Classic Hairstyles for Men in the 1930s to 1960s

A look into the 1930s to 1960s men’s classic hairstyles

If you have been following this site, you will know that men in the 1930s to 1960s were the epitome of classic men with equally classic hairstyles. Slicked back hair was one of those classic hairstyles, as so was the traditional side swept style.

With both the slicked back hairstyle and the side-parted swept style, the hair was cut with a short to medium taper haircut, leaving just-enough hair length on the top for combing. On average, men in the 1930s to 1960s would wear their hair at the 3-inch length mark on the top, while the sides were tapered very short. Oil based pomade or hair tonic were the most-popular hair products for men in these decades — as opposed to now, when men have a huge variety of hair products available to choose from.

A picture of Frank Sinatra classic hairstyle in the fifties

Modern men’s hairstyles vs. classic men’s hairstyles

Nowadays, we see classic men’s hairstyles like the slicked back hair style being blended with modern and not-so-modern hairstyling influences. These days, the slicked back undercut is one of the most popular hairstyles for men, at least for those who are young adult males who like to keep in touch with fashion trends. Compared to men in the 1950s, for example, the slicked back hair style was worn with a taper haircut, and not with an undercut; hence the slicked back undercut has been a newer phenomenon and hairstyling variant of the slicked back hairstyle. The only time the slicked back undercut was used between the decades of the 1930s and 1960s was when used in the military field so as to aid the fitting of the military helmet. In fact, the slicked back undercut was a well-known military haircut, and German soldiers in World War 2 sported their hair slicked back or swept to the side with an undercut. This gave rise to the slicked back undercut being colloquially referred to as the SS haircut or Nazi haircut.

While newer men’s hair styles and haircuts are always welcomed by us old-school barbers, there’s still a strong following with the classic hairstyles, and not just from barbers alone but from regular men alike. I could even dig deeper into the demographics of men who wear classic hair styles, which I think would be an interesting topic to cover at some point in the next articles (so keep an eye out on our site! But, needless to say, these men tend to be older than the younger adult males who prefer trendiness over classic fashion.

Back in the 1950s, when Hollywood didn’t produce lame movies like Fast & Furious or movies that were sexualized to the point of extreme raunchiness, Hollywood actors would wear their hair, for the most part, in the two hairstyles mentioned at the start of this article: the side swept or the slick back. Movies like The Great Gatsby helped to popularize the so-called Gatsby hairstyle, which is (essentially) a side swept hairstyle.

Frank Sinatra with slicked back hair

To show you how, regardless of hair type, Hollywood actors from the golden era of Hollywood would put their efforts in keeping their hair slicked back or side swept, I am posting below a very representative men’s classic hairstyle picture collection, featuring some of the most-famous (and best) actors and musicians of Hollywood at the time.

Listed from left to right are Marlon Brando, Gary Cooper, Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, William Holden, Burt Lancaster, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra, James Stewart and John Wayne.

A hairstyling picture collage depicting the classic mens hairstyles of Marlon Brando, Gary Cooper, Tony Curtis, Kirk Douglas, Clark Gable, Cary Grant, William Holden, Burt Lancaster, Gregory Peck, Frank Sinatra, James Stewart and John Wayne

I hope the above pictures featuring these timeless gentlemen give you a good idea of how men’s hair was worn in the golden era of Hollywood and how good such classic hairstyles can look great on men, and even on any regular Joe such as yourself.

Keep it classic, gentlemen!

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