The flat top haircut is one of the few haircuts that is instantly recognizable. It gained popularity in the fifties and sixties, especially among football players and the staple athletic boy.
Today, the flat top haircut often preferred by older men, and its shape complements a head of gray hair. It’s also a good choice for younger boys who are active or desire a more military-style cut.
It’s a staple in many barbershops, especially in shops where older barbers work, so often it’s a simple matter of walking down to your local barbershop and asking for a flat top haircut. (We’ll give you all of the details just in case.)
The flat top haircut lives up to its name, giving the wearer a head of hair that is flat across the top. As a result, this gives a square look to the head and face. If you have a square face shape, a flat top haircut will reinforce the square frame of your face. Because of this, the flat top works best with a square face shape. If you have a triangular/diamond or round face shape, consider getting another, similar style.
The flat top haircut is also best for straight hair. If your hair is naturally wavy or curly, you might have a difficult time with this style. However, with the right cut and use of products, it is possible to get a flat top with wavy or curly hair.
Styled Upright Flat Top
This flat top hair cut is achieved by the top of the hair being cut and styled upright. That way, when you look at it from the side, it forms a flat appearance. The hairline of this cut is lined up precisely, and the sides of the hair are kept shorter which adds shape and variety to the cut.
Medium Flat Top with Temple Fade
This medium-length flat top has been christened with softer edges. Serves as a nice contrast when paired with the crisp, harder edges of the temple fade. Unlike some of the more outspoken, expressionistic flat tops we’ve seen before, this style concerns itself
Tall Mid Fade Flat Top
This is one of the styles that can be harder to pull off, but when done right, it can transcend your style to the next level. Here, the focus of the cut is squarely on the length of your flat top. Keeping the lines sharp gives it a hard contrast to the ears and face, making this cut really stand out. Adding to that is the linework in the fringe that moves down the temples. The subtle loop finishes off the look with a bit of smooth edginess.
High & Tight Flat Top
If you really like to bring contrast into your look, this version of the flat top is for you. The high skin fade leaves a lot of space between the cut and the beard. The smooth look of the skin is then broken by the straight edges in the upper half of the hair, which is styled straight up with some product. Adding more contrast is the scraggly beard that, when combined with the whole style, creates a feeling of artistry.
Flat Top with High Temple Fade
If you want to emphasize your flat top further, wear it with a high temple fade. The focus of your face will go to the top, as you have nothing on your sides. It’s also giving a clean and neat look, even though you have a lot of hair. Sport with a disconnected beard and your reading glasses to compliment the look. Works best for round face shapes.
That Thin Haired Flat Top
Who does not like being stylish with attention to detail? The top is thin hair with sides being undercut taper. The temple and high fade make this one pop quite nice.
Low Key Line Up with Mid Fade
Flat tops don’t have to be dead flat, like this one, the top is slightly curved for extra fun. All of that with a quick mid fade which is not quite clean so that calls for a more rugged look. The line up though is maintained yet faded in the end. And to top it off, a temple fade for the best.
Shiny Flat Top with Sober Fade
Classic, simple, iconic. If you grew up in the early ’90s watching the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and are a fan of director Spike Lee’s early work, then you’ll be sure to recognize this hairstyle for what it truly is.
A look that shaped an era(and one of the greatest at that). The volume here is moderate, as the medium fade compliments the sportiness and versatility of this style nicely.
Curly Flat Top
The flat top is a throwback style that gives length to your face shape, complimenting those of us that have a squarer one. This gentleman uses hard lines to give contrast to the more subtle round of the top. If you have a widow’s peak, this style could play right into it, as you have the barber create a line that forms a subtle line down to the forehead. To further add to the contrast, the hair on the side is given a high fade while the temple and beard are lined to look continuous.
Flat Top and High Fade
The high taper fade gives this look greater contrast which in most cases results in a cleaner albeit a more demanding look in terms of maintenance.
The juice, however, is well worth the squeeze as we can see how much sportier and crisper this look dramatically becomes just by fine-tuning the gradient between the top and the fade.
Tall Afro Hair Blob with High Fade
We’ve seen a couple of sporty versions of the flat top, each progressively sportier than the last. There seems to be a very blatant unwritten truth regarding hairstyles, that is that on one end of the spectrum we have clean-cut/sporty, and on the other, we have disheveled/artistic.
On one end we have pure business and on the other pure pleasure. Both diametrically opposed serving two different masters yet never sacrificing good looks and style. This tall Afro blob with a high fade is stylishly more towards the sportier end of the spectrum.
Designer Temple with Taper Fade
Taking a page right out of Wesley Snipes’s book, here we see an example of bringing a classic look right into our current decade, a flat top with a designer fade.
Arguably one of the coolest things about a modern designer’s fade is it’s intrinsic ability to seamlessly bring together the facial and top hairstyles, making them feel greater than the sum of their parts. In this example, the transition is so seamless it’s as though it were sculpted from a block of Italian marble by Michelangelo himself.
