Thoughts about the ‘fashy’ haircut?


One morning this week — probably Monday — I made my way to my usual table for breakfast, and just before sitting noticed the two young men at the table behind me.

I had noticed them before, for one reason only — their haircuts. One of them is more noticeable than the other, because his hair is blond, which makes the cut pop out more. His hair is always the same — cut almost down to the skin on the sides and back, longer but cut and shaped with obsessive care on the top, and plastered down. Not a hair is out of place.

Again, I successfully resisted the temptation to ask, “How often do you get your hair cut?” Because it always looks like he rose from the barber’s chair in the last five minutes, if not more recently. What kind of commitment to one’s appearance must that take?

As a guy who likes to get his hair cut really short so I don’t have to go back for a couple of months, maybe three — saving time and money — I idly wondered how much it would cost for me to maintain a look like that, all the time. And then I immediately thought, no one wants to see me with that haircut, ever, even for a moment — because I’d look like a colonel in the Waffen-SS. No, let’s be precise: I’d look kind of like Reinhard Heydrich, who may well be the scariest-looking man to have lived in the past century. Not an image I’m going for.

Sitting down to my breakfast, I immediately forgot about the guys behind me and their hair. For about one minute. Then, reading about what happened in Charlottesville, I ran across this:

Yes, there were swastika-tattooed, Ku Klux Klan-hooded 50-somethings on the streets of Charlottesville. The most chilling photos, however, show hordes of torch-bearing, fresh-faced, “fashy”-coiffed white men in their teens and 20s.

And immediately, without following the link, and in spite of my bottomless ignorance about current fashion, I knew exactly what sort of coif she meant. Here’s how the story at that link, from 2016, describes it:

We need to talk about a haircut. Also about identity, and hatred, and maybe about the total end of American civilization — but first about a haircut.

You have seen it. It is short on the sides and long on the top. It is clean and tidy, with a military sheen. It’s been popular among young people for several years. But now this haircut is making us ask ourselves, with seriousness that seems unthinkable in 2016: hipster or Nazi?

Young city-dwelling men leaving their SoulCycle classes in leftover “I’m With Her” T-shirts.

Young white-nationalism enthusiasts leaving a recent conference in Washington, D.C., where several of them performed a Nazi salute.

The same haircut. The exact same haircut….

By the way, about those two young fellows sitting behind me: I’m quite certain that they are not neo-Nazis, or white supremacists. Why? Because I keep seeing them at the Capital City Club, which was founded for reasons that are the precise opposite of white supremacy. If you want to be a white supremacist, there are other clubs you can join. I’m assuming they’re just go-getter young businessmen who want to look sharp.

John Dillinger, hipster?

John Dillinger, hipster?

And it’s a time-honored way of looking sharp. It was popular a century ago, and continued to be fashionable into the 1930s, based on old photos. You see that cut on everyone from actors on “Boardwalk Empire” (set right after the Great War) to John Dillinger. OK, maybe Dillinger’s another bad example. But the fact is, about 20 or 30 years before I was born, lots of guys wore their hair that way, and not all of them were fascists or gangsters.

I wonder if those two guys I keep seeing know some people are calling it a “fashy” cut, or that hipsters have for some time ironically called it a “Hitler Youth?

I suppose I could give them a heads-up (sorry), but I don’t think that’s the best way to start a conversation with someone you don’t know…



10 thoughts on “Thoughts about the ‘fashy’ haircut?

  1. bud

    I’ve got to say Brad you are by far and away the most image obsessed human being I’ve ever known in my life. You noticed 2 young men because they had a slightly unusual haircut??? Really? I think this is why I find this whole discussion about monuments, flags, building names so off putting. People and causes are complicated so by necessity people can always find a reason to keep or remove a given monument. Heck I could craft an argument to get rid of the WW2 memorial because of its glorification of war and killing. It’s just really not worth all the time we devote to it.

    Let’s keep in mind what Trump was doing Tuesday at Trump tower. He was there to discuss the infrastructure legislation. Has anyone written or talked about that very important issue? We should be debating that rather than some damn statue of a long dead general. Let’s start discussing issues rather than elevating symbols to the importance of real issues. Isn’t it obvious that clean water and safe roads are more important than a flag, a bronze statue or granite obelisk? Isn’t it?

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      And you are a very concrete-thinking guy. Which is cool. Takes all kinds to make a world. We’ve probably discussed this before, but I’m thinking you’re way S on the Myers-Briggs system….

      Haircuts aren’t important. I just wrote this because of the coincidence: I read about a thing RIGHT AFTER seeing it in real life.

      But when you’re talking about politics, leadership, the presidency, words and symbols are EXTREMELY important. Which is why it’s bad that we have a president who is so profoundly inarticulate…

    2. Richard

      I wonder how many black people are members of Brad’s breakfast club? I’m sure the majority of the help is black.

        1. Claus2

          I’m not the “club” kind of guy. I feel the need to be seen and included by others who feel the need to be seen and included.

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            I feel the need to eat breakfast without spending time making it myself. And I can do it at my club more cheaply than at Lizard’s Thicket, dues included.

            A lot of people at the club probably think I’m weird, because it’s not a social thing with me. I’ll greet people and be friendly if they come up to me, but my main focus is to sit, eat, and get as far as I can through The State, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Twitter and if time’s left over, The Guardian. I don’t look up unless someone speaks to me.

            Almost everyone else is there to be sociable…

  2. JesseS

    I’m more amazed at how drastic fashion changes. 6-8 years ago the high and tight was the de facto haircut for white gay men (or at least it was the haircut gay men kept telling me I just had to get –I’d look great!, I really would). A couple years after that it was the hipster haircut and it stayed that way for years. Then the tiki torchers got into it and about the time of Trump’s election the high and tight became strictly verboten. It went from gay to “straight but vocalizing that I’m open minded” to “Literal Nazi”.

  3. Bart Rogers

    Okay, I am a few days late but my nephew has the same haircut and he is not racist, a neo-Nazi, skinhead, or any other supporter of radicals on either side. It is fashionable and if I were younger, I may have my hair styled the same way. Some of us back in the day who didn’t have blond hair had it bleached blonde. I did and realized afterwards – big mistake. It eventually grew out but in a few days, it turned a terrible shade of blonde mixed with orange.

    I have observed over the decades that clothing and hair styles come and go and often repeat after skipping a couple of generations. But, the one hair style I cannot abide or understand is the man-bun. When I see one, I want to jerk it off the guy’s head, roots and all. But, that is just me.


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