The Mad Men Guide to a Manly Haircut

by Brett on October 27, 2009 · 140 comments

in Dress & Grooming, Hair


AMC’s Mad Men is one of television’s most popular shows right now. Yeah, the story is good, but the attention to retro detail and the classic style of Don Draper and crew is at least an equal attraction. Well-tailored grey suits, pocket squares, and skinny ties makes the men on the show look cool, sophisticated, and manly.

But that classic and masculine look would be ruined if Don Draper sported a dopey looking haircut. Do you think advertising clients and women would take Don Draper seriously if he combed his hair forward and spiked it up front like many young men do these days? I don’t think so.

Don Draper and the other men at Sterling Cooper have haircuts that demand that you take them seriously. Your grandpa probably did his hair the same way: tight on the sides with a sharp part on the left side of the head. And of course, the hair needs that healthy looking shine.

Unfortunately, many men today walk around with the same boyish haircuts they’ve had since high school. Sure, your hair spiked in the front or tussled carelessly looked cool when you were 17, but it looks goofy when you’re 30. You want a haircut that looks manly, not juvenile.

To help upgrade your hairstyle to something more respectable, we provide the following tips from the Emmy Award-winning hairstylist of Mad Men, Gloria Ponce.

How to Get the Mad Man Hairstyles

The hair product. If you really want to recapture that slicked back, clean look of the 40′s, 50′s, and 60′s, get your hands on some Brylcreem. The stuff is a little greasy, but boy it really makes a man’s hair look nice. It smells pretty damn manly, too. I’ve used Brylcreem to style my hair for awhile now. My wife loves the way it makes my hair look, and I get compliments on it all the time.

If gramp’s hair products are too greasy for your taste, but you still want that shiny, put together look, try the modern products used by the Mad Men hairstylist. Gloria Ponce uses American Crew hair products on the Mad Men set. Her go to product for all the male actors is American Crew Pomade. The pomade gives you the same hold and shine as Brylcreem, but it isn’t as greasy. She’ll also use American Crew Firm Hold Styling Gel when the hair really needs to stay in place. Unlike other gels, this gel doesn’t flake and leave you looking like you have a bad case of dandruff. Plus it gives you that nice Mad Men shine without making your hair as hard as a helmet.

It comes down to a matter of preference on whether you go the Brylcreem or the American Crew route. They’ll both give you the same look. Personally, I like my Brylcreem. If it was good enough for granddad, it’s good enough for me. Plus, it’s cheaper and you can get it at your local drugstore.

The Don Draper

Don Draper

Tell your barber…

Ask him to cut your hair tight and tapered on the sides and leave it long and full on the top. Tell the barber that you also want your part on the left side of your head. Yeah, I said part. The part demands respect. The part is powerful. Your barber can cut your hair in order to help your hair part more easily.

To style…

Take your hair product of choice and run it through your hair while it’s still damp. Take your comb and create your part on the left side of your head. Create a small wave on the front of your hair by combing your bangs up and back towards the right. Comb back the sides of your hair. Bada-bing! Instant Draper.

The Pete Campbell

pete campbell

Tell your barber…

Like with the Draper-do, you’ll want it nice and tight on the sides. The only difference is to have your barber cut it a bit shorter on the top than you would with the Don Draper hairstyle. And if you want to part it on the right, ala Pete, tell him that too.

To style…

Use a bit more product. Pete Campbell’s hairstyle is much more slick and wet looking than the other characters. When you comb it, start off with a sharp part on the right side of your head. When you create the wave in the front, keep it close to the head. It’s not as high as some of the other men on the show. Pete’s style is good for younger men or men with smaller frames.

The Roger Sterling

roger sterling

Tell your barber…

Sterling’s look is much shorter and barbered than the other men on the show. It’s almost like a military cut. Get it cut short on the top, but leave it long enough so that you can comb a part on the right side of your head. Sides are tight. Make sure he tapers the sides so they blend in nicely with the top. You won’t want any lines like you have a bowl cut.

To style…

Add product to your damp hair and comb it over to create your part. Create the wave in the front. Because your hair is shorter, it won’t be as high as Don Draper’s. Comb back the sides. Now you’re ready schmooze with clients at a 12 martini lunch.

Final Note: If you really want to ensure that your barber gets your haircut the way you want it, print off this post and show him a picture of the haircut you want. You can never go wrong doing that.

{ 138 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David October 27, 2009 at 6:41 pm

by left part for campbell and sterling don’t you mean part on the right???

I like the sterling, but then again I’m a combat arms guy in the army so it’s the only one I could pull off….not like I’m a supply clerk or something…

2 Rich October 27, 2009 at 6:41 pm

I’m more into the “receding hairline” look. It’s kind of a family tradition.

3 Brett McKay October 27, 2009 at 6:50 pm

Good catch David. I always part my hair on the left and that’s traditionally how men do it. But if you want to look just like Pete or Roger than yes you should part it on the right.

4 Chemical Erik October 27, 2009 at 7:16 pm

I don’t have enough hair for any of those styles, so I’ve gone clean shaven. I don’t think it would have been considered professional 20 years ago, but works very well today. I’d say it’s not quite as good from a business perspective as a full head of well styled hair, but far better than a balding look, and way better than a comb-over or toupee.

