Men’s hairstyles, along with fashion and many other aspects of American culture, underwent a huge transformation during the 1960s. This decade marks a period of transition from the conservative 1950s to the “let it all hang out” atmosphere of the 1970s. Because of this, men’s hairstyles of the 60s reflected some of the conservatism of the 1950s and offered a preview of the liberal freedom to come.

The Mop-Top

Arguably the most iconic men’s hairstyle of the 1960s, the mop-top was popularized by the band The Beatles and further emulated by rock groups such as The Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits and The Doors. The mop-top was a haircut that sported a fringe of long bangs that grazed the eyebrows in front and hung down to hit the shirt collar in back. It was based on a haircut that John Lennon and Paul McCartney saw on the streets of Paris in 1961 and liked so much that they had their hair cut to match it exactly. Today, pop sensation Justin Bieber sports a modified version of the mop-top.

The Crew Cut

From young boys to business men, this style, a hold-over from the 1950s, was considered clean and wholesome. The cut is achieved most quickly and easily with clippers and is still the mainstay of small town barber shops across the country. The crew cut is also known as a “flat-top,” which means the top of the head is cut to give a flat, level effect, and the “buzz cut,” in which the hair is shaved as close as possible to the head. Since the 1960s, the crew cut has been considered the haircut of choice for the clean-cut, conservative boy, teen or man.

The Rockabilly Look

Music legends like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash wore a stylized haircut known as a “Rockabilly” or “pompadour.” This style’s swept-up, waved and locked in place look was first worn by musical artists in the late 1950s and early 1960s and carried a cachet of sexiness because of the magnetism of the men who popularized it. The hair itself was short in the back and long in the front, with the front pieces worn swept up and away from the face, secured with beeswax or other product with strong holding power. The sexiness of this look emerged when the icons who wore it, like Elvis, got moving and grooving onstage, allowing the carefully set hair to fall seductively forward over the eyes.

The Afro

The end of the 1960s marked a major shift in American culture away from the stiff and formal, toward being “natural” and “letting your freak flag fly.” The late 1960s also saw the rise of Black Power and Women’s Rights movements. For African-Americans there was a strong interest in allowing hair to return to its natural curl and texture, expressed through the afro hairstyle. Rather than relax or train the hair to simulate the styles worn by Caucasians, African-Americans in the late 1960s allowed their hair to be influenced by the styles of the African people, encouraging the natural “afro” — named in homage to Africa — a hairstyle that came to symbolize an, “I’m black and I’m proud” stance that grew in popularity into the 1970s.