Stories Photo essay

Callum Ward by Katrin Backes for FY!, Grooming by Giovanni,

By Tautahi Subritzky

We’re no strangers to bringing you the latest in up-to-date hair trends, and this time we’re diving head-first into the world of men’s hair. While researching the topic, one thing becomes glaringly obvious; that when it comes to men’s hair, short styles reign supreme.

Unlike our usual hair-focused highlights where we look at the newest viral trends hitting social media or the latest “core” defined styles, men’s hair tends to adhere to a sense of tradition when it comes to defining what’s hot and what’s not in male grooming.

Cataloguing a list of short hair felt a little repetitive, so we thought, to make it a little more interesting, we’d play a little game of smash or pass, guiding you on the shortest of men's hairstyles that make us gasp and those that we think should be left in the past.

Smash: The buzz cut

Brad Pitt by Mark Seliger for Rolling Stone, 1999.

Barely-there buzzed-off hair is such a hot look. Not only is it a clean and simple style but it also radiates a totally cool bad boy vibe. Styling-wise it also has its advantages in that it’s easily maintained and easy to care for. It’s a win-win in our book.

Pass: The fr-ullet

Kevin Brennan by Panos Damaskinidis for Infringe.

The “fr-ullet” if you haven’t guessed already, takes the structure of a mullet, where hair is left longer at the nape of the neck and brings that length to the front in the form of what is most commonly referred to as a “piss fringe”.

If you were a kid in the 90s, chances are you either went to school with a kid who had this style or you dabbled with the “fr-ullet” yourself. Editorially speaking, we don’t hate it, but as a day-to-day look, it’s a hard pass for us.

Smash: The Crew cut

Tom Hardy by Alasdair Mclellan, 2008.

The “short back and sides” style, more formally known as the Crew cut is a men's hair staple, and for good reason. Evolving from military use, the crew cut generally works for most face shapes and like the buzz, requires minimal effort when it comes to styling. If you don’t think you’ve got the head shape to “take it all off”, the crew cut is a functional style that just works.

Pass: The faux hawk

David Beckham by David LaChapelle, 2002.

The Faux Hawk is a style that harkens back to a time when the term “metro-sexual” was used to describe a man who cared for his appearance, while also vehemently wanting to maintain a strong sense of his own heterosexuality. Gaining popularity as a go-to hairstyle on and off the football/rugby field, this style seems to have aged as well as the aforementioned term and should be left in the early noughts. Pass.

Smash: Short and shaggy

Leon Dame for Isabel Marant A/W 2020.

If you have the hair type, why not embrace the texture and opt for something short and shaggy? It’s hard to define why we’re so into this style. It's equally as curl up with a good book as it is party till the early hours of the morning, perhaps it’s the unpredictability that makes us want to smash? The only thing we’re sure of is that it’s an undoubtedly cool look.

Pass: The man bun

Colin Farrell, 2013.

We’re not opposed to buns, in fact, we’re in full support. There’s just something about the undercut man bun style that makes us cringe a little. Perhaps it’s the proportion of the bun? which is, in most cases, awkwardly small in scale. The only people who’d smash this look are fellow man bun enthusiasts. Count us out.

Smash: To dye for

Frank Ocean, 2021.

Committing to an unnatural colour choice is a bold decision, and trust us, it’s a good one. What hue you decide to go for is all up to you, but there’s an air of confidence that comes with committing to colour that makes us say… smash.

Pass: Frosted tips

Mark McGrath of Sugar Ray attending the 26th annual AMA’s, 1999.

Mince and cheese is a delicious pie flavour but you probably don’t want people thinking about this classic pastry dish when they’re looking at you.

Smash: The Ivy League cut

David Gandy by Adriano Russo for GLAMOUR UK, 2016.

The classic Ivy League hairstyle features a short tapered side and back with hair left longer at the top which is then swept over to one side. It’s polished and preppy, but also a little Marlon Brando’esque. There’s a relaxed sense of coolness about this varsity-born style and we’re totally into it.

Pass: Asymmetrical hair

Justin Bieber, 2015.

There’s “can I speak to your manager” hair, then there's… this.

Smash: The curtain cut

Jordan Barret by Collier Schorr for i-D Magazine, 2015.

Looking through a slew of best and worst hairstyles for men, a curtain cut would usually fall on the latter, but we completely disagree. Think of nearly every 90’s heartthrob, like Leonardo DiCaprio, Skeet Ulrich, Johnny Depp or James Van Der Beek, the list could go on but have we not just fully convinced you that curtains are hot? It’s definitely a smash.

Pass: The emo fringe

Pete Wentz of Fall Out Boy.

The Emo fringe is a bit of a niche styling choice but if you were a fan of Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance or Panic! At The Disco, chances are you’ve seen (or had) this style before. We think it should be left with your angsty teenage past. Find something better.

Smash: The Caesar

Danny Blake by Alasdair McLellan for Arena Homme+, 2014.

Another classic style on the smash list is the Caesar, we like to think of it as the high-fashion brother to the ‘crew’. Not only does it feel super modern despite its historical roots, but it was also rumoured to have been Julius Caesar’s go-to cut as it minimized the look of his receding hairline, so for any men who are getting a little thin up top, the Caesar cut could be an excellent option. We wholeheartedly approve.

Pass: The bowl

This is every art school/alternative kid from 2005-2010. The bowl cut definitely has its “cool” moments but if a style reminds us of the peak ‘Indie Sleaze’ era, was it actually cool? The jury’s out on this one, but for now, we’ll pass.

Smash: The pompadour

Rami Malek for Prada A/W 2022.

Maybe it’s a hangover from all of the Elvis Presley content that we’ve been exposed to over the past few years, but we would smash this vintage-inspired hair trend without question.

Pass: The over-styled quiff

Adam Lambert, 2009.

Quiffs aren’t inherently bad but when they start to reach epic proportions, it can feel a little forced, and there’s nothing hot about being overstyled.

Smash: The mod cut

Jacob Elordi by Aidan Cullen for Odda Magazine, 2020-21.

Lastly, we have the Mod cut. Referred to by a few different appellations, the ‘mod’, ‘modern mullet’ or our favourite, the ‘professional mullet’, is one of the hottest of 2024. Just look up Liam Gallagher from Oasis to help you understand the vision. It’s the coolest style of the moment and we’re smashing HARD.

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