The Best Classic Hairstyles for Men

Whatever the occasion or hair type, the best tapered hairstyles are fresh with a traditional yet fashionable look. Check out these hot taper haircuts for ideas before your next visit to the barbershop!

9 Classic Men’s Hairstyles – Timeless Haircuts in 2023

man wearing white dress shirt and black necktie 716411

Most people say it’s your footwear that is the first thing people fix their eyes on – but we’d argue, given it’s location on the body, it’s your hair. And, unlike a subpar pair of brogues or some battered white leather sneakers, you can’t easily slip out of a questionable hairstyle.

With that in mind, it pays to get acquainted with a classic men’s haircut ahead of your next visit to the chair. Like these nine, chosen by the UK’s best barbers, that promise to work for just about anyone, and won’t fall hopelessly out of favour six months down the line.

The French Crop

Daniel Davies, general manager at Pall Mall Barbers

The white T-shirt of haircuts, the French crop is a style that suits most face shapes but is particularly ideal for men going thinner on top. Since you’re taking the hair forward slightly here, leaving length in the fringe can help to cover any receding patches.

It’s a low-maintenance style perfect for someone in and out of the gym or swimming pool, as you can wear it without any styling product, just letting it fall naturally into place.

If, however, you do want to use product, try a little hairspray, as the French crop is one of those men’s haircuts that’s meant to be left natural. The upkeep with this cut isn’t in styling but in making a point of getting it trimmed every three or so weeks.

French Crop Hairstyles For Menhairstylesclassicproducts22b

The Buzz Cut

Brent Pankhurst, founder of barbershop and grooming brand Pankhurst London

The buzz cut is a timeless style. But to really make it work, you need to have a great shaped head (a noggin like Ryan Gosling’s or Christian Bale’s, for example).

Named after the sound they make, it stands to reason that the look is achieved using clippers, however there are less severe alternatives for those not blessed with a square jaw and perfectly proportionate head.

If that’s you, go for a shape that is slightly square all over [clippered at the sides], with a little more length on the top. Scissor over comb is the Pankhurst technique and I’d highly recommend this rather than clippers exclusively. By cutting, you can work with the shape of the head to make the overall cut more flattering.

A good barber will take everything he knows about you into account, from your personality to your style to your day-to-day living, to provide a cut that suits you. Remember you wear your haircut 24/7, so it needs to work for all scenarios.

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The Slick Back

Joe Parker, barber at Ruffians Covent Garden

The modern slick back first made an impact in the 1920s. At the time, it was useful to have a hairstyle that wouldn’t be messed up when wearing a hat (a status symbol and indicator of one’s class around the early 20th century). Since then, it has become a timeless classic.

Straight hair is best for this – the more curl you have, the harder it is to slick back properly. As for what face shape suits this style, it’s pretty versatile, as it will allow facial features (like beards, moustaches) to be more prominent, with the hair essentially framing the face. Unfortunately, for those with a receding hairline, the slick back look won’t be ideal as it’ll make recession far more prominent.

The back and sides need to be tapered, natural and fairly tight, with graduation up to the slightly heavier top. If you’re going for an undercut, there needs to be a disconnection here, but blending would be a better option for finer hair.

To style, blow-dry the hair back (if you have hair that grows forward, this will take longer) – bear in mind it takes practice to do this effectively. For a traditional slick look, use a water-based pomade and comb through when damp, or try a matte paste for a softer, more contemporary finish.

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The Side Parting

Joe Parker, barber at Ruffians Covent Garden

Particularly popular from the 1920s-1940s and again in the 1960s, this style has been revived in the last decade as an easier-to-achieve alternative to the slick back.

As the basis of the haircut is a simple short back and sides, the style is pretty versatile and will suit most hair types and face shapes. That said, this can run the risk of looking like a comb-over if the hair is too long and thin on top.

When in the chair, ask for a classic taper on the back and sides, and for the top to be left long enough to part, but short enough to be neat and tidy.

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The styling product you should use depends on your hair density: those with thicker hair should try a paste, while a matte clay works best for finer, less dense hair types.

