Classic Side Swept Hairstyle Guide

This hairstyle guide has been reprinted from this Side Swept hairstyle guide with kind permission from the Men’s Hair Forum. The Men’s Hair Forum is the copyright owner of this guide.

The Best Guide on the Classic Side Swept Hairstyle for Men

One of the most classic hairstyles for men is the Side Swept. This hairstyle is a simple side part with the hair laying flat and slicked. A pomade is usually used for sweeping the hair and securing the hair style in place.

The side swept has been a go-to style for men who wanted a classic look or a more formal appearance. From businessmen to politicians to Hollywood actors, the slicking (i.e. sweeping) of hair to the side has always been an excellent styling choice for all males. The side swept was at its peak in the 1930s to 1950s, yet there is still a minor but solid group of men who enforce the side sweeping of their hair as a “must do” in their daily grooming. There is no other option to consider other than the “swept”.

The side swept is in fact quite similar in purpose to the relatively simple slicked back hair style. The only real difference is that, in the side swept, the hair is parted and combed perpendicular to the parted line while in the slick back, the hair is slicked backwards starting at the forehead.

Pictures of the Side Swept hairstyle

The hair will either lay fully flat (what we call “tight” and “classic”) or show some volume (what we call “modern”), although the hair must always look as if “pressed” by means of having combed it. Nowadays, most men prefer some volume with their sweeping while in the past, the hair was left tight and pressed with oil-based pomades!

As an example of how this style transpired into Hollywood, the old-fashioned Gatsby hairstyle is/was just a classic side swept with a scissor taper haircut as Robert Redford portrayed in the movie The Great Gatsby in 1974.

Robert Redford and Leonardo DiCaprio as The Great Gatsby

Robert Redford with a side swept hairstyle

Leonardo DiCaprio as The Great Gatsby with a side swept classic hairstyle

Cary Grant with a side swept hairstyle for his curly hair

How to get the look

The side swept is an easy to do style and will work on the male hair types of straight hair, wavy hair and coiled curly hair. All you will need is a good pomade and a men’s comb.

After drying your hair and leaving it damp, get the pomade and coat your hair with it, making sure to not get any on the actual scalp (skin of your head).

Robert Redford as The Great Gatsby with a side part classic hairstyle

Direct your hair with your fingers so that you have set the direction of the hair and then proceed to draw the parting line on your left or right temple, and sweep (i.e. comb while keeping flat) the hair as per your preference. Make sure that you do the opposite side of the parted line too. As you have been able to see in all the above pictures of the side swept, there is always a line drawn at either the left or right temple, so just use the photographs as a visual guide when setting your preference for the parted line and the direction of the sweep.

Just so that you clearly see what and where the parted line is to sweep the hair to the side, have a look at the following photo of the side swept:

Side swept hairstyle styled with pomade in a barbershop

Hair products to get

Click each product link below to see the full details of the product at Amazon and be able to buy them at the lowest prices online if you want to get your side swept rolling ASAP!

  • This oil-based pomade: oil-based pomades are the old-school pomades used when the side sweeping your hair was essential to being a gentleman. The oil-based pomade in the link will hold your hair very well, making the style look “tight”, while giving some good sheen to the hair. Only downfall is that you will have to shampoo your hair with a bit more enthusiasm to remove the pomade optimally.
  • This water-based pomade: water-based pomades are the modern response to hard to remove oil-based pomades. The water-based pomade in the link is particularly good at holding the hairstyle (in this case, side swept) just like a good old oil-based pomade. The benefit is that this particular pomade is easier to wash away than the oil-based pomade above. Likewise, the shine is not as strong with this water-based pomade, and in fact the pictures of the modern versions of the side swept that I posted above are the kind of results you would achieve with the water-based pomade in the link.
  • This men’s comb: if you want to be sweeping your hair like a Sir, you need to own a real men’s comb and not a cheap plastic comb that will chip or break with minimal tension. The comb in the link is handmade and is specially tailored for these kind of gentleman’s hairstyles.
  • The Men’s Hair Book: this book is the one and only informational reference you will ever need! The book is the encyclopedia of men’s hair and it not only shows you all there is to styling your hair but it also shows you how to take maximum care of your mane, keep it well groomed daily without interfering with your life and even feed it with the right nutrition so that your hair is healthier, stronger and there’s always plenty of it! An excellent read and we highly recommend The Men’s Hair Book in our forum.
  • This hair dryer: a hair dryer is an optional tool for the side swept style. What the hair dryer will allow you to do is get some volume on the swept hair. A good visual example is the set of pictures of the modern version above, where you can see that the hair doesn’t lay completely flat. Such hair look is achieved with a water-based pomade and a hair dryer like the one in the link. Even if you’d prefer to do a classic side swept but don’t yet own a hair dryer, I highly recommend you to get one now as a hair dryer (aka blow dryer) is an excellent future investment for increasing your range of hairstyles that you can style any time without having to go to the barbershop or hair salon.

The above products will ensure that you can now mark the side swept as a doable hairstyle in your range of daily styling options. In the case that you would like to style a classic version or a modern version depending on your mood for the day, then I recommend you to buy the 2 pomades so that you have more styling variety. You can use either of the pomades for other styles so you will be making good use of them even if you end up preferring one of the pomades over the other for your side sweeping!

You may also find this hairstyle guide in this Side Swept hairstyle guide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *