Quack! Let’s talk about a cool throw back. The ducktail hairstyle certainly made a lot of noise back in the 1950’s, however, since then it has sort of quieted down in today’s times.
While it’s true the style is legendary, you just don’t see a whole lot of men asking for it at the barbershop, even with popular associated cuts like the pompadour.
It’s becoming more a rarity and treasure to spot a ducktail among gentlemen. Though, that doesn’t exactly mean the look is outdated or out of fashion, if anything it’s just too high maintenance for the busy male lifestyle today.
If you’re thinking about getting one, just know the names it goes by first. Considering it’s a variation of the classic slicked back hair, it’s somewhat fitting there’s a few terms gentlemen call it. Though, all mean the same thing of course. Most commonly the ducktail reigns king or D.A. for short which stands for ducks arse and duck’s ass, though some will call it the duck’s tail too.
The original look: A high maintenance cut with a v-shape in the back of the head. Hair is combed from the sides to form parallel sections in the rear. When looking at the back of the head from the crown to nape it resembles the rear end of a duck.
For the front an Elephants trunk could be formed which left more of a messy, longer look with bangs hanging over the forehead. Of course, the ducktail could be paired with a variation like the flattop as well. Some gentlemen also elected to shape the front into a pompadour shape by growing out lengthier hair.
There’s no doubt about, the 1950s sparked the ducktail hairstyle trend revolution. Even the 1956 rockabilly song titled “Ducktail” by Joe Clay proved so touting lyrics like “Don’t mess with my ducktails”.
Though, there are two important things to note: The first, it has been said that the look dates back to the 1940s and was first invested by Joe Cirello, a Philadelphia barber.
The second, is that not every male in the 50s sported the look. In reality, the ducktail was popular, but not that popular; it was in the minority of hairstyles during the time period. However, it still held serious significance during the period and could be found being worn proudly by the great Elvis Presley.
Within time, it was worn by subcultures like the Greasers to Teddy Boys and Rockers. Yet, while the haircut was trendy it wasn’t always a part of the popular quiff, slicked back hair, or pompadour. In reality, you can think of it like a modern fade in today’s times, it’s optional and for a good reason. The truth is, the ducktail is a very high maintenance hairstyle, which a great deal of men didn’t want to deal with in the morning.
How to style a ducktail:
It looks difficult and well, it is but that doesn’t mean you can’t style it yourself at home. Just know this is a high maintenance look which requires a lot of grooming to keep it looking sharp. Both in the morning and through the day; it’s a good reason why greasers kept combs in their jean pockets.
For the best results, a thick full head of hair with a medium-long length sides is ideal. Remember, your sides so go beyond your ears when combed back. If you try to replicate the look with short hair it just isn’t going to happen.
To start, you’re going to need some pomade to help achieve a hold while combing and shaping things up. Go ahead and apply that, then comb the sides backwards till the meet together in the center of your neck. When you look in the mirror you should see a part that starts at the top of your head all the way down to the nape, aka your neck line. Now, here’s where you’ll want to create a straight line down the middle. Do so by finding the center then slicking down the top of your head down towards the nape of your neck.
Keep in mind, if you need more hair just go ahead and pull it in from the sides. If you’re doing an elephants trunk, that means you’re going to have to go back and blend everything in again.
For the very bottom by the neck line don’t worry if it curls up a bit, truthfully it adds a nice cool touch to the style.