5 Matt October 27, 2009 at 7:20 pm

Regarding the Brylcream…do you shampoo everyday or just rinse it out and re apply more ?

6 Matt October 27, 2009 at 7:23 pm

Of you use the Brylcream, do you shampoo every day? Do you rinse your hair in the shower?

7 Robert Black October 27, 2009 at 7:32 pm

I actually use Layrite instead of Brylcream. I’ve found that it washes off better and you can manage the pomade’s strength by how wet your hair is.

8 Ben October 27, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Really interesting stuff, Brett. Think I’ll try to check out Brylcreem.

Do you really want to offend those in your audience who could actually use this advice by telling them they look goofy and juvenile, though? You’ve made me a bit ashamed of the profile pic I use on the community section of your site.

9 Brett McKay October 27, 2009 at 7:45 pm


I end up shampooing every day because I usually exercise most days. but even if you don’t shower and skip a day it still generally looks okay. And even when you do shower, it’s hard to get all of it out of your hair. But that’s okay, you just make allowance for that and use a little bit less when you get out of the shower and style your hair.


I do put things a bit strongly sometimes, but I like a man that’s forthright in his opinions. The spiky thing is fine for young men, I just think that once a man hits 30, that style does look juvenile and he should segway into something more mature. But people are welcome to disagree with me! My posts are just part of the blog-the comments are the other part.

10 Elliot October 27, 2009 at 8:20 pm

Good stuff, Brett. I’m hitting the barber tomorrow in Georgetown.

11 Michael Harrison October 27, 2009 at 8:56 pm

I always thought a person had a “natural part”. I’ve always parted on the right and it feels much more natural than trying to force a part on the other side of my noggin.

12 David October 27, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Brett any idea of the history of right v. left part. My old man always said parting from the left to right meant you believed in God and were a conservative while parting from right to left meant you were probably into sleeping in Sundays.

13 dannyb October 27, 2009 at 9:19 pm

agree with the Layrite, i just got the stuff and it works great. Google “Hawleywoods” barber shop. those guys know how to get it done

14 Ike October 27, 2009 at 9:26 pm

There is a natural part to a degree, but I’ve read the reason that many men part their hair on the left is because they are right handed, and to part the opposite side of your head is easier than the same side as the hand that is holding the comb. I’ve tried it both ways, being somewhat ambidextrous, and I’d have to say that you can always get the haircut shaped so it parts more easily to one side or another.

15 Lose That Girl October 27, 2009 at 9:56 pm

The Mad Men are quite manly, however, I think we should celebrate the fact that most manly men today do not use the goop to style their hair. Hair products are so not manly! Especially in 2009.

16 Seth McCormick October 27, 2009 at 10:14 pm

I don’t use product particularly often, but when I do I use the American Crew Pomade (and have done so for several years). It’s definitely preferable to the low-end gels that you see everywhere – in my opinion, well worth its stiff price.

I’m curious how well all of these haircuts would work on somebody with a widow’s peak as pronounced as mine.

17 Annabel Candy, Get In the Hot Spot October 27, 2009 at 10:21 pm

He does look quite manly but I’d like to see this cut incorporating a nice pair of manly sideburns.

And your thoughts on the differences in haircuts for younger and older men beg the question: When does a man become a man? What’s the ideal time to make the changeover from boy to man?

18 Carson Wright October 27, 2009 at 10:58 pm

I love these old-school hairstyles since they’re are fast and easy to do. No fussing around, spending ten minutes trying to make it look like you just got out of bed.

19 Brett McKay October 27, 2009 at 11:08 pm


I’ve never heard about that. But it sounds like an interesting historical tidbit!

20 Scotty October 27, 2009 at 11:15 pm

I highly recommend the American Crew pomade. Yeah it costs more but it’s not greasy like the drugstore stuff and it really makes your hair look great.

I don’t understand why more men don’t embrace haircuts like these. I suppose they’re worried about being “old fashioned” but I get compliments on my hair all the time. From women. Hot women.

21 Ben D October 27, 2009 at 11:52 pm

I have always wondered how to get my hair done like that. But now I know. Great story!

22 Mike October 28, 2009 at 2:57 am

I’d really like to see an article on hair styles considering body type and facial structure kinda like the one that was done for hats

23 Thad October 28, 2009 at 5:28 am

@ Mike -

If you have a good barber, then they should be able to tell you if a haircut is right for you … or, depending on their skill, they will be able to give you a similar style that is right for you. As always, finding a barber that you can trust is more than half the battle.

24 mrSunday October 28, 2009 at 8:40 am

No offense, I tried watching 1 episode of this show, and there were some serious gay or perverse men in it, which I regard totally unmanly. So I don’t watch it, but am however surprised that art of manliness references it. oO

Oh well, I suppose it’s a take home whats good and leave out the bad, kind of scenario.

25 William Trzcinski October 28, 2009 at 8:50 am

I have returned to my the barber, the guy I have gone to for years and now feel more comfortable with my hair cut.
Going there I get a more manly cut in a “guy” kind of atmosphere, I can’t beat it.
The barber shop may be the last male bastion left in society.
I am lucky to have an older barber who still has hunting and fishing magazines and
can discuss the latest boxing matches.
The visit alone is worth the price.
And I come out of his shop looking and feeling good!

