The Elephant Trunk is a classic hairstyle dating back to the ’50s (or at least that’s when it was most popular). Just because this style is most commonly associated with John Travolta’s role in Grease, that doesn’t mean you can’t wear it just the same today.
If you haven’t already heard of this style, you might be wondering what on earth it is to have a name like ‘the Elephant Trunk’. This hairstyle is characterized by long, combed-back hair, with a thick quiff on the front. This part often sticks out quite a bit, hence the name ‘Elephant Trunk’.
There are a few different reasons you might consider this style. Maybe you want to look like a 20th-century movie star, with long sideburns and a hearty head of combed hair, or you’re just looking for a manly style to go with your motorbike and leather jacket. Either way, this style is definitely not a thing of the past just yet.
1950s Inspired Elephant Trunk
Made popular in the 1950s and commonly remembered from the movie Grease, the elephant trunk men’s hairstyle is a classic, polished look that requires a lot of styling maintenance. This style is comprised of long, combed-back hair with an exaggerated quiff at the front.
Comb Over Taper Fade
This is definitely not your Grease elephant trunk but rather a more modern take on the style. It features a diagonal part and a trendy taper fade then a sleek, voluminous top with the trunk falling down the side.
Long Elephant Trunk and Volumed Brush Back
Now here’s an elephant trunk that’s more dramatic than most. From the incredible height to the super-slick appearance and the sculpted tendril, this is something you probably won’t wear every day — it definitely needs a special occasion.
Modern Elephant Trunk with Temple Fade
Feel free to get very creative with your hairstyle. Aside from the perfectly styled fringe, add some temple fade designs for an even more eye-popping look.
Modern Elephant Trunk
Of course, if you think the vintage look is too hard to pull off, bring your elephant trunk to modern times. This has a stylish messy texture at the top and feels really fresh instead of old-fashioned.
Side Swept Hard Part
For an impeccably sculpted look, team a hard part with a textured, side-swept top. Then add a little elephant trunk for extra flair.
Thick Elephant Trunk and Medium Fade
A thick elephant trunk can add extra character to a basic cut. This simple medium fade with a wavy top looks more carefree and relaxed thanks to the fringe.
Quiffed Elephant Trunk
If you have a quiff, an elephant trunk feels almost like a given. Here, it falls as a natural extension of the messy top and looks oh-so-cool.
Tailored Rolled Fringe
A clean and tailored style is always appreciated, and this style is sure to catch the attention of those around you. Styled in a way inspired by the elephant trunk hairstyle, the hair is kept longer throughout.
The fringe is styled with a high-shine pomade and is curled and formed to look like a crashing wave, a strand pulled out and over to give it a classical feel. As the fringe moves back into the upper half of the hair, it is folded up and on top of the head while the sides are parted back toward the nape and held in place.
Then, the scissors go to work to keep the sides feeling neat. Adding to the clean look, the clean jawline keeps this looking smart and well put together.
Tapered Sides with Combed Trunk
A simple short side-parted ‘do can get a style boost with the addition of an elephant trunk. All you need is a bit of sculpting around the fringe.
Inverted Elephant Trunk
Whether up or down, an elephant trunk always adds an extraordinary touch to any hairstyle. This definitely has a ’50s vibe to it — if Danny Zuko ever went for the inverted style, it would look like this.
Straight Short Elephant Trunk
Your elephant trunk doesn’t have to be too long and obvious. This one looks like a random lock of hair that just fell by accident, and that’s what so charming about it.
Thick Elephant Trunk with Beard
Who says shorter sides means very longer tops. The straight texture makes a lot of difference here with hair falling on the forehead. This works perfectly on casual occasions especially since the beard is a balancer with that thick hair strands, upon that the mustache is a strong bike handle shape.
Part Quiff, Part Elephant Trunk
Don’t get put off by the name of this hairstyle – if you have thick hair and trying to find ways to experiment with it, you’ve come to the right place. With a rock-and-roll vibe reminiscent of Elvis Presley, this style is perfect for those with a receding hairline. Why hide it when you can flaunt it? And add the cherry on top with a little bit of curled bangs falling out of place.
Wear this clean-shaven, sans accessories, for it to be the center of attention. Works well with oval and oblong face shapes.
Getting the right cut
Before you even thinking about styling your hair like this, you need to make sure you’ve got the right cut for it. Don’t worry though, all you need is long hair (3-4 inches) all over, with some extra length at the front. If in doubt, just show your hairdresser the final product you are looking for, and they won’t disappoint.
Styling the Elephant Trunk
Styling the Elephant Trunk hairstyle is the fun part. If we manage to lose you at any point, YouTube seems to have plenty of informative demonstration videos when it comes to styling this cut. Nevertheless, we’ll try our best to put it in words.
- Grab a good amount of pomade and spread it evenly throughout your hair
- Begin to brush all your hair backwards with your fingers
- Use a comb to create the characteristic ‘ducktail’ at the back (a stylist or friend might be helpful here)
- Slowly begin to create the ‘trunk’ by combing each side of the front upwards and inwards (effectively curling it)
- Rinse and repeat before making any final modifications to the cut
Danny Puopolo is an expert that works at Rakis, a professional hairdressing salon in Melbourne. His work has been featured in a variety of publications such as OK Magazine, Vogue, and INSTYLE. He has also managed classes for Shu Uemura Australia and Loreal Professional.