Actually parting the hair can be tricky; the best approach is to put the product in the hair when damp (not wet) and part using a comb. You should try to establish where the natural parting is, perhaps with the help of your barber initially. If you’re struggling, comb the hair backwards, and you’ll see where it starts to fall and separate.

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The Shoulder Length Cut

Classic and refined, this style has featured in fashion for years, likely because it is versatile enough to be adapted to several situations. By keeping your hair longer and having your barber or stylist add in some layers, you can switch between a beach-ready textured look and a Gordon Gecko boardroom do.

Probably the toughest part of achieving this style is growing your hair. There will always be a day when you can’t stand it and want to cut it all off, but before making any rash decisions try setting a goal length and make a decision once your hair has grown to that length on whether or not you want to stick with it.

When getting your hair cut, take time to discuss it with your stylist, making sure you mention what your limitations are. There’s no point having a messy, choppy layered look when you have to appear smart and put-together for work.

Like with most cuts, the success of this style is dependent on the hair texture. Very straight hair won’t stay in place as easy as hair that has a subtle wave; equally, excessively curly hair will be difficult to keep smoothed out.

Keep styling products to a minimum, as this style is at its strongest when it looks completely natural. With that said, you could try some salt spray to add softness for a messier take, or apply some texturiser to soften very curly hair and make it more manageable.

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The Modern Hi-Top Fade

Two words: Will. Smith. The Fresh Prince paved the way for the popularity of the shaped afro, giving rise to variations and interpretations like this alternative take on the classic hi-top fade.

This isn’t the most versatile look, as it’s designed to stay in the shape that it’s been cut, so there’s not much room to change it up. Therefore, you need to make sure you’re committed to the look and it’s one that works for you. It goes without saying that afro or extremely curly hair is essential.

Before your cut, make sure you take the time to discuss with your barber or stylist the degree to which you want the shape of your afro to point out; getting this part right is crucial so that you can brush it into shape easily.

There are so many different variations on this style so it might be worth taking some images of styles you like with you to your haircut. Guys often feel embarrassed taking pictures with them but the more insight the person cutting your hair has, the better.

Make sure you go to a barber who knows how to work with your hair type and get yourself proper tools like an afro comb to style.

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The Pompadour

Alex Glover, master barber at Murdock at Liberty, London

The pompadour has been popular in many different lengths and variations since its debut on Madame du Pompadour, chief mistress to the French King Louis XV in the 1750s. Originally a feminine style, this is a hairstyle with hundreds of years of history. You can’t get more classic than that.

The pompadour works for most but does require some degree of thickness to the hair so that the style can support itself once created. Different face shapes can be flattered by varying the style’s structure. For example, if you have a narrow face, you could wear your pompadour wider and softer; or if you have a round face, it’s worth slicking the hair at the sides of your head right down to slim the overall silhouette.

To get this style, you’ll need to start by growing the front out. Get your barber or stylist to cut in a graduated top for you. Then, each time you have your hair trimmed, the graduation should be altered slightly to retain all the length at the front, while keeping the back shorter.

Once you’ve grown three inches of hair at the front, you’ll be able to create height by using a hairdryer and the best hair mousse for men (that you can get your hands on) or sea salt spray. Pull the hair up as you dry it to create root lift. Once nearly dry, use your fingertips, or a hairbrush to give the ends some movement, allowing the style to be pushed back on itself.

It’s worth experimenting with products to find the best fit but avoid overloading your hair with product. Add your product to the back and sides before working through the top – remember you can always add a little more in, but you can’t take any out without washing. Finally, groom into place using hairspray for hold for your chosen finish – whether an Elvis-inspired greaser style or a more James Dean-esque dishevelled take.

MenThe Pompadour

The Quiff

Dion Padan, a hairstylist and finalist in the L’Oréal Men’s Image Award

A less polished alternative to the pompadour, the quiff is an iconic style that suits a wide range of ages, face shapes and personal styles. Like the pompadour, though, the quiff isn’t best suited to those with receding hairlines as it exposes the forehead.

Before your cut, make sure you’ve decided whether a classic or contemporary take on the quiff works best for you. The classic quiff features a softer back and sides which are kept short, but not severely so. The contemporary take can feature a dramatic contrast between long hair at the top of the head and a tightly clippered back and sides, producing a ‘disconnected’ effect.

Face shape is also an important consideration. Since the quiff offers natural volume, it’s best not to take the hair at the sides and back too short if you have a long face.

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To style, apply a wet styling product to towel-dried hair and comb through to evenly distribute. Then, blow-dry the hair using a hairdryer set to the highest temperature setting and the lowest speed, while simultaneously using a vented brush to sweep the hair into your preferred shape.

Remember to finish off with strong-hold hairspray to make sure your efforts don’t go instantly to waste.

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The Textured Cut With Fringe

Daniel Davies, general manager at Pall Mall Barbers

First things first, you’re going to need a good bit of length in your hair before you schedule a cut for a style like this. Also worth noting is that this textured style works best with thick rather than fine hair, and if you’re receding, then this isn’t the style for you.

Guys with double crowns or cows licks should definitely consider a textured look, as it’s a style that lets your hair lie the way it wants to. It’s best not to battle against these hair problems.

When it comes to achieving the textured look, take a picture with you to demonstrate exactly the type of cut you want. A good barber will be able to tell you from the picture if it’ll suit you and your hair type.

One thing to watch out for is thinning scissors; a lot of barbers tend to get trigger happy with these, but they should never be used on the top of the hair as they can make ends wispy and hair at the root excessively bulky by comparison. Instead, ask for the top to be point cut.

When styling a textured look, you need to make sure the hair is dry. Once dry, work a little texture enhancer, clay or putty into the hair with your fingers. But remember that this is a carefree style, so you don’t it want to look too groomed.

The Best Classic Hairstyles for Men

leo dicaprio at a podium

You don’t always need to display a new style or even follow the current trends—there are a bunch of time-tested hairstyles out there that look good on pretty much every guy, and many are a good fit even if your hair is on the unruly side, or starting to thin.

So, before you head to the barber or salon for your next cut, consider these four classic styles, and understand what differentiates them from one another. You can also learn how to modify them to fit you.

As seen on Marwan Kenzari: This is as utilitarian as a hairstyle can be. That’s because the crew cut can be modified to every kind of hair density and texture, as well as various short lengths: full hairlines, receding hairlines, thick unruly hair, thin (and just starting to thin) hair, buzzed up top, or an inch off the crown… they all work with this style, which blends the sides to crown using clippers or scissors. Typically a crew cut is distinguishable from a high and tight (the next style on our list) in that there’s less of a contrast between the sides and the top. As for really short crew cuts, it’s the fading/blending and alternate lengths that differentiates it from a traditional buzz cut. (You can give yourself a buzz cut, but you cannot give yourself a crew cut.)

As seen on William Jackson Harper: While similar styles come and go (see the Quaff Phenomenon of 2013), the high and tight is a timeless look. It’s similar to the crew cut in that it blends two different lengths of hair, with much shorter (tighter) sides fading into a longer (higher) top. A good crew cut has a less obvious blend, while a good high and tight shows off the blend. The high and tight is the more classic military cut of the two, and can be altered in a few ways. The most obvious examples we’ve seen are the pompadour, as well as shorter undercut styles. (Some would debate that undercuts are their own breed of high and tight, particularly when disconnected on the sides, or when long and slicked back. Yeah, you can debate that, but I also think you should debate more important things like climate change and fair wages.)

As seen on Leonardo Dicaprio: Calling it “the side part” is a lot more encompassing than calling it “the comb over.” The comb over is certainly a type of side part, but it’s reserved for guys who are covering bald patches or thinning crowns. (No shame in that, but it is good to distinguish.) Side parts can be kept loose and matte, and styled crispy and shiny, depending on your workplace environment or your affinity for the 1960s. You can angle them straight across the crown, slightly back, and you can even define your part if you aren’t blessed with a natural one. However, if it migrates from one side to the middle, it’s now a 90s-era center part (which is coming back in style!), and is a different look altogether.

