We’d wager that all men, at some time in their lives, have rocked the quiff hairstyle. One of the most timeless men’s hairstyles the quiff has a legion of fans due to its versatility, low-maintenance attitude and the ability to turn any guy’s appearance from good to great. The quiff draws its inspiration from the pompadour but is far easier to style and maintain throughout the day.
The quiff has risen to the top of the grooming style pyramid, and plenty of guys – from yakuza mobsters to insufferable hipsters and Conan O’Brien – are representing the cut’s vintage continuity. David Beckham sports a dashing modern interpretation of the style, Brad Pitt gave it hardass martial beating in Fury, and Bruno Mars isn’t leaving much to the imagination with a peacocky, voluminous quiff. Its popularity is a testament to its enduring merit.
The quiff is surprisingly versatile, and a good barber can tweak the cut to suit the wearer’s age, professional environment, or personal aesthetic. For example, it can be cut with a fade, an undercut, long hair on top with short back and sides, with texture or without. You get the idea.
You’ve got a zillion options and if your barber has any imagination (he should, it’s what pays for his beer) then he’ll have something up his sleeve to suit your noggin.
In this story…
History Of The Quiff
So, how did the quiff come to be?
Several sources claim the quiff was born out of a reaction to the typically incredibly short military haircuts that men were forced to adopt. Gone were the buzz cuts and skin fades and in came a haircut with a long portion on top and (traditionally) short side and back. While it was seen sprouting atop the heads of many men at the time, it wasn’t until the advent of the rock ‘n’ roll movement that the quiff was truly consigned to the men’s grooming history books forever.
What Is The Difference Between Quiff & Pompadour?
When you look up the term quiff online, you’ll likely be presented with pages and images that refer to the pompadour hairstyle too. It’s because the quiff and the pompadour share much of the same DNA, but there are some obvious differences to help differentiate the two. That’s not to say you can’t rock both hairstyles with your current look, as in general, if you have the hair length to sport a quiff, it can almost certainly be styled into a pomp too.
Where the two hairstyles differ is in the final appearance. A quiff, more often than not, can appear messy, dishevelled and unkempt, all the while being styled with long-lasting control. A modern pompadour, meanwhile, will be styled to within an inch of its life and will most likely require a fair amount more styling product to do so. The result will be a hairstyle that looks far more preened, with barely a hair out of place.
But as we said, if you have the right length of hair, you could theoretically rock a pompadour during the day for work, and switch to up to a quiff for an evening on the town. How versatile.
Who Suits The Quiff?
One of the most appealing qualities of the quiff is that it can be adjusted to suit pretty much any face shape. Men with square and rectangular faces will find it the easiest to pull off since the higher volume will be balanced out by a strong jawline and cheekbones. However, even men with round faces can find plenty of reason to adopt the quiff, as again, the natural volume of the hairstyle can help to elongate the face.
Ultimately, the best way to find the quiff that works best for you is some good ol’ trial and error. It’s relatively easy to style a quiff – simply use a hairdryer to style the hair upwards and run some styling product through it – so experimenting with the height of the quiff that works best for you will be a rewarding task.
As for hair type, the quiff doesn’t discriminate too much. Only those with incredibly curly hair or thin hair should tread with caution, since the former will already exhibit natural volume and the latter may not hold up throughout the day, no matter how much product you use. Men with wavy hair will have the most to rave about, since the natural texture afforded to them plays incredibly nicely with the properties of the quiff, and guys with straight, thick hair should also have no issue in achieving some great volume.
How To Style A Quiff
Compared to its pompadour cousin, the quiff is relatively simple to style. That’s not to say you can just wake up in the morning, run your hands through your hair and be done, but there are only a few steps you need to follow to achieve a great quiff.
- Get the cut right. A quiff in its most basic form calls for short back and sides. Without getting onto the subject of the various fades you could incorporate, you’ll want to aim for at least a number 2 or number 3 guard when having the clippers taken to the back and sides. As for the top, you’ll want around four to five inches of length, and ideally, have the fringe a little longer than the hair towards the crown. This will give you the extra length to create the volume at the front necessary for an authentic quiff. Finally, everything should be blended together where the top meets the sides, we’re not getting into disconnected or undercut territory just yet.
- Tame the thickness. Thick hair can have its pros and cons when wanting to create a successful quiff. If it’s overly thick, you’ll need to arm yourself with a heavy-duty comb and cement-like pomade. If this isn’t viable, and if you are someone with incredibly thick locks, you’ll want to have the thinning shears taken to it.
- Get on the tools. If you want to look your very best, you’re going to need to make sure you arm yourself with a good quality comb and a hairdryer. You’ll want to spend some decent money on the comb, as a cheap, flimsy one will just break, no questions asked. The hairdryer doesn’t need to be so fancy, just as long as it blows hot air.
