Undercut Hairstyle versus High and Tight Haircut

The undercut hairstyle is a mens haircut that is similar to the high and tight haircut. In fact, many of you won’t know that the undercut hairstyle is a military haircut and that the undercut has been used for almost 100 years! The undercut became a haircut variant of the regulation haircut of the First World War, where men where expected to keep medium length hair on the top of their skulls to accommodate the very uncomfortable helmets. Since the regulation cut is a taper cut followed by whitewalls, men in the army started to remove the taper cut and outright shaved all the hair on the sides and back of the head. The undercut haircut was born.

This how an undercut looks, notice how the hair is combed.

A military barbershop haircut as an undercut

History of the undercut hairstyle

The Second World War allowed for medium length hair, so the undercut remained a military haircut and hairstyle. This was very much so with men in continental Europe (men of the Axis aka Nazi Germany) and especially so with Nazi Germans and SS troops, so much that US soldiers called the undercut, the SS haircut or Nazi haircut. Americans, on the other hand, started to become more aware of the benefits of short haircuts in the battlefield, and hence haircuts like the mohawk, high and tight and flat top started to appear on the scene.

By the 1950, the undercut had waned in popularity and was no longer used in the military. In fact, the haircut that replaced the undercut was the high and tight! A high an tight is like an undercut but with the top of the head clipped instead of left at medium length, so infantry men where told to keep their hair short on the top, and they just buzzed it all off with a hair clipper for what was to be called the “high and tight”. The difference between the undercut and the high and tight is simply the length on the top of the head: in the undercut the hair on the top can be combed as it has enough length whereas in the high and tight the hair on the top is too short to be combed.

Undercut versus high and tight

Compare the undercut picture I posted earlier to these two pictures of the high and tight haircut of Jake Gyllenhall in Jarhead and the high and tight haircut of David Beckham, see the difference in length on the top of the head?

The high and tight haircuts of David Beckham and Jake Gyllenhaal in Jarhead

The undercut has gained in popularity and the undercut has become a trendy haircut for men and specially so for young men who are fashion conscious. I see this myself everyday in my barbershop and I can only wonder if these same men know the history behind the haircut that they’ve just asked me to give them…

Know your history and stay proud, gentlemen!



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