Most men of the 1950s wore their hair in short, neatly trimmed styles that well suited the conservative look of the day. The birth of rock ‘n roll music, however, and the rebellious fashions of actors such as James Dean, inspired a new look. Some men donned leather jackets and jeans, grew their hair out and slicked it back. These men were known as greasers.
The ducktail is the hairstyle perhaps most associated with the greaser look. It was also known as the duck butt and the D.A. which stood for a synonym of duck butt. With the ducktail, men still had their hair trimmed short at the neckline and did not allow it to touch their ears. Above that though, they grew out length on the sides and top. They parted the hair on the side, added a liberal amount of hair grease and combed the sides back around their heads, where they met in the middle. The back of the style, with the two sides combed toward each other, resembled the feathers of a duck’s tail, giving the look its name.
Some greasers opted for the pompadour hairstyle in the ’50s. The look was trendy with many rock ‘n roll musicians and caught on with a small percentage of guys looking to emulate the cool look. To create the pompadour, men added a handful of grease to their hair, combed it high in front, and then slicked it straight back. As opposed to the ducktail, which had longer sides combed back, the pompadour often had short sides for a few inches above the ears. The pompadour was long on top and was combed from the forehead straight back over the head.
Curls and Combs
Men who wore these attention-getting greaser hairstyles often added as much embellishment and flare to their looks as possible. When sporting the ducktail, men often had hair left in front at their foreheads after they had slicked the sides back. One trendy look was to arrange the greased hair in front into a glistening curl on their foreheads. Greasers who wore pompadours often used rat tail combs to back comb the front of their hair for volume, as women did with the bouffant style. The grease helped to hold these curls and combed-in volume in place.
The same men that brought the greaser hairstyles into vogue, actors such as Marlon Brando and rockers such as Elvis Presley, also started a ’50s rebellious trend by growing long sideburns. Most older and conservative men trimmed their sideburns no longer than an inch below their ears. Greasers grew sideburns that were as long as 3 or 4 inches and some cut them to points along their cheeks.
References and ResourcesFifties Web: Fashions of the Fifties/Hairstyles
Cool Mens Hairstyles: Pompadour Hairstyle for 1950s
Loti: Men's Hairstyles in the Fifties