- Less is more. When selecting styling product for your quiff, you’ll do well to invest in something with more of a matte appearance. This will help give you the messy look that will have people flocking to you like flies round sh*t. The high-shine wet look can work for some, and if you think this is you, you’ll want to invest in a water-based pomade, since it will wash out much easier than its oil-based counterpart.
- Give it a light spritz. You’ll want your hard work to stay in place for the duration of the day, so using a light spray of hairspray will help seal it in. Don’t go overboard, of course, you don’t want you hair to turn so rock hard it can quite literally snap.
- Style me right. Start with towel-dried hair after a shower. Using the brush and blow dryer, dry the hair toward the front of your head up and towards the back to give it height. You can, if you wish, apply some product before you blow-dry it, to really help it set, but it’s not essential. Whenever you are using product, however, make sure to only use a minimal amount, you can always add more if you need, but you can’t take it away.
Best Men’s Quiff Haircuts
The aforementioned classic quiff is one of the easiest to achieve. You don’t need to worry too much about faded sides or anything fancy like that. Instead, simply ask your barber for a short back and sides and leave some length on top, with a little bit extra afforded to the fringe section at the front.
Simple, sophisticated and effective, the classic quiff is one that can be worn by men with a variety of face shapes and hair types. Simply follow the styling tips mentioned above and you’ll look sleek all day long.
Once you’ve mastered the classic quiff, you can start playing around with variations to really switch up your look, and haircuts don’t come more ‘switched up’ than the undercut. A look that creates a sharp contrast between the top of the head and the sides, the undercut – in its most drastic form – essentially removes all side hair, taking it down to a skin fade. From here you’re left solely with the hair on top of the head, which you can style in the same way as with the classic quiff.
The undercut quiff may not necessarily suit guys with longer faces, as having hair just on top of the head will attract attention there and elongate your face even more, but men with rounder faces should definitely give this incredibly modern hairstyle a go.
Slicked Back Quiff
We may have said before how a quiff will look best with a matte-effect styling product worked through it, but on those formal occasions or for days in the office, a slicked-back look can certainly have its merits. Most definitely inspired by 1960s style, a slicked back quiff is one of the most retro styles going. While you can simply slick the hair toward the back of your head using a shiny pomade, you could also incorporate a side part to really get those nostalgic juices flowing.
Go one more and carry a comb around with you wherever you go for the complete Danny Zuko experience.
Comb Over Quiff
The comb-over quiff is incredibly similar to the slicked-back quiff above, but there is less emphasis placed on the shininess of the styling product you use. While it can still be good to use something with a hint of shine to it, as well as some lubrication to help comb the hair over to one side of your head, you definitely don’t need to use as much.
A foolproof option for men with wavy hair due to the natural volume and texture, and guys with straight hair should be able to achieve similar results, the comb-over quiff is one of serious style. As for length, again, you’ll want the top to be longer than the sides, but what you do with the sides is up to you. Something like a taper fade will always go down well, but you can elect to keep the sides all one length if you wish.
Medium Length Hair Quiff
If you’re in the possession of a seriously good head of hair; the type that is naturally thick and abundant, then it is simply begging to be styled into a quiff. Keep the sides short – a taper fade can work especially well – and style the hair on top of your head big, tall and proud. As we mentioned earlier, if your hair is especially thick then you’ll want to have some thinning shears taken to it to help create some extra texture and to make it easier to work some product through from the roots to the tips.
You’ll want to blow-dry your hair once you’re out of the shower to add some natural volume to it, and then work through a matte styling paste or styling clay to help tame it and keep it under control. Finish with a light coating of hairspray and you’re away.
Long Hair Quiff
Yep, even though the quiff traditionally is a haircut enjoyed by men with short hair, guys with long locks can get in on the action too. The quiff only really works for guys with straight long hair, or occasionally those with wavy hair, but guys with long curly hair will probably need to sit this one out. The extra length provided will create extra weight, so ensure you have some texture to yours before attempting the quiff.
To style, blow-drying, combing and shaping is essential, and you only really need to focus on the section at the front. Comb this up and over to one side to keep it out of your face, and finish off with some styling product and hairspray to hold in place. The type of product you use will come down to personal preference, but we reckon something water or oil-based for extra lubrication will be the best place to start.
Quiff With Fade
We’ve mentioned it already a few times throughout this article, but a natural pairing for the quiff is a fade. The exact type of fade you choose is at your own discretion, as you have plenty of options to choose from, including a low fade, mid fade, high fade or a taper fade.
For those who really want to go all out, the option of a skin fade is also there. A taper fade and a low fade are the safest options for guys wanting a more simple, organised quiff, but if you really want to make a statement then you’ll want to consider a high fade instead, before potentially progressing onto the aforementioned undercut.