I feel so hard done by. I mean, there’s the Big Wedding, and everybody is dressed up to the nines in the latest styles. Well, the women are. What about the guys? Well, they’re wearing tuxedos. And what’s the difference between those tuxes and the ones for King Edward VII’s wedding a hundred years ago? What’s that you say? Oh. The lapels are wider. Pardon me for not knowing.
And the haircuts! No change in the past 60 years for sure. Oh, we’ve had a few forays into creativity, but they never last. I wonder why not? Let’s take a look.
1900 to 1950 – The Slicked-Back Look.
Why did this one last so long? Because men wore hats. Greased-back hair is one shape that resists hat-hair problems. Never mind what the men’s inner hatbands must have smelled like after a few years. (I still think her style has more scope for creativity. Matadors get great coats, though.)
1940 to 1960 – Crew Cut
Same story, with a military slant. Great for uniformity, neatness, and fighting cooties and dandruff.
1960 to 1980 – Creativity!
Thanks to the British Invasion and the hippy revolution, men’s hair could be anything and every which way. And often was. However, the average hip youngster seldom has the brains to maintain any fashion that requires the individual to make up his mind on his own, so haircuts in the male population soon gravitated back to what their fathers, grandfathers, and others have always worn. Except for:
1970 to 1990 – The Mullet
Sociologically speaking, this short-on-top, long-on-the-sides haircut probably became popular because it embodied the two different streams in early Redneck culture: the Greaser ducktail and the military crewcut. Of course, in the hands (or on the heads) of performers like Yanni, Rod Stewart, and Billy Rae Cyrus, the crew-cut part got rather creative and the tail at the back grew. It died a well-deserved death in most places after twenty years or so, but remains a factor in Middle American men’s couture (if there is such a thing) to this day.
2000 until Forever, it seems – the Undercut (See lead picture)
The long-on-top, buzz-cut sides haircut goes back as far as the pagan Arabs of Mohammed’s day (He forbade it). It has resurfaced several times in recent history, at one time popular with the poor, due to lack of barbering ability to blend the sides in with the top. More recently, it was a trademark of Wehrmacht officers in Nazi Germany, a factor still in play today.
Most recently popularized by alt-rock bands looking for an alternative to the mullet (How creative; they did exactly the opposite) and professional soccer players needing to preserve their peripheral vision, the style has hung around in more or less creative forms ever since. Female performers have developed individualistic styles, mostly maintaining the buzz cut sides with their usual shoulder length on top. But that requires too much creativity for the guys. Hopefully, with the adoption of the style by the alt-right and Kim Jong-Un, people will finally realize how stupid it looks, and move on to something else.
I’ve changed my mind. I think the common, tapered-at-the-back, medium-short-on-top haircut of the last 100 years is just fine.
Two of America’s favourite stars demonstrating:
- Why slicked back hair didn’t outlive hats
- A possible origin of the mullet.