While there are countless hairstyles for men to choose from, one of the classic go-to looks for many is the crew cut.
You’d be hard set to find someone who doesn’t look good with this clean and simple hairstyle. It offers the perfect mixture of masculine sportiness, businessman bravado, and cool confidence.
Whether you ask your barber today for this haircut, or go back in time and ask for the same look 50 years ago, your hair would still be on trend as the hairstyle is a timeless staple that will continue to be a common pick for men long into the future.
However, if you are a fan of this look but want to give it a unique twist, there are a couple of variations and styling/cutting techniques that can give you a modern edge version of this hairstyle.
Read on to learn more about this classic style, including what exactly to ask your barber, how to style and maintain it, a list of different versions of this style and their famous owners.
What is a Crew Cut
If you don’t know what this is, just take a walk at your local park or stop by your grocery store and you are bound to see a couple — they are really that popular.
A crew cut is essentially a very clean haircut, where the sides are buzzed tightly and the hair gradually starts getting longer above the ear and up to the top of the head.
It is fading from the front to the crown so that you are left with a tuft of hair above your forehead that can be styled into bangs, a pompadour, or apart.
This look is easy to achieve, as it is a common request from most barbers, and it complements any head shape.
The name dates back from university Ivy League crew rowing teams.
The guys from rowing teams kept their hairs short to prevent them from getting in their eyes while rowing.
This haircut is a short hairstyle, and more often than not, it’s a generic term for a wide variety of short hairstyles. Today you will find it in different lengths.
However, differences in length are usually no more than one inch or 2.5 cm.
One of the styles is the Ivy League cut, which you can consider as an original style.
More on varieties of this hairstyle will be discussed later. For now, let’s just highlight the differences between a crew cut and a butch cut.
Often, these two styles are considered as synonyms, when in reality they are not. A butch cut is very short and at the top is all one length.
The crew cut is, on the other hand, short around the back and sides, but it’s tapered into a longer length on top, or it is faded.
The point is that crew is not as short as a buzz cut.
Depending on the exact look you want to achieve, you should cut the sides and back of your hair evenly or shorter, fade them by using taper fade or use shorter faded clippers set from 1 to 4 clipper size.
Something tells us that it would be a good idea to use the Wahl Color Pro Complete Hair Cutting Kit for this purpose.
The hair on the top should be brushed forward, and the bangs can go up and back or parted to the side.
Perfect for getting this job done: Dovahia Boar Bristle Hair Brush
If you want to achieve a clean and neat look, make sure to taper off the neckline. If your goal is a casual style, a longer length on top will help you achieve it.
Shorter styles are easier to style, but you will have to visit a barber more often to maintain the look.
The Differences Between a Crew Cut and a Fade
Often addressed as synonyms, these two styles are not the same thing. However, they go hand in hand.
In other words, fade is not a haircut in a traditional sense. It’s more like a cornerstone of any men’s hairstyle.
A fade is a way in which you taper your hair from down the back and sides. You can do this subtle or aggressively, depending on the hairstyle you want to achieve.
Height and length are the only different things between fades. There are three heights for a fade – high, medium and low.
You will recognize high fade if you notice that it starts just above the temples. Medium one begins in a place where ears and head connect.
Low fade begins just above the nape. When it comes to the crew cut, you can say that it wouldn’t even exist if there wasn’t a fade.
As already stated, these hairstyles vary in length, but short back and sides are characteristical for all of them.
On the other hand, fade can be found on many other hairstyles as well. So, in the bottom line, although associated, fades aren’t exclusive to crew cuts.
Is This Haircut the Right Choice for Your Face Shape
There is no a particular age for this hairstyle, and you can sport it equally well in your 20s and your 60s.
This is even more true for the guys who are leading an active lifestyle, and their hair sometimes gets in their way.
It is proven that men with thicker hair tend to look especially attractive with it. It doesn’t mean that guys with thinner hair won’t look good when sporting this hairstyle.
They will, but the critical thing here is to choose the style of the right length.
All versions of this hairstyle tend to give a more mature look to its wearer, but they work equally well if you have a receding line.