26 Ozone October 28, 2009 at 9:10 am

I’m like ChemicalErik too: started losing my hair after my Master’s degree, and now, well, it’s not balding, but it has receded signficiantly. I used to keep my hair very short, but now I’ve just gone for the super short buzz cut look. Not sure if it’s “professional” but it’s better than a combover or having straggling hair flop around a receding hair line.

Any suggestions for us receding forehead types?

27 beis October 28, 2009 at 9:14 am

mrSunday is your comment for real or are you just kidding around?

28 David Valenta October 28, 2009 at 9:34 am

Your part is determined by where your cowlick is. If you don’t know that the barber can determine it for you. I always parted my hair ( well, back when I l had hair to part) on the right.

I now have a large center part.

29 CoffeeZombie October 28, 2009 at 9:48 am

I’ve taken to combing my hair straight back. Not sure if it’s a “classic” style, so to speak, but it’s a heck of a lot better some hair styles I’ve seen. In addition, my wife says I’m not allowed to part it; maybe it’s because I wear glasses, but, IIRC, she thinks I would look nerdy. I’m not sure the parted look would go well with a full bead, anyway.

I’ve used pomade pretty much since the movie “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” came out. That was the first time I’d used it, and it’s the only kind of product that will work for me.

30 Mike October 28, 2009 at 9:51 am

Me and lots of guys into classic hairstyles here in Austin prefer the Murray’s Pomade. Lots of alt-country/rockabilly types here, Murray’s holds well and looks great. It’s kind of a commitment though. It’s usually found in the African-American hair products section of the drugstore. One of the best kept secrets there.

31 P October 28, 2009 at 10:01 am


Homophobia is not manly. Some men are gay and there is an interesting subtext that is dealt with on Mad Men for a gay man in the 60′s struggling to fit in. Only watching one episode I can understand that you wouldn’t have a clue as to the greatness of the show. It took about three episodes for myself to get hooked. Anyway, I have no tolerance for homophobia and neither should any of the AOM community!

As for the article. I think it is a bit ridiculous to claim one hairstyle is more manly than another. You espouse the virtues of growing a manly beard but can you imagine a dude with a burly beard sporting a Don Draper? These hairstyles do not work for every man. I go for the unstyled look myself. There is not possible way to part my hair and I have tried for 30 years. I think I can look quite classic and put together without having a gelled up parted helmet on my head. In fact I think that Pete Campbell looks quite douche baggy!

32 Joe B. October 28, 2009 at 10:18 am

Of course homophobia isn’t manly. Homophobia implies fear of gays, and has a strong correlation today with un-needed violence or other non-manly actions against gays.

Being gay however is resolutely un-manly and there is no reason to support or condone such behavior.

33 stepcoach October 28, 2009 at 10:40 am

Good article, good ideas. I like the Jethro (as in NCIS Gibbs) haircut and generally go with that. As for the person who said hair products are “so not manly,”: you’re joking, right? Or do you have a mullet?
In my experience, ladies like men who take care of themselves. Little girls like little boys.

34 Terry October 28, 2009 at 10:44 am

@P: It seems a little knee-jerk to me for you to imply that mrSunday is a homophobe simply based on what he said (which was that he did not like the show because…). I am personally opposed to namecalling in a friendly debate; even more so when doing it indirectly.

Mad Men makes for good soap opera and provides good ideas for retro-fashion. But mrSunday has a point when it comes to the character of any of the male characters on the show; I will not be taking my manly cues from their behavior, thank you very much.

35 CoffeeZombie October 28, 2009 at 10:45 am

I probably shouldn’t bother saying anything, but this is one of my biggest pet peeves lately: the tossing-about of the slur “homophobe” whenever someone has a problem with homosexuality.

The term “homophobia” conjures up similar terms such as “arachnophobia” or “agrophobia.” It is intended to be linked to the same concept of “phobia”, that is, an irrational fear, typically one beyond what most people feel. For example, most people are a bit wary of spiders, and, if they live around spiders, will take extra measures to avoid bites (i.e., shaking out clothes, etc.). This is entirely normal. An arachnophobe, however, goes beyond this rather healthy fear, freaking out at even the sight of a spider, for example. Basically, it’s a psychological disorder.

Are there people out there who might be considered actual homophobes? Probably. But to use the term simply because someone considers homosexuality to be a perversion or to be unmanly or whatever, it becomes a slur. In this use, it is merely a smear to discredit the person, suggesting that he has a mental illness, and suggesting that a mentally healthy person would have no problem with homosexual behavior. It is verbal bullying.

And, honestly, resorting to such tactics is, in my opinion, less than manly.

36 Terry October 28, 2009 at 11:00 am

Well-said, CoffeZombie!

37 Brian October 28, 2009 at 11:24 am

I used to have the kind of Sterling look when I was in college, but then I started going thin on top and it looked like I was trying for a comb over. Now it’s the Wahl clippers twice a week with the #1 guard.

Incidentally I remember the first time I saw one of my friends with the “combed forward and the hair spiked in the front” look. I asked him first if he had run face first into a wall. Then I asked him if it was mating season and he was trying to attract a female turkey.

