Sunday, 13 February 2011

How to get the perfect Mad Men style haircut

Often referred to as 'your crowning glory' hair can make or break a look. This is very true of the gentleman of both the past and of today.
With the ever changing fashions in hair it is becoming increasingly hard to find a good old fashioned barber who can do a classic 'short back 'n' sides' and do it well.
Here are a few tips on how to both get and keep that classic gentleman's cut that I have come by way of trial, error and research.

1950s barber at work
Finding the right barbers
This is no easy feat and I'm afraid the best way is largely down to risk-taking but if you have a friend or work colleague with a hairstyle that you admire the cut of then ask them where they went.
Also do not be afraid to stop a gentleman in the street with a dapper coiffure and ask who his barber is.
He will be flattered and surely only too happy to share his secret.
I'm fortunate enough to have two barbers that I swear by. One in my home town where I grew up and one near my work office.
My home town barbers is a traditional barbers. No fuss, very cheap pricing, good banter but experienced and thorough with their cuts.
The other is a high-end gentleman's 'hair salon' catering to the well heeled men of Marylebone. Again, the banter and cuts are second to none. Pricing is reasonable but more towards the higher end of the spectrum but not overpriced by any means.
Both are by appointment only as they are often busy so do be sure to ring ahead.

Have a browse via google or Yellow Pages and have a look at local barbers near your home or place of work. Look at their website (if they have one, most do not) and read the reviews.
Once you've shortlisted a few have a look at them in person. Do they look busy? A busy barbers is often a good sign. Are the premises clean and tidy? You don't want some filth merchant going near your ears with a soiled cutthroat! A short back and sides is one of the first cuts a young barber learns so there is really no excuse for A) not offering them and B) doing them badly.

Tapered, faded cut
The cut
Once you have discovered a good barbers that you're willing to try don't be afraid to tell them exactly what you're after. This helps them and will put you at ease in the knowledge that they know what you are after. Don't feel silly by bringing in pictures of the hairstyle you want. This helps them massively. Visual representation can only be a good thing.
Start off by asking for a 'classic short back and sides' if they ask you if you want it done with clippers say yes. A haircut done by scissors alone will look cheap and will soon grown out making it a waste of both time and money. Ask him to cut your hair 'tight and tapered on the sides and leave it long and full on the top.
If desired say you'd like a gentle fading at the back for an extra smart, clean and classic cut (see picture to the left).
If not done automatically ask your barber to use the cutthroat to finish off the edges and sideburns. You want short sideburns. Long ones are not becoming. You are not a hippy and they would completely throw off the clean slick look of your haircut.
And that's it! Sit back and enjoy.

Brylcreem - since 1928
The product
The best choice by far is Brylcreem. This easy to apply and gorgeous smelling hair cream has been styling men's hair since 1928. It instantly imparts a classic sheen as well as giving a light hold that doesn't give a nasty stiffness like gel or a gummy texture like wax. It's reasonably priced and also conditions the hair.
You can't go wrong with this and I swear by it.

Styling technique
After washing your hair with your favourite shampoo and conditioner loosely comb your hair with a wide tooth comb. Whilst your hair is still damp create a parting to your preferred side. (The most traditional side is the left if you want to play it safe).

The part should begin at the front of your hairline and use the arch of your brow to indicate where it should lie. Create the part to run straight to the top of your head before your crown starts to slope to the back.
Apply the Brylcreem through the hair, evenly but lightly. Remember the classic Brylcreem phrase 'A dab'll do yah' and that's all you'll need, just a dab. You don't want your hair to look like an oil slick. You're after a come hither silky sheen and glamorous gloss.

Don Draper - Mad Men
To get the right style, comb your left side of hair down from the part and slightly towards the back of the head at an angle. Then comb the top section of hair away from the part to the right side evenly. You can also comb the hair at the right hand side of your head slightly towards the back for an elegant sweep (see photo above of Mr Don Draper for reference). And now for the finishing touch - Take your comb and gently lift the front section of your hair from your peak upwards and back for a traditional and essential quiff. Not too high, you're a gentleman, not a rockabilly! You can push the front quiff of hair up from the back using your fingertips and tease with your comb for further lift. Then have a cigarette and a cup of morning coffee whilst you allow your hair to dry.
Once sufficiently dry you could use a light spritz of hairspray to hold your 'do in place. I find the more archaic brands of hairspray are the best! They are more economical and also impart a classic 1950s/1960s hold.


  1. What brand hairspray do you recommend?

  2. I use Adorn as it smells really nice but Cossack and Elnett are great too.

  3. Is there a specific name for the hairstyle 4th picture down?

  4. :D like several kinds of 'mad haircut'! In fact the gentlemen cut and madman cut both is perfect for gentlemen and it's suitable to give a decent look. I'm thankful to get this interesting overview of different styles.
    mens coats

  5. :D like several kinds of 'mad haircut'! In fact the gentlemen cut and madman cut both is perfect for gentlemen and it's suitable to give a decent look. I'm thankful to get this interesting overview of different styles.
    mens coats

  6. youngsters always copy the hair style of celebrities. but the should take care of their hair from side effects of lotions, oils, gels. before using any gel,oil,lotions consult to Dermatologist. also if your are looking for great clips mens hairstyles then find about it on internet.