Tressed for success

In the space of just 40 minutes you can look taller and leaner. Your face can look more masculine, your jawline stronger, your eyes more piercing and commanding.

A good haircut can change a man's face. It improves his appearance, and potentially his standing and performance in and outside the office.

"Just in the past five or six years they've realised what a big impact it has professionally and in their personal lives," says Stephen Foyle, principal stylist for GQ magazine. "They're seeking the architectural approach to hair cutting rather than just a hair removal service."

Classic grooming with high shine and a side part will give the Mad Men edge to your work day hair.
Classic grooming with high shine and a side part will give the Mad Men edge to your work day hair. 

A good haircut is "priceless", according to Phoenix Thomson of the leading men's styling brand American Crew. "The old buzz cut is never going to go, but now men have a strong styling option."

And more men are choosing stylish cuts. "The tipping point was 18 months ago and now it's almost mainstream," says Foyle, who is creative director for hair at Detail for Men in Sydney.

"After the metrosexual period there's been a strong educational phase in which men have finally realised they can have a good cut. It can structurally change the perception of a man's face. A larger face can be made thinner, with angles; it can strengthen jawlines and create linear shapes between the cheekbones to make a face more masculine.

"It's a commercial choice. These guys have been used to average haircuts and service in unisex salons. Now they feel confident and safe - they're empowered - to find the best and look their best."

The styles of choice are driven from the Thirties to the Fifties, taking cues from TV's Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire and, in the past couple of weeks, Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby.

Foyle says the styles are almost idealised versions of the modern male, while at the same time representing classic masculinity.

Male suiting is currently quite streamlined with an almost feminine feel, which has led to the desire for the overtly masculine hairstyles.

Gary McKenzie, an American Crew stylist known for his cool cuts, says the most successful styles have the classical short back and sides shape but leave length on top.

"By day they can have a side part that's formal and conservative, and they can play with their hair, rough it up, with a bit of product at the weekend," McKenzie says. "It's versatile."

It also spells success. "These guys are cashed up and want to look successful. They're spending money on good clothes and suits and there's no point unless they have good hair, too."

A cut will last up to four weeks but many men in the corporate world have more frequent trims. "The Sydney equivalent of Wall Street bankers are having their hair cut every two weeks to suit the specific demands of their professional environments," Foyle says. "They want consistency and no maintenance. Time and image is all."

Men are becoming unafraid to colour their hair, too - as long as it's undetectable. "Semi-permanent masking colours cut back 20 to 30 per cent of grey, but they're still translucent," McKenzie says. "I say to them, we can't return it to what it was but we can enhance what you have and cut the whiteness of it."

About a third of his clients have their hair coloured.

"That age group and demographic ask a lot more questions and want information about products and styles," he says. "They're open to it. They're successful for a reason."