We’ve seen a resurgence in plenty of retro trends in the last decade. Mid Century modern furniture is freshly popular for apartment decor. 80’s jeans and high top sneakers are cool again. And some old school hairstyles are coming back around too.
Women’s hairstyles in the 1940s were all about volume, curls, and a lot of hairspray. Men’s styles, on the other hair, featured shorter hair in clean, controlled styles. For men, this decade was all about simple, elegant polish - and those qualities are timeless.
If you want a subtle way to add a little extra polish into your daily look, maybe it’s time that you tried out a modern version of one of the popular 1940s men’s hairstyles that are making a comeback.
Classic Side Comb
One of the dominant features of 1940s men’s hairstyles is that men wore their hair shorter on the sides, but kept it longer on the top of their heads. In this decade, the most popular look for men was to comb the long part of their hair off to one side.
This is a popular feature of more modern men’s hairstyles already. However, while modern combed cuts often present a loose, side-swept look, the old school combed hairstyle features a more defined hold.
To get this hairstyle, ask your barber for a blended mid-fade (or another cut you like with a similar look) and part your hair off to one side. Comb your hair off to one side, and use a pomade or styling gel that will keep a firm hold on your hair throughout the day to establish a clean, defined shape.
If your hair is long enough to also comb back on the sides, then make sure you sweep that back as well. The key to doing justice to this style is to keep it super clean - no stray hairs or tousled waves.
You can style your hair when it’s dry, but you’ll end up with a better finished look if you start with wet hair. This lets you blow dry in the direction that you’ll be combing your hair, which will then be easier to style into place with your pomade and will hold better throughout the day.
Sound complicated? We promise it’s not. The few extra minutes will go a long way to produce a polished look.
Waved Side Comb
Not all 1940s looks feature a straight, slick comb. If the strict side comb feels a little too “straight and narrow” for your style, you could instead turn to the classic waved look from this decade.
Like the classic side comb, the waved hairstyle features shorter cropped hair on the sides of your head that blend up into longer hair at the top and combed off to one side. The only difference between the classic comb and the waved hairstyle is–unsurprisingly, given the title z-the addition of a single, simple wave or two as you comb your hair to the side.
Note that, to stay true to the 1940’s vibe, the wave should still be kept close to your head; you’re going for shape here, not extra volume.
The Full Slick Back
Like the classic side comb, the full slick back hairstyle will give you a super clean look. However, rather than combing off to one side, you’ll brush all of your hair back from your hairline towards the back of your head and neck.
One of the benefits of the slicked-back look is that it’s accessible to anyone with hair long enough to comb back. Typically this works best if your hair is 4-6” long, but you can get a solid finished look even if you keep your hair close on the sides.
This makes the full slick back an excellent style to experiment with if you’re just starting to explore a more retro hairstyle.
The trick to getting a lasting hold for your full slick back is to start with damp, towel-dried hair. Brush out your hair and let it settle for a few minutes while you go through the rest of your skincare routine.
Gently pat a small amount of styling paste into the outermost layer of your hair and then massage the product all the way through.
If your hands are sticking to your hair, rake a little extra water through your hair to add a little extra moisture. Once the product is worked into your hair, comb it straight back from your forehead and temples to the back of your head. You can go straight back or adjust slightly for your natural part.
There are two tricks to getting the full slick to stay all day: use a little hairspray, and don’t touch it. The oil on your hands will break down the product over time, so just resist the urge.
Keep in mind that clean hair is easiest to style. Your hair has a little more weight to it when you haven’t washed out the leftover styling product from yesterday’s look or haven’t washed your hair in a few days.
This can make it difficult to style your hair into place right off the bat or could cause your ‘do to fall flat over the course of the day, so make sure you use shampoo and a lightweight conditioner before you use one of these styles.
Spending a few extra minutes styling your hair in the morning, or a few extra bucks on the quality hair product can be all you need to feel confident walking out the door every morning.
One of these 1940’s men's hairstyles could be the little boost you need to feel extra polished for that big interview, extra classy for that big date, or just looking good because you feel like it.