Adopting the Don Draper look

Finally ditched the barber after all these years and went to a proper salon on Saturday. The hairdresser did – I think – a good job. We talked about the style before it was washed and cut. I was there nearly 45 minutes (!). Huge contrast to the barber where it’s rarely more than 15 minutes in and out.

I went for something very ‘classic’. I’ve left the Hugh Grant-esque ‘bouffant’ and moved to a tight, controlled Don Draper-esque side-parting, short round the back and sides but quite long on top.

Slicked hair with a side part

The slicked back undercut isn’t the only 2012 men’s hairstyle that is something of a classic haircut revived. Nor is it the only hairstyle that requires a sumptuous amount of product to achieve its slick look.

Straight hair, slicked to the side with a defined parting but no volume from Dolce & Gabbana men’s autumn / fall 2011 / 2012 look book

The men’s slicked hairstyle with side part enjoyed its major revival around 2009 / 2010 when Mad Men first impacted upon the global psyche. Courtesy of the man’s man connotations that Don Draper gave the style it soon became the go-to hairstyle of many a man, the likes of actor George Clooney included. But where it was once for the older, stylish gent, the side parted, slicked hairstyle has become just as much a look for the young. As such it was quickly appropriated by many a designer for the styling of their catwalks. You equally won’t be hard pressed to find it worn, somewhat knowingly, by style conscious chaps on the streets.

Who it is for

  • This is a hairstyle ideal for men with relatively straight hair as the hair is more likely to sit flat on the head complimenting the hairstyle’s ‘slick’ shape.
  • Those with curly hair can straighten or give it a straight blow-dry before commencing styling.
  • If you have a receding hairline or fine hair and are self conscious of either, then discuss this with your hairdresser before getting your hair cut. This is a hairstyle that can highlight areas where men recede – though that’s not a problem for everyone.

How it’ll be cut

  • This style is all about the cut. If it’s not cut so that it can be styled neat and tidy, the classic overtones of the hairstyle will fade away.
  • The thumb-rule to this look is having a clean side part, with shorter sides and relatively longer hair towards the centre.
  • Your hairdresser must cut the fine hair around the ears, above the neck and around the hairline. There’s no scope for casual untidiness. When you’re checking your haircut before paying, double check these areas – they must be cleanly cut.
  • A razor can be used to trim the hair at the base of your head for an even more refined and tailored look.
  • Book a follow-up appointment with the hairdresser, six-weeks after the first cut.
  • If you have straight hair: stick to a longer cut on top.
  • If you have wavy hair: opt for a short length of hair on top, perhaps a few inches in length depending on the strength of your wave.

How to style it

  • Keep the parting straight.
  • For a wet slicked look: apply hair gel before parting the hair and then work the product with a comb all through the hair strands.
  • For a natural matte finish look: Part the hair first, spray some hairspray on a brush and gently comb through the top layers of the hair. This will resist flyaway strands.
  • If you’re after the classic finish to the look popular in both the 1930s and again courtesy of Mad Men, then your product of choice will be Brylcreem.


Quite a few comments at work this morning with the words ‘World War One’ and ‘Downton Abbey’ both being used. All in all it was met with approval (either that or people are just being nice).

Out goes the matt gel and in comes the wax. I have very thick hair so it needs controlling.

Anyway – I like it. For someone who has one foot in the early part of the last century, adopting such a classic look feels very natural.

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