38 Mac October 28, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Annabelle Candy-
You become a man when you refer to your fathers friends by their first names, think sleeping until 8 is “sleeping in” and as coach of your kid’s team are OK with them calling you “Mister ___”

39 Neptunus Hirt October 28, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I don’t think there’s any way I could part my hair on the left side, as I have a very prominent cowlick on the front of my head, which when seen from my perspective in a mirror, goes counter-clockwise. It lends itself quite well to a part on the right side, though. I usually prefer to comb my hair straight back, though, especially when I am in a hurry.

40 Daniel October 28, 2009 at 12:30 pm

This article is nonsense. I haven’t been to a barber or salon in 10 years. Buy a $20 electric shaver and shave your head. You’ll save both time and money in the long run. And I’m not even going bald. My manliness lies in my character. Not in my clothes. Not in my “look”. Not in my “possessions.”

41 Gryphon MacThoy October 28, 2009 at 12:46 pm

I agree with Daniel.

Also, even if I didn’t agree with Daniel I’d say this: These sort of things just groan Corporate Drone to me. This sort of thing is the antithesis of Rugged Individualist. Artists, men who do physical work, and so on, can wear their hair however they want. And ‘product’? Really, guys? The only reason the first guy in the article doesn’t look like a complete fop is because his chin is so square and sharp you could set your watch by it. The next two are Dandy and Aged Dandy.

To me, three options:
Cut it short enough that you don’t have to deal with it (especially if you are going bald. the less hair you have, the shorter it should be.)
Keep it medium and comb it wherever it likes to be (no product. have it cut so it works.)
Never cut it and brush it out (long haired hippy or biker or surfer.)

In any case, keep it clean and leave it alone.

42 Dean October 28, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Nature defines your which side to part your hair. Go against nature, and you’ll always fight it and it will never look as good.

Every person’s head contains a cowlick or a whorl that forms a spiral (usually) near the crown. With a simple examination of the spiral pattern, you can quickly determine which way your hair would prefer to be combed. If you “go against the grain”, you will continuously fight “stubborn” hair that stands up or forms Alfalfa spikes.

43 Jeff Young October 28, 2009 at 1:44 pm

As Gryphon(is that your real name?) and David point out. there is more to being a man than having well-coiffed hair. There’s a thin line between putting a bit of something in your hair to keep it down, and having to rush out and get the newest styling products because a blog or TV show said it’s more manly, or attractive, or whatever.

I think the manliest hair cut one can have is one that no one thinks about. Not “wow, he has such awesome hair” and they miss everything you said or did. Nor so messy and unkempt it also distracts people from yourself. Your hair’s a part of you. Use it, like your clothing choices, to send a message. But don’t get so caught up with your calligraphy you forget to write a message of substance.

44 Brett McKay October 28, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Not sure why Gryphon says a man should be able to do whatever he likes with his hair but rules out using product as an option. Isn’t that a contradiction? I also never thought of myself as the foppish, dandy type…

Seems like there’s some arguing against strawmen going on here. Who’s arguing that there’s not more to being a man than having well-coiffed hair or that your manliness is tied to your “look?” Who’s arguing that you need to get the newest styling products-Brylcreem has been around for many, many decades. Who said that these were the only manly haircuts? These are just some hairstyles that do look manly and mature for those who are interested in getting the look. I actually just buzzed my head yesterday, so I’m certainly not saying that these are the only manly haircuts to have. They’re just options.

Whenever we have a post that deals with a man’s appearance, there are always comments about how a man shouldn’t care about his appearance, that it’s only what’s inside that counts. But it’s really a false dichotomy. How a man looks on the outside is a reflection of who he is on the inside. If he’s a guy who’s disciplined, who has an eye for detail, who’s organized and respectful, who’s in control, than that is reflected in his appearance. These haircuts make you look like you’ve got your shiz together, so they make you look manly. Likewise, a buzzed head makes you look like you’re frugal and low maintenance and that makes you look manly too.

45 Zander October 28, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Good explanation Brett. I think people miss the distinction between “manliness” and “manly.” Sometimes they’re connected and sometimes they’re not. Manliness to me is your inward values. But some things can just be or look manly. I mean I don’t think carrying a pocketknife has anything to do with “manliness” but it is manly. Or knowing how to change a flat tire doesn’t directly effect your manliness but it is manly. Likewise if you showed people a picture of Don Draper and a picture of a guy with moppy hair and skinny jeans and you asked them who looked manlier, I’m pretty sure they’d all go with Draper. Same if you showed them a guy in a lumberjack outfit. You can choose to make your appearance more or less manly. And these haircuts are indeed manly even if they’re not the only manly haircuts out there.

46 David October 28, 2009 at 3:55 pm

I think the confusion among men today arises from the gap between ‘being your own man’ and being part of something–whether that be a corporation, political party, etc. Today’s man wants to be himself and not worry about outside opinions, but at the same time in order to make an impact in the workplace, political arena, etc. one must be able to climb the ladder to the top to have his voice heard. I am in the military and 26, so currently I just have to keep my hair cut short and say yes sir. But this spring I’m getting out and finding a “corporate gig” so I will probably grow my hair out a bit and will have to pay more attention to it since up to now I have no maintenance issues with short hair. Definitely can’t get by with the roll out of bed look in a business setting. You have to be taken seriously by your boss, your clients, your coworkers and peers, etc. I would love to be a lumberjack and wear flannel and a stocking hat all day, unfortunately the logging business is not big enough for all 200 million american men, nor is there a frontier to escape to and claim a plot as your own. Being manly doesn’t always mean marching to the beat of your own drum. When I start a family I will have to march to the beat of the responsibility drum and make smart decisions in order to provide for those that depend on me.