As seen on Bryce Harper: We could get into dozens of modifications of this one, wherein the sides are clipped and blended, or the waves are in fact, more curly or more straight. But if you want to sport a medium-length style that is great both swept back and worn forward, know that you have plenty of options, so long as you emphasize the texture and movement of the hair. That is to say, use lightweight stylers like creams and sea salt sprays, and blow them dry to keep the hair volumized and touchable.

39 Classic Taper Haircuts

Men's Hairstyles Now

The Classic Taper Haircut

  • Chris Wright
  • May 17, 2023

The classic taper is a cool and classy haircut for men with just the right balance between sophistication and versatility. The men’s tapered haircut is a stylish, well-rounded style that will look great at the office or beach. You can even wear the classic taper in a tousled, textured hairstyle for a relaxed looked, slick it back for a trendier style, or keep it long and professional for formal business meetings.

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Whatever the occasion or hair type, the best tapered hairstyles are fresh with a traditional yet fashionable look. Check out these hot taper haircuts for ideas before your next visit to the barbershop!

Taper Haircuts

  • 1 What Is The Classic Taper Haircut?
  • 2 Tapered Haircut Styles
    • 2.1 Tapered Sides with Hard Part and Brushed Up Hair
    • 2.2 Long Taper Haircut with Side Part
    • 2.3 Low Taper with Textured Slicked Back Hair
    • 2.4 Low Taper Fade with Textured Fringe
    • 2.5 Classic Taper Fade with Pompadour
    • 2.6 Classic Taper Fade with Textured Spiky Hair
    • 2.7 Low Taper Fade with Comb Over
    • 2.8 Crew Cut with Classic Taper
    • 2.9 Medium-Length Side Part Comb Over wit Short Sides
    • 2.10 Long Fringe with Classic Taper
    • 2.11 Low Taper Fade with Faux Hawk
    • 2.12 Long Brushed Up Hair with Taper Cut
    • 2.13 Thick Side Swept Hair with Low Taper Fade
    • 2.14 Classic Taper Fade with Textured French Crop
    • 2.15 Brushed Back Hair with Tapered Sides and Beard
    • 2.16 High Tapered Fade with Long Textured Slick Back
    • 2.17 Low Taper Fade with Hard Side Part
    • 2.18 Classic Tapered Haircut with Comb Over
    • 2.19 Low Taper Fade with Long Comb Over and Beard

    What Is The Classic Taper Haircut?

    The classic taper is a short haircut for men that blends the sides and back without transitioning into the skin. You can ask your barber for a low, mid or high taper to determine the starting point of your cut. The most popular tapered hairstyles feature a low to mid cut combined with a comb over, quiff, crew cut, side part or blowout.

