Although it seems to be a decade so far removed from us, the
1930s were, in fact, the moment in time when everything modern
started as far as men’s style is concerned. It was in the 1930s
that men began to take after their favorite celebrities, much
as we do now. It was also the haircuts they wore that gave
birth to the taper fades and disconnects of today. Are you
curious to know how? Here are 50 1930s mens hairstyles to take
you back in time.
1. The Clark Gable
This is actor Clark Gable during the shooting of Manhattan
Melodrama in 1934. He was one of the most prestigious
actors of the moment and, naturally, his look and hairstyles
were copied all around.
2. The Frank Sinatra
One thing that was against the rules in the 1930s for men was
for them to wear long hair. Men were just surfacing from the
1910s and 20s, periods in which nothing but extremely short and
sleek hair hid under a broad-brimmed hat was acceptable.
3. The Errol Flynn
Here’s actor Errol Flynn on the set of The Private Lives of
Elizabeth and Essex in 1939. Errol was a massive star of
the decade, even though he has been largely forgotten today. He
was also considered one of the best actors of his generation.
4. The Cary Grant
Rebelling a bit against the strictness of the previous decade,
1930s mens hairstyles meant a little long hair in the front and
on top and very short hair on the sides and faded in the back.
Everything was covered in oil or cream.
5. The James Roosevelt
This is James Roosevelt, the son of President Roosevelt. He’s
wearing a very roguish version of 1930s mens hairstyles with a
small strand of hair falling on his forehead, not unlike what
you would see on Zayn Malik today, for example.
6. The Gary Cooper
Here’s actor Gary Cooper photographed in 1934 by George
Hoyningen-Huene. To get this desired wet look, men used copious
amounts of a product called Brilliantine. Essentially,
this was an oily and perfumed liquid. Fun fact – when
Grease was released in Canada, they renamed it
Brilliantine, based on their hairstyles.
7. The Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
It’s very easy to see how 1930s mens hairstyles were the
great-grandfathers of today’s taper fade haircuts. Men were
trying to keep their hair shorter on the sides and in the back
according to tradition but also grow it a bit like the actors
in the movies.
8. The Franklin D. Roosevelt Jr.
Speaking of haircuts that we still have today, here’s a
pompadour from the 1930s for you. As you can see, it also
features a hard part on one side and it has been slicked with a
lot of grease or oil.
9. The Jimmy Stewart
Actor Jimmy Stewart appeared in movies such as It’s a
Wonderful Life and Rear Window. This picture of
him in the 30s proves that he too used to wear what is now
considered the epitome of 1930s mens hairstyles.
10. Simple 1930s Mens Hairstyles
Men who couldn’t afford to go to the barber in those days got
their hair cut at home. This resulted in very rough backs or
sides which might even have been shaved off completely. That’s
how the taper fade and modern disconnect were invented.
11. Curly 1930s Mens Hairstyles
Even if you had curly hair, the same rule applied to 1930s mens
hairstyles. Your hair needed to be as short as possible on the
sides, almost like the modern undercut we have now and a little
longer on top.
12. Handsome 1930s Mens Hairstyles
You would normally part your hair on one side, slick it over,
and then apply a lot of Brilliantine or another oil or
pomade very loosely to make it stick to your scalp, not move
the entire day, and shine like crazy.
13. The Fred Astaire
Alongside Ginger Rogers, Fred Astaire made true Hollywood
history in movies such as Top Hat, Funny
Face, and Swing Time. He was also one of the most
stylish men of the decade, wearing 1930s men hairstyles like
14. The John Wayne
Winning the Oscar for True Grit and surnamed The Duke,
John Wayne is a Hollywood legend. He was undeniably helped by
his good looks, which included his wavy 1930s mens hairstyles
and classic handsome features.
15. Elegant 1930s Mens Hairstyles
This is what men would look like if they went to a special
event such as a wedding, a party or the opera in the 1930s. It
all looks over the top to us now, but you were considered
underdressed if you didn’t follow the dress code.
16. 1930s Mens Hairstyles with a Comb Over
This is an actual ad from the 1930s for the tennis shirt the
model is wearing. The commercial also included instructions to
the open stitch pattern so that you could knit it for yourself.
It is valuable to us because it gives us a glimpse of how men
used to style their hair and clothes during that decade.
