medieval hairstyles male

Historic Trends: Popular Male Hairstyles in Medieval Europe

Welcome to a journey back in time to discover the fascinating world of medieval hairstyles for men. In medieval Europe, hair grooming and hairstyles were an essential part of one’s social status, self-identity, and fashion statement. From the early Middle Ages to the Renaissance, male hairstyles have undergone significant changes influenced by various cultural, social, and artistic movements.

Join us as we explore the history of male hairstyles, from practical and straightforward haircuts for working-class men to elaborate and extravagant styles for the aristocracy. Discover the trends that shaped medieval fashion and how they continue to influence modern-day hairstyles.

Key Takeaways

  • Medieval hairstyles for men were an essential part of their social status and fashion statement.
  • The history of male hairstyles in medieval Europe spans from the early Middle Ages to the Renaissance.
  • Male grooming was influenced by various cultural, social, and artistic movements during the medieval period.
  • The lasting influence of medieval hairstyles can be seen in modern-day trends.

The Significance of Hair in Medieval European Society

In medieval Europe, hair grooming for men was more than just a personal preference. It played a crucial role in signaling social status, wealth, and personal identity. Coiffures were a reflection of cultural and social values, and the way men wore their hair was subject to the ever-changing fashion trends of the time.

The art of hair grooming was taken seriously, and men of all social classes invested time and resources in maintaining their hair. For the wealthy, intricate and ostentatious hairstyles were a way to display their affluence and establish their status in society. On the other hand, simple and practical hairstyles were common amongst the working class.

The cultural significance of hair grooming can be seen in various works of art, such as paintings, sculptures, and literature of the time. These depictions showcase the hairstyles of different social classes, providing insights into the changing fashion trends of the medieval period.

“Hair is an accessory that cannot be removed, demonstrating one’s status and pride.” – John Harvey, scholar of medieval art and architecture.

The importance of hair grooming was not limited to personal appearance; it also had religious and political connotations. In some cultures, long hair was a symbol of power, and cutting one’s hair was a sign of submission. Religious orders often required men to shave their heads or wear specific hairstyles as a way of displaying piety and dedication to their faith.

Overall, hair grooming played a significant role in shaping medieval European society. It was more than just a fashion statement; it was a reflection of cultural and social values that evolved over time.

Popular Male Hairstyles in the Early Middle Ages

The early Middle Ages in medieval Europe saw a mix of cultural influences on male hairstyles. The Byzantine Empire, for instance, had a significant impact on the hairstyles of the time. Byzantine men, including Emperor Justinian I, were known for their long, curly hair, which was often combed back and styled with a headband.

Similarly, the Viking culture also influenced male grooming trends in medieval Europe. Vikings were known for their elaborate hairstyles, which often featured braids, twists, and knots. Their hair was typically kept long and styled for maximum impact.

Hairstyle Description
The Saxon A military-style haircut; shaved at the back and sides, leaving a square of hair on top.
The Chignon A hairstyle that features a knot or bun at the back of the head, usually secured with a pin or ribbon.
The Ceorl A simple, practical hairstyle featuring a short cut with straight bangs.

During this period, hairstyles for men were typically practical and functional, designed to withstand the rigors of everyday life. Short haircuts and simple styles were popular among the working-class, while longer, more elaborate hairstyles were favored by the aristocracy.

As the early Middle Ages came to a close, male grooming trends began to shift, paving the way for new and exciting hairstyles to emerge in the coming centuries.

The Rise of the Gothic Hairstyles

During the late Middle Ages, the gothic hairstyles gained significant popularity throughout Europe. Gothic architecture and art heavily influenced the hairstyles during this period. The hair was styled to emulate the intricate details of gothic structures and sculptures. Men wore their hair long, often braided or twisted, and adorned with various hair accessories such as ribbons, beads, and feathers.

One of the popular gothic hairstyles for men was the “Bowl cut”. It involved shaving the hair close to the head and leaving a circular strip of hair around the crown. The hair was then combed upwards, giving the appearance of a bowl placed on the head. Another trendy hairstyle was the “Shaggy cut” that involved leaving the hair long, parted in the middle, and loosely curled. The “Pixie cut” was also popular, which involved shaving the hair at the sides and back and leaving the hair on top long and swept to one side.

Men also wore elaborate headdresses made from metals, feathers, and jewels. The headdresses often had intricate designs with symbolic meanings. For instance, the headdress of a king was designed to symbolize power and royalty.

