The Establishment (of Style)
The corporate world has always been a little stodgy regarding personal style unless you are in tech, where you can get away with wearing black turtlenecks and jeans as a billionaire CEO. Even in tech, however, haircuts have always had a particular set of guidelines within to reside, being not too edgy or else the powers that be would consider you less capable or un-trustworthy. However, the pandemic created a new corporate challenge of getting employees to return to the oppressive office atmosphere from their more relaxed work-at-home environment, and with this has come a renewed focus on acceptable personal style, including haircuts.
Rebel With A Cause
Most men who work in corporate environments choose a hairstyle that is more common amongst their peers and approved (even if non-verbally) by their bosses. Fitting in amongst a crowd of 50,000 can provide comfort. However, some employees like to stand out amongst their peers regarding personal style, and the haircut is the most impactful choice of a man who wants to be known as much for his taste in expression as he is for his weekly reports. These rebels seek to express their individuality in a world of drones, but when you work in a corporate environment, how far is too far astray from the hive?
Styles That Work and Styles That Don’t
Most people can agree that a professional skateboarder or avant-garde artist can get by with a neon green mohawk as their personal choice of hairstyle. While that type of haircut doesn’t necessarily mean that an employee is incapable of performing at a top level, corporations like steadiness. Temporary dyes and the extreme shavings of the head do not often imply such steadiness. So, when choosing a style that fits your personality, you must also consider the impression it may give to others. While I like to feel in control of how I am perceived by others, I also recognize the need to be professional in my approach and understand that personal tastes vary.
The undercut is an example of a haircut that isn’t oft worn in a corporate environment but is edgy and respectable enough to be considered acceptable to the higher-ups. There are many varieties of undercuts, ranging from middle-of-the-road to more extreme examples. If you are unfamiliar with these undercut hairstyles, there is the disconnected undercut (think the Peaky Blinders) or the military undercut (like Brad Pitt from his WW2 film Fury). You keep the hair somewhat long on top while shaving up high on the sides and in the back. The amount of shaved area can help define the difference between acceptable and extreme, so you have some leeway to play with. This haircut can give the impression of being tidy and unkempt at the same time unless you style your hair according to your environment.
Keeping Something Edgy From Becoming Messy
To ensure that an undercut doesn’t turn into an uppercut from management, you need to know which products to use to achieve your style without offending your boss. Hair-care products ranging from gels to pomades can help keep your hair in place no matter how tight a deadline may be. However, if you choose your product poorly, you can look dirty instead of dandy and that is something you do not want to happen. Knowing your type of hair and the maintenance routine you are willing to withstand are factors in choosing a cutting-edge style that impresses others and impresses upon them your unique attitude.
Other hairstyles that may push the envelope in a corporate setting can include shaved bald heads, longer mane-like coifs, and purposefully messy designs that imply a stylized lack of styling. Each unique type of haircut can be used to accentuate character traits and even overcome some commonly perceived flaws, such as male pattern baldness. All personal choices regarding your hair must take into account the level of work you are willing to put into cementing it as an acceptable choice amongst the corporate elite.
Mixing It Up
Always remember that you want to express your character in the workplace, not be a character in the workplace. Choosing a hairstyle is a man’s prerogative and should make him feel confident and at ease. Someone who likes pushing the boundary of self-expression should also consider that impressions do matter. While we don’t want to feel like conformists, we must be strategic with how we express ourselves. In an environment that requires cohesive inter-connectedness of a large group of individuals of varying tastes and personal opinions, we must be aware of the impressions we leave on others. Be yourself, but don’t aim to alienate yourself, either.What do haircuts look like in the post-pandemic, remote-first world?