In any case, if you’re unsure which style is for you, ask your barber for a piece of advice.
Furthermore, before you choose a particular hairstyle, similar to when deciding on beard style, you should take into consideration the shape of your face.
Not all beard and hairstyles look good on every face shape. This being said, this hairstyle is compatible with most face shapes, which is why it’s a trendy look.
But not all face shapes are made for it.
For example, oval, round and square face shapes are ideal matches. If you are a man who has one of these face shapes, visit your favorite barber and get this style today.
Oval face shape allows you to experiment with variations, lengths, and heights.
Round face benefits from hairstyles that can narrow it at least a bit. That’s why the Ivy League length cut with a chopped or textured finish looks best on them.
Military-inspired cuts work best for men with square faces. If you have a square face, however, fade may not look good on you.
It doesn’t mean you can’t fade your hair at all. It just means that you should keep the length medium to high and avoid tapering it below the ears.
Diamond, heart and triangle face shapes allow you to have this hairstyle, but only specific styles, not all of them.
If your face is in a diamond shape, cut the hairs around your ears with scissors and go with low to medium hair fade. Avoid overexposing the earlobes.
In men whose face is shaped like a heart, the forehead is already wide, so they should avoid cuts and fades that will make it even wider.
Low fades and Ivy League length are styles that look best on them.
Before trying this style, men with triangle faces should ensure that the hair around their temples has enough volume.
This will offer a more balanced look to their jawline. Best length on triangular face shape is mid-to-low fade.
If you don’t want to elongate your already long face, avoid any type of this haircut. Oblong face shape is the only face shape that is incompatible with this hairstyle.
However, some men with oblong faces can pull off a low fade, but not always.
How to Ask Your Barber for a Crew Cut Fade
This one is easy. One of the ways is – simply asking for it.
It doesn’t exist a barber who wouldn’t know what you are asking for, that’s how popular this haircut is.
However, if you are opting for some variation of this haircut and not the classic one, make sure to mention this to your stylist or barber.
The style you choose will determine the length of your hair on the top. Some of them require that you leave the top a bit longer, as this allows some styling.
Fade types can also be different. You can choose a simple taper fade or a skin fade for example.
The difference between these two is huge.
Just one of them, but a major one, is the tool you use. Simple taper fade is done with scissors, while you make a skin fade with clippers.
Decide which fade you want and mention that to your barber.
How to Style a Crew Cut Hairstyle
The classic look is easy to style, but there a couple variations that give you creative freedom.
The most common way to style it is to pair it with thick sideburns and a tapered nape.
In addition, depending on your hair type, many either gel or wax the front of their hair to stick directly up, or if your hair is thick enough it may do so on its own.
Our suggestion for styling gel: Johnny B Mode
Our suggestion for a hair wax: TIGI Bed Head
Another popular styling option is to sweep your hair to one side for a very clean and modern look.
Because this hairstyle is so short, styling is optional and if are crunched for time in your morning routine you can just tell your friends “I woke up like this” and still look sharp.
If instead, you want a more tousled look, you can always allow your hair to grow out a bit.
One option is to keep the sides buzzed regularly, but allow the top head hair to grow long for a dramatic contrast.
Alternatively, you can create a very manly look by allowing your stubble beard to grow up into your sideburns and create a stubble effect that lengthens gradually into the top of your hair.
The crew cut is short, and it has some pros and cons. Low maintenance is an obvious pro, but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t refresh your haircut now and then to keep it neat.
Putting an effort in styling your hair and keeping its length will prolong its duration and make it look sharp.
One downside of this haircut is that, once you start wearing it, you will be more prone to sunburns. This is only normal, providing that you don’t have many hairs covering your scalp.
Fortunately, you can quickly solve this problem by using a sunscreen or wearing a cap on sunny days.
Another popular variation of the haircut is the flat top style.
This style is perfect for those who want to elongate the shape of their face, but it is not recommended for those with square jaws and head shapes.
With this look, you should ask your barber to follow the same steps as for a basic version, except that all of the hairs on the top of your head should be the same length, creating a horizontal profile.
This means that the hairs in the back of your crown will have to be longer, in order to be the same height at the hairs in the middle and front of your head.
