The pompadour may look like a cool modern cut, salve but the style actually goes back to the 1700s. It takes its name from Madame de Pompadour, notorious mistress of King Louis XV, who popularised the look with fashionable women of the 18th century. Yes, women. In fact, the pompadour remained a female style up until World War I. Following that, in the 1950s, a certain hip-shaking King of Rock and Roll made the look part of his signature style and the legacy of the pompadour was cemented.

Although the Presley connection means the hairstyle retains a rockabilly association, it’s not just for rock ‘n’ rollers. It’s surprisingly versatile, since the extremity of the cut can be varied to suit the wearer’s age, profession, face shape, personal style, etc. The result is a look that’s vintage but not dated, classic but also edgy. Here’s how to score it for yourself:

Start with the cut. You’ll want it shorter on the sides and long on top. The exact ratio is a matter of personal preference. Base it on how conservative or radical you want your style to be.

Stock up on supplies. The pompadour isn’t gonna style itself – it’s a look that requires a little maintenance. You’ll need some form of pomade, wax, or cream to keep the hair in place and, if you want, give it a shiny finish. A blow dryer and brush will be needed if you want to add volume. Finish with a hair spray to lock the style in its proper shape.
Style it, son! Start with towel-dried hair after a shower. Using the brush and blow dryer, dry the hair on top up and towards the back to give it height. Once the hair is dry, start working the styling product of your choice through it. Start small and build up – you can always add more later, but you can’t take away when you’ve added too much. When the product is evenly distributed, fine-tune the style with any tweaks it takes to get the exact height and shape you’re looking for. Set the hair with a light coating of hair spray when everything is in place.

Even award-winning hair stylist Anthony Nader of RAW has some tips on the quiff. “I’m a big fan of the modern Pompadour especially if the quiff has the appearance of a more gritty/real look, rather than looking like your one of Ken and Barbies tight inner circle of peeps. I know the girls love a pompadour that looks more rebellious and rock and roll, which will win you points.”


by Ryan Brown for