Flat Top Haircut

flat top cut

During the 1950s, the flat top haircut was the most popular men's haircut in the United States. With its harsh lines and angles, it projects the image of a strong work ethic, a serious attitude about life, and physical fitness. Many military men, police officers, and working professionals still sport the look today.

Famous Flat Tops

Some of the more notable individuals who have worn the flat top look include:

  • Former National Football League players Howie Long, Johnny Unitas, and Kurt Warner
  • H.R. Haldeman of Watergate-era fame
  • Drew Carey of "The Drew Carey Show"
  • Former "American Idol" judge Simon Cowell
  • Grace Jones, one of the few females bold enough to sport the style

Types of Flat Tops

There are several different types of cuts that fit into the flat top category, including:


Named after its resemblance to the backside of a duck, the DA was popular in the 1950s and 1960s, worn most notably by Elvis Presley. It featured longer sides which were slicked back and an extra long front section styled in a distinctive wave shape.


In the horseshoe flat top, the back, sides, and "landing strip" area at the top of the head are completely shaved, leaving only a u-shaped ring of hair at the top of the head. Also known as the high and tight cut, the horseshoe is favored by many members of the United States military, especially the Marines and Army Rangers.

High Top Fade

Another version of the flat top is the high top fade. The high top fade features a short back and sides and a very long top. It became popular during the late 1980s and early 1990s with the Hip Hop music era. It began to decline in the late 1990s and is not as popular today.

Getting a Flat Top Haircut

Although at one time barbers were the only ones who could be counted on to cut the flat top, many cosmetologists have also perfected the technique. The haircut is typically done with electric clippers, cutting the back and sides close to the scalp and using a straight instrument such as a flat topper comb to achieve the distinctive flat shape across the top of the head. Because of the curve of the head, the very top of the head where it curves is usually the shortest part of the haircut. This area is sometimes referred to as the "landing strip" because of its resemblance to a grassless landing area for airplanes.

Because of its precise nature and the short length, a flat top must be trimmed up every few weeks to maintain the shape, and some especially meticulous individuals get weekly cuts. The flat top works best for men who have thick, coarse, and straight hair. To emphasize the shape and keep the top standing straight up, most use some type of styling product. In the 1950s, this was a thick substance called Butch Wax. Today, most men who wear flat tops use some type of heavy gel, pomade, or wax to finish off their look.

If you want to see exactly who has worn the flat top look (or who still does), check out the self-proclaimed Internet's oldest flat top haircut site .

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