Women’s Gothic Hairstyles

Gothic hairstyles were not limited to men only. Women also had their unique gothic hairstyles that were characterized by long, flowing hair, often in braids or curls. They often adorned their hair with ribbons, flowers, and jewels to add a touch of elegance to the style.

“The gothic hairstyles were an expression of artistic and architectural ingenuity. They were a symbol of sophistication and class, reserved for the wealthy and powerful of the society” – Medieval Hair Grooming Expert

Popular Male Hairstyles in the High Middle Ages

The high Middle Ages witnessed significant changes in male hairstyles, as they were no longer merely functional but became an important aspect of fashion and identity. During this period, chivalry and courtly love dominated the cultural scene, influencing and dictating male grooming trends.

The Knightly Hairstyle

The knightly hairstyle was the epitome of masculinity and power, reflecting the ideals of chivalry. It was characterized by closely cropped hair on the sides of the head, with longer hair on the top that could be styled in various ways. This hairstyle required frequent trimming to maintain its shape and was often adorned with a small cap.

The Pageboy

The pageboy was a popular hairstyle among young men in the high Middle Ages. It featured a straight bob that was often chin-length, with short bangs framing the forehead. It was a simple yet elegant style that required little upkeep, making it a preferred choice for those in training to become knights.

The Conical Haircut

The conical haircut, also known as the Lombard or Norman hairstyle, was a unique style that originated from the Norman conquest of England in the 11th century. It featured a shaved back and sides with a longer tuft of hair on top that was styled into a cone shape. This hairstyle was favored by the Norman knights and was a symbol of their power and authority.

To keep up with the latest hairstyles, men turned to barbers for their needs. Barbershops became popular gathering places where men could socialize and exchange news and gossip. They also offered a range of services beyond haircuts, such as shaves, bloodletting, and dentistry.

Overall, male grooming became an integral part of medieval fashion and society during the high Middle Ages. It was a reflection of individual identity and social status, as well as a statement of fashion and beauty.

The Renaissance Influence on Male Hairstyles

The Renaissance marked a transitional period in European history, and the influence of the era on male hairstyles was no exception. As the world began to shift from a medieval to a modern society, men’s grooming practices evolved to reflect this change.

With the revival of ancient Roman culture and humanism in full swing, hairstyles took on a new dimension of sophistication and elegance. The iconic “da Vinci cut” became popular among young men, characterized by a short and layered cut that framed the face. This style was frequently accompanied by a neatly trimmed beard, which added a touch of refinement and masculinity to the look.

The period was also marked by the emergence of elaborate headdresses and hair accessories. Wigs were in vogue, with men flaunting them in public to show off their wealth and status. The “florentine” was a type of wig worn by many men; it featured long, flowing curls that cascaded down the back, and was often adorned with ribbons and jewels.

The fashion for men’s hair extended beyond the head, with many men opting to have their facial hair styled and groomed to perfection. The classic “goatee” beard became popular; it was a small, pointed beard that was often paired with a mustache. This style exuded an air of sophistication and intellectualism, which was highly prized during the Renaissance period.

The Evolution of Hairstyles in Art

The impact of the Renaissance on male hairstyles can be seen in many iconic works of art from the period. One of the most well-known examples is the famous portrait of Henry VIII by Hans Holbein. The king’s hair is styled in a fashionable “flattop” haircut, with a closely cropped beard that exemplifies the elegance and refinement of the era.

Another example of Renaissance hairstyles in art is the portrait of Federico da Montefeltro by Piero della Francesca. In this painting, the Duke of Urbino is depicted with a short, well-groomed haircut that was typical of the period. The painting highlights the attention to detail and precision that was involved in male grooming during the Renaissance.

The Legacy of Renaissance Hairstyles

The Renaissance period had a lasting impact on male grooming, and many of the hairstyles that emerged during this era continue to be popular today. The “da Vinci cut” has evolved into the modern “layered” haircut, while the classic goatee beard remains a staple of men’s fashion.

The use of wigs and hair accessories has also endured, with many men still using these items to create unique and fashionable looks. The Renaissance period was a time of great creativity and innovation in men’s grooming, and its influence can still be seen in the hairstyles of today.

Eccentric and Extravagant Hairstyles of the Late Middle Ages

The late Middle Ages saw a rise in eccentric and extravagant male hairstyles. These hairstyles were often associated with the courtly fashion of the time, which emphasized elaborate clothing, headdresses, and accessories.