Wavy Top with Faded Sides
If your love of curls and flat tops have historically been in opposition then here’s a way you can pop the question and marry the two once and for all, the flattop with curls(queue dramatic music).
As its name implies, the flat top with curls is simply that, a flat top with curls. And much like my struggles to find an opportunity for cleverly placed semicolons, the chances of running into one of these in the wild are few and far between.
Designer Neckline with Dense Top
Designer necklines, shaving different designs into a fade, and artistically placed hard edges all serve to add character and uniqueness to your look.
They make you look more confident and approachable. If done correctly, these can also greatly enhance your hairstyle, adding artistic flair.
Flat Top and High Fade
An excellent way to compliment any hairstyle and give it that added touch of “summer is here” feel is by adding a high fade.
Taking what was once casual, sophisticated and making it sportier. The flat top is not a hairstyle known for its breathability; the high fade variation of this style will help cool you down during the more unforgiving days of summer.
Tapered Sides with Afro Line Up
Afro flat tops just look pure class, I mean just look at this with impeccable panache. All of that plus the sides are so clean, the undercut is subtle that is further enhanced by the taper. The fade is quite low, probably lower than drop fade which makes it quite unique.
Faded Sides Brushed Up Blonde
The standard-issue military look. Smart, clean, precise just like your compartment mess tray or the MRE’s in your rucksack. Next to a shaved head, the crew cut with a flat top is the most widely recognized (and saluted) military hairstyle around.
Whether you’re an officer saluting a superior or a fresh GI cleaning out the latrine, you won’t look out of place with this look. We salute you for your service and sacrifice.
Soft Edges on a Flat Top
Softer edges subconsciously convey more of a feeling of warmth and security. While hard edges instinctively give us a more elevated sense of alertness; they give us a greater feeling of danger. You can use these two traits to tailor your style to the kind of message you want to portray.
Do you want to look more approachable? Try incorporating softer lines into your hairstyle. Or do you prefer the stricter, no-nonsense look of a drill sergeant? Try using more hard-edge, sharp lines in your look.
Flat Top Temple Fade
It is believed by historians that King Tutankhamen ruled ancient Egypt from 1334 – 1325 BC. If you’re a fan of the Pharos of Egypt, then this next flat-top temple fade style should be right up your alley.
The base gradually gets wider going up where it crescendoes at the top giving it a sort of inverted pyramid look. This pays homage to the pharaohs of yesteryear and is a great way to walk like an Egyptian.
High Volume Flat Top with Line Up
Similar to the style we saw before, this variation, however, incorporates a lineup. For those who don’t know, a line up is when your barber creates an artificial hairline with clippers instead of just keeping your hair’s natural hairline.
The results are a cleaner, edgier look that’s great for contrasting against the other softer edges of your hairdo, creating an interesting sort of look one can only get from this kind of juxtaposition.
Classic Taper Fade
Taking the sporty flat top look even further; here we see the fade being taken to its lowest point; absolute zero.
Clean lines and crisp edges all around yet more civilian and less military than the crew cut flat top, this is the perfect style if you play sports regularly or frequent the gym more than a couple of times a week.
High Volume Flat Top
Just like with music, if you want to make a statement and stand out more then the answer is simple; you need to raise the volume. Think actor Christopher Reid in the House Party series of films.
The high volume flat top is quintessential 90’s goodness. While notoriously difficult to maintain and cultivate, the payoff is a hairstyle that few other styles (if any) can best in terms of being more eye-catching or charismatic. Nothing but good vibes…
How To Get
Due to the flat top’s immense popularity, many barbershops (and even salons) are familiar with it. Your local barbershop may even advertise flat tops as one of their standby hairstyles. However, if you encounter a barber or stylist who has no idea what a flat top is, here’s what to tell them.
The key to this haircut is (as you might guess) flatness. The hair should be clipped on the sides and back using a relatively short guard setting (from #2 to #4 or so). When clipping the hair, the barber should clip in a straight line all the way up the head to create the flatness necessary for this cut.
Next, your stylist should stand all of your hair up (about 1-3 inches of hair is good for this cut). They should then use the clipper over comb technique to create a flat head of hair that’s even all over. Your hair should get shorter as it goes backward toward the crown.
Finally, your stylist should touch up any areas that need some final cuts. And as always, bringing in a picture is immensely helpful; it’s truly worth a thousand words, and to stylists, it’s worth even more.
Because the flat top haircut is so meticulously cut, you’ll want to visit your barber or stylist every 2 to 4 weeks to touch it up, depending on how fast your hair grows.
How To Style
To maintain the flat top’s style, you’ll need some good quality hair wax or gel. Work the product into your damp hair. Then, comb or brush the hair upward and backward. If your hair is particularly stubborn, try blow drying it, using a higher hold wax or gel, or a combination of these two techniques.