Did you know that the comb over is such a famous and beloved hairstyle for men that there’s actually a poem dedicated to it? It’s called Hymn to the Comb Over and it praises this wonderful haircut as well as the tools used to create it and the people who wear it in offices, subways, and malls. You can read it if you visit poetryfoundation.org.
Having been greatly inspired by this fantastic poem as well as by everything that’s going on in the world of hairstyling right now, we decided to shed some light on the comb over itself. Where did it come from? What is the history of this haircut and why do men wear it? How can you get and style a comb over and what celebrities have been spotted wearing one? Scroll down for more info!
The History of the Comb Over
Is Trump involved in this? You bet he is! After all, he does have one of the most famous comb overs of all time. But let’s start with the beginning.
The word itself, ‘comb over,’ comes from the French term cuovere. It means to cover something with a veil. The first time a comb over was spotted in history was, of course, in France, in 1774, on King Alexander the XVIth. He was a truly fashionable man who loved to play around with his wigs. Naturally, being the king, he was also a trendsetter.
But there are others who argue that, in fact, if you look closely to ancient Roman statues depicting Julius Cesar, you will notice that he too had a comb over. The truth is that the Emperor of Rome was going bald and wanted to cover that up. This means that the comb over could have actually been born thousands of years ago out of necessity, not as a styling choice.
The Comb Over in Modern Times
This hairstyle saw its most glorious days in the 70s and 80s when men all over the world used it, just like Julius Caesar, to hide the fact they were losing the hair on the crown of the head. This is also the reason why we now associate it most with a ‘dad-haircut.’ Because our dads or grandads who lived in those decades used to wear it.
This is how they did it. They would grow the hair at the sides of the head longer. And then they would simply comb over one strand from one side to the other. In this way it would cover up the alopecia on top. However, it was a poor way of disguising it because soon enough the comb over became the symbol of male baldness.
You can see a perfect example of this on Christian Bale in American Hustle. Although that is, evidently, fake. But it’s a great way to understand how the comb over worked and looked like in the 70s and 80s.
And then, of course, there is the most famous comb over of all time, belonging to Donald Trump. In fact, it’s so famous that the stage at the 2019 Oscars was said to resemble it.
Since those decades, that type of comb over has completely disappeared. Fortunately, the comb over today represents a beautiful and elegant hairstyle that has a special grace to it. You can see it on celebrities such as Brad Pitt, George Clooney, and Ryan Gosling. They wear it on the red carpet with a perfectly tailored suit. That is the comb over we will be detailing for you in this piece.
Skin Fade Comb Over
This is a long comb over with a skin fade. As the name suggests, one side of the head has been shaved while the hair, which is long, has been combed over to the other side. You can pair it with a well-groomed beard.
The Comb Over Has Made a Comeback
The modern comb over has been described as being ‘more Don Draper than Donald Trump.’ This is a perfect way to put it, so that you can understand how it needs to look. It appears to have made a comeback somewhere between 2010 and 2013. That is when the searches on YouTube for videos on how to do a comb over peaked. And it has been with us ever since.
The reasons are very easy to spot. The comb over is a beautiful haircut with a classic and classy vibe. Plus it’s easy to maintain. This is something that matters a lot to men. All you need is a comb and some nice pomade, as you will see below.
Apart from that, there are scores of celebrities wearing it on the red carpet, which helped the comb over become one of the most popular hairstyles for men on the planet, along with the man bun.
Comb Over Taper Fade
Meet the comb over with a taper fade and a wavy top that will make you look like a handsome pilot in the 40s. In other words, all the girls will simply swoon when they see you! It works especially well if you have a classic square face.
What Is a Comb Over?
Seeing as the comb over has a long history behind plus the fact that our dads used it for a completely different reason back in the 70s, a definition of this hairstyle is in order.
Simply put, a comb over is a hairstyle of any length or shape where your hair is parted on one side of the head and then combed across to the other side. Criteria such as length or type of hair (curly, wavy, straight) are not important and do not affect this hairstyle.
The haircut has been associated with male pattern baldness ever since its inception. The reason is that pulling the hair across the head serves to hide areas where the hair has fallen out.
However, even though this is why the hairstyle was popular in the past, at the beginning of the 2010 decade, it saw a revival as well as a repurposing. Men are now wearing it as a classy-casual hairstyle which is not linked to baldness at all.