As far as the homophobia conversation. It’s wrong to assume someone being uncomfortable around a member of the gay community is homophobic. Many people, especially the vast majority who do not live in large urban centers, are not exposed to a gay community at all. It’s natural, not saying right or wrong, to think something that seems foreign to you is a little strange at first. As we move forward, I think it is safe to say that exposure to the gay community will only increase and through that a more widespread acceptance and a climate of toleration will emerge. Growing up I didn’t know of anyone that was gay(not saying there were none, I just am saying I didn’t know about it). I spent considerable time since leaving home in NYC, SF, etc. so now it doesn’t even cause me a second thought. But can we not stoop to the level of branding everyone that may not be comfortable with a homosexual at first a homophobe? This would only exarcebate the problem, as it is in itself just as bad as being a homophobe, not tolerating someone else because they have different views or live a different lifestyle. Let’s leave the “it’s natural” v. “it’s sin” conversation to the realm of politics and religioin, and not expect someone else to believe the same as you do. The best policy for me is to take each person as they are, and judge them on their merits and actions rather than their views and lifestyle.

47 Seth McCormick October 28, 2009 at 4:09 pm

Leaving aside any value judgements about homosexuality, I do think it is incorrect to label all gay men as “unmanly.” Sexual orientation has nothing to do with manliness.

48 Fredric October 28, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Alright, here’s my question. I have a ponytail in early development, but I’m not into any hippie/biker/surfer/Steven-Seagal/effeminate stuff at all. My reasons for a ponytail are:

1) It takes less time than using “the goop” and saves some money.
2) Once it gets long enough, I intend to cut it off and donate to a charitable organization (Locks of Love, most likely) before growing it back for another donation.

At the risk of sounding like a conformist, would it be considered manly to act on this process if my physiology allows it?

49 Neptunus Hirt October 28, 2009 at 6:11 pm

Seth McCormick is completely correct. Sexual orientation dictates neither values, style nor behavior.
My favorite example (because it is so exaggerated, while true nonetheless. I realize that this is not a reflection on every gay individual ever): Freddie Mercury was a gay/bisexual man (he has been quoted as stating both), but what a man! Sporting both an incredible mustache at times, and being an incredible stage performer – I find him very manly. He had tremendous presence. He rose into fame by utilizing his unique skills.

50 Jack Emmerich October 28, 2009 at 6:34 pm

Man this brings me back to being 5 years old again. My band naturally flow sideways on the right half of my head insuring that I will forever have to part from the left. My mother always dressed me as her “little man”. It was flannel button downs, Levis jeans, hanker chiefs, cologne (don’t know the name, but had a “R” for a logo) and the most memorable is the parted do.

I’m still young (just turned 23) and while I’ve had different hair styles its always been my plan to back to the old school when I got older. Something I look forward to. My mother is getting married soon and perhaps I’ll sport the full on Mad Men hair cut, outfit and all in her honor.

51 Jack Emmerich October 28, 2009 at 6:36 pm

Dang it hit submit by accident. Just wanted to say thanks Brent for the trip down memory lane!

52 Alex October 28, 2009 at 7:41 pm

I will admit I think sometimes the site takes things too far in the way thats what my grandpa did. I think that as a man you should be able to pull of whatever hair do you have. For example I would say as an adult david boreanaz pulls off the modified combed look very well. It is modern and masculine. I think part of life is adapting and changing to go with it.


53 Hold Fast October 28, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Would like to see this kind of stuff for people with curly/kinky hair. I’ve most often found trying traditional barbers perplexed when I’ve gone.

54 Mark Hughes October 28, 2009 at 8:27 pm

I really like the article guys, but what about your loyal ethnic minority followers? I’m mixed African caribbean black & British white. My hair is black and curly. I have real trouble deciding how to wear my hair so I normally just keep it shaved but I don’t particularly like it. Any suggestions guys? I am sure I’m not the only man with this predicament.

Kind Regards,


55 Peter O'Reilly October 28, 2009 at 8:43 pm

Love the article. Getting my Mad Men haircut tomorrow.

56 Brett McKay October 28, 2009 at 9:45 pm


Yours is a great question. These tips came from the lady who does the Mad Men hair and since there aren’t any major minority characters on the show, she unfortunately didn’t have any tips about curly hair like yours. But perhaps I can talk to some barbers and make that a future topic….

57 Brigette October 28, 2009 at 11:56 pm

Being a very observant woman who has many female connections, I not only talk to a lot of women but also overhear conversations that women (strangers) have. I cannot tell you how many times a day I hear the words “Mad Men.” Women love everything about this show; especially the cothes and the attention to details when it comes to appearances, such as hairstyles and an overall ‘clean,’ ‘well-kept’ look.

I know oodles women who fantasize about “Mad Men” men. The Mad Men look is a very powerful style that, right now, makes every woman I know melt … including myself.


58 Hayley October 29, 2009 at 9:41 am

Hey Brigette I am the same, all that great grooming.

Take a note guys!