Most barbers will know exactly what you mean, just be sure to guide them on how short you want it since the classic style is very tight.
How to Get a Crew Cut at Home
Maybe you want to save some bucks along the way, or you just enjoy cutting your hair on your own, either way, there are some easy-to-follow steps to get this haircut at home.
Search on the internet for some photos of men who are sporting this haircut.
You will notice a wide variety of this haircut, so choose wisely which one you will get for yourself.
Once you decide on your future hairstyle, it’s time to gather some necessary tools to create it.
After you dampen your hair, comb through it and start cutting its sides and back.
You will want to use a lower guard around these areas to create a short uniform length.
Depending on your preferred haircut, start with a number 2 or 4. If you want a tighter taper, keep the skin near your ears tauted.
This is the step at which you should be extra careful not to make a mistake.
Maybe asking a friend or a family member to hold a second mirror for you would be great at this moment.
To remember what you did on one side, make sure to start from the bottom up on one side, then repeat the same on the other side. After that, work on the center part.
When you establish that the area on the back and around the ears is clean and neat, switch to creating a smooth transition from the bottom to the top of your head.
For this, use different guard sizes. Start with higher guards on top, as this will leave you enough hair to style.
When you get halfway to the top, change guards to number 6 and using straight lines, continue clipping to the top.
Taper the lower part of your hair in length from front to back. Because this is one of the hardest things to master, work slowly and focus on one side at a time.
The center is the last area you should work on, starting from the bottom up. That’s how you will create a uniform cut.
The part of your head you will want to focus on the most is the top. This is the most visible part of your haircut, and you will want it to be perfect.
The top should be faded from the front to the crown, while your hair should be longer at the front.
Once again, focus on creating the top fade only when you finish with the sides and the back.
Determine how long you want this part to be and then, changing the guard sizes, cut horizontally one by one segment of your hair.
The transition between the top and the bottom of your hair should be seamless. However, if you are not sure in your styling capabilities, use trimming scissors instead.
Cutting your hair at home for the first time is likely to lead to some mistakes.
If you have made a mistake while grooming your haircut, despite following the steps above, worry not, as any error can be easily fixed.
You will find thinning shears to be helpful in fixing mistakes you’ve made. Scissors work well because they don’t make obvious cuts, and this allows an easier blending.
Always place the trimming scissors in a horizontal position, because you will see which areas need trimming.
If you want to blend all the transitions, you can run the scissors from the bottom up around your head. One thing not to do is focus on one area for too long.
Usual mistake is too much volume on the top. You can use scissors here as well, as they will help you take some of that volume out.
If you need more help on styling and cutting your hair, check out this video.
How to Maintain This Haircut
One of the best things about this haircut is how low-maintenance of a hairstyle it is.
If you get a very short cut, there will be minimal maintenance required at first, as it is the type of hairstyle that you can just roll out of bed with and still look sharp.
However, as your hair begins to grow out, it may be necessary to perform regular maintenance so that it doesn’t lose its shape.
For starters, your sides should be tapered on a regular basis, so that the transition from your nape to the top of your head is clear.
You will also have to style your bangs/pompadour regularly, unless you are going for a messy and tousled look, or if your hair is very coarse and can stand up on its own.
Maintaining clean sideburns and other types of facial hair is also important when you have this look so that you can create a cohesive, clean-cut look that will compliment your face and head shape as well as your sense of style.
Most Common Crew Cut Hairstyles
This haircut will never get out of fashion if you ask us. This being true, you may as well get yourself one today.
Knowing that choosing the right length can be a challenging job, here is an ultimate list of most popular crew cuts and some examples of famous guys that wear them:
It is already said a lot about the classic cut here, but let’s recap. A classic cut is a short and sharp hairstyle.
It’s a minimalistic, neat and tidy look, which makes it ideal for offices. Another plus is that it goes great with a suit and tie outfit.
This haircut being short means that you won’t have to worry about hair getting in your face the whole day. Furthermore, this cut looks sleek and polish on every occasion.
Zac Efron is an excellent example of this, as he wears it exceptionally well everywhere – from the red carpet to the street.