17. 1930s Mens Hairstyles for the Beach
Taken on the French Riviera at Cannes, this photograph belongs
to a very early series by the brothers Louis, Jules, and Henri
Seeberger. They were meant to depict street style in the 1930s.
We get to see what men wore as casual outfits at the beach
during those days.
18. Business 1930s Mens Hairstyles
A business hairstyle from the
1930s would have the same elegant, slicked-back look that has
been treated with as much pomade or oil as it can take. The
well-tailored suit with large, baggy pants was considered the
height of fashion.
19. Wavy 1930s Mens Hairstyles
Here is the cover of a 1930s men’s catalog which advertises a
sweater that was very trendy back then. However, we are more
interested in the wavy, slicked-back hairstyle, which produced
the image of a clean-cut and elegant man.
20. Boyish 1930s Mens Hairstyles
Even boyish or teenage haircuts were as elegant as the rest.
Perhaps they were a little longer, younger men being allowed to
wear longer locks. However, you can see the same sense of order
and fall into a neat line everywhere. Later on, this is exactly
the look and idea that the 1950s men will rebel against and
start wearing pompadours. They would be called “The Greasers.”
21. The Walt Disney
Here is a very young Walt Disney posing with his very first
Oscar award which he won in 1939 for a short film called
Flowers and Trees. He is styled according to the
decade in a light yet tailored suit and a slicked back
22. The Robert Pattinson
Let’s move on now from actual classics and real pictures of
actors and stylish men of the decade and see how Hollywood
depicts the 30s in men’s hairstyles and clothing today. This is
actor Robert Pattinson in Water for Elephants.
23. The Aidan Turner
Actor Aidan Turner starred in And Then There Were
None, adapted after the famous novel by Agatha Christie, a
movie set in the 30s. His wavy black hair is slick and shiny,
exactly like most men used to wear it back then.
24. The Josh O’Connor
Here’s actor Josh O’Connor, one of the stars of the hit TV
series The Durrells in Corfu, about a British family
who moves to Corfu during the 30s. His take on 1930s mens
hairstyles is a bit more modern and loose.
25. The Johnny Depp 1930s Mens Hairstyles
Another slightly more modern take on 1930s mens hairstyles than
it should be belongs to Johnny Depp in Public Enemies.
His messy pompadour seems to be off by some two decades,
perhaps finding a better home in the 50s.
26. The Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio portrayed Howard Hughes in The
Aviator to great success and he cut a fantastic figure
dress and styled in a 1930s fashion. However, he didn’t seem
able to ditch his 90s heartthrob haircut and fully adhere to
1930s mens hairstyles.
27. The Russell Crowe
Russell Crowe’s haircut in Cinderella Man is a little
too long to be among genuine 1930s mens hairstyles. However, we
could pass it as a poor man’s version of the decade’s most
fashionable cuts, which is exactly what his character was all
28. The Indiana Jones
Although Indy’s haircut is spot on and extremely accurate as
far as 1930s mens hairstyles go, the beard is out of place. A
prominent figure like Indiana Jones would have never worn
facial hair in the 30s.
29. The Tom Hanks
This is actor Tom Hanks in the movie The Green Mile,
an adaptation after the novel of the same name by Stephen King,
set in the 1930s. As we have previously seen on this list, his
curly hair is styled perfectly for that decade.
30. The Matt Damon
Although it is understandable that Matt Damon is going for a
bit of a young boy look in The Legend of Bagger Vance,
almost no men would have worn bangs in that decade. All 1930s
mens hairstyles were slicked back with tons of pomade.
31. The Will Smith
Here’s Will Smith in the same movie, The Legend of Bagger
Vance, with a slightly overgrown and natural afro that
might have been just as out of place in the 30s as Matt Damon’s
bangs. But he does, indeed, look very good.
32. The Tom Hardy
One man who got it extremely right is actor Tom Hardy who
portrayed Forrest Bondurant in Lawless. His undercut
comes very close to a taper fade, and he has longer hair on top
with a side part and a lot of oil to keep it in place.
33. TLet’s cross over to the British side of the pond now and see
what men made of the 1930s over there. This is the fantastic
aesthetic of Brideshead Revisited. We’ll start with
the 1981 adaptation and Anthony Andrews as Lord Sebastian
Flyte. Although a perfect casting choice, his blonde bangs
might be a little out of place in the 30s.