59 Daniel V. October 29, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Two rules for wearing these hair cuts. 1. Be hansom 2. Don’t be un-hansom.

Women melt when they watch this show because they picked great looking men. If this were a show set in the 70′s and they all had long hair, they would be saying how much they love long hair on a guy. What they mean is they love that hair on that guy in that photo shoot, not necessarily on you, because you live in the real world.

In reality you have to work with what you’ve got, not try to look like a constructed fantasy on TV.

60 JAY October 29, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Gotta go with the “natural” part argument. When I was a kid, my dad took me to a very manly old barber (lots of stories my brothers and I share about that barber shop and the comic books we read, and the quarter we got back from the buck and six bits haircut). Anyway, he always had my hair cut high and tight with the forced part on the left, and my hair always looked funny to me because of my cowlick. After a high school phase of having an unruly mop, I started getting my hair cut by a former high school classmate turned beautician (mostly because she was cute). She suggested that I part on the right, which effectively co-opted the cowlick into my hairstyle. 20 years later and I am still parting on the right (though as a lawyer in federal court I am wearing my hair a lot shorter these days!)

61 Jay October 30, 2009 at 8:40 am

Wow @Jay, we must be living parallel lives. My story is exactly the same except for the Federal Court bit. I actually run an advertising agency. Go figure. Anyone know why the left side part is traditional?

62 FS October 30, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Jay, I think it has everything to do with hand dominance. I’m a lefty, so I’ve always run my left hand through my hair. I’m constantly having to tell hairstylists to keep the part on the right.

63 Matthew October 31, 2009 at 3:51 am

Not all men will look great with the same haircut. I agree with the suggestion of working with what you have. The shape of the face will affect how a hairstyle suits, the type of hair you have and for me I find if the sides are cut too short it makes my ears look like they stick out somewhat…

64 bryan November 1, 2009 at 8:19 pm

I have worn my hair in these styles for years and the products I have found to work the best are made by a barber who cuts these and other older styles. I use layrite wich you can find online at layrite .com. they are priced from 10 to 15 bucks per bottle or tub, but the big difference is they are water based and come out alot easier than the older products.

65 Craig November 2, 2009 at 3:58 pm

Great show, Great Style and great hair styles. I haven’t used brylcreem in years but might have to pick some up tomorrow.

66 cabañas November 2, 2009 at 8:25 pm

I’ve always found long flowing locks to be pretty damn manly myself, I’m not a fan of too much greasy junk in my hair. On a side note, I have the same problem as FS being a lefty and the stylist always parting my hair the wrong way even after being a regular customer for a year or so.

67 Will Ramirez November 3, 2009 at 1:47 am

Any suggestions for someone like me who has very thick hair… I am 25 and am looking for a more manly hairstyle. i love the Draper look, but my hair is thick and don’t think I can get the look because my hair makes my head look massive when its that long

68 Dutch November 3, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Just a tip for the Don Draper cut: not all barbers interpret “tight and tapered” the same. I just left the barber wanting the Draper but got the military reject. So the lesson here is to be a little more specific and leave less to interpretation.

69 Will November 4, 2009 at 9:37 am

@Dutch: Military reject?

70 Dutch November 4, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Apparently the barber took tight and tapered to mean high and tight, but long and full on top translated fine. So, half of my head looks like I’m enlisted in the Marines which makes the other half look confused.

71 Will November 4, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Yowsers. I saw this sort of thing from time to time during my years as a Marine – guys would get a “medium regulation” cut (think Sterling above but a bit shorter) as sort of a rebellion against the standard issue high-and-tight. Some commanders let it go, others didn’t. For those ordered to get a high-reg, they would go back to the barber and just have the sides shaved down to near nothing, with a good 2 or 3 inches left on top.

Me, I just kept it shaved :) Trying to grow it back out nowadays.

72 mutuelle axa November 5, 2009 at 1:29 am

have worn my hair in these styles for years and the products I have found to work

73 Pete November 5, 2009 at 5:57 am

Well this is all well and good for those blokes that have any hair on their heads…
Manly for us male pattern baldness lot is a close but not cropped cut with scissors not clippers. Leaves what we have not bristly.
Of course there is always the chrome dome for those with a head shape that wont scare the children!

74 Dana November 5, 2009 at 10:36 am

I can’t say enough on how great American Crew products are. In fact, I should be getting a check from those guys from how often I push their product. I use their Fiber more often than the Pomade. Every man’s bathroom inventory should have either of these.

75 JW November 5, 2009 at 1:20 pm

I prefer Top Brass . A little harder to find than Brylcream. Much more body.

76 John Sherrill November 7, 2009 at 3:59 pm

@Brett – Did you get to speak with Gloria? The only reason I ask is I found a NY Times blog post that says she uses some Redken and TRI products. The author did not speak to Gloria directly. He was relayed a message by the show’s press office.

Here’s a link to the article:

Thanks for the great post. I’m shopping around for a vintage haircut/good barber and this article will help my efforts.

77 Mr Ed November 7, 2009 at 5:49 pm

I winced when I read “part on the left for this cut”, “part on right for that one”…You will get cowlicks, etc if you don’t do it the way your hair is growing. If you look down on the back of someone’s head, there is a “point of origin”. If the hair natural grow clockwise around that point, part on the left; else, right.

