The History of the Undercut: From 1920s to Today’s Trends


If you’ve ever wondered where the modern-day, iconic undercut hairstyle originated, you’ve come to the right place. The undercut has been around for ages and has evolved from a 1920s trend all the way to what we see today.

From its rebellious roots to its current status as a cultural staple for men and women alike, the infamous haircut has been around for a long time. But how did it become so universal? As you’ll discover in this piece, the story of the undercut is more fascinating than you may have expected.

In this article, we’ll look at how this popular hairstyle has changed over time and what makes it so special today. We’ll also give you some guidance on how to get—and maintain—the perfect undercut. So whether you’re new to the undercut scene or just want to brush up on your knowledge of this classic ‘do, get ready to take an exciting journey through time—all while learning valuable tips and information about a hair trend that’s here to stay.

The Buzz Cut of the Roaring 20s

Step back in time to the 1920s and you’ll find one of the earliest versions of the undercut. Known as “bobbed hair,” or the iconic “flapper girl” hairstyle, this look was made famous by lasting pop culture icons like Louise Brooks and Gloria Swanson. The cut featured a super short, blunt bob that wasn’t uniform around the head (meaning it was shorter in the back than it was in the front). This allowed for a sleek modern look that oozed confidence and rebellion—the perfect style for those gleeful days of partying and jazz.

But while this may have been the first version of an undercut, it wasn’t quite what we know today. This early version actually featured a peak at the crown, giving it a bit more volume than modern undercuts. These buzz-cut bobs were often paired with heavy pomades and mousses to keep everything perfectly in place on a hot summer’s night.

The Era of the Pompadour in the 1950s

The 1950s were a time of iconic hairstyles. From James Dean’s signature disheveled look to Audrey Hepburn’s simple chignon, hair trends had already snuck their way deep into the culture. However, one hairstyle had become particularly popular among men—the pompadour.

This dapper look is characterized by a longer top section that’s swept back and up, while the sides and back are kept shorter—often in the form of an undercut. As with most popular fashion trends of the time, it wasn’t long before Elvis Presley was sporting this style too! He was often seen on stage wearing his jet-black pompadour locks swept back. In fact, this style became so popular that it earned its own nickname—the “Elvis Cut”.

While everyone may not be able to pull off the King of Rock ‘n Roll’s signature style today, the undercut still lives on. It has been reinvented and modernized over time to suit different decades and styles—which is probably why men have continued to embrace this classic cut till date!

The Long Hair Revolution of the 1960s and 70s

Jump to the 1960s and 70s, and you’ll find a whole lot of long hair on men—a kind of “long hair revolution”. And that’s when another type of undercut, the famous “Long Hair Undercut” entered the scene. The Long Hair Undercut was quite popular among hippies and biker gangs alike.

The hairstyle itself was quite simple: long on top, with a bald or nearby-bald undercut. To complete the look, guys often wore their hair back in a ponytail—with or without extensions—but that wasn’t always mandatory.

Popularized by rock stars like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin, this version of the undercut showed the world that you could be street-smart and stylish at the same time. It was a symbol of independence, rebellion and individuality for many men.

So if you’re looking for an edgy look that turns heads everywhere you go, then why not give the classic Long Hair Undercut a try? You won’t be disappointed!

The Popularity of Undercuts During the 1980s and 90s

Do you remember the 1980s and 90s? We sure do—and it was a time when people went crazy for the undercut. It was the perfect cut for anyone who wanted to show off their rebellious side—after all, you could virtually hide the shaved part of your head by growing out the rest of your hair.

The undercut was a popular choice for many in the movies, music stars, and even ordinary folks. People loved how there were various lengths and styles of undercuts available, from closely cropped sides to more dramatic shaved sides. Plus, you could even add colors or pattern — like stars and stripes—or wear their undercut with a bandana or headscarf for extra panache.

Styles during this era were all about individual expression, and the undercut fit right in. Plus, as it requited minimal upkeep —especially compared with other fashion trends at the time —there’s no wonder it was so popular back then.

Variations on the Modern Undercut

Today, the undercut is still as popular as ever, with many variations on the classic look. For example, you could go for a disconnected undercut, where the sides and back are cropped short and left uncoupled from the top. Or a textured look where the top is cut very short but with more texture in it to add body.

Skin fades

The skin fade is one of the most popular variations out there today. This type of undercut creates a smooth transition from short to long hair—almost like an ombre effect, but with more precise blending. This type of style works especially well if you have straight or slightly wavy hair, giving it a more professional look.

The high and tight

Another variation is the high and tight—which covers most of your head in a clean and precise pattern. That’s why this style was so popular among military personnel back in the day—it looks clean and neat, which was important during those times when looking polished was a must!

No matter which variation you choose for your modern undercut, you’re sure to make heads turn with this classic yet stylish look that never seems to go out of fashion.

How to Rock an Edgy Undercut Today

Ready to rock an undercut today? You’ve come to the right place! Here are the key steps you need to know.

  1. Choose your undercut style. From the traditional side-swept undercut and long-on-top variations to the clean slicked back undercut, there’s a look that suits your individual style.
  2. Get a good cut and styling product. Any barber worth his salt can give you an amazing undercut, but make sure they also provide guidance on how to best style it with the right products for your hair type.
  3. Wash your hair and towel dry it, then apply wax or gel for a shiny finish that will keep your undercut looking sharp all day long. Put in a bit of extra effort with mousse, clay or pomade for special occasions!
  4. Blow dry and shape your hair using a brush before using a comb for precise styling – remember, when it comes to undercuts, neatness is key!
  5. Get creative and experiment with different looks – why not try an “underhawk” or a unique color combination? Whatever you do, wear it with confidence!

Ready to unleash your inner badass? With these steps in mind, you can now rock the hottest edgy undercut trends of today like the ultimate pro!


So, it seems that the classic undercut is here to stay. But its resurgence in the 21st century has more than just visual appeal; it’s a style that sends a strong statement. Whether you’re looking to make an assertive style statement or just stick to a classic look that’s proved itself over generations, the undercut is the way to go.

The flexible style has been adapted to fit any look, from the most avant-garde of mavericks to the most conservative traditionalists – and with the vast range of modern styling products, you can recreate the look of any era. The undercut is a style that doesn’t discriminate, and its timeless elegance means that it can slot into any wardrobe. So go on, give it a try and put your own stamp on the long history of the undercut.

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