One popular hairstyle was the “hennin,” a cone-shaped headdress that sat atop the head like a crown. Men often wore their hair in tight braids or curls, with the hennin perched on top. The hennin was particularly popular among noblewomen, but some men also adopted the style.

Hairstyle Description
The “bowl” cut This style involved cutting the hair to a uniform length all around the head, creating a bowl-like shape. The bangs were often left longer and swept to the side.
The “pageboy” This style involved cutting the hair to shoulder-length and curling the ends inward to create a rounded shape. The hair was often parted in the middle and worn with a small cap or hat.

Male hairstyles also became more extravagant during this time, with hairpieces and wigs becoming increasingly popular. These hairpieces were often made of human or animal hair and were carefully crafted to look like natural hair.

“The courtly fashion of the late Middle Ages reflected a growing importance of personal style and self-expression, with hairstyles becoming increasingly elaborate and eccentric.”

The importance of personal style and self-expression was also reflected in the use of hair accessories. Men often wore jeweled combs or hairpins, and some even adorned their hair with small crowns or tiaras.

Overall, the late Middle Ages saw a dramatic shift in male grooming trends, with hairstyles becoming more extravagant and elaborate than ever before. The influence of courtly fashion and a growing emphasis on personal style helped shape the hairstyles of the time, providing a glimpse into the cultural values and norms of medieval Europe.

Practicality and Functionality: Hairstyles of the Working Class

While the hairstyles of the ruling class were often elaborate and ornate, the hairstyles of the working-class men in medieval Europe were more practical and functional. The needs of their labor and occupation often dictated the style and length of their hair.

For example, many peasants and farmers kept their hair short to prevent it from getting caught in machinery or tangled while working in the fields. Similarly, soldiers and knights often wore their hair in a simple, cropped style to keep it out of their eyes during battle.

However, even with these practical considerations, there were still some variations in hairstyles among the working class. For example, during the early Middle Ages, many Germanic tribes favored long, flowing hair as a symbol of status and strength. By the high Middle Ages, however, short hair and closely-cropped beards had become more popular among soldiers and laborers alike.

Hairstyles by Profession

Profession Hairstyle
Farmers/Peasants Short, practical hairstyles
Soldiers/Knights Cropped, functional hairstyles
Artisans Simple, unadorned hairstyles
Miners Shaved heads for safety reasons

As the working class became more urbanized and involved in trade and commerce, there was also an increasing focus on personal style. Tradesmen and merchants often adopted the hairstyles of the ruling class, with slightly more subdued variations.

Overall, the hairstyles of the working class in medieval Europe were a reflection of the practical concerns and social status of the wearer. They often provided a clear indication of a person’s profession, and were an essential aspect of their identity.

Haircare and Grooming Practices

Medieval men had a range of natural ingredients, tools, and techniques for maintaining and styling their hair. Haircare practices were influenced by a variety of factors, including personal preference, cultural norms, and available resources.

Hair washing was not a regular practice, and washing too frequently was believed to be harmful to the hair’s condition. Instead, most men relied on infrequent washing and brushed their hair regularly to distribute the natural oils evenly.

Natural ingredients were commonly used for hair care, including aloe vera, honey, and rosemary. These were often mixed with oils like almond, olive, or castor oil to create hair masks that would promote shine and strong growth.

For styling, men used a variety of tools, including combs, brushes, and even heated irons. The most popular tool was the comb, which was available in a range of shapes and sizes. The use of heated irons was less common and only used by those who could afford it.


In medieval Europe, hair care was seen as a task for both barbers and surgeons, who were prominent members of society. Barbers were trained in hair cutting and styling, while surgeons were responsible for more complicated procedures such as bloodletting and wound treatment.

Barber-surgeons played a significant role in shaping men’s hairstyles, and their work was informed by prevalent fashion trends. They also had access to a range of hair care tools and products, including combs, razors, and oils, which were used to create intricate styles.

The Role of Head Coverings

Head coverings were commonly worn by medieval men, serving both practical and stylistic functions. Hats, hoods, and caps protected the head from the sun and cold weather, while also serving as a fashion accessory.

Head coverings were often used to conceal a bad hair day or a messy hairstyle. It was common for men to wear hats or hoods when their hair was unwashed or unstyled, as it was seen as a sign of poor hygiene to go out with unkempt hair.

