The Ivy League haircut: A complete guide

All Things Hair | 06 August 2016

Brush up your knowledge on this dapper, classic cut and learn how to style it now.

The Ivy League haircut is a smart and sophisticated hairstyle that will never go out of fashion – and it’s regularly spotted on some of the most stylish celebs like Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt and Ryan Reynolds. As you can probably tell by its name, this haircut is ultra clean and professional-looking, while still retaining a contemporary and youthful stance, making it the perfect option for work and play. 

Want to know more about this dapper hairstyle? Just keep reading ahead for the lowdown on the Ivy League haircut.

The Ivy League haircut 101


So what exactly is an Ivy League haircut?

Also known as a Harvard Clip or a Princeton, the Ivy League haircut is a variation on the classic crew cut, fusing together the dapper aesthetic of a traditional crew cut with the super slick vibes of a side parting. However, unlike the crew cut, the Ivy League retains a little bit more length at the front, allowing you to brush it upwards, backwards, or part it to the side to create its signature groomed look.

Another key feature of the Ivy League hairstyle is its taper. Unlike most other men’s hairstyles, which usually taper down the back and sides, this cut tapers at the sides, back and top.

Blonde short mens Ivy League haircut
Use wax and a comb to style your Ivy League haircut in a groomed manner. Credit:

How to get the Ivy League haircut

The good news is, this cut is short, so unlike several other men’s hairstyles currently trending, you won’t need to worry about growing out your hair (and having to go through countless awkward stages!) in preparation.

To get the look, you’ll need to have an inch of hair on the top and just over an inch at the front, so we’d recommend making sure you’ve got at least an inch and a half all over before heading to the barbers. Unlike the crew cut – which tends to be cut with clippers – the Ivy League is usually cut using scissors on the top section of hair to retain a little extra length. Ask your barber to keep between half an inch and an inch on top (depending on how you want the end result to look), and leaving the front a little longer.

When it comes to the sides and back of the cut, we recommend going for anything between a number 2 and a number 4 cut. Just be sure to let him/her know how gradual of a taper you’d like.

Sounds complicated, right? Don’t worry: it really isn’t! Chances are, if you go to your barber and ask for an Ivy League haircut, they’ll know what you mean. But like we always say, it doesn’t hurt to bring in picture references to show your barber exactly what you want, just to be on the safe side!

How to style an Ivy League haircut

This dapper haircut is incredibly versatile and can be styled in numerous ways to suit your hair type, face shape and personal style. Traditionally, the look is styled with a side parting but you can also brush it back, or even combine the two and go for a brushed back, side-parted look. Better yet, because this style all about minimal maintenance, you shouldn’t need too much product to successfully style your Ivy League cut.

A touch of styling wax – we recommend the VO5 Extreme Style Groomed Styling Wax (£2.99*) – worked in between the palms of your hands before application is usually enough. Try the Lynx Urban Messy Look Matt Gel (£4.29*) if you want more control and a discreet, matte finish. 

Editor’s tip: For the guys with thin hair – and who want to make your it look fuller, apply a golf ball-sized amount of the TIGI Catwalk Strong Mousse (£13.95*) to damp hair, then blow-dry using the Toni&Guy Daily Conditioning Dryer. The finished look will appear “productless” and your hair will instantly look thicker as a result.

*RRPs are Unilever suggested retail prices only, it is at the discretion of the individual retailers to set the actual price.


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