Pompadour 101: The Men’s Style For All Ages

I’m hesitant to call any single hairstyle the ‘ultimate hairstyle’ because style is so personal, evolutionary and dynamic. That said, when it comes to men’s hairstyles, if there is one trend that has only continued to grow through the decades, it is the pompadour.


What Is A Pompadour?

The pompadour is probably the first hairstyle that comes to mind when we talk about men’s hairstyles, Hollywood superstars and iconic fashions. I think it would be fair to say that the pompadour is to men’s styling what red lipstick has been to women’s styling: all-powerful, universal and timeless.

The pompadour is a popular men’s hairstyle that’s identified by 3 key features:

·      Flattened sides: these can be slicked-down, combed back, buzzed or tapered/ faded.

·      Tons of volume on top.

·      A gradual decrease in said volume as we move from the front to the back.

The pompadour is proof of the fact that fashion truly transcends boundaries: the style’s roots can be traced back to Madame de Pompadour, mistress to King Louis XV and it was actually a women’s hairstyle for the longest time. And then another King came along and changed it all; yep, we’re talking about the man who popularized the pompadour: Elvis Presley.

Types Of Pompadour

The great thing about hairstyling is that even with something as iconic and inimitable as the pompadour, there is tons of rooms to experiment and play around with the basic concept and make it your own. The three characteristics that we’ve discussed above make the pompadour, but there are several different variations for you to try.

The Classic

The pompadour in its most elegant, minimalistic form. This is for the gentleman who knows his style but doesn’t want to make an obvious statement.

The sides don't have to be buzzed too short- just enough to be noticeably different from the crown. The buzzed/-flattened sides should also not start too high on the head; trace a line from the highest points of your brows to your hairline and start at that point (go lower if you’re unconvinced). This creates a happy medium between the height of the crown and the widening effect of the sides and guarantees that there are no pronounced angles and planes at play. Keep the volume at the crown controlled as well. This variant is all about subtle sophistication.

This version of the pompadour wears beautifully with neat beards, especially those along the lines of goatees, French beards and Van Dykes.

We’ve seen the classic pompadour on celebrities like Brad Pitt and Zachary Quinto.

The Vintage

This is the pompadour in its truest, most flamboyant form, just as the King intended it. These days the vintage pompadour is usually spiced up with modern accents such as the tapered fade and undercuts and disconnected tops, so you won’t get to see a whole lot of the good old rock-and-rockabilly variants on the daily but the style remains an eternal favorite.

If you’re looking to create some Old Hollywood glamour in your life, love the classic men’s hairstyles and old-school fashions or simply want to sport a look to match a theme, it doesn’t get more iconic than the vintage pompadour.

This version of the pompadour is all about massive volume at the top, brushed up and back towards the nape of the neck. The vintage pompadour is all about movement, with the top creating a rather expressive swoop. The sides aren’t flattened out or buzzed to the scalp: rather, the distinction is created by exaggerating the volume on the top. The sides are brushed back and generally meet and blend together right at the back of the head. The front is usually characterized by a flowy, soft quiff that gradually ‘closes inwards’ as the hair takes a more defined structure as it moves backwards. Elvis wore his pompadour with his trademark sideburns, which you could try if you’re feeling bold but other than that, avoid facial hair with this iteration of the pompadour.

The Angular

#angularpompadour #DavidBeckham #menshairstyles #pompadour.jpg

This one makes for an exaggerated take on the hairstyle, and is right up there on the list of sexy haircuts for men.

The angular pompadour is defined by a lot of volume at the crown- especially closer to the front and a dramatic decrease as we move towards the back. At the same time, the sides are cut/-slicked very close to the scalp, creating an extreme contrast with the top. The haircut is usually defined by the top voluminous part ending in an almost point-like accent at the front or set off with a few sexy razor-sharp strands falling forward. This look is all about sharp angles and dramatic differentiation.

The angular pompadour requires some confidence and style savvy to pull off, but suits most people, though it’s especially suited for men with round faces because it adds height and sharp angles to offset the width of the natural face type.

While I fully recommend the hairstyle, it does involve upkeep (you’ll have to get the sides trimmed regularly) and does need styling every time you want show off the haircut in all its glory. 

Nobody, I repeat nobody, does the angular, modern pompadour better than hair god David Beckham himself.

Styling A Pompadour

Now that I’ve got you convinced about giving the pompadour a shot, here are some styling tips to help you make the most of the men’s hairstyling trend.

1.     If you want to create the illusion of a square-shaped face, ask your stylist not to cut/trim the sides through all the way to the back, limiting them to wear the curve really starts.

2.     If you’re choosing the angular pompadour on rounder faces, ask your stylist to trim the sides high and tight as this helps emphasize facial features.

3.     When wearing the angular pompadour on a narrower face, allow the voluminous part to wear slightly lower and start the ‘sides’ only 1-2 inches above the ears.

4.     If you want to play up your beard, ask your stylist to make sure that the pompadour’s edges are tapered really tightly. Know that tapering doesn't have to affect length and you can actually keep some length on the edges while still sporting a really close taper. Tight tapering emphasizes facial hair and makes it look more pronounced, which makes it a total hit with beard-lovers.

5.     For a very modern, daring take on the pompadour ask your stylist to finish it off with accents like the side-fade or a disconnected top. These style elements instantly add a serious edge to the classic haircut but they’re not for the fainthearted.

6.     For the style-conscious professional, the classic pompadour with a side part works best. If you’re blessed with hair that complies with your styling vision, regular brushing and parting should do the trick. If not, just add a touch of hair pomade and use it to craft the swoop to one side.

Give the pompadour a try and see how you get on. I’m willing to bet that you’ll love the look- it’s been a universal favorite through the decades for good reason.