A crew cut can be many things, which is why it's one of the most classic men's hairstyles. It features some kind of tapered or faded sides, blended into an equal- or longer top. Consider the range of the oh-so versatile crew cut: Those sides can be tapered at various heights, and can pair with different lengths up top—not to mention all the different hair textures and densities out there. With all of this factored in, it turns out a large portion of men already have a crew cut.
This creates a spectrum of opportunities for your specific hair texture, length, and density. Even if you have unruly thick hair or thin fine hair, you can modify the crew cut to your variables. Add a small amount of paste, cream, gel, or clay, and you've got whichever choppiness, volume, and matte/glossy finish you desire.
For a glance at some of the best crew cut hairstyles for men, we sought the expertise of two Los Angeles–based grooming experts: Christina Marie, master hair and makeup artist, as well as Joseph Andrews, founder and creative director of BluMann Hair Care. Here is what they had to say about the 25 different crew cut takes below, all of which offer a different spin on the timeless hairstyle.
Rounded High and Tight Crew Cut
Here's a lineup crew cut where little or no styling is required. "This is a great haircut for someone with a strong front hairline and little to no facial hair," says Marie. "It's not ideal for someone who is sparse on top."
Rounded Mid Crew Cut
This is a great one for guys with thin fine hair, says Marie. "Visual interest is directed to the mid sides. Styling with a cream or pomade would be ideal to bring texture and separation to the top." We recommend V76 by Vaughn Styling Cream Medium Hold ($16).
Lengthy Top Crew Cut
This one gives volume to guys with thinning or receding hair. "It's messy, wild, free, with little to no structure on top," says Marie. She says a high-hold gel is ideal for this length, separation, and shine. Try R+Co Motorcycle Flexible Gel ($28).
Diagonal Front Low Crew Cut
Another lineup, this time with a diagonal taper. "The top and sides here are virtually the same length, meeting a low diagonal angle toward the front," Marie notes. "Usually, high-contrast longer lengths and very short lengths look best with these cuts." You'll need to refresh it every two weeks to keep lines and lengths looking fresh.
Low Taper, Square Fringe Crew Cut
Here's a good one for thick hair, or for any guy who wants to cover his recession. "The low tapered sides help tame bulkiness, and the fringe is directed downward, neatly trimmed into a squared shape," Marie notes. A strong-hold styling product is essential for controlling the top and fringe. Try BluMaan Cavalier Clay ($22).
Beveled Mid Line Crew Cut
This Caesar-esque style was a head turner at the Met Gala. "The sides are cut tight, revealing skin up until the beveling at the round of the head," Marie notes. "The hair in the front is left with length to play with." She suggests using a matte pomade, applied lightly through the top for texture and style. We recommend Hanz de Fuko Claymation ($23).
Low-Taper Line Up Crew Cut
In Vince Staples' version of the lineup here, Marie calls attention to the low tapered sides. Different fade/taper alterations can be seen in the above examples of Jamie Foxx and Stephen Curry, and later in PK Subban.
In short, a crew cut's sides are as versatile as the top—hence all the slight variations that present a unique result.
Natural Wave Mid Crew Cut
The sides are kept tighter in this version of the crew cut, similar to the classic style. "You can try various lengths on top with this cut, and let the natural texture control the style," Marie suggests.
Straight Hair Textured Crew Cut
The short sides in this cut follow suit with most classic crew cuts, says Marie. "But they also leave plenty of length at the top for styling. Texturizing the naturally straight and sometimes flat hair helps add life and character." Your stylist or barber can do this texturizing while cutting it. Try a texturizing product, like Byrd Texturizing Surfspray ($16), to achieve the choppy definition.
Blended Mid Length Crew Cut
"This is the standard crew cut for someone with thick hair throughout the top," Marie says. She adds that facial hair pairs nicely with this cut, which is why it looks so sharp on Liam Payne here.
Tapered Side Burn Crew Cut
While PK Subban's crew cut is also a lineup in front, we want to draw your attention to the sideburn area, which is where he very lightly tapered his otherwise full sides. "Not much styling is required because the hair is kept short all around," Marie says.
Fohawk Crew Cut
"This modest take on a fohawk is complemented well with medium-length sides," Marie says. A texturizing pomade will help lift everything up, forward, and slightly toward the center. Try Blind Barber's 90 Proof Pomade ($17).
Widow's Peak Crew Cut
"This style is a great option for V-shaped hairlines," says Andrews. "Pair the cut with a light styling cream for natural-looking curl control." Give Living Proof's Nourishing Styling Cream ($28) a try.
Wavy Forward Quiff
"If you’ve got a natural wave going on, this cut does a great job of embracing what you’re gifted with while keeping it under control," Andrews says. "Matching the length on top with shaved sides can make 'hard to deal with' waves a thing of the past."
Lived-In Lifted Fringe
Here's one way to embrace your natural messy texture, Andrews says, noting that it's a bed-head style while also looking office-ready. "Keep it short, grab some texturizing paste, and go to town," he says. We love Oribe Fiber Groom Elastic Texture Paste ($39).
Textured Caesar Cut
"This looks great for the more sophisticated, low-profile kind of guy," Andrews says. It's easy to style, easy to maintain for a month or more, and doesn't call too much attention to itself. "Grab a tiny bit of matte paste to throw some texture at the front," Andrews adds. Again, try Oribe Fiber Groom Elastic Texture Paste ($39).
In general, having a lightweight hair cream or paste will give you the most styling possibilities, since they can be applied to dry or damp hair for different finishes, textures, and holds. However, pastes, fibers, and clays will typically provide the best texture to medium styles, while waxes add a nice choppy effect to short styles.
Crew Cut with Natural Curls
Here's another good crew cut pick for unruly hair texture—and another easy, fast one to style. "Keeping the hair short minimizes styling time while still looking purposeful," says Andrews. "Add some light cream for natural, healthy-looking shine." We recommend Fellow's Styling Cream ($25).
Short, Messy Side Part
"Adding a finger-combed messy part is a subtle way to add some sophistication into a textured hairstyle," Andrews says. "Also, it’s a much more modern and 'in' look compared to a classically combed side part."
Low Fade Afro
"The style is in the simplicity with this one," says Andrews. Use a simple cream or leave-in conditioner (like Scotch Porter's Leave-In Conditioner, $12) to preserve moisture levels. You can maneuver the taper up and down the sides, too, for different aesthetics.
Textured Forward Quiff with Fade
This is another classic take on the crew cut. "Keeping the sides nice and tight, with a little messy texture on top, is always a safe bet," says Andrews. "For added texture, use a clay-based product to create separation." BluMaan Cavalier Clay ($22) is one such product.
High Fade Side Part
If you have strasight hair (and even if you have thin or thinning hair), then this one is an easy style to pull off. "Straight hair often looks its best at a medium length," Andrews notes. "And in this case, it allows for a smooth, well-kept side part."
Harsh Middle Fade
"For those looking for a more edgy style, a harsh fade focuses less on a gradual transition and more on the purposeful contrast between shorter and longer lengths on the sides," Andrews explains. "The waves help to add a soft effect that balances out the structured fade really well."
Wavy Caesar Cut
"As with some of the other wavy hairstyles on this list, keeping it short helps to showcase that God-given texture while remaining under control," Andrews says of Reid Scott's hairstyle. Notice it also has more of a blend at the corners than Oscar Isaac's Natural Curls cut above. "A pea-sized amount of paste will add a good amount of separation and texture." Another paste we love is American Crew Defining Paste ($19).
Bleached Curls with Low Fade
This slide is all about the dye, and is the second of two bleached crew cuts on this list, Odell Beckham Jr.'s take showcases contrast as it grows out. "While growing out, you can either get maintenance trims to slowly chip away at the color, or fully embrace the contrasted look," Andrews says.