All You Need To Know About The Pompadour Haircut

With a striking height up top and comparatively short sides, a pompadour haircut showcases the vintage appeal of the ‘50s. From David Beckham to Bruno Mars to George Clooney, pompadours are still adored and worn by many these days. Wondering how to rock a pompadour hairstyle? Check out below all you need to know about the pompadour haircut.

man with a bushy beard and mustache in a white shirt
Photo by Adam Gavshon Brady from Flickr

Why Is It Called A Pompadour?

Although today pompadours are more commonly considered as hairstyles for men, these styles were initially worn by women. The hairstyle itself was named after the chief mistress of King Louis XV, Madame De Pompadour. After the vertically voluminous “Fontage” hairstyle fell out of style in 18th century France, the style popular during Madame De Pompadour’s time was much lower and swept back.

a cropped portrait of Madame de Pompadour by François Boucher (1756)
A portrait of Madame de Pompadour. Photo by Vassil from Wikimedia Commons

For over a century, this style was primarily for women until the ’50s. The first known male trendsetter of the pompadour was none other than the legendary Elvis Presley. Along with fellow musician Little Richard and actor James Dean, these male celebrities made names for themselves with this remarkable and iconic hairstyle.

Things To Consider

If you want to hop onto this trend, it’s best to know the things to consider before you find your perfect pomp for you!

Hair Length

It’s hard to say how long your hair should be to pull off a pompadour. The key is just to have the right amount of hair in the right places. The conservative standard is to have about 2.4 inches or longer on your top and a relatively shorter cut on your sides.

This allows you to have enough hair to sweep or comb back to get some significant volume. Ask your barber what would be a good hair length to get your desired pompadour height.

Face Shape 

Like all other haircuts, your face shape plays a part in complementing your look. A pompadour style is ideally great for those with high cheekbones and a wide jawline. Even if you don’t fit that conventional shape, there are different ways to style a pomp to flatter your face a lot more.

If you have a round face, keep your sides and the back short to avoid additional broadness. Your stylist can also add an angled fringe to alter the roundness of your face and make you look more mature. If you have a long, oval-shaped face, leave slightly more hair at the sides to create an illusion of extra width.

Hair Type

Your hair type will also define whether or not a pompadour is suited for you. If you have curly or wavy hair, it can add some natural texture and shape to your pomp. Regular straight hair results in a smoother, slicker pomp.

Thicker hair can easily add more volume and fullness so you can have a shorter pomp but still have some height. Finer hair might be easier to style and manage but you would grow out your hair more to bulk it up. Once you determine what hair type you have, your barber can advise you on how to trim your hair to achieve or reduce volume.

If you’re thinning on top, then a pompadour haircut is not for you. Even if you have enough hair to comb back, a pomp exposes your forehead and makes your receding hairline more obvious.

Beard or No Beard?

asian man wearing a navy suit and looking off in the distance
Photo by RoyalAnwar from Pixabay

Although it’s more common for men to pair a pomp with a clean-shaven face, this style pairs well with a beard and/or mustache as well. In fact, facial hair can actually make a pompadour more striking.

The key is to balance out the length and shape of the hair on your face and on your head evenly to complement your face shape. Depending on how your style your pomp and beard, you can either go for a rugged “lumbersexual” look or a sophisticated gentleman look.

Maintenance of Pompadour Haircut

As classy as it looks, the pompadour is a high maintenance hairstyle. A pompadour haircut requires regular trips to the barber to keep it looking clean and neat. It also takes time to style daily. If you’re the kind of guy who likes a no-fuss hairstyle, this is definitely not a roll-out-of-bed kind of hairstyle.

Here’s how to style a pompadour haircut:

  1. After your morning shower, blow-dry your hair on light heat while combing it from front to back
  2. Evenly work a little pomade into your hair, starting at the sides and gradually moving toward the top.
  3. Continue to comb and style until you reach your desired style.

The Four Most Popular Pompadours

There are so many variations to the pompadour haircut, from the way the main pomp is styled to the level of fade you have at the back and sides. Here are four of the more popular pompadour haircuts that you can try.

The Classic Pompadour

man facing the left in a maroon shirt and standing against trees
Photo by Drew Hays from Unsplash

This is the good ol’ classic pompadour haircut. It features a more defined structure on top and longer sides. It has a fuller, more streamlined shape all around, which makes it very clean-cut. If you want to go full-out on the old-school vibes, make the pomp higher!

The Modern Pompadour

side profile of a man sitting in the barber's chair, showing off a modern pomp with a side shaved detail
Photo by Amritpal Singh on Unsplash

This is a modern take on the classic pompadour, with a more relaxed and edgy look. This is a more popular style today as you does not require as much combing and styling. What makes this style stand apart from the traditional look is the striking contrast between the short sides and long hair on top. You can incorporate fades, shaved details/patterns or undercuts to this style to add an edgier twist and make it unique.

The Short Pompadour

Photo by Ralph Rabago on Pexels
Photo by Ralph Rabago on Pexels

If you’re one of those men who doesn’t like to grow out your hair, then the short pompadour could be for you. This is a more youthful and less voluminous variation of the pompadour haircut. A height of about 1.6 inches on top should be enough to create this look.

The Textured Pompadour

man in a bright blue floral traditional top standing against a wooden ornate door
Photo by Nitin Khajotia from Pexels

As mentioned earlier, this pompadour haircut comes naturally for men with wavy, curly, and thick hair. However, if you have straighter hair, you can still achieve this look by using a texturizing spray when styling. Depending on your hair type or how much texture you add, this pompadour type can produce a tousled, matte and rough look that looks effortlessly messy.


A pompadour haircut is a combination of sophistication, style, and character. It might be more high maintanance hairstyle but if done right, it can produce a very timeless look. Head down to your nearest barber and get ready to grab some attention with your new hair!

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