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What is a Quiff?

Matt Brady
Matt Brady

The quiff — pronounced "kwif" — is a hairstyle that features any kind of prominently styled forelock. The classic variation of this hairstyle is a blend of the pompadour and flattop, where the hair is slicked back on both sides, while the hair above the forehead is sculpted upwards into a poof. While more popular during the 1950s, variations on the quiff can still be seen in hairstyles today.

Sported by such icons as Elvis Presley and James Dean, the quiff became popular in the United States during the 1950s. The style quickly became an integral part of a young generation of men and women seeking a sharp break from their parents' values and traditions. As a result, the hairdo became synonymous with the burgeoning culture of rock 'n' roll, so much so that when American music crossed the Atlantic and began influencing young musicians in Great Britain, the look went with it. Pictures of the Beatles in their earliest stages show the young musicians sporting classic quiff hairstyles.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

In America, wearers of the quiff aptly came to be known as "greasers," due to the style's greasy look and application. The moniker provided the inspiration behind the title to the popular movie and play, Grease. In Britain, those who donned the quiff hairstyle were often referred to as "teddy boys." Like their American counterparts, teddy boys were indelibly associated with a culture of sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.

By the 1990s, the classic hair quiff was all but extinct as a popular hairstyle, primarily existing in the world of retro parties and Elvis look-alike contests. Other variations of the quiff hairstyle continued to be fashionable, however. It became common for women to pull their bangs back with a hair clip to create a poof, and men continued to wear quiffs in the styles of faux hawks and shorter cuts featuring upturned bangs.

To style a classic quiff, large amounts of hair product such as hairspray, pomade, and mousse are needed, as are a comb and blow dryer. The hair is dampened and mousse applied throughout. While blow drying, the hair is then combed up and back. Once the hair is completely dry and an up-and-backward direction has been achieved, the sides are combed back and the top up, using a generous amount of product to hold it in place. To add volume, some teasing of the bangs or forelock may be necessary.

If the hair is slicked back with a prominent poof in the front, the classic quiff has been achieved. Once the basic structure is formed, the wearer should feel free to style it according to his or her preference. There really are no rules as to how one has to style the quiff, so long as the forelocks remain in an upturned and prominent display.

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