Two Main Types of Comb Overs
It is true that a comb over can come in many shapes, sizes, and lengths. It all depends on what kind of hair you have, whether or not you would also like a taper fade or an undercut, and so on. However, stylists usually distinguish between two main types of comb overs.
1. The neat comb over
This one will remind you of the 50s because it is mostly inspired from that decade. Picture Don Draper in Mad Men and you will understand how it’s supposed to look like. You will need to use a pomade so that you can style a neat comb over. Otherwise it won’t be smooth enough.
2. The loose comb over
This variation is a little more modern and it will allow you to put a twist on it. That’s because anything goes with a loose comb over. Just get as creative as you can or allow your hairstylist to suggest some options.
A comb over like this typically has a lot more volume on top too, seeing as you will need to use a blow dryer to finish it off. Moreover, as opposed to the tight comb over, you must use a matte type of product instead of a pomade which is shinier and wetter.
How to Create a Comb Over
Creating a comb over is, in fact, a lot simpler than you might think. You don’t even need a lot of tools or products. But you will need a steady hand and a little bit of practice. And our guidance, of course!
- Shampoo your hair and dry it with a towel.
- Using a simple comb, draw a line on one side of your head through the hair. This will create the parting.
You can choose whichever side you want or think will suit your best. But here’s a tip. If you’re going for a more natural look, stick closely to the place where your hairline parts in an organic way. However, if you’re looking for a more theatrical look, you can go for a deep part which will sit closer to the ear. It’s a lot more defined and dramatic.
- Sweep the hair from one side to the other following the line you have just created.
- Depending on the type of comb over you want to create, you have two options at this stage. You can apply some pomade. This will result in a tight, 50s comb over that will look slick and shiny. Think Don Draper, G-Eazy or Ryan Gosling.
- Or you can apply some matte clay and blow dry your hair. Be careful to incorporate as much volume as you can into the front of the hair until you get what resembles a small pompadour. Smooth it down and your loose comb over is ready.
- If you want to add some more elements to your hair to make it even more interesting, you can. They can include swoops, waves, finger waves, or tiny curls. Just use your comb and blow dryer to finish everything off.
Is a Comb Over Right for Me?
When trying to decide whether or not a specific haircut is the right one for you, the first thing you need to do is determine the shape of your face. That’s the best way to tell if you’re making the right choice style-wise.
When it comes to comb overs, there are three face shapes that compliment them. We’re talking about square faces, triangle faces, and oval faces. Let’s break them down and see why and what can the comb over do for you.
Square Face Shape
The first face shape that works best with a comb over is the square one. The reason is that square faces, albeit very handsome in a classic way, tend to be too angular. Therefore, they are also a bit rigid and can appear even a little frightening or authoritarian because of the straight angles. They are often associated with maturity and authority.
As a consequence, you can use the comb over to soften your features a bit as well as add a touch of class to your entire demeanor. The neat haircut will make you look sophisticated and elegant in a very old-Hollywood kind of way, as opposed to rigid.
Triangle Face Shape
The best example we can give you of the comb over being used on a triangle face is on actor Ryan Gosling. He has a classic triangular face with a narrow forehead and a very wide jawline. Therefore, his stylist has told him to stay loyal to the comb over as a way to add some balance to his face.
In other words, the side part creates the optical illusion that his forehead is wide as well when, in fact, it is not. Therefore, it appears that the top and bottom parts of his face are somewhat symmetrical. It’s a neat little trick you might want to pick up if you too have a triangular face. It’s all about adding width to your forehead.
Oval Face Shape
There’s nothing flawed or wrong here. We just chose this face shape as one that would work best with a comb over simply because oval is considered to be the perfect shape. In other words, this is the Holy Grail of symmetry, which means you can wear any kind of hairstyle you want. They will all look good on you. This is why most actors have oval faces. They look great when you see them maximized on a big screen.
Comb Over with Line
An interesting thing you can do if you want to pull your comb over out of the ordinary is get a hair design line parallel to your actual parting. It makes for a cool visual image that will have people talking.
Mid Comb Over
This is the best choice if you work in an office that has a dress code but you also don’t want to give up your free and independent spirit. The mid comb over is a perfect compromise for both those ideas.
