In what period was it de rigueur for men to have long hair ('60s-'70s-'80s)?

Maybe this doesn’t have a precise answer but I’ve always found it fascinating that if you look at a photo of a group of men from pretty much any year in the 1970s they’ll all have long hair, at least below their ears. It doesn’t seem to matter what age the men/boys were, they all seemed to grow their hair long. It seems the trend continued a year or two into the 1980’s. I’m curious in what years was it near mandatory for a man to have a long style like that. Nowadays, hair styles seem more open, you can have a shaved head, long hair or any point in between, but it seemed mandatory to have longish hair from about 1970-1982(?). I was only born in 1981 so my perception of old photos might be completely off.

I think you’re right. This is a WAG but long hair in the 1960s was pretty counter-culture and anti-establishment - see Easy Rider for a cultural references, as well as “The sign said long-haired freaky people need not apply” and Alice’s Restaurant.

As with many counterculture movements, though, eventually they become part of the mainstream, albeit toned down (see hip hop style, bling, low-slung pants etc.). Which is why the seventies long hair isn’t the down-to-your-ass style of the '60s. And then along come the '80s and it becomes even more toned down and adapted, which of course gave birth to the mullet.

There’s my theory and I’m sticking to it until someone shows me up for being a charlatan.

In Britain, I’d say it was from about 1971 to 1978. It went out of style quite abruptly with the advent of Punk, and there were hipsters wearing that style well before the 70s, but if you look at clips from around 1975, almost everybody under the age of 40 looks like that. You have news reporters in three piece suits, but with oversized collars and ties and a Led Zeppelin haircut.

I’m not sure if we’ll ever again have quite that combination of strong youth culture and relatively few cultural outlets (in those days, in the UK, there were three TV channels and that was it). I guess that lead to a certain amount of uniformity.

In rural America from the late 60’s to the early 80’s it was pretty much universal. Some guys parted it on the side, but most in the middle. Older guys had their 50’s rockabilly duck’s ass still going, but they’d let it grow over their ears. Some holdouts from the 60’s grew it uniformly long, but most had the top cut in a shingle higher than the bottom, in the “shag” look.

Every guy also grew sideburns - important since he otherwise often had the same shag haircut as his girlfriend.

Some went with moustaches. As the 70’s progressed, some guys got spikey on top as Glam Rock came along, and guys with full beards & long hair were seen as antiquitarians from the then-dead hippie era.

IMHO, in North America at least, after Woodstock, ‘Hippy type things’ (like long hair for guys) gained a bit of respectability, or maybe just respect. In other words, any culture that could have its devotees cohabit peacefully in miserable conditions for three days couldn’t be all bad. So, again IMHO, long hair became much more common around late 1969 or early 1970.

In terms of when it was no longer ‘de rigeur’, I like what Ximenean said.

I was always amazed at the giant Afro’s in the 70’s. They disappeared quickly by 1979…

Afro’s are making a comeback. Not as huge, but still impressive.
photo from 2007

In high school in the late 70’s, I got endless amount of shit from friends and other people because I kept my hair moderately short. I did this because then as now, it tends to grow OUT and not down. (Hell, now if I had it as long as I had it in high school, I’d look like Bozo the clown what with the baldness on top!)

When we include all age groups, I would guess that long hair became the norm around 1973. Prior to that, there were always some guys griping about “hippies,” but after that even the anti-hippie types let their hair grow over their ears.

Wander into a college and look at the graduation pictures for each year to see when the change occurred.

I had the first “Beatle” haircut in my high school and quickly picked up the nickname Beatle-Bill (which was okay by me, but often said sarcastically, even though I quickly became “popular” due to the fact I could play drums and shake my head like Ringo in a band we called “The Watchmen”)

I do still have the bass drum head which was styled in The Beatles’ logo, since we copied their songs so much.

Then came the late 60’s and early 70’s which produced such bands as The New York Dolls and, of course KISS, which made my drum-playing Dad so mad that he named our group “Scum of the Earth”, because my then-girlfriend used to put on our make-up and mascara and such.

