Remember 2015? Ah, yes, how could you forget: a time when Twitter was once aflame over a dress with a greatly debated color scheme, a Trump presidency was just a distant, vaguely threatening joke and the use of a dumb and unnecessary term used to describe a completely fabricated concept became prominent. No, I don’t mean “transracial,” but you are close.
The “man bun” (a.k.a. “the long hair on a man worn up,” which was a thing long before there was buzz around it, but I digress) was the talk of the town but two short years ago; man buns adorned many scalps of influence, such as those of Harry Styles and Hozier, and they were actually considered sexy and very much so “in.” More recently, however, you may have noticed that the man bun seems to have gone the way of the dad bod—sadly and silently slinking out of relevance, to be discussed with a fraction of the widespread zeal it once basked in. Move over, fellas, other newer crazes aren’t going to run themselves into the ground on their own.
Let’s pause for a moment and think of those most affected by the fall of the man bun: I’m sure you, a guy who worked hard to grow out your hair and then proudly sported a bun during the style’s prime, feel just a bit shafted by its slow decline in popularity. You fought to get your hair past that awkward length where you couldn’t quite tie it up, and now there’s not even a name for your hairstyle anymore? Surely a tough pill to swallow for anybody, but once you’ve grappled with the cruel nature of fate, it’s time to take action.
Do you still have long hair even though no one really cares anymore? Fear not. There are plenty of things you can do with your long hair even if they don’t come with a neat nickname or a great deal of cultural fanfare. Even though the “man bun” has been phased out of people’s lexicon for some time and long hair isn’t as fawned over now as it was back then, you can still keep rocking what you’ve got. Here are a few ways to do so.
1. A top knot
Nothing says, “This guy’s cool, but could mean business if it came to that” like a bun set atop your head. Most man buns manifested as top knots in the first place, so by wearing your hair up high you could simply live as if the style had never gone out of fashion.
Depending on the length and thickness of your hair, a top knot can be as unimposing as a baby bun or massive enough to make a statement on its own. If you have more hair to deal with, you can even go for a messy look which gives a casual or playful air to an overall distinguished look. Also depending on your aesthetic (grungy, preppy, etc.), you could assemble an outfit that’s all accentuated by the bun. For myself, I like a patterned button-down with either a cardigan or a nice jacket, and a bun that’s taller than it is wide wrapped tight up top.
Having long hair already suggests that you are, to some extent, comfortable with your masculinity, and letting your locks tower over you establishes this further; owning a look that’s traditionally thought of as somewhat feminine adds to it an element of irreverence and subversion. Your top knot is so cas’ that it’s straight up dismantling gender roles. A man bun could never do such a thing.
2. A low pony
Another option for men with long hair is a low pony, which can be sleek and professional, yet requires low maintenance. This may be a bit different than what you’ve tried with your hair previously as you wouldn’t tie this back up but would rather have it hanging down. It, by nature, appears more professional, but doesn’t have to seem “uptight;” it can be just as cool as a top knot.
It’s great to first try this out in the wintertime as this style will inevitably leave you with some neck sweat in the summer. So yes, the next couple of months will be the perfect time to start a wearing a low pony and see how you fair with it.
Whichever on-head location you stake out, no matter how harebrained it may seem at first, your hair should look good mostly anywhere you set it. The one area that should almost certainly remain off-limits, however, is the side. You’re not trying to look like Napoleon Dynamite’s love interest are you?
3. Braid it
Here’s where you fully depart from your comfort zone and do something most bros wouldn’t dare. This one will take some mental preparation and confidence building, unless you’re not one to overthink things and are fairly secure with yourself as is. Whether you braid your hair into a bun or do so into one long braid, you have some options to scope out.
No matter what you do, consider having someone else help you braid your hair. Some people are more mentally prepared for the existential anguish brought on by attempting to braid your own hair; others may not be so. It’s a lot more difficult than you might think, especially because you can’t see all of what you’re doing. You may feel overwhelmed by the heat of the hair and management of different braid strands, so it’s worth looking for a willing friend and hair enthusiast to help you out here.
A braid of any kind will showcase your hair’s beauty and your self-confidence. Sure, you may look and feel a bit like Sacagawea, but let me know when that becomes a bad thing.
4. Just wear it down
One way to beat the system entirely is to just wear your hair down. Free the beast, as they say. And it really is liberating to free your hair from its scrunchie shackles and show passersby exactly what you’re growing.
Wearing your hair down includes little preparation or overall grooming, though you may wash and either brush or comb it. After that, you’re free to go and let your hair be a beautiful spectacle for the rest of the day.
What it says is that you’re comfortable in your natural state. Whether your hair is capable of creating the smallest of baby buns or it is down to your back, wearing your hair down is manageable, stylish and speaks to your coolness and confidence. Plus, there’s the lack of maintenance that makes the whole idea a lot more enticing.
5. Bleach or dye it
Why not send your hair a major curveball, zig where you would normally zag? Take all that hard work on your head and really make it your own.
You may have some concerns about preserving your masculinity while spending so much time at a salon, but know that the end result may be more than worth it. You might look great as a blond after having jet black hair your whole life. Many people, in fact, look good with lighter hair colors such as blond or a bleached white. And if you’ve always had lighter hair, what’s the harm in going dark for a while? You won’t know where you stand until you think about it and go for it. You can even go to an unnatural hair color and do whatever speaks to you.
This is a great opportunity to take your already countercultural hairstyle (this is what the hippies didn’t fight for) and add to it yet another contrary factor. Your hair can act as a way for you to express yourself, and since you have more of it you have ample space to do what’s uniquely you.
6. Maybe it’s time to give it the old cut
Finally, another option on the table is to cut ties with your hair altogether. You could read the death of the man bun as a signal to the end of your long hair’s time as well. This shift in style is a perfect chance for you to start anew with a short head of hair, if you choose.
There’s still plenty you can do with short hair, such as dyeing it or styling it in other ways that you couldn’t with long hair. Cutting it off may just be a good change of pace since you’ve probably had your locks for a while now. Depending on how luscious they are, you’ll probably have a few people in your life try and stop you from making this leap, but if you’re ready then you should do it.
Although long hair will never be completely out (and you shouldn’t give yours the ax just because Hozier hasn’t been heard from in years), it’ll never hurt to shake things up a little bit. Whether you do that by cutting it all off and starting over, getting lowlights or just wearing it all down for the day, the best you can do is vary how your hair looks to keep its admirers on their toes. Man bun or no man bun, there’s always a way to do with your long hair what you please and what looks good.