The Side Part has seen something of a renaissance in the last 7 years. Between the late nineties and the turn of the century, the Side Part was a pariah of men’s style and combing your hair to the left or right was for geeks and nerds.
Not only have we had a strong vintage revival but geeks are cool again. This newfound freedom of follicle expression has brought along a plethora of different approaches to the Side Part, which has modernised the timeless style and enabled pairings with others.
The Side Part is particularly reminiscent of the 20th Century following the 1st World War. From the Roaring Twenties all the way until the rise of the Beatles, perfectly defined parting were almost uniform among men.
This was often accompanied by a heavy dose of pomade or Brylcreem to ensure both shine and hold. Different Side Parts are representative of different eras with individual characteristics stemming from the 30s, 40s and 50s.
Side Parts were especially prevalent in music such as rock & roll as well as jazz culture. African-American artists felt the pressure to conform to white standards.
In turn, many undertook a procedure called Conking to obtain the look, which became fashionable for nearly half a century.
This was a process for chemically straightening the hair using corrosive sodium hydroxide, which caused severe burns to the scalp as well as hair loss.
With Malcolm X’s condemnation of this painful practice during the 1960s civil rights movement the fashion eventually died out. However, it has recently begun to re-emerge in women’s fashion.
A classic Side Part is achieved by combing the hair then blow drying, waxing or gelling into place. It can be a natural look with a soft part or heavily styled with a hard part.
A hard part is a technique where a barber uses razor blades down the parting. This makes your hair more pronounced by creating contrast as well as being easier to style.
The different iterations of the Side Part make it a style that can be adapted to any occasion. Classic Side Parts combed and held in place with product can appear very conservative. However, if the hair is short and well-styled with a fade, this formal look can appear professional and chic.
Some more modern Side Parts have less of an accent on the parting itself but concentrate on how the volume on top is expressed. These full and wild iterations are more often referred to as Comb Overs. You can read more about these on our Comb Over page.
How To Style The Perfect Side Part
Ever wondered how to get that perfectly defined Side Part like Don Draper? It’s easy when you know how!
The Easy Way To Find Your Parting
You may be surprised but your scalp does have a natural parting, which is determined by hair growth. Feel for the swirl at the back of your head (the Cowlick) and take note in which direction the hair grows. A clockwise growth means that your part is on the life. If it’s counter-clockwise, that’s right, your part is on the right.
Classic Side Part
- If you want that 1950s shine, the best approach is to start with clean hair. Hair still a bit damp after a shower is ideal.
- With a small dollop of pomade, massage it into the hair to make sure it’s evenly distributed.
- Now, comb the hair neatly forward in the area you’d like your side part until it creates clear lines revealing scalp. Aim for a slightly diagonal line that starts just under the Cowlick at the back and ends near the temple towards the front. This compliments hair growth.
- Using the comb, separate the hair along one of the lines to create the parting. You can then easily comb and style the sides and top as desired.
Will A Side Part Suit My Face Shape?
Being a versatile hairstyle, the Side Part can be used on most lengths of hair. A side Part provides structure, which naturally flows with the hair’s growth.
It can complement a face shape’s features or even provides texture, which renders the face more angular if needed. The latter is especially useful for men with round face shapes. A hard Side Part that features a Fade or Undercut will provide structure to the face. Furthermore, parting the closer to the temples and away from the top along the parietal ridge will render the face squarer.
We’ve identified 7 individual face shapes, which play a vital role in determining how well certain styles may suit different men. If you don’t yet know your face shape, we strongly recommend you quickly follow out guide here in order to identify it before you continue reading this section.
Oval Face Shapes
Oval face shapes have few qualms when styling a Side Part. The only precaution is to ensure that the top isn’t too tight to avoid a rounded finish.
Square Face Shapes
Square face shapes look particularly masculine with Side Parts. These can be styled with different sides and tops without running many risks in undermining the proportions.
Diamond Face Shapes
Diamond should be careful as too tight on the sides will reveal their ears. Retaining volume along the crown will ensure that the forehead is well set against the cheekbones.
Heart Face Shapes
Heart shaped faces should be cautious styling the sides as aggressive fades will remove the volume needed to counteract their wide forehead for the latter. Keeping the parting along the ridge will avoid widening the face.
Oblong Face Shapes
Oblong shaped faces can benefit from a Side Part as long as some volume on the top and sides are relatively similar. This will shorten the face to make it appear more square or oval.
Round Face Shape
By using a hard parting that is kept low on the temple and climbs up to the crown, Round face shapes should fare well. However, care should be taken that the finishes are angular and that there is enough height on top. Regular touch ups are recommended to avoid the texture becoming soft and rounding off the features.