If we were to hand out awards to all the hairstyles for men in existence, the crew cut would definitely win one for practicality mingled with amazing aesthetics. In other words, a crew cut is the perfect hairstyle that won’t keep you locked in front of the mirror for hours every morning trying to get ready. It also doesn’t require a lot of maintenance at the barber, so it’s budget-friendly. But in the hands of a skilled stylist and adding all the wonderful tips you’ll be reading in this article, it will also look amazingly stylish and fresh. Let’s get started!
What Is a Crew Cut?
The crew cut falls under a much larger umbrella of very short haircuts for men called ‘buzz cuts.’ That’s why it’s incredibly easy to mistake it for something else. This is also the reason why men fail to identify a crew cut correctly and don’t tell their barber or stylist exactly what they want. They then end up with something completely different for a hairstyle and are left feeling unsatisfied. Make sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to read our tips on how to communicate with your barber and tell him you want a crew cut.
But for now, let’s focus on defining this magnificent hairstyle. Buzz cuts in general are considered to be all haircuts that require a razor to shave your head within an inch of your scalp until it is uniform all over. Therefore, don’t ask this of your barber and expect him to know you want a crew cut.
Instead, the crew cut is a variation of the buzz cut which is very short, but tapered on the sides and in the back, leaving more length on top. You get to decide how long your hair is on top and how you want to style it. Although you should know that it only has to be a few inches long for the hairstyle to be considered a crew cut. If it’s longer than that you cross over into pompadours and other styles.
How Did the Crew Cut Become Such a Popular Hairstyle?
The crew cut is what we would essentially call an Ivy League haircut, albeit a very short one. The reason is that it originated there. The name itself, ‘crew’ refers to the rowing teams or crews at the Ivy League universities of Princeton, Yale, and Harvard. The boys in the teams usually cut their hair very short in this manner to make sure the hair didn’t get in their eyes while they were rowing.
They still kept a little length of hair on top of their heads but cut it short and flattened it, which made the crew cut very special. This happened more than 120 years ago. At the same time, it also developed in other parts of the world under different names.
For example, the English called it a brush cut because of the flattened top. They are reported to have been wearing it at least since the 1750s. The Germans have this haircut as well and call it a bursten schnitt, as do the French. They refer to it as the coupe en bosse.
The Military Crew Cut
Not long after, the military forces adopted the crew cut as well. The logic is simple. Such a short haircut would keep the lice from spreading among the troops. Apart from that, it was also very practical. The soldiers could give each other a crew cut. Or, if necessary, they could even cut their own hair provided they had an electric razor.
The crew cut then cut into the mainstream after World War Two. The soldiers who came home decided to keep their haircuts even though they didn’t have to anymore. Slowly, the general public took to this idea and the crew cut became a part of pop culture.
Unfortunately, the crew cut has also seen a dark period in its long history. In the 60s, the hairstyle was adopted as a statement of the skinheads in Britain. They were men of the working-class who were opposed to the hippies of the same decade. Instead, they loved dub and ska. Later, in the 80s, skinheads and their crew cut also became a symbol for violence and racism as this hairstyle was worn in Europe by the far right. Therefore, it severely fell out of favor.
The Modern Crew Cut
However, one should never dismiss the power of celebrities and just how easily people are ready to forgive and forget. In the 2000s and 2010s, a whole new generation of young men came along who had nothing to do with the dark and troubled past. They simply viewed the crew cut as a hairstyling choice.
Some celebrity men who championed this idea were Zayn Malik of the former band One Direction, soccer player David Beckham, and actors Brad Pitt and Tom Hardy. They inspired men across the world to follow their example and start wearing crew cuts again. Read below for more examples of famous men who have donned a crew cut.
Types of Crew Cuts
If you want to be just like your favorite singer, actor or athlete and wear a crew cut yourself, the first thing you need to know is that there are several types. Let’s list them all here!
The traditional crew cut
The classic crew cut means that your barber or stylist will have to use grade three clippers to cut your hair. You can also get a softer finish if you want by using scissors and getting the haircut by hand. The length at top needs to blend in seamlessly with the sides. It also has to increase a little as you move toward the front. In this way, you will be able to style it yourself into a quiff if you want. You can also wear it as bangs or with a choppy finish.