The classic cut is already a short hairstyle, but you can make it even shorter. The only difference between a classic and a shorter version are more tapered edges.
Top, sides, and back on a short cut should be cut short with clippers, and its sides should be tapered.
In other words, a short cut is similar to a buzz cut, with only one difference.
A buzz cut is one length everywhere, while short cut has more tapered edges. This look is both, modern and suitable for a conservative work environment as well.
Letting your hair grow very long at the top won’t be a crew cut anymore. However, you can allow it to reach a length of two inches or a bit more.
A classic haircut is usually long one inch on top, so anything longer than this is considered a long version.
One thing you should pay attention if you opt for this style is that your hair will start laying flat if it grows out too much.
To keep it stay up, applying some gel on it will do the trick.
With traditional or classic cuts, you can expect the sides of your hair to be gradually tapered from a longer length at the top to a shorter length at the area around the ears.
You can also add a fade if you want to intensify your tapered haircut. Sides should be shaved ultra short to reveal the skin around your ears.
If you do this how it should be done, the hair on the sides of your head will look like your hair is fading away.
Men with a naturally wavy hair are lucky, and all they need to do is create a classic cut.
Unfortunately, there are more straight hair guys out there, and for them, a texturizing product might be a good starting point.
A texturizing product is also needed for men whose hair tends to become too fluffy after they wash it.
All in all, a textured cut means that your hair is shorter around the ears, that your hair sides are tapered and that your hair top is textured.
A haircut like this makes a face look more narrowed, and even more so if you style your textured top in an upward direction.
When making a textured cut, make sure to use scissors only, as it is easier to create more dimensions with them than with clippers alone.
This haircut version is the best for weddings and other special occasions, and if you are wondering which famous men has it, it’s Channing Tatum.
Fortunately for you, now you can copy his haircut in a heartbeat.
This type can be a bit challenging to make considering that the strands are very short for creating a side part, but it’s not impossible.
After you wash your hair, comb it into place while it’s still wet. On a hair combed like this, put some hair styling products that will help you define the split.
If you want some extra volume, blow dry your hair, and then apply a pomade or styling wax on it.
This will luckily work, but some rookies may still find it hard. If you are one of them, visit your barber and ask him to create a hard part of your crew cut.
You can also ask him how to do this yourself the next time.
One of the great things about this hairstyle is that they look great on all hair types. That’s right, and you can have this haircut even if your hair is naturally curly and wavy.
In the matter effect, this haircut will help you keep any wild curls you may have under complete control.
To create a curly version of this hairstyle, leave your hair on top a little longer and shave its sides to make it look more elegant.
Afterward, gently comb with your fingers through the curls to style your hair in one place.
The curly cut is ideal for both, office and a night out with your friends.
To prove you that this hairstyle is not only for younger guys in their 20s and 30s, we present you a silver version of this hairstyle.
You’ll be surprised to know that this haircut actually looks super sophisticated and polished when found on more mature men.
For silver foxes that want to look more modern, adding a little bit of texture will do the work.
Don’t over style your haircut or it will look outdated. That’s probably something you want to avoid.
9. Ivy League
No, this is not the same as a classic cut. Ivy League cut or usually known just as an Ivy League is a more extended version of the classic cut.
The style is ideal if you get bored with a classic look because the only thing you will have to do is let your current haircut grow a bit longer.
The hair on the top in an Ivy League cut is long and exceptionally combed, while the sides are neatly tapered.
10. Crew Cut Blowout
Achieving crew cut blowout is easy if you follow a few steps. Cut your hair to a classic cut leaving one or two inches of length on top.
Wash your hair and blow dry it while pushing it to stay up. Once you succeed at this, use hair styling pomade to force the hairs to stand up.
After that, apply hairspray, and you have made yourself a nice cut blowout.
11. High Fade
Create a high fade around the side and back area of your head. This will make your haircut look neater than ever.
If you want an edgier appearance, make a disconnected undercut.
12. Comb Over
This style adds more balance to wider faces. For this to work, you will need to create the illusion of length.
Don’t comb the whole hair in one direction. Instead, flip up the hair around your forehead, and you will get some length.