78 Dave Tindell November 8, 2009 at 9:33 pm

My son got me the 1st season of “Mad Men” as a birthday gift recently. My dad started his teaching career in 1960 and so I was immediately intrigued by the styling of the show. (Especially interesting was Pete Campbell’s admission that he was making $75/wk at the firm. My dad made more than that teaching junior high industrial arts in small-town Wisconsin in ’60.) I will show the posting to my wife, who is a former hair stylist and cuts my hair. What man wouldn’t like the Draper look? This is a look that shouts power and success, in the boardroom and the bedroom. It demands respect from other men and as we have seen from some of the posters, women like it a lot, too.

79 Steven November 9, 2009 at 5:38 pm

I also have a natural part on the right. I am a right-hander, but I have a cowlick on the right just at the part with a natural wave in the front towards the left. If I forced my part on the left I would end up looking ridiculous, not powerful.

I think Gloria realizes this and that’s why Roger and Peter both have right parts.

80 Charles November 11, 2009 at 7:22 am

With that hair cut, how would you comb your hair the days you don’t feel like putting all that stuff in your hair?

81 imnocasablancas November 11, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Trouble with having a haircut like this is that you have to dress appropriately – suit, shoes, hat etc etc. Then if you dress like that you end up looking like your going to a fancy dress party as a dad off a 50′s sitcom.

My point is this…no one would take you seriously if you turned up to work/a meeting/a date wearing these clothes or having this haircut. You’d look ridiculous. Attaining a manly look doesn’t nessecarily mean looking like these men. An example of a manly man with a modern look could be that of Alec Baldwin’s character in 30 Rock, Jack Doneghy.

Plus Don Draper cheated on his wife, whilst drink driving, so this discounts him from being a man to aspire to be. Mad Men is good television though.

82 Mike November 17, 2009 at 8:14 am

Hey Brett. Really enjoyed reading your article. I have been wanting to try one of these haircuts for awhile. In your article you mentioned having your barber cut your hair so it is easier to maintain a part in it. I have been looking for a skilled barber who knows how to do this can you recommend a good one here in Tulsa that you use?? What do they do to make it easier to part?? Looking forward to getting the right cut, I picked up a tube of the brylcreem yesterday.

83 Rocco November 21, 2009 at 7:10 am

Interesting article, it’s true that you see far too many middle aged men these days sporting hairstyles that look cool on guys 20 years younger than themselves. I realised aged about 28 that I could no longer carry off the spiky-at-the-front look that was so cutting edge for young men in the late ‘90’s.
However, I feel that the side parted, brylcreemed look is best left to my father’s generation. These days I sport a number 3 all over: It’s cheap (my wife does it), neat, easy to maintain and conveniently hides my advancing male pattern baldness.

84 Jim November 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm

I want to read more ladies comments on how they like the Mad Men look…

85 James November 25, 2009 at 12:55 am

I would have to disagree with some of imnocasablancas points, and agree with some. I’ve gone to the extreme and have used Royal Crown for the mega greasy/wet look for a sharper and what I think is a more formal look, but a part and a little dab of Brylcreem doesn’t merit some wingtips and a fedora. Alec Baldwin does have a clean look on 30 Rock though. I say, comb your hair and wear a collared shirt and you have a classic man look. A suit with a parted haircut means you care. Just don’t mop top it, you’re not the fifth Beatle.

86 William December 11, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Brett, I liked your comment from October 28. I think that the hair style and use or not use of “product” should depend on the person. I did enjoy this article however, because the hair style seems to work for me. Additionally, let’s try to stay away from giving the characters of this show too much admiration. Remember this is a television show where drama sells, and let’s think about the qualities that make real men such as humility, not cheating on your wife, candor, will, endurance etc. If I were to look towards a TV show for inspiration, I would probably go for a show like “Band of Brothers.” Nuts!

87 Mike December 11, 2009 at 3:45 pm

I have found another awesome old school product to give this same look.. it’s called Wildroot. I picked up a bottle from my local Walgreens. It gives your hair a really healthy shine and keeps it well groomed and I found it to have better hold than Brylcreem. Been using it for a couple of weeks and my hair seems much healthier, plus I think it leaves a nicer shine than brylcreem-Give it a try guys!

88 Charlie December 22, 2009 at 6:37 pm

Actually, the Caesar haircut (combed forward and either brushed up in front or left down over the forehead) is one of the oldest, manliest haircuts in manly history. Some of the manliest men ever sported the Caesar, right on up to today, from Julius Caesar (the haircut’s namesake) to George Clooney. It definitely doesn’t have to have a part to be manly and proper. Where people mess up is when they get it improperly cut and then go home and style it improperly. Then, it just looks adolescent – right up there with the ever-annoying faux hawk. However, if done right, the Caesar can be an elegant alternative to a parted hairstyle. There’s also the excellent Ivy League haircut (think Anderson Cooper), which is conservative and may or may not be parted.

89 John January 12, 2010 at 6:32 am

Yeah, I agree. Sometimes, a parted haircut looks just plain nerdy. Also, keep in mind fellahs, that at some point, a lady is going to want to TOUCH your hair. If her hand’s going to come away with gobs of goo on it, she’ll be grossed out. So, you may want to rethink the “product”. Looking all greased up and slicked back went out of style for a reason, gentlemen.

