Monday, 13 June 2016

A Guide to Mens Mod Hairstyles: The Fifties

Along with Mod clothing, Mod hairstyles have a rich and interesting history and heritage. Often how you wear your hair contributes to your over all identity, and none more so than within a culture like Mod and it's subcultures - Mod Revivalists, Teddy Boys, Rockabilly, Scooterboys, Skins and more. In our new blog mini-series we explore the history of mod hairstyles past and present, kicking off with the roots of the Mod look and mod fashion in 1950s America. Would you wear your hair like this?

A rare picture of Elvis with the Ivy League
hairstyle in the 1950s

1950s: The Ivy League

Similar to: The Crew Cut, Butch Cut, The Short Back and Sides

A classic go-to hairstyle for men everywhere. The Ivy League coins it's name from the popularity the look enjoyed with college students in the US in the 1950s, giving rise to it also being called The Princeton, although there is some argument over whether this style really originated from Harvard University. A popular haircut which is never out of style, the Ivy League appeals to mods for it's neat, sharp cut and it's versatility for a short hair cut; this cut doesn't look out of place with any outfit.

Like the Crew Cut, the Ivy League is close and high on the sides and back. The hair is shorter at the crown and gradually gets longer towards the front. The hair is generally styles with wax, known as 'Butch wax'.

A Teddy Boy John Lennon sports a Duck's Arse
hair cut in Hamburg, 1960.
(Photo by Astrid Kirchherr)
1950s: The Duck's Arse

Similar to: The Detroit, The Long Pompadour

Also known as the Duck's Tail or simply, the DA, the subtly named Duck's Arse was the go-to hair style for 1950s British Teddy Boys. Using just about an entire can of pomade, the hair is slicked back around the sides of the head, (to resemble a ducks wings) and then the teeth edge of a comb used to define a central parting at the back, running from the crown of the head to the nape of the neck, resembling it's namesake! The hair on the top of the head was left messy and disarrayed or combed up and curled down.

A barber from Philadelphia, USA called Joe Cirello claims to have invented the Duck's Arse hairstyle in 1940. His clients included Elvis Presley and James Dean. Incredibly popular in the fifties for Teddy Boys, and giving the 'Greasers' their name, the hairstyle became associated with rebels and non-conformists, especially when it was sported by Dean in Rebel Without A Cause, and of course, Elvis Presley.

Johnny Cash wore a Pompadour in the mid 1950s

1950s: The Pompadour 

Similar to: The Quiff, The Duck's Arse, The Elephants Trunk

Elvis is all over 1950s Mod hairstyles! The Pompadour - also the Quiff - is of course the style Elvis was best known for and the hairstyle of choice even today for a lot of Rockabilly Mods and Teds. The pompadour also had something of a revival in the mainstream in recent years, being worn by people like Alex Turner and friends. The pompadour hairstyle - and with the onset of the 1960s, the Long Pompadour, sports slicked back hair, similar to the Duck's Arse, but with volume on top and at the front so that it looks like a wedge from the side - or go the full quiff. Again, lots and lots of pomade is required to craft the Pompadour! This is an extrovert hairstyle with its roots firmly in that early 1950s rock and roll look that the early mods craved. We think it's this hairstyle which lead on to the longer mod hairstyles of the 1960s.

Further Reading: