The easiest hairstyle to maintain for most men? Cuts that are long on top and have a short back and sides. Not only are these styles versatile—working well for both formal occasions and casual outings—they are timeless and sophisticated. And while some of them are incredibly low-maintenance, others aren't necessarily for the faint of heart. "The shorter the haircut, the more maintenance it will require," notes Wayne Wildrick, regional barber manager at Fellow Barber in Los Angeles.
Meet the Expert
Below, we've rounded up 22 of our favorite men's haircuts with short sides and a long top, along with tips from stylists Wildrick and Giovanni Vaccaro on how best to maintain the looks.
Singer Khalid's modern take on an old-school flattop eschews a straight line across the top in favor of more texture. The result (balanced with a slightly grown-out beard) is a far cry from the look of the 1990s. Be sure to invest in a hydrating conditioner to ensure the hair on top stays moisturized.
Undercut With Fade
Arguably the most high-maintenance look on the list, the undercut requires much longer hair on top, with hair shorn down (in some cases, faded) on the sides. Just how short you go on the sides is best determined by natural bone structure. "Some clients may have bone protrusions on the sides and the back of the head," says Wildrick. "Generally, we don't expose them, so this is where your barber would decide where the fade placement should be to compensate for those irregularities that we all have as humans."
A mousse can be used to style hair even further up on top, but you'll want to visit the barber every two weeks for a trim.
Bradley Cooper's elegant, swept-back style is one of the most-requested among Vaccaro's clients. "This style is probably the most popular, and my clients always bring in a photo of Bradley Cooper for this one," he says. "It looks good on most men and most textures." To replicate the look, Vaccaro recommends "keeping the sides wispy but not super tight." In other words, "no barber fades here."
This is a good example of how the long on top/short on the sides type cut can be worn for versatility. In this shot, Liam Hemsworth's hair is styled in a loose, spiky style on top. The hair can also be combed neatly with a bit of pomade—try American Crew Pomade ($9)—for a more formal effect.
High and Tight
Shaved sides with just a bit of length on top equates to a low-maintenance and still plenty of sophisticated style. Will Smith's version is accompanied by a well-groomed beard and mustache, to balance the look from the top of the head to the chin.
For this shot, soccer star Radamel Falcao's hair is styled up and back to create a pompadour effect. The hair on top is worn a bit loose with separation for a more casual look.
For this style, the hair is clipped aggressively short on the sides and back and left long and thick on top. There is minimal blending on the sides to create a bit of a disconnection. The hair may be styled back for a sleek, formal look. As with any style, keep in mind that some looks are better on specific face shapes (this one, for instance, looks best on a narrower face).
Short Sides With Twists
Soccer star Gabriel Barbosa's hair is kept short on the sides—but his long, blonde locs offer plenty of interest. The key here is to keep hair on the sides shaved down, so the look mimics a mohawk.
High Skin Fade
Highlight your twists with a high skin fade on the sides. If this is too much, opt for a low skin fade, which leaves a bit more hair on the sides, but it's still faded enough to create a stylish profile.
This is a versatile style, which can be worn messy with a bit of styling paste—we like Suave Medium Hold Styling Paste, or combed neatly and parted, for a more formal look.
Short and Rounded
Comedian Kevin Hart's short cut is rounded, allowing it to show off his hairline. A slight fade on the sides lends trendiness and a longer goatee adds extra style.
Short, Lean Sides
For this style, as seen on Chris Hemsworth, the hair is cut aggressively short on the sides and back and left long on top. The top and front are cut with a razor to create movement, texture, and separation.
For this long on top style, the Zac Efron's hair is razor-cut on top and in the front to add movement, texture, and separation. A bit of styling paste enhances the suave style.
For this style, the hair is cut short on the sides and back while a razor is used in front to give the bangs a deconstructed look.
Usher's style combines an afro fade and a mohawk with hair kept extremely cropped on the sides, and higher through the middle. To replicate this look, you'll want to get a trim every four to six weeks, and invest in plenty of hydrating hair products, to keep the longer hairs moisturized. And if you're wondering if a look like this would work for you, do your research. "If you are considering a fade, look up inspiration photos of people who have hair similar to your type and color," says Wildrick. "In my experience, I have generally found that clients with dark and thicker hair can get away with low to high fades whereas clients with light and less dense hair look more suitable with a low fade."
A low fade allows for more gradience, which you can’t get with a mid or high fade.
For this style, actor Cillian Murphy's hair is cut close on the sides and back and worn parted neatly in the center. Pomade adds shine and control.
Actor and model Lucas Till is often seen wearing his hair short on the sides and back, with exaggerated length on top. For this style, the front is disconnected from the sides, and the hair is worn brushed forward and to the side.
For this style, actor Kit Harington's natural wave is combed back but for a more natural look, the hair can be allowed to fall on its own, without the use of products.
Slicked-Back With Side Part
Here, Joe Alwyn's cut is short on the sides, longer up top, parted, and slicked back with a paste. Try Fatboy's Perfect Putty ($21) for a similar style.
Actor Michael B. Jordan combines a lineup—where the natural hairline is straightened in the shape of a line—with a mid-fade. This style of fade lands below the temples and just above the ear. As Wildrick explains, how short you go with a fade depends on how often you plan to maintain it. "Suitability is always the word," he says. "The best way to maintain a fade (or any look) is to find one conducive to your lifestyle. If you go in for a skin fade, it will show signs of growing out within a week. If you are trying to maintain that look, you will need to be back in the shop every one to two weeks."
High Fade With Buzzed Sides
As seen on professional basketball player Steph Curry, a buzz cut keeps hair tight up top, and a high fade raises the hairline. The resulting look is masculine with a bit of an edge.
Miguel's thick hair is cut in long layers. The style can be worn loose or styled neatly with products for a more formal look. For volume—without stiff hold—use a product like R+Co. Balloon Dry Volume Spray ($32).