While shaggy, undone 70s men’s hair made waves for most of the late aughts, a tidier silhouette has been steadily reasserting itself.
Ushered in by stylemakers like Rihanna, the cast of Mad Men, and models stalking the runways with revamped Old Hollywood/ Teddyboy pomps, disconnected short haircuts for men (and some women) are proving to be a low-key way for nearly anyone to inject serious style into a minimal-fuss hairdo.
A disconnected haircut--i.e., short on the sides, longer on top, frequently with a sharp line of demarcation between the two lengths--can be adapted in many different ways according to the wearer’s personal style. On one end of the spectrum, there’s heavy duty clipper work, from shaved-around-the-ear and extreme statement fades all the way to more scaled-back traditional barber work and Ward Cleaver suburban-chic classic cuts. Whether it's rough-and-tumble street looks featuring at-home buzzed sides or more high-fashion interpretations, the disconnected cut is undeniably on editorial trend and only heating up more by the minute. We talked a little bit with our resident men's haircut expert Carly about what's been happening with this phenomena and what she sees continuing with men's haircuts and style trends in 2012:
"The trend of disconnection between the tops and sides of hair that has been seen on men's haircuts is going to continue into spring and summer for sure. I'm projecting that as it gets warmer and then hotter in NYC, men are going to want even shorter hair on top, potentially decreasing the amount of difference between the top length and shorn sides... which sounds more conservative, but the fact of the matter is, clean and cropped is kind of the new edge."
Nostalgia is key, with new cropped styles most specifically referencing Los Angeles glamour and the waning days of the golden age of Hollywood, though with a distinct nod to late 1980's and early 1990's hip hop style (think the photography of Jamal Shabezz) that emerged and exploded out of New York City at the time.
"Noticeable differences between the sides and tops of hair reference a wide range of men's hairstyles from various decades throughout the 1900's, most notably the 1930's-1960's where the expression of rebellion or conservatism was displayed only on the top of the hair in terms of length and degrees of tidiness."
Today’s disconnected look draws from key style moments spanning the 20th century, from poet and playwright William Butler Yeats to iconic civil rights activists and fashion icons John F. Kennedy and Malcom X to celluloid beefcakes Paul Newman, Marlon Brando and--most famously--James Dean.
The most evident styling change happening now with this cut is men's hair being groomed back and/or to the side with less obscuring of the face. Hair is moving off of the forehead and sideburns are coming up higher. Whether loosely pushed up with the swipe of the fingers or firmly held in place with a finishing product, men's styles are definitely BACK, leaving faces more exposed and open.
Grooming is a big factor in men's styles right now. The newest and most relevant men's styling aides out there belong to the apothecarial Australian product line Kevin Murphy. With a cadre of products engineered specifically for men, their sleek lines, thoroughly minimal packaging, understated fragrances and suggestive titles make for ideal style fixers. Customized for every imaginable men’s style, Kevin Murphy not only gives you the perfect hair goo but also lends your grooming shelf a clean, masculine edge. They smell great and they are Carly's favorite.
"I predict grooming will be getting more and more sleek and clean,” says Carly. "Of course it depends on the guy, but in general, there is a pretty prominent departure from the shaggy bearded looks of the last few years that appeared to take little to no effort."
Accordingly, hair styling products are going to continue to play a larger role in men's medicine cabinets as well as their hair styles.
"I love the Kevin Murphy line especially *Gritty Business* and *Night Rider*. The product directly corresponds with the length of the hair. Firmer hold for shorter hair and more relaxed holds for longer lengths to avoid that sticky, pasty feeling." So men can be looking to spend five minutes on their hair rather than five seconds- setting aside a moment expressly for styling, but with no need to be chained to the mirror for hours.
Taking a look at fashion magazines and blogs, right now we are seeing cuts that are bordering on, if not completely given over to, the militaristic. It's a fashion pendulum whose weight is swinging back toward clean lines and utilitarianism from the more lax, back-to-the earth, bearded, husky looks that have been dominating the runways over the early aughts.
"I get a lot of guys in finance, business start-ups or other traditionally conservative jobs coming to me wanting something edgier or more nightlife friendly... The misconception right now is that a style that is longer, unkempt or generally messy is the direction to go in when, in fact, tighter cleaner looks are largely considered to be way cooler right now."
The association with 70's looseness (Cat Stevens, James Taylor) and shaggy rock looks (Vintage Rod Stewart, Keith Richards) as cool, fresh and stylish is often a misinterpretation of what's happening in fashion right now.
Seagull Salon owner and punk icon Johanna Fateman chimes in:
"It's almost like a kind of retro-slacker-mod-rock thing that guys still associate with hipness when, really, that's a bygone indicator of what is actually hip."