Ivy League Haircut Guide: Common Misconceptions

Understanding the Ivy League haircut

Out of the many mens hairstyle questions that I get in my barbershop, it’s the Ivy League the mens haircut that gets the most confusion (together with the Undercut and 2 Step Undercut).

The Ivy League is a tapered haircut; that’s the first thing. However, unlike a classic hairstyle like the side swept which uses a taper cut for the sides and back, the Ivy League haircut tapers not only the sides and back but also the top of the head. This makes the Ivy League a somewhat hard-to-tell mens haircut, as, depending on the barber, the tapered cuts will be made smooth or made irregular. The best Ivy League haircut always has smoothly tapered sides, back and top; you should not be able to tell any starting point of the taper, except for the starting point at the crown, which is where the top taper cut ends in the Ivy League haircut.

Since an image is worth a thousand words (or more like one million words in barbershop terms!), here is a side-view picture of a well-cut Ivy League haircut:

A great mens hairstyle example of the Ivy League haircut

You can see in the Ivy League picture above how the hair on the top is tapered to make a wedge-like shape. The hair on the front has the most length, while the hair on the crown (i.e. back of the top of the head) has the least length. You can also see how the sides and back of the head are also tapered (i.e. transitioning in hair length) all the way to the hairline. Unfortunately, the hairstyle for the Ivy league haircut in this picture is more of a messy hair style, hence some of the smoothness of the taper is somewhat broken (this is common with all tapered cuts that are styled with a messy or shaggy emphasis).

So is then a regular taper haircut the same as an Ivy League haircut?

The answer is both “yes” and “no”, allow me to explain. A taper haircut is a generic word for a very-common haircut used by barbers in which the length of the hair gradually decreases across the scalp. The tools used to cut a taper haircut can be shears only (i.e. shears are barber scissors), shears with a hair clipper, or a hair-clipper only. The distinguishing pattern of the Ivy League haircut is that the Ivy League’s taper cut on the sides and back of the head is done with a hair clipper only. Thus, while the hair on the sides and back of the head in a taper haircut can be done with shears, shears with a hair clipper, or just a hairclipper, the hair on the sides and back of the head in the Ivy League is cut only with a hair clipper. Bear that in mind as some bad and/or amateur barbers will cut your Ivy League with shears only!

So, while the hair on the back and sides in the Ivy League are cut (i.e. clipped) with a hair clipper, the hair on the top of the head is tapered from the forelock (i.e. forehead) towards the crown with both shears and a hair clipper. Which tool will be mostly used by your barber to taper the top of your head will depend on how long you want your Ivy League. The best hair length for the Ivy league is 2 inches on the front and half an inch on the crown; any shorter length on the front will turn your Ivy League into a crew cut, which is a military haircut for men.

I hope that my words in this article help you to better understand the Ivy League haircut, as this mens haircut is a very useful, convenient and clean haircut for guys of all ages. Unfortunately, not all barbers, hairdressers and hairstylists can cut an Ivy League!

If you have any questions about the Ivy League, then please post them below in the comments section.

1 comment for “Ivy League Haircut Guide: Common Misconceptions

  1. Rana Zahid Ali
    February 3, 2016 at 2:36 am

    My head shape is slightly asymmetrical so please tell me whether an Ivy League haircut can look good on me. If so, how can a tapered cut cover the bumpy surface of my head, especially from my crown to the whole back of my neck. Secondly, what hair length should be used from the top of the head to the sides and back of the head? From the crown to the lower base of the neck. Thanks.

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