Remember the ’80s? It was a decade of unforgettable hair moments. While women were all about crimping and teasing, men had their own hair adventures, venturing into the world of mullets and, believe it or not, the dreaded rat tail. Yes, it’s a nostalgic trip down memory lane.
In this article, we’ll delve into 10 of the most iconic ‘80s men’s hairstyles. If you were a guy in the ’80s and didn’t sport one of these looks, you’d be in the minority. So, let’s explore these classic ‘80s haircuts for men that left an indelible mark on the era.
Wow, the ’80s truly witnessed a proliferation of mullet hairstyles among men! They seemed to be everywhere, with varying degrees of boldness. In the picture above, for instance, we can observe a spectrum of mullet styles—Patrick Swayze’s sporting a more understated version, Rob Lowe’s falling somewhere in the middle, and John Stamos fully embracing the quintessential mullet look. Notably, several other well-known men, such as George Clooney, Kurt Russell, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Andre Agassi, also confidently rocked the mullet, contributing to its widespread popularity during that era.
The rocker aesthetic of the ’80s was characterized by its emphasis on voluminous and lengthy hair, primarily associated with rock bands of the era. However, whether individuals outside of the music scene adopted this extravagant look remains debatable. Nevertheless, it undeniably found fervent admirers in the likes of Tommy Lee, Jon Bon Jovi, and Axl Rose, as evident in the photo provided above. These rock icons epitomized the era’s obsession with big hair and became influential figures in the world of music and fashion.
Certainly! If your style leaned more towards the alternative and goth scene, you might have opted for a punk rock look instead of the classic rocker aesthetic. While distinctive hair played a crucial role in the punk style, the overall outfit was equally significant. Leather garments were particularly prominent, as exemplified in the provided photo featuring Billy Idol, Sid Vicious, and a member of the punk band Vice Squad. Punk rock hairstyles typically featured spiked and often brightly colored hair, reflecting the rebellious and edgy spirit of the subculture.
When the topic of feathered hair comes up, it’s hard not to conjure images of Farrah Fawcett’s iconic ’70s hairstyle. Surprisingly, the trend carried over into the ’80s, with men experimenting with different hair lengths. Mel Gibson fully embraced the feathered look, while Brad Pitt and James Spader opted for a more subdued approach, treading the line between feathered and mullet styles. Striking the right balance was certainly a hair-raising challenge, pun intended.
Jheri Curl Haircut
The Jheri Curl achieved immense popularity during the ’80s, with influential figures like Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie contributing to its fame. Their iconic looks even inspired individuals like Jamie Foxx, who sported this hairstyle during his high school days. The Jheri Curl was undeniably a prevalent trend in the ’80s, with Michael Jackson evolving it into a longer version resembling a mullet as the decade progressed. It’s fascinating how these styles were interconnected and left a lasting mark on the era’s fashion.
Rat Tail Haircut
Many compilations highlighting the popular ’80s hairstyles tend to omit the infamous rat tail, and that’s quite understandable. However, we’ve included it here as a reminder of a look best left in the past. In the image above, you can spot Neil Peart from the band Rush, Jordan Knight of New Kids on the Block, and Theo Huxtable from The Cosby Show all sporting their variations of the rat tail, serving as a testament to a hair trend best not revisited.
Certainly! The perm, a style predominantly associated with women, surprisingly found its way into men’s fashion too. In the image above, you can see Donald Sutherland sporting a more casual perm, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister with an exceptionally tight curl, and Tom Hanks falling somewhere in between the two extremes. Without a doubt, it’s a distinctive choice that each of them embraced in their own unique way.
Pretty Boy Haircut
For the young and ambitious individuals of the ’80s, this particular hairstyle was undoubtedly the way to go. Interestingly, this style has proven to be timeless, as it doesn’t easily associate someone with a specific decade, unlike many other trendy looks from that era. In the ’80s, countless young men embraced the layered haircut, as exemplified by Johnny Depp, River Phoenix, and Christian Slater, all captured in the image above.
Indeed, the ’80s saw the headband become a prominent fashion accessory, available in various forms from bandana-style to scarves and even more practical options to keep sweat at bay. Rock musicians, such as Jon Bon Jovi and Bret Michaels, were renowned for adorning their rocker hairstyles with headbands, as evident in the image above. Meanwhile, on the tennis court, Andre Agassi adopted a distinctive look by pairing a headband with his long mullet hairstyle, showcasing the versatility of this trendy accessory.
As previously mentioned, the ’80s era was characterized by the pursuit of volume, even for those with straight hair. Achieving that voluminous effect often involved using hair products, and it wasn’t limited to individuals with long hair, as exemplified in the photo above. George Michael, David Hasselhoff, and Ted Danson all managed to infuse their locks with that extra oomph.
We’d love to hear about your favorite ’80s men’s hairstyles! Have you ever tried any of these iconic looks? Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section below!
5 Fast Facts
- The Jheri Curl owes its name to the inventive hairdresser Jheri Redding (born Robert William Redding), who is also credited with pioneering the modern hair conditioner. Over the years, he established numerous hair care companies, with Redken in 1960 being the most renowned.
- The term “mullet” to describe this hairstyle gained widespread recognition following the release of the Beastie Boys’ song “Mullet Head” in 1994. However, what was this distinctive haircut referred to before then, considering its popularity well before the ’90s? Often, it was simply described as the “business in the front, party in the back” look.
- Perms have a long history, dating back to the 1870s when hairstylists used specialized tongs heated over gas or flames. In modern times, chemicals have replaced this method, allowing hair to maintain the desired curl for months. There are also perms available for straightening hair.
- In 1990, Hasbro created a doll resembling Jordan Knight from New Kids on the Block, complete with his signature rat tail hairstyle. Interestingly, on the doll, the rat tail extended all the way to the waist, although it remains uncertain whether Jordan Knight’s actual rat tail ever reached such lengths.
- A variation of the punk hairstyle was the mohawk, famously sported by Mr. T. Despite the common association of mohawks with the Mohawk people of the Iroquois nation, they did not traditionally wear their hair in this fashion. The hairstyle more closely resembled what we now recognize as a mohawk, and it was prominent among the Pawnee people.