90 Icarus Holmes January 16, 2010 at 4:54 pm

Great post. However, American Crew pomade comes in a lot of different ‘flavors’ (so, it’ll take some experimenting before finding the right product). Personally, I like American Crew Classic Wax … nice hold, easy to wash, nice smell, and best of all, it keeps the shine without greasiness.

91 James Smith January 18, 2010 at 6:45 pm

According to the writer of this article, his wife loves the way his hair looks slicked back and he receives compliments all the time (from other women I assume….)

92 Matt January 19, 2010 at 1:54 pm

I’ve been sporting a similar cut; what I call the “JFK” since about 11th grade. Even in the Marines, with a 0 on the sides, I still have about 1/2 to 3/4 inches on top. There is a part, but not as defined. Totally Badass.

93 Gary Spann January 22, 2010 at 11:45 am

I have worn my hair with a part on the left for my entire life. Ok I spent a couple years with the middle part feathered look but hey at least I admit it… Anyway, I used to hate the thought of any product in my hair, especially in high school, I considered it girly. When I was flying on helicopters I never used product cause I wore a helmet all the time. Plus I kept it so short it didn’t matter. Now that I mostly just sit behind a desk, I have rediscovered Vitalis and Brylcream. My dad used Vitalis and I remember sopping it into my hair when I was a young lad. Lately I have begun to take more pride in my appearance and I really have to say the Draper type of haircut is right up my alley. I really like to classic grooming and I even shave with a 1962 DE safety razor and use a brush and shave soap. Just because this haircut went out of style doesn’t make it wrong. Funny how my lifelong out of style haircut is not in style…

94 Mike January 27, 2010 at 2:09 am

I agree with you Gary, just cause it’s out of style doesn’t make it wrong. I have been parting my hair on the left for a few months now. It’s funny my dad used to slather vitalis and groom and clean in my hair as a kid and I hated it, now at 43 and still with a full head of hair I enjoy using these same two products together, especially the groom and clean, it gives a deep shine and easily washes out. I think it is a classic style on the right person and never goes out of style.

95 JP Reynolds January 31, 2010 at 5:37 pm

I saw this article a couple of months ago and decided this was a hairstyle I’d like to try. I’ve tried a few different products. I like the Brylcreem because it’s cheap and easy to spread through my whole head (pomades seem to choose areas to clump in and you end up having some parts that doesn’t have anything in them.) However, my hair is really thick, so the Brylcreem doesn’t hold the front up. So, I’ve been using the American Crew pomade just in the front which has the dual advantage of looking great and using less of the expensive stuff.

96 Robb February 3, 2010 at 10:31 pm

Take the old clippers, throw on a numero uno, and keep it buzzed and short year round. No mess, no fuss, no hassle, and all business.

97 Stephanie February 8, 2010 at 6:00 pm

As a woman in her late 20′s, I prefer the groomed look. I’ve dated everything under the sun, but now as I’m older married, and have a buisness, I prefer my husband to look like an adult. He runs a high end construction buisness, and he needs to look like the affluent man he is to get respect from his clientele. Juat as I own my own buisness and can no longer have pink hair, I have now settled on my natural color in a nice bob, that can be both easy and respectful to my clients.

98 Mark February 9, 2010 at 4:28 pm

I have to disagree with those who think that the wetlook is dead in 2010 – to the contrary, it is very much alive. I wear a Don Draper cut myself and use brylcreem to achieve the wet slick look. I work in an office and I’m taken very seriously – I think far more seriously as an adult than some of the entry level :kids: that come to work for us with their bedhead and sloppy attire. Now that is a look I think looks rediculous. While I don’t have to wear a suit everyday, I do wear a shirt and tie everyday as do all the men (even the entry level kids) where I work. The ones that you see getting the promotions, getting the opportunities, are those who look the part. This may be because our business is similar to Don Draper’s world of advertising where a neat appearance not only helps, but is expected. My wife likes the way my hair looks and she is known to run her fingers thru my brylcreemed hair. I take time to make sure my left side part is as straight as can be, because I figure if your doing to wear a part, it better be damn straight. I like the whole look and the confidence it gives me. I just wish men who think they can look sloppy with a child’s haircut would wake up, get a haircut, and realize that unless they plan to work at a Starbucks or at a Guitar Center all their life, they may have to adjust and become open minded to such things as parting their hair, using brylcreem, and puting on a shirt and tie from time to time.

99 Greg K., PA February 15, 2010 at 7:27 pm

In talking to my barber, I found out that a left or right part isn’t necessarily completely arbitrary. Some people’s hair naturally falls a certain way.

Mr. McKay – does the Brylcreme ever leave a residue when you lay your head on a pillow, couch, etc.

100 H. Clyde Disney March 4, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Hello, I am from that age group that started out greasing our hair, but changed to the “dry look” in Jr. High.

My ‘Grease’ of choice was Wildroot cream oil, and was it ever greasy. The High School students from our rival school kept the oily look for a few years more. We called them “Greasers”

In my opinion the dry look with a well done haircut is still the manly way to go. The greasy kids look still looks sneaky contrived, and affected. It always did. Aways.

It was a ‘Dude’ style. It still is. When I see someone with that look, I expect him to try and sell me something.

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