This article is about the hairstyle. For other uses of "flattop" (or "Flat Top"), see Flat Top (disambiguation).
A flattop is a type of crew cut where the hair on the top of the head is graduated in length from the front hairline back through the crown to form a flat deck, of level, upward sloping or downward sloping inclination. This haircut was in fashion amongst Western men in the 1950s and '60s. When a flattop is viewed from the front, varying degrees of squarish appearance are achieved by the design of the upper sides as they approach and round or angle on to the flat deck. Possibilities, somewhat limited by skull shape, the density of the hair and the diameter of the individual shafts of hair include: boxy upper sides with rounded corners; boxy upper sides with sharp corners; rounded upper sides with rounded corners; rounded upper sides with sharp corners. The hair on the sides and back of the head is usually tapered short, semi-short or medium. A flattop might be graduated in length on the top of the head from one and a half inches at the front hairline to about a quarter inch at the crown to a half inch as it starts curving down the back of the head, tapering to the skin near the middle of the ears. A variant form known by several names including flattop with fenders and flat top boogie has long sides known as fenders with or without a ducktail.
The haircut is usually done with electric clippers utilizing the clipper over comb technique, though it can also be cut shears over comb or freehand with a clipper. Some barbers utilize large combs designed for cutting flattops. Others use wide rotary clipper blades specifically designed for freehand cutting the top of a flattop. When cutting a new flattop or when cutting a flattop with full boxy or boxy rounded upper sides or a flattop with fenders, the hair at the upper sides and top has to be boxed in. If the hair on the upper sides is initially contoured, it may not be possible to achieve a squarish effect. The hair at the crown is cut from about one quarter to one half inch while the barber stands behind the patron. He then positions himself in front and cuts the top hair to about two inches in length and then to the desired height across the top from side to side while progressing back to the shorter hair at the crown. The exact lengths are dependent on skull shape and the style of flat top. Intricate cutting of the deck and upper sides follows to achieve a specific inclination and squarish effect. Natural skull shape and certain deck inclinations and heights often leave an area at the center top of the head where the scalp is visible through the hair. This area is called a "landing strip", a metaphor for the landing strip on the deck of a flattop (aircraft carrier). Some flattops are designed to cause a landing strip to show to varying degrees.
Flattops have almost exclusively been worn by men and boys, particularly those of high school and college age, being most popular among athletes, at times very popular and at times rarely seen.  Flattops are traditionally groomed with hair control wax, commonly referred to as butch wax. Since the haircut is short and quickly grows out of its precisely-cut shape, maintenance haircuts are required at least every few weeks, and some flattop wearers get haircuts as often as once a week.
See also 
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- Thorpe 1967, p. 133-134.
- Trusty 1971, p. 110-111.
- "MANNERS & MORALS: Teen-Age Moderation". Time. 16 February 1959.
- Victoria Sherrow (2006), Encyclopedia of hair, ISBN 9780313331459
- Thorpe 1967, p. 134.
- Trusty 1971, p. 110.
- Thorpe 1967, p. 133.
- "The Flat Top", Boys' Life, August 1961
- Trusty 1971, p. 111-112.
- "The Flat Top Boogie", Boys' Life, July 1961
- Trusty 1971, p. 110-112.
- Trusty 1971, p. 111.
- Kaminsky (10 May 1974), "Long Hair-Style Trends Cut Short", The Cornell Daily Sun 100 (Number 141)
- "Jamborees Remembered", Boys' Life, July 1961
- Thorpe, S.C. (1967). Practice and Science of Standard Barbering. Milady Publishing Corporation.
- Trusty, L. Sherman (1971). The Art and Science of Barbering. Wolfer Printing Co.
- Flattop, boxy, rounded corners
- Flattop, boxy, sharp corners, landing strip showing
- Flattop, rounded, rounded corners
- Flattop, rounded, sharp corners, landing strip showing
- How to give a flat top haircut
- How To Square Flattop Hair Life November 12, 1956. Includes photos.
- Information on flattops and list of famous flattop wearers