Curtained hair

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
'90s film star Jonathan Brandis sporting an example of curtained hair, 1993

Curtained hair is the term given to the hairstyle featuring a long fringe divided in either a middle parting or a side parting, with short (or shaved) sides and back.[1] The term, when used, generally applies to males, although an alternative name, the undercut, is used for both male and female haircuts following this style.[1] Variations on this haircut have been popular in Europe and North America throughout the 20th century and in the 21st century.


German soldiers with "Hitler Youth haircuts"

A shorter version of the haircut, parted in the middle and kept in place with pomade became popular during the Edwardian era as a more practical alternative to the longer hair and sideburns fashionable from the 1840s to 1890s. This was due in part to the popularity of sporting activities like rugby football among younger men.[citation needed]

From the turn of the century until the 1920s, a longer variant of the undercut was popular among young working class men, especially members of street gangs. In interwar Glasgow, Neds, the precursors to the Teddy Boys, favoured a haircut that was long on top and cropped at the back and sides. Despite the fire risk, lots of paraffin wax was used to keep the hair in place.[2] Other gangs who favored this haircut were the Scuttlers of Manchester, and the Peaky Blinders of Birmingham, because longer hair put the wearer at a disadvantage in a street fight.[3]

Curtained hair was popular during the jazz age of the 1920s and 30s.[4] In Nazi Germany, a version of this haircut which was long on top but shaved at the back and sides was popular among Wehrmacht officers.[5]


In the 70s David Bowie used this haircut with his orange color hair, then the late 1980s curtained hair, derived from the bowl cut, made a comeback among fans of new wave, synthpop, and electronic music as an alternative to the mullets and backcombed hair worn by glam metal bands.[5] One of the most high profile wearers of this haircut was Win Butler, a singer with Arcade Fire.[1] A longer, collar-length version of the haircut went mainstream in the early 1990s and was worn by many celebrities, most notably Tom Cruise.[citation needed]

Curtained hair went out of style in the early 2000s, but underwent a revival in the early 2010s among indie kids and the skater subculture who imitated the 1930s and 1940s version: longer and pomaded or swept to one side on top and shaved or clipped at the sides.[5] At the time, although the style had many different names, one of the most controversial was the "Hitler Youth".[1][5]

By 2013, the haircut had become relatively mainstream in the UK and was worn by people not normally associated with the indie scene, such as reality television celebrities from shows like The Only Way Is Essex.[6]

In popular culture[edit]

The longer version of curtained hair was widely worn by "pretty boy" actors[7] and surfers in the 1990s. These include Keanu Reaves in Point Break,[8] Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2,[9] Brendan Fraser in The Mummy Returns,[10] and Leonardo Dicaprio in Titanic.[citation needed]

It's unclear when this style became fashionable in East Asia, but evidence of it in Japanese media can be seen from before the 1990s.[citation needed] Many anime characters, such as Dragon Ball Z's Trunks, James from Pokemon's Team Rocket,[11] and Fullmetal Alchemist's Edward Elric have this haircut.[12]


  1. ^ a b c d Douglas, Joanna (17 November 2011). "'Hitler Youth' Haircut Gaining Popularity". Yahoo! Shine. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Christie, Stuart (2002). My Granny Made Me an Anarchist. Oil & Gas USSR. pp. 87–88. ISBN 1-873976-14-3.
  3. ^ Davies, A. (1998), "Youth gangs, masculinity and violence in late Victorian Manchester and Salford", Journal of Social History 32 (2)
  4. ^ Hitler youth haircut popular in NY
  5. ^ a b c d Williams, Alex (15 November 2011). "A Haircut Returns From the 1930s". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  6. ^ Betiku, Fehintola (23 January 2013). "Feeling reem? TOWIE's Joey Essex shows off his new bizarre half shaven hairstyle ahead of the National Television Awards". Daily Mail. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  7. ^ Tom Cruise's hairstyles
  8. ^ Keanu Reeves
  9. ^ Tom Cruise hair
  10. ^ Brendan Fraser
  11. ^ ^ Kusaka, Hidenori, & Satoshi Yamamoto. Pokémon Adventures, Volume 14. Chuang Yi Publishing Pte Ltd., July 2004. ISBN 981-260-014-0
  12. ^ ^ Director: Seiji Mizushima (October 4, 2003). "太陽に挑む者". Fullmetal Alchemist. Episode 1. Tokyo Broadcasting System.