13. Drop Fade
There is nothing too complicated about the drop fade cut.
Just create a drop fade at the back of your hair, and you are good to go.
The only thing you may need is help from a friend or a barber because you won’t be able to see what you are working with.
14. Buzzed Cut with a Textured Top
The name says it all. Maybe it will be easier to imagine this style if you think of Robert Pattinson.
He has been sporting a buzzed cut with a textured top for a long while now. Basically, this is a typical cut, only buzzed around the sides and the back.
Add some texture to the style by leaving a few longer hairs above the forehead.
Ultrashort sides with a high fade and messy spikes on the longer hairs on the top of the head are all characteristics of a messy cut.
In case you are still weighing if this style will work for you, know that it needs minimum maintenance and trimming can be done with clippers at home.
The representative of a messy cut is Tom Hardy. Yes, we know that this made you want this style even more.
To answer it right away – you can wear this haircut even you don’t live in California.
The only thing you need to do is add highlights to the longer hairs on the top of your head.
California cut is a synonym for a crew cut that has depth and dimension.
17. High and Tight
Salt and pepper cut with short sides is nothing else but high and tight crew cut.
Ryan Reynolds knows that this style looks sexy and rugged, and that’s why he is sporting it for so long.
The high and tight cut is even greater in combination with a scruffy beard.
18. Edgy Parted
As its name suggests, in this style of hair is parted and styled with a hair pomade, hair styling wax or hair styling clay.
Hair is very short, and it has a high fade at the sides.
The good news is that edgy parted cut looks very trendy and it can be combined with any popular undercut style.
19. Brushed Up
Think of a haircut worn in the military. Did you?
Well, brushed up cut is inspired by military hairstyles. The only difference is that it’s brushed up.
To get a better picture of how this hairstyle looks like, just think of Jake Gyllenhaal. There you go.
Tousled styling and blonde highlights or maybe some other color you prefer are the only things you need to create a tousled cut.
It sounds easy, and it is easy to achieve. Let Neil Patrick Harris’ tousled cut be your inspiration along the way.
As you already know, soldiers are required to wear their hairs very short and straightforward. The crew cut is, therefore, an ideal style for them.
Also, soldiers don’t have much time to style their hair, but you do.
This means that you can style your military cut with a small amount of hair styling products, but you don’t have to, and your hairstyle will still look amazing.
22. Messy Fringe
Make sure to style-forward longer strands of hair in the front to make a messy fringe.
Messy fringe cut requires a light hold styling cream. Don’t use heavier products though or you will mess up your haircut.
And if you ask us, the trend of crew cuts among these nominees isn’t a mere coincidence.
If you want a low-maintenance haircut that will complement your appearance with dapper style, a crew cut may be the perfect option for you.
Pair it with a well-groomed beard and sharp sideburns, and get ready for some hair compliments.
Photos from: chika_milan / depositphotos.com, Andriy Popov © 123RF.com, frugo © 123RF.com, Tohey22 / depositphotos.com, masha_tace / depositphotos.com, Dmytro Zinkevych © 123RF.com and korniienkoalex / depositphotos.com, fxquadro / depositphotos.com, prometeus / depositphotos.com.
- What is a Crew Cut
- The Differences Between a Crew Cut and a Fade
- Is This Haircut the Right Choice for Your Face Shape
- How to Ask Your Barber for a Crew Cut Fade
- How to Style a Crew Cut Hairstyle
- How to Get a Crew Cut at Home
- How to Maintain This Haircut
- Most Common Crew Cut Hairstyles
- 1. Classic
- 2. Short
- 3. Long
- 4. Tapered
- 5. Textured
- 6. Side-Parted
- 7. Curly
- 8. Silver
- 9. Ivy League
- 10. Crew Cut Blowout
- 11. High Fade
- 12. Comb Over
- 13. Drop Fade
- 14. Buzzed Cut with a Textured Top
- 15. Messy
- 16. California
- 17. High and Tight
- 18. Edgy Parted
- 19. Brushed Up
- 20. Tousled
- 21. Military
- 22. Messy Fringe