The textured crew cut
The modern crew cut is very different from the traditional one. One hundred years ago it was required that men should keep their hair short and very neat, probably using vast amounts of pomade. Today, however, messy is the word that rules the world of hairstyling. The texture crew cut has a longer top. Your barber will use his scissors to add as much texture to it as you want. After that, you can use something like sea salt spray to give your hair some body and a little bit of crunch.
More Types of Crew Cuts
The crew cut fade
I’m sure you’ve already seen it on the likes of David Beckham, Brad Pitt, Tom Hardy or Ryan Reynolds. In other words, only the coolest and most handsome men in the world right now. Or ever. The idea is that when you pair a crew cut with a fade it becomes not only very utilitarian, but immensely cool as well.
Of course, you get to choose what kind of fade you want. It can be a mid, low or high fade, depending on your personal preference, on your facial structure or on what your stylist recommends.
The short crew cut
What is this? You’ll ask. Aren’t all crew cuts short? Yes, in theory you are right. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t enough space in between all the variations we are now talking about where you can play. When talking about a short crew cut, we are usually referring to the sides of the head. It must never be severe looking. In fact, it should always have a bit of a taper showing the different grade lengths. Remember that you are not in school nor are you in the army. You can play around!
Your fade on the sides can go from a zero to whatever length you want. But never more than two or three plus the added length on top. If you go beyond three, it’s no longer a crew cut.
The side swept crew cut
You might have already guessed what this variation on the crew cut implies merely because of its name. This is the most retro but also the most elegant of all the types of crew cuts you can get. In fact, if you are fond of wearing jackets with elbow patches and penny loafers, this is definitely the style for you!
Stylists usually says that, with the side swept crew cut, your sides and back should have a high fade. This means that all the hair weight from these three areas can be removed, giving you a clean-cut look. Leave some length on top and style it with a side sweep to keep true to its nature.
However, if you want to make sure the haircut is still modern and not ripped from the pages of an old alumni magazine, here’s what you can do. Don’t apply any products that make your hair shine. Instead, choose finishing products that give you a matte look. You can also use your fingertips to manipulate your hair instead of a comb. Don’t do it like your grandpa!
How to Maintain a Crew Cut
Luckily for you, it’s very easy to maintain a crew cut. All you need to do is visit your barber whenever you see or feel that your hair is getting a little too long and it is making you feel uncomfortable. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when that will be because every person has their own biological rhythm when it comes to hair growing.
Therefore, when you see that your hair is now several inches longer than it should be both on the sides and on top, it’s time to see the stylist.
Remember that you also need to protect yourself when you have a crew cut. Use sunscreen both on your neck and head, depending on how short your hair is. People who have had a burnt scalp will know or be able to tell you that it’s not worth it. There are tons of hair care products on the market that also come with SPF. Therefore, pay attention and buy them next time you’re out shopping.
Shampoo and Condition a Crew Cut
When it comes to caring for your hair, shampooing is a very important step in the whole process. Choose a product that is specifically designed for your type of hair and don’t shampoo more than three times a week. You can also use a conditioner if you want softer hair or natural hair oils for the same purpose.
If you need further specialized advice, you can always ask your hairstylist what hair care and styling products are best for your type of hair.
Styling Products for the Crew Cut
When it comes to styling products, you will be delighted to find out that a crew cut is very easy on the wallet. Since it’s such a short haircut, you won’t need to style it so much. Therefore, there is no need for products. However, you can still buy a bit of hair wax if you want to add some texture to your hair or if you have a considerable length on top.
Men who wear short Mohawks or fauxhawks with their crew cuts might also need a bit of hairspray to keep the spikes in place. You could also benefit from a bottle of sea salt spray for added texture in a much more natural way than hair wax can provide. But be careful! Sea salt spray will always tend to dry out your hair whereas wax is more moisturizing toward your locks.
How to Style a Crew Cut
Once again, the length and height of this haircut play a very important part. In other words, since the haircut in itself doesn’t have much height or length to begin with, there isn’t a lot of styling to be done on your part. What you get when you walk out of your barber’s chair, that’s what you have to parade around town for the next month or so.
Even so, there are still some variations to our beloved crew cut, which means you do get some creative freedom with it. For example, you can choose to get some very thick sideburns along with it and a much tapered nape.