Insights into Medieval Society

The hair care and grooming practices of medieval men provide valuable insights into the cultural and social aspects of medieval society. Hair grooming was a way for men to express their identity, wealth, and social status.

The use of natural ingredients, tools, and techniques also reveals the practicality and resourcefulness of medieval people. Despite the lack of modern technology and beauty products, medieval men were still able to create complex and intricate hairstyles.

Influences on Modern Hairstyles

The influence of medieval male hairstyles can still be seen in modern-day grooming trends. From the clean-shaven faces of the Byzantine era to the long and flowing locks of the Renaissance period, medieval fashion has left its mark on the haircuts and grooming practices of today.

One of the most enduring hairstyles to come out of the medieval era is the “undercut.” This look, which involves cutting the sides of the hair short while leaving the top longer, was popularized during the Victorian era but has its roots in the bowl cuts worn by medieval monks.

Medieval Era Modern Trend
Viking Braids Man Braids
Long Hair Hipster Hair
Buzz Cuts Military Haircuts

The Viking braids that were popular during the early Middle Ages have also made a comeback, with men sporting “man braids” on the red carpet and in daily life alike. And while long hair was popular in many eras, it has recently been embraced by the hipster subculture, who wear their flowing locks with pride.

Even buzz cuts, which were practical hairstyles for working-class men during the Middle Ages, have taken on a modern twist as military haircuts.

But it’s not just the hairstyles themselves that have endured. The importance of personal grooming and style, which was emphasized during the medieval period, remains relevant today. Men still take pride in their appearance and use hair grooming as a means of expressing their personality and individuality.

Overall, the influence of medieval male hairstyles on modern fashion and grooming practices cannot be overstated. From the undercut to the man braid, these historic coiffures continue to shape the way men groom and style their hair today.


Medieval hairstyles for men were more than just coiffures; they were cultural and social markers that spoke volumes about an individual’s identity, status, and fashion sense. From the early Middle Ages to the late Middle Ages, male grooming was shaped by a variety of cultural, artistic, and historical influences, resulting in unique and diverse hairstyles that are now considered iconic.

The impact of medieval hairstyles on modern-day trends is undeniable. Many contemporary hairstyles reflect elements of medieval grooming, from the sleek and sophisticated Gothic look to the rustic and practical styles of the working-class. Today, medieval male hairstyles continue to inspire and influence fashion trends, proving the enduring power of historical fashion.

We hope that this exploration of medieval male hairstyles has provided readers with a deeper appreciation of the cultural significance and historical context of hair grooming. Whether you’re a fashion enthusiast or a history buff, there’s no denying the allure of medieval hairstyles for men.


What were the popular male hairstyles in medieval Europe?

The popular male hairstyles in medieval Europe varied depending on the time period and cultural influences. Some examples include the long, flowing locks of the early Middle Ages, the gothic-inspired hairstyles during the Gothic period, and the fashionable hairstyles of the high Middle Ages.

What was the significance of hair in medieval European society?

Hair held significant cultural and social importance in medieval European society. It served as a symbol of social status, wealth, and personal identity. Hairstyles were often used to convey messages about a person’s background, occupation, or affiliation with certain groups.

How were hairstyles influenced by the Renaissance?

The Renaissance brought about a shift in hairstyles for men. Influenced by the rediscovery of ancient Roman culture, hairstyles became more refined and elegant. Shorter, more groomed haircuts were favored, inspired by the art and fashion of the time.

Were there practical hairstyles for working-class men?

Yes, there were practical hairstyles for working-class men in medieval Europe. These hairstyles were often simpler and focused on functionality. Men engaged in labor-intensive occupations would opt for shorter hair or styles that were easy to manage and wouldn’t interfere with their work.

How did medieval men care for and groom their hair?

Medieval men used natural ingredients and techniques to care for and groom their hair. They would often wash their hair with herbal infusions or mixtures of water and vinegar. To style their hair, they used combs, brushes, and natural oils or pomades made from ingredients like beeswax and olive oil.

What influences from medieval male hairstyles can be seen in modern trends?

Elements of medieval male hairstyles continue to influence modern trends. For example, the popularity of undercuts and shaved sides in contemporary hairstyles can be traced back to the shaved heads or close-cropped haircuts favored by medieval men. Additionally, the use of hair accessories and elaborate styling techniques reminiscent of the Gothic period can still be seen today.