Short Comb Over
Here’s a modern representation of a comb over used for its original purposes of covering up bald spots. Even though it’s more of a stylistic choice these days, that doesn’t mean you can’t utilize it to cover your alopecia.
Comb Over with Beard
Nothing spells out ruggedness better than a super comb over with lots and lots of shiny pomade and a very well-groomed beard. The combination is simple outstanding!
The Feathery Comb Over
This version of the hairstyle is super easy to maintain. All you need is a little product to make sure there is no frizziness and you can be on your way!
Celebrities Wearing the Comb Over
We have reached one of the topics that you guys love the most. Celebrities and their hairstyles – comb over edition.
The list was very difficult to narrow down simply because there are so many famous men who have adopted the comb over. But we picked what we believe to be the best looking ones who can inspire you.
Justin was famous back in the 90s and early 2000s for his bleached blonde, curly hair that looked exactly like ramen noodles. Much ink has poured over this topic and many memes were created celebrating and sometimes mocking the pop singer’s hairstyle. But one thing was certain after that disaster. There was no way but up for Justin hair-wise. Therefore, we can see him today sporting a classic and superb comb over. It makes him look a lot more mature and put together. After all, he’s married and has a child. Plus, we’re sure he has come to terms with the fact that his days in a boy band are definitely behind him.
If you want to replicate Justin’s comb over you will need some matte clay and a comb. The hairstyle is easy to maintain and even easier to style by yourself.
There was no way we could leave good guy Captain America off this list. Actor Chris Evans is the embodiment of the nice guy next door who is ready to save your cat that got stuck in a tree or meet your parents over Christmas. That’s the reason why he was chosen to play the Captain in the first place.
Chris wears a simply and rather messy comb over that makes him look very casual and laid back. This is perfect if you’re the kind of guy that doesn’t like to waste a lot of time in front of the mirror every morning styling yourself. It will also be great for you if you’re in love with the #iwokeuplikethis trend. It definitely looks as if he’s just rolled out of the sheets and has bed hair.
Here’s former member of One Direction Liam Payne. The Brit opted for a classic and slightly elevated comb over. There’s a reason for that which goes a little bit beyond styling itself. Although Liam has quite an oval face which means he can easily pull off this hairstyle, he is a tad plump around the cheeks. In other words, his cheekbones are not well defined, and his nose is not slim enough.
Therefore, his stylist, in order to elongate his face and attempt to highlight his cheekbones as well as give him some sculpted and hollow cheeks, raised his comb over into a mini pompadour. It’s an optical illusion meant to slim him down.
Spock likes comb overs. Who would have thought? And it’s a good thing he does because he looks quite dashing. What you can take from the actor is the natural and messy side part. He hasn’t bothered to create it with a comb. Instead, you can just imagine him running his fingers through his hair to fix it from time to time.
The TV presenter has a classic good guy haircut with a side part and a very small comb over. What we liked the most about his is just how feathery the hair on top is. James uses shiny pomade to make his golden hair stand out even more and highlight his gorgeous blue eyes. Try it yourself if, like James Corden you’ve been blessed with blue or green eyes!
We have arrived at the king of comb overs, The George himself. George Clooney uses his classic handsomeness as well as this hairstyle to create the allure of an old movie star. Because of these elements we can definitely place him in line with a Cary Grant or a Clark Gable. If you want to copy this look you can use a small amount of product and just let your hair fall naturally.
Having played Prince Charming in Into the Woods, Chris Pine is now definitely suited for the comb over. It offers structure and defines his already angular face, therefore creating an equilibrium between the top and bottom part of his visage. Plus, that chestnut brown simply makes his blue eyes pop!
Here is a perfect example of what a tight comb over with a lot of pomade looks like. Actor Bradley Cooper likes to dress up for a black tie event, create his comb over and then simply splash on as much Brylcreem as he can find. We’re kidding, of course, he probably uses something else, but we’re sure it’s to the same effect. To make his hair as shiny and closely sticking to his head as possible. It’s his idea of elegancy and can be yours too if you’re a fan!
What about you?
Let us know in the comment section below if you’re thinking about getting a comb over or if you already have one. If so, what was your experience with it? Also, if you have any questions on how to get a comb over or how to style it, we are more than happy to help you!