In fact, sideburns have been in these past few seasons. Of course, we’re not talking about your grandfathers mutton chops when we say thick sideburns. Instead, think about a pair of slick and straight chops that run smoothly down your face and connect your beautiful haircut to your well-tailored beard.
You can also get some 90s spikes to go along with your crew cut. Do you remember the 90s when all the boys used to put a lot of gel in their hair and walk around with a thousand spikes? That trend hasn’t completely died out and you can still see it on some guys today. Use it to your benefit because it will give you a boyish and sweet look.
In fact, since you have a tub of gel, you can also use it to style your bangs or give yourself a homemade version of the Caesar haircut. If the hair in front is long enough, don’t hesitate to dab it with gel and then run a comb through it. That’s how the Caesar is created.
How Do I Tell My Barber I Want a Crew Cut?
Let’s touch on a very common problem that most men have, especially nowadays. They see a photo online or they hear that this and this celebrity got a certain haircut. Therefore, they walk confidently into their neighborhood salon but don’t exactly know how to ask for that specific look. In consequence, most men don’t actually end up with the haircut they want either because the hairstylist doesn’t understand what haircut they are referencing or because they don’t know the exact terms to use.
So, what should you tell your barber if you want a crew cut? Naturally, tell him ‘a crew cut.’ But happens if he doesn’t understand what a crew cut is? That’s when things get tricky.
First of all, you should know that there is a very small chance your barber won’t know what a crew cut is. This hairstyle is immensely popular all over the world. However, it may so happen that you want a variation of it. Therefore, you will have to explain exactly what you have in mind.
Specifications of the Crew Cut
Start by telling your barber about the sides and the nape. Do you want him to use an electric clipper and if so, what size? Or do you want him to give you a classic scissor haircut? Would you like a fade? If so tell him whether you would like a high, medium or low fade.
Then talk to him about the top. How long do you want it to be? Do you want anything specific up there like a Mohawk, man braids, dreadlocks, a man bun or a top knot? Be as specific as possible. Or choose a photo from this article and show it to him. That’s the easy way!
Remember that the key to a good haircut is communicating with your barber or stylist. Tell him what you want and ask for advice. He or she is a trained professional that will be able to tell you what kind of hairstyle would suit you best. They will also tell you how to maintain it, how many times a month you should come in for a fix-up, and what you need to do to look your best.
Celebrities Wearing the Crew Cut
One of the first major celebrities to have sported a crew cut, pun intended, was soccer superstar David Beckham. Back in the 2000s, young Becks got an amazing crew cut with a superb bald fade on the sides and in the back and a flat top before all of this was even in trend. That’s right! David Beckham was wearing both a fade and a crew cut years and years before the general public discovered them and made them into a cool thing. What a trendsetter!
Another Hollywood hottie with a face perfect for a crew cut is Tom Hardy. The actor paired his hairstyle with an overgrown goatee and a five o’clock shadow. Tom Hardy looked absolutely badass as he walked the red carpet proving you can totally match a crew cut with an elegant tuxedo.
Actor Robert Pattinson tried his hand at a crew cut as well, showing the entire world another side of him. Of course, we were all used to seeing him as a sparkly vampire with paper white skin and wavy hair. But once he was done with the Twilight movies, the actor was ready to shed that image. So he went for a crew cut that showed the world he meant business.
More Celebrities Wearing the Crew Cut
Singer Zayn Malik made hearts break the world over when he shaved off his luscious locks. He went completely radical on his tresses and got a crew cut. He was still very handsome, of course, and his fans didn’t skip a beat in praising him. In fact, most of them copied his new hairstyle.
We can also give a nod to some other famous names that have had attempts at wearing a crew cut or a version of it. They include Justin Timberlake, actor Ewan McGregor, and Will Smith. They have a special place in our hearts for championing the crew cut and giving it its rightful place among the pantheon of men’s hairstyles.
Which one of these celebrities is your favorite? Are you planning on getting a crew cut yourself? Or do you just have an opinion on it? If so, write to us in the comment section below and let us know what you think. You can also write and ask us different questions that you may have regarding this hairstyle, and we’ll do our best to help you. We want you to look amazing!