair is will serve as another deciding factor when it comes to what undercut style to go for. Luckily, as there are seemingly endless variations, there’s something to suit every type.
As a general rule, lofty styles like quiffs and pompadours are better suited to thick, full hair, while those with curly or very fine hair should opt for shorter, textured styles.
Maintenance is the barbershop term for deciding how much you value that extra 15 minutes in bed each morning.
If your answer is “a lot”, you’re better off siding with something fairly low maintenance, such as a style that is designed to be worn messy, whereas those who don’t mind putting in some extra work in front of the mirror pre-9am can choose from more sculpted snips.
Maintenance also refers to how often you will need to get your hair cut in order to keep the intended shape. Because each variation of undercut features a short back and sides, it’s advisable to book into the chair at least every two weeks.
How did the undercut become popular?
The origins of the undercut haircut can be traced back to the turn of the 20th century and was particularly popular among the working class and gangsters up until the 1920s. While it was initially associated with lower-class people who couldn’t afford a barber capable of properly tapering a fade, this style has become one of the hottest men’s looks in the last ten years.
How to style the undercut
The great thing about an undercut is that there are practically endless options on how to style one. If you’ve got straight hair, a blowout or side sweep might be what you’re looking for. If you’ve got curly hair, you can let it get a little wild up top and keep it clean on the sides. Whatever your style and aesthetic, there is most likely an undercut to match.
How to hide an undercut
While it doesn’t apply to every undercut style, you can choose when and where to show off your look if you’ve got an undercut and long hair up top. The strategic use of a head wrap, hair clips, or hair ties can give you the appearance of long hair in situations where you’d rather keep your undercut under wraps.