The 9 haircuts no man should ever have
2016's hair trend is just the latest in a long line of absolute shockers.
BY Sam Parker | Jan 22, 2016 | Grooming
A new year, a new nadir in men's hair. If the top knot ruled the scalps of misguided hipsters in 2015, then 2016 looks set to belong to the 'man braid'.
It's self-explanatory, really. A braid—that's three of more strands of material woven together - made out of the hair of a grown man, then photographed and put on Instagram.
Call it cultural appropriation (cornrows have been a traditional African style of hair for centuries), call it gender fluidity (your little sister was doing it to her dolls when she was eight), call it the Game Of Thrones affect (Daenarys has rocked one since season one): whatever it is, we're consigning the man braid to the long list of history's most heinous haircuts.
Here are the others. We know what you're thinking: yeah Esquire? Says who? YOU? Well yes, but for good measure we also asked our British friends at award-winning barbers Ruffians to weigh in on the matter too, meaning this list is officially endorsed by the professionals.
The top knot
We know, we know. Harry Styles looks great with his. But you’re not Harry Styles. You’re not even the least good looking one—Neil, or whatever his name is. Which is important, because the only thing that can make a scruffy bulb of hair bouncing around on the back of your head look good is being an international sex symbol, or E Honda from Street Fighter.
Mr Spock. Anakin Skywalker. That dwarf from The Hobbit. Seeing a pattern here? The bowl cut–thus called because it can be achieved by plonking a bowl on your hair and simply ‘cutting around’—is possibly the geekiest haircut of all time (though admittedly one that saves you a tidy profit in barbers bills). It’s been around since the 1920s at least and, to the best of our knowledge, has never looked good once on anyone in all that time.
Immortalised—in our household at least—by seminal 1991 Only Fools And Horses episode ‘Three Men, A Woman And A Baby’ in which Cassandra mistakes Rodney’s clip-on ponytail for a rodent, the ‘rattail’ became briefly popular in the 80s before slithering back into the sewer from whence it came. In recent years Shia LaBeouf (pictured) has tried—and failed—to revive the look. A rule of thumb: never base any element of your personal style on a rat. Except maybe Splinter from Teenager Mutant Ninja Turtles. His robe was pretty cool.
To be fair, at a certain age in a man’s life—let’s call it 15—having two lank curtains of hair dangling over your face can be a useful way to disguise a crippling sense of social awkwardness/how stoned you are. As an adult? Not so much. Variations of this cut have been coming in and out of fashion since the turn of the last century, most recently during the 1990s, for which you can of course blame Kurt Cobain.
Flock of seagulls
So bad it became a catch-all term for pretty much any awful haircut (at least as far as Jules in Pulp Fiction is concerned), ‘flock of seagulls’ originally referred to a Liverpool synthpop quartet of the same name whose lead singer, Mike Score, sported a physic-defying comb job that echoed—badly—through the subsequent decades.
Also known as ‘the Gareth Gates’ (a bloke who was on one of those talent shows once, above), the spikes cut basically involves twisting your hair into multiple pointy tufts using copious amount of hair gel until you look a bit like a crap dinosaur.
The only haircut capable of making a comb over look good, the skullet is the clearest possible way to tell the rest of the world you’ve given up on life. Basically, it’s a mullet with the top and middle shaved off (or cruelly taken by nature). Avoid at all costs.
If you’re in your late 20s/early 30s, it’s reasonably likely that somewhere in the ether of the internet—actually, make that MySpace—there exists a photo of you with one of these, peering upwards at a webcam, your painfully fragile self-confidence quivering on your spotty face. Do kids today still have them? We have no idea, but we hope not.
Yes, you knew it was coming—the most maligned men’s haircut in history. Because the mullet was so bad, and because it fills men of a certain age with fond nostalgia for certain 1980s English footballers, the time was almost ripe for our shared loathing of it to soften into something like amused affection. And then hipsters starting growing them to be ‘ironic’, and our hatred was renewed ten fold.
First published in Esquire UK.