34. The Ben Wishaw
Here’s the second Sebastian in the 2008 adaptation of
Brideshead Revisited. Although he has the famous 1930s
side part, he’s missing the hair pomade and the slick back.
We’re happy to see he’s holding Aloysius, though.
35. The Jeremy Irons
The other main man in Brideshead is Charles Ryder
portrayed first by Jeremy Irons. He is a great example of 1930s
mens hairstyle for young college boys, just like we’ve seen
James Roosevelt in an original photo from the decade a few
36. The Matthew Goode
The second Charles Ryder was portrayed by actor Matthew Goode
in the 2008 adaptation of Brideshead Revisited. He is
an even better reimagining of 1930s mens hairstyles with
slicked back, oiled up hair and a slight taper fade on the
37. The Jesse Eisenberg
When actor Jesse Eisenberg starred in Woody Allen’s Café
Society, he really brought back the 1930s for us. His
hairstyle is as close to perfection as is humanly possible,
with a set of finger waves that is highly reminiscent of the
20s as well.
38. The Steve Carrell
This is a still of actor Steve Carrell in the same 1930s-based
Café Society. He too is wearing a very accurate
hairstyle for the decade with a side part and his hair slicked
back with a copious amount of oil.
39. The Kenneth Branagh
If the mustache alone didn’t give him away, this is actor
Kenneth Branagh as Hercule Poirot in 2018’s Murder on the
Orient Express. Although he did receive a bit of flack
from fans and critics alike for it, his hairstyle is perfect
for that decade.
40. The Josh Gad
Actor Josh Gad was part of the roster for the same Murder
on the Orient Express. No spoilers. His take on 1930s mens
hairstyle is up to par as well and, we’re glad to say that
Gad’s mustache makes the cut too.
41. The Sergei Polunin
This internationally famous ballet dancer was chosen to play
the Prince on Orient Express. Here he is with a
wonderfully oiled up slick back. His chestnut hair highlights
his fantastically blue eyes and balances his beautifully carved
42. The Johnny Depp
Here’s Johnny Depp the second time around on our list of 1930s
mens hairstyles. This time, he has nailed the look of the
decade with a simple slick back with plenty of pomade and a
43. The Bradley Cooper
This is actor Bradley Cooper in Serena, a movie set in
the 1930s and in which he starred alongside Jennifer Lawrence.
He is wearing a messy and slightly modern version of 1930s mens
44. The Ralph Fiennes
We have seen many contemporary Hollywood actors star in movies
set in the 30s and, consequently, trying to replicate the look
and hairstyles. However, the top spot goes to Ralph Fiennes. In
the movie The English Patient, he looked like he might
have lived through the 30s.
45. The Adrien Brody
Peter Jackson’s King Kong takes the 30s with a grain
of salt. And so do his characters and the way they are dressed
and styled. After all, this is a movie about a giant gorilla
who fights dinosaurs and then goes rampant in New York.
46. The Robert De Niro
If we awarded first place for best 1930s mens hairstyles
lookalike to Ralph Fiennes, actor Robert De Niro comes in at a
close second. This is him in Once Upon a Time in
America and his look is spot on.
47. The Colin Firth
We’re back to England once again to watch Colin Firth’s
portrayal of King George in The King’s Speech. His
royal style, however, saw less hair pomade or oil and more
layers and chestnut hair coloring.
48. The Stuart Townsend
As far as 1930s mens hairstyles go, Stuart Townsend’s one in
Head in the Clouds wasn’t the closest resemblance to
the real deal. Still, it was a good movie to watch and he
looked as handsome as ever.
49. The Dan Stevens
Portraying a small country lawyer who suddenly finds out he has
inherited a large estate and the aristocratic title of Earl of
Grantham, Dan Stevens cuts a very dapper and extremely handsome
figure as Matthew Crawley in the smashingly successful TV
series Downton Abbey.
50. The Hugh Bonneville
The man Dan Stevens stands to inherit his fortune and title
from is the current Earl, Robert Grantham, portrayed by Hugh
Bonneville. His 1930s haircut is perfect for a mature man with
a side part and a taper fade.
The 1930s were an era of glamour and elegance for men who
sought to copy the actors of Hollywood’s Golden Age as much as
they could. Therefore, 1930s mens hairstyles became a fertile
ground which, almost 80 years later gave us the taper fade, the
disconnected haircut, and the undercut. Let us know in the
comment section below which one of these was your favorite!
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