90th IDPG Original Research


GI Hairstyles: Original Images, Observations and Recommendations

Date Written: Winter 2010
Author: Chris Guska - 90th IDPG
Research Assistance: Charles McFarlane - 90th IDPG


Defining the terms and styles:

I haven't met or known any other men that have seriously discussed hair in a casual setting. That being said, It was useful for me to learn a little bit about the terms and definitions relating to hair and styles so I could tell my barber specifically what I wanted instead of pointing and grunting - or long on top, short on the sides.

Much of the following is drawn from what I view as an excellent guide to men's haircuts - Hudson's Guide: Men's Short Haircuts and the Barber Shop from FTMGuide.org.

While the hosting site may be controversial in some circles, the information contained on men's haircuts and grooming is far better documented than other sites I have found.

I have taken the liberty of re communicating some of the material presented in Hudson's Guide, with some focus and application to WWII and US GI haircuts. I have included inserts from original photos to illustrate the terms being defined.


I'm going to start defining terms from front to back, top to bottom when it comes to a haircut. This may seem remedial, but I want to be on a level playing field with a common set of terms.



The crop of hair that hangs down over your forehead.



A division in your hair where the hair is combed in opposite directions.



The back of your head where the hair doesn't grow in a single direction - but more of a circle or swirl.



Where the hair is cut in diminishing length from top to bottom. The hair is left long enough on top to part or style, with the sides being cut so that they blend gradually down to a very short cut nape. In the modern sense of the term, there should be no definitive "line" in the hair where it goes from long to short - as that's the sign of a bad haircut these days. In the 40's, its somewhat common to see a demarcation between long and short, with an overall taper style.



The patch of hair that grows down in front of your ear.



The area over and back of your ear where hair doesn't normally grow - and hair is cut away to reveal your ear and create a line down to your neck.


Blocked Nape -

The neckline at the back - literally cut with the edges crisp rather than rounded. While this look may appear crisp and finished - it quickly looks unkempt as the hair on the back of your neck grows out, requiring frequent maintenance to keep looking clean. This style works if you go to the barber for a cleanup every couple of weeks.


Rounded Nape -

The neckline at the back - with the edges cut in a continuous radius rather than with any "corners". Since there are no definite corners, this style can grow out more naturally and not look as unkempt as the blocked style.




Tapered -

Long enough on top to be cut with scissors on top, with the hair being cut progressively shorter from above the ear down to the nape. The sides and back can be cut with scissors only, or a combination of scissors and clippers can be used to blend from the long top down to short at the neck.


Butch -

One hit wonder. Virtually the same length all over, maybe slightly longer on top - but a pretty uniform length haircut. Some guy's hair just isn't conducive to styling or doing much of anything with. This could be viewed as the stereotypical "fat guy" haircut, while not being limited to those of the portly persuasion.


Curly -

As above, some guys just cant do much with their hair. Curly hair seemed to be pretty limited in what could be done with it in a period or military style.



Whitewalls -

Forget about the top - as its ALL about the sides here. Sides cut via clippers to less than a #0 guard exposing the scalp.



Analogous with modern US Military haircuts. The truly stereotypical haircut would be 0 guard clipper sides, virtually shaved with full scalp shown - pretty much stubble on the sides. The top has a "crop" of hair, trimmed short to a #1, #1A or #2 guard length. Think wide mowhawk on the top of the head, with stubble to shaved everywhere else.


There are several variants of the above haircut - where what I describe as "HOOAH" is simply "High and Tight" at most Army installations - with variants being the Fade and Skin Fade.


While this section may seem redundant, there might be some interesting info mixed in with my own opinions.

The army issued two different Barber kits during the war, in addition to the various other tools acquired by GI's through other sources.

Kit, Barber, With Case - Stock No. 29-K-80

Kit, Barber, With Case, M-1944 - Stock No. 29-K-82 Spec JQD 604 Am1

Scissors (Shears)-

Hair cutting scissors are a somewhat specialized breed. Just as you would expect today to see specialized scissors at the barbershop - the same tools of the trade were around in the 40's.

Thinning shears-

These look like a pair of scissors with one blade having slots that look like a comb. These scissors are designed to remove bulk from thick hair so that it will lay in areas. While not an item issued in the Army barbers kits - it may be an item used by your modern barber or stylist to achieve the look you're searching for.


Hand operated clippers have been around for a long time. While the clippers you may experience today are electric and those issued were hand powered - they ultimately serve the same purpose.

The army issued clippers in size No. 000 and size No. 1. More about clippers and guard sizes below.

About Guards-

Clippers come in a variety of sizes, with the option of clip on "comb" style guards that act as a standoff from the blade to the scalp to cut the hair to a uniform length. There is some variation in sizes between makers, but below is a general guide that will get you in the right ballpark.

00000 - 1/125"
0000 - 1/100"
000 - 1/50"
0A - 3/64"
1 - 3/32"
1A - 1/8"
1.5 - 5/32"
2 - 1/4"
3.5 - 3/8"
3.75 - 1/2"




1.) Defining Terms and Styles (you are here)
2.) Analysis and Conclusions
3.) What to ask your barber
A.) The images



About Us | Contact Us | ©2001 90th IDPG