    Classic Taper

    Classic Taper Haircut For Men

    Tapered Haircut

    Cool Men

    Classic Tapered Sides with Trendy Long Hairstyle on Top

    Tapered Haircut Styles

    Tapered Sides with Hard Part and Brushed Up Hair

    Tapered Sides with Hard Part and Brushed Up Hair

    Long Taper Haircut with Side Part

    Long Taper Haircut with Side Part

    Low Taper with Textured Slicked Back Hair

    Low Taper with Textured Slicked Back Hair

    Low Taper Fade with Textured Fringe

    Low Taper Fade with Textured Fringe

    Classic Taper Fade with Pompadour

    Classic Taper Fade with Pompadour

    Classic Taper Fade with Textured Spiky Hair

    Classic Taper Fade with Textured Spiky Hair

    Low Taper Fade with Comb Over

    Low Taper Fade with Comb Over

    Crew Cut with Classic Taper

    Crew Cut with Classic Taper

    Medium-Length Side Part Comb Over wit Short Sides

    Medium-Length Side Part Comb Over wit Short Sides

    Long Fringe with Classic Taper

    Long Fringe with Classic Taper

    Low Taper Fade with Faux Hawk

    Low Taper Fade with Faux Hawk

    Long Brushed Up Hair with Taper Cut

    Long Brushed Up Hair with Taper Cut

    Thick Side Swept Hair with Low Taper Fade

    Thick Side Swept Hair with Low Taper Fade

    Classic Taper Fade with Textured French Crop

    Classic Taper Fade with Textured French Crop

    Brushed Back Hair with Tapered Sides and Beard

    Brushed Back Hair with Tapered Sides and Beard

    High Tapered Fade with Long Textured Slick Back

    High Tapered Fade with Long Textured Slick Back

    Low Taper Fade with Hard Side Part

    Low Taper Fade with Hard Side Part

    Classic Tapered Haircut with Comb Over

    Classic Tapered Haircut with Comb Over

    Low Taper Fade with Long Comb Over and Beard

    Low Taper Fade with Long Comb Over and Beard

    What Do I Need For The Men’s Taper Haircut?

    Although a classic tapered haircut is a flexible hairstyle without any hard requirements on hair length, it is best if guys have at least two inches of hair all around the head, preferably with more on the top.

    Best Taper Haircuts For Guys

    The length of hair required on the sides varies because it will be faded with a hair clipper, but it is important to have at least an inch if you’re hoping for a smooth, long taper. Otherwise, short tapered haircuts that are faded into the skin are easier to get with any length.

    Classic Taper Haircut - Comb Over and Beard

    As an indication of its versatile styling, the classic taper hairstyle can work with curly, wavy or straight hair as it doesn’t rely on any one kind of styling.

    Men

    Similarly, the tapered haircuts are great if you want to style the pompadour, quiff, slick back, comb over, or any modern trendy men’s hairstyles.

    How To Get A Taper Haircut

    Most barbers know what you mean when you ask for the old-school taper haircut, but as always, bringing a picture will always help make sure that your local barbershop understands the look you want.

    Classic Taper - Crew Cut with Beard

    To get a taper fade haircut, there is no set length of hair on the sides or the top. Generally, the sides will be buzzed at a #1, #2, #3 or #4 with hair clippers, depending on how short you want the taper to be. Then your stylist will trim the top with scissors, often leaving 2 inches of hair or longer for you to style and create the hairstyle of your choice.

    Classic Tapered Hairstyles For Men

    Another decision to make is where you want the taper to begin and end. Long and tight tapering all the way down to your neck is a sleek option, while tapering only half the sides before reaching a set length is more subtle.

    Short Taper Faded Haircuts with Long Hair on Top

    The difference can be communicated by asking for a high, mid or low taper, where the low starts just an inch above the ears and the high begins an inch below the hair on top.

    Low Taper Haircut with Brush Up

    Asking for styling advice from your barber is a great way to get insight tailored to your hair type and texture. Don’t be afraid to inquire about what hair products and styling tools they are using.

    Classic Taper Cut on Sides with Longer Hair on Top

    Furthermore, upkeep is important with the classic taper, and most men find that a trim every four to six weeks keeps the haircut looking sharp, defined and fresh.

    Best Classic Tapered Haircuts For Men

    How To Style A Tapered Haircut

    The classic taper is easy to style with a range of hair products and most styles simply involve adding a little volume. Those who like volume can create the quiff or pompadour hairstyle, while those who like to keep it simple can slick their hair back or style a comb over.

    Low Taper Haircut with Pompadour

    Though styling tapered haircuts can take a little time, the outcome is worth it. For a low taper side part, comb over or textured brush back, follow these instructions.

    Brushed Back Tapered Sides

    Start with slightly damp, towel-dried hair. Blow dry your hair to a side of your choosing, using your hair’s natural part as guidance. Run your fingers through to add volume.

    Styling A Tapered Hairstyle

    Rub some pomade, wax or putty between your hands and apply through your hair evenly to hold in place. Run a comb through your hair for a sleek look, or leave messy for a tousled, textured style.

    Low Tapered Cut Sides with Short Hairstyle on Top

    Chris Wright

    Chris Wright is a master barber who has been running a successful barbershop in Los Angeles for the past 20 years. As a professional trained in cutting men’s hair, Chris strives to help all guys get good haircuts and cool styles. When it comes to recommendations, his reviews are unbiased and honest, reflecting his experience with products as well as consultations with other trusted barbers, stylists and clients.