We later shortened it to “Scum”.

Yep, my hair was shoulder-length when I flunked out of WGC (West Georgia College in those days) and joined the US Air Force.

It was bleached-blonde green, because I tried to dye it brunette.

“Wanna keep your sideburns?”

Sir!” Yessir!"

“Here ya’ are, son.”

Right in my lap.


On a tangential note, as well as the question of “when was long hair fashionable”, the question “when did it start to be okay to look different” is also interesting.

A couple of years ago, my family was living in ex-teacher accomodation at a small local college, and in the main administration block were class photos all over the walls back about fifty or sixty years.

One of the interesting things about the older photos was way fashions changed in sync year by year. That is, the girls in, say, the 1950 photo would have different clothes and hair to the 1955 photo, but they’d all be the same as each other … the styles all changed together.

IIRC it was in the 70’s that you first started getting people actually dressing and hairstyling differently from each other. That’s about when the hippy generation first reached here … we were a little behind the times in those days!

One factor was the transition from barber shops to hair salons . . . from cutting hair to styling it. So many barbers went out of business in the late 60s (previously it was standard to get a haircut every two weeks), that the ones who remained had to go back to school and learn styling. And that was the transition from the just-let-it-grow hippies of the 60s to the styled hair of the 70s. And of course sideburns and 'staches completed the picture . . . until the mid-to-late 70s, when urban gay men started the “clone” look (short hair), and others adopted the mullet. That’s when different hair styles began to coexist.

I agree that, from about 1970 to 1980, if you saw a young male with a short or traditional hairstyle you assumed there had to be some reason for it; he might be in the military, or if in school he might be on a team with a hyperconservative coach. If it was a younger kid it might be because he was being punished for something; sometime around 1970 I remember a neighborhood kid, aged about thirteen, had to change his long hair for a crewcut as punishment for dropping the F-bomb. Later, shorter styles began to reclaim some ground in the world of rock and roll as punk and new wave started to happen. I think there was a lot less variety then in how people presented themselves.

From movies set in Italian-American neighborhoods of the time, one gets the impression that guys of Italian heritage kept up the old D.A. type hairstyle a little longer, and kept listening 1950s era groups like Dion and the Belmonts. Is there any truth to that?

You might try comparing the hairstyles in “Monterrey Pop” vs “Woodstock” just two years later.

I have no idea what your foreign terminology means. Please give translation.

I remember that back when I was 10 or possibly 11 in 1968 I was told by the headmaster of the whole school (not just the Junior School head!) to get my hair cut! Within a year or two the rules had been relaxed completely and I had long, or long-ish, hair most of the time right through the 70s, 80s & 90s…
Curiously, I was talking to a 5th or 6th year pupil (i.e. about to leave and go to University) from my school maybe 6 or 7 years ago who mentioned that he had the longest hair at school and it had been suggested that he cut it - but it was barely over the collar It was longer than that after I used to have my annual chop back when I was his age.
Being a moderately good private school, there were plenty of people with short hair as well, though, all the time I was there…

De rigeur is close in meaning to “mandatory”, but with the implication that unwritten rules or customs are being invoked.

Thank you.

In the late '60’s is wasn’t as if all men had “long” hair but very few had buzz cuts or flat tops. Most everybody let the their hair grow out to some degree.

I knew a kid that applied to West Point at that time. He visited there for a weekend of interviews, tests or whatever. The first thing they did was give him a buzz cut. When he got back he looked way, way out of place.

while the Beatles didn’t invent it, their “mop-top” was certainly one of the first mainstream longer haired looks to capture the attention and disgust of authoritarian types; IIRC they made it to N. American attention about 1963. By the mid to late 60’s, like the Beatles by then, complete lack of grooming was standard. I know by 1968 our school administration was fighting a losing battle against hidden ears.

When I was kid in the mid- to late-seventies, I felt like I had to explain to my friends that although a boy I liked had short hair, he was still cool.