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What Is a Quiff Haircut?

What Is a Quiff Haircut?

When researching men’s haircuts, you’ve probably come across the quiff. This ultra-popular yet surprisingly classic ‘do has been around for a century or more, but it’s having a serious comeback at the moment. Rocked by style informers like Justin Bieber, David Beckham and Conor McGregor, this edgy men’s haircut doesn’t discriminate. It can be worn by men with a preppy side, a punky side or a totally rebellious side, which is just part of the reason why it’s one of the most-requested cuts of the decade.

The quiff is a classic men’s haircut featuring long hair on the top, especially in the front, and trimmed hair at the back and sides. Similar to a pompadour, the quiff is a high-contrast cut that brings a stylish, confident aesthetic to any guy’s style.

In this guide, we’re covering both the basics and nitty-gritty of the quiff haircut to help you decide if it’s a style you want to add to your follicular portfolio. We’ll discuss the best lengths and face shapes for the quiff as well as explore the cut’s history, different variations and how to style one so not a single strand of hair looks out of place.

The Lowdown on the Quiff

Though the quiff comes in many variants (more on that below), at its most basic it combines elements of the old-school pompadour, the fauxhawk and the fade, creating a silhouette with long, upswept hair on the top-front, close to the forehead, and shorter locks at the back and sides. This extra volume at the top brings plenty of styling potential, so anyone who wants to slay the quiff will definitely want to stock up on men’s hair products, especially the quiff essential—some high-quality hair putty or clay.

Though it brings an expressly modern flair, the quiff is certainly not new. In fact, it traces its roots back to the 1950s, during the peak of the pompadour. Bad boy style icons like Elvis and James Dean sported some of the most well-known examples of this throwback style. The quiff gained even more steam during the British Teddy Boy movement of the 1980s, when guys cut their hair into dramatic quiffs with grown-out sideburns to go along with their Edwardian-era fashion, which often involved platform suede shoes (creepers) and drape jackets reminiscent of American zoot suits.

guy walking through intersection

How did the quiff get its name? No one knows for sure, but it is believed to have derived from the French word “coiffe,” which translates to hairstyle and traces its roots back to the armor that knights wore beneath their helmets during battle (badass, right?). While we know that the quiff has been a style mainstay for some 75-ish years, it’s possible that it has its origins in medieval times, when much of Europe rocked a coif, a close-fitting cap covering the top and sides of the head.

Who Can Rock a Quiff Haircut?

As you can tell from its brief history, the quiff has always been favored by tastemakers and rule-breakers of fashion. Though it’s definitely more accepted today as a men’s hair standard, it still brings a bit of an edge to the table for guys who want to look classically cool, like James Dean, Elvis or the Greasers from The Outsiders. Here are some people who would look excellent with a quiff:

  • Guys with a Round, Square or Oval Face—What face shape can rock a quiff, you ask? Well, basically all of them, but for guys who want to add a little length to the face—like those with a square or circular mug—the quiff is definitely a solid choice for the job. That’s because the top volume elongates the face as a whole and adds balance to a short or stout facial profile. Guys with oval and rectangular faces can get away with basically any hairstyle, quiff included.
  • Guys with Medium-Length Hair—OK, dudes, if you just buzzed your hair, you’re going to need to grow out those locks before you can cut them into a perfectly groomed quiff.  To create that voluminous quiff up-top, you need to have some length. Wait until your hair is at least three inches long at the top front before clipping it into a quiff. This ensures that you have enough length to work with. You don’t want to go too long, though, as extra length prevents the hair from sticking up too much at the top. Medium-length is definitely best for the perfect quiff.
people who look excellent with quiff graphic
  • Guys with Straight or Curly Hair—One of the most beautiful things about the quiff is that it’s truly non-discriminatory when it comes to hair type. It doesn’t matter if your hair is bone-straight, kinky and thick or coily-curly, you can rock a quiff. The key, as always, is going to a barber who knows what he’s doing and understands your specific hair type. As long as you let a pro do the clipping, your quiff will turn out looking great regardless of your hair’s natural qualities.
  • Guys Who Want a Low-Maintenance Style—Yes, of course a quiff requires some styling—you can’t just roll out of bed and make it look amazing—but not a ton of it, relatively speaking.  Check out our guide to styling a quiff below to learn how to make it look amazing with some men’s hair products. Once you master the quiff, it shouldn’t take you more than a couple of minutes to style each day.

