Call it the Mad Men effect, but this summer’s top hairstyle is all about keeping it “high and tight.” Say those words to your barber, and you’ll get a cut that’s short along the sides and back, with some length on top that you can put your own spin on. We asked some top men’s groomers for the best way to wear it.
Who she’s styled: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Armie Hammer, Seth Rogan, Lenny Kravitz
On choosing the right length:
“High and tight” is what you’ll want to say to your stylist. This tells them to leave the top longer than the sides and back—how much longer is entirely up to you, and a good stylist will tell you whether or not you can pull it off. You can have a sleek, more conservative look like Cary Grant or Don Draper by keeping the difference in length at a minimum, with your hairstylist blending off any edges. (For those wishing to do a bullet part a la Cary Grant, a good fine-tooth comb is paramount. Spend a little time getting that line perfectly straight with not a hair in it and it will be breathtaking.) A greater difference in length can create an edgier, hipper look approaching the 1920s undercut popularized by Michael Pitt’s Boardwalk Empire character, Jimmy Darmody.
On the best products to use:
Those who like a classic wet look will prefer something like Layrite Deluxe Pomade. It’s a wet wax pomade with medium hold that easily washes out. For those with hair that has a mind of its own, I love Murray’s Dressing Pomade; it’s $3 and you can do the Charleston all night and your hair won’t budge. For a more natural look, I like Baxter’s Hard Cream Pomade. It gives a light hold without looking greasy. And finally, for those who desire a little more body or oomph to their tops, I love Kevin Murphy’s Gritty Business. I use it more than anything else in my kit for creating these classic looks.
Who he’s styled: Javier Bardem, Stephen Moyer, Jerry O’Connell, Christian Slater
On who should wear it:
Because of its ease, a more barbered look like this is great for guys who are lazy when it comes to their hair. It’s a classic that never goes out of style and has had many different versions, from Elvis to Justin Timberlake. What makes it more modern is the way it’s cut. Ideally the length on top should be anywhere from one inch to four inches, and maybe add some choppiness or texture if you want to wear it messy. I think it’s fun to be able to change things up depending on what you’re wearing or feeling; this cut can be styled as a pompadour or with a side part for a finished, dressier look.
On the best products to use:
When styling this type of haircut, depending on what texture hair you have, I like creme-based products like John Frieda Secret Weapon for a looser, more casual feel. Pomades like Layrite or Davines More Inside are great for a more finished, sleek look. If you find yourself in a situation where there is no product around, just take some basic conditioner and run it through the hair. Hand or body lotion always will do the trick to fend off flyaways as well.
Who he’s styled: Mark Ruffalo, Gerard Butler, Colin Firth
On keeping it current:
The trick to make it look modern and not military is to not blend the sides in with the top. Let some pieces hang over the buzzed sides for more attitude. Think 21 Jump Street ’80s cool, not the gelled up style from the boy-band era. To sculpt, mold and smooth, use CHI Matte Wax instead of a high shine gel. The matte finish makes it look like you didn’t use any product.