The Best Quiff Variations

Think of a quiff as sort of the most basic package, with many upgrades available. With different lengths, shapes and textures to consider, there’s no reason why you can’t custom-cut your quiff so it is a complete original and totally true to you and your dapper personal style. Here are the top eight best quiff haircuts to consider if you want to give this hot style a go.

the classic quiff hairstyle

  • The Classic Quiff—If you’ve never had a quiff haircut before, we definitely recommend starting out with the classic. This is the most basic quiff on this list, featuring a more gradual transition from the sides to the top. It’s a lot softer and less dramatic than the modern quiff and many of the variations listed below.
  • The Modern Quiff—On the other hand, the modern quiff takes the classic version and dials it up a few notches, adding big volume and drama. In general, the modern quiff is marked by close-clipped sides and back with a prominent front quiff  that’s 4-plus inches in length. This is a good choice for the fashion-forward dude who doesn’t mind standing out in the crowd and who considers himself a trend-setter.
vintage hairstyle on man

  • The Teddy Boy Quiff—The Teddy Boy quiff is arguably the most unique take on this throwback cut, as it features a long, frontwards curl that hangs down at the forehead. This unique characteristic is often compared to a duck’s tail, as it comes down to a point near the eyebrows. This is definitely one of the boldest and most unique variations on the quiff—it’s not for guys who want to blend in!
elvis on life magazine cover
  • The Rockabilly Quiff—If you’ve ever considered yourself a bit of a rock-and-roller, the rockabilly quiff may be the look you need to unleash your inner badass. This slightly cartoonish take on the classic ‘do features a super-long, super-dramatic upswept quiff—think: Johnny Bravo's hair—with short sides and back. When structured and slicked back, it takes on an Elvis-like appearance.
man wearing modern quiff hairstyle

  • The Textured Quiff—Whereas the rockabilly quiff has a more defined, neat appearance, the textured quiff takes on modern messiness. It leans more faux hawk than any of the other quiff editions on this list, making it quite the popular choice for rocker dudes and those with a contemporary edge. This is also a great option for gentlemen who don’t have a ton of time to style—the messier the better when it comes to the perfect, textured quiff.
clean stylish hairdo on guy

  • The Disconnected Quiff—For preppy guys who don’t like to have a single strand of hair out of place, the disconnected quiff is an excellent choice. It starts with a modern quiff with close-clipped sides and a dramatic top but is finished with a defined line shaved into the side of the head where the long hair meets the buzzed side of the head. This gives it a neat, trendy look from every angle.
high fade quiff
  • The Quiff with High Fade—The high fade quiff is essentially the same as the disconnected quiff except it doesn’t feature the shaved-in line to delineate the two portions of the haircut. Instead, the hair fades dramatically at the transition point, creating a bold, natural fade. This haircut is definitely more for the modern man, as it incorporates components of the uber-trendy, standard high fade.
side swept hairstyle at barber shop

  • The Side-Swept Quiff—If you love the idea of having a slightly asymmetrical ‘do, try the side-swept quiff. This off-kilter standard adds the illusion of a side part so your quiff essentially droops to one side of your head and face. If you want to dial up the drama, have your barber shave a part line into the side of your head that will remain exposed.

How to Style a Quiff Haircut

As we’ve already mentioned—despite the fact that it looks totally put-together and trendy—styling a quiff is surprisingly quick and easy, so long as you have the right hair products and techniques in your back pocket. Here’s the basic three-step process for styling your quiff every morning.

three step quiff styling process graphic

  1. Wash Your Hair—Regardless of your cut, styling your hair always works better when you start with clean, shower-damp locks. Use a men’s shampoo and conditioner that leaves hair clean but doesn’t strip it of all its natural oils and textures. The more natural texture your hair has, the better your quiff will look and the longer it will stay in place once it has been styled. You can also opt for specific shampoos that add more volume to your hair,.
  2. Dry Your Hair—Drying your hair is a crucial part of the quiff-styling process. If you want a more structured, every-hair-in-place type of style—think of the rockabilly quiff or a slicked-back style á la Elvis—blow-dry your hair on medium heat using a bristled styling brush, curling the hair upwards as you go. If you prefer a messy, more textured look, blow-dry on cool to medium heat while tousling with your hands. 
  3. Work in Your Hair Product—Hair products are the quiff’s best friend. Seriously, you won’t get far with this trendy cut if you don’t have a solid stash of hair-stylers and holders on hand. For a textured top, you’ll need a high-quality hair paste or hair styling clay that lets you manipulate your quiff into the exact shape and style you want and keep it in place all day. If you tend to have super-slick locks that are hard to style, we recommend using a sea salt spray for men, which will give it a bit more grip and texture while also making your styling products work better. Avoid any hair products that make your locks appear stiff or crunchy, such as hairspray. If you want extreme volume but still want to retain the natural look, a few sprinkles of Texture Powder will do the trick.

Rock Your Quiff with Confidence

As with any men’s hairstyle, the quiff takes a bit of time to master. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different variations, products and styling techniques until you get the one that perfectly suits your unique sense of style and personality. At the end of the day, as long as you rock your quiff with confidence, you can be sure you’re doing it right.

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