A tape up haircut is usually worn by men, and the length of the hair decreases gradually over the head from the top down. Initially called a taper or fade haircut, this style was originally worn by young, urban African-American men. It is a look that has become more progressively mainstream, resulting in a haircut with many variations worn by men, and more uncommonly women, of many different backgrounds. The phrase tape up was coined by men of Italian-American backgrounds and tends to indicate a particular style of this haircut.
A tape up haircut consists of a fade that ends directly above the ear and two to three inches (five to seven centimeters) above the neckline in the back. The hair is left longer on top then is cut progressively shorter in a "fade" until the hair appears barely visible. The fade consists of a layered cut that is so gradual that the hair appears to fade as it continues downward, without any visible graduation lines. As the bottom of the tape up haircut is so short, it is a style that requires frequent upkeep.
There are many versions of the tape up, as it is very versatile and can be customized. This form of haircut is often viewed by the wearer as a form of artistic expression, and many communities have styles that associate them as belonging to a particular social group. Examples of variations of this haircut include the hi-top, the low-top, and the half fade.
The tape up haircut, as a particular style, is also referred to as the Brooklyn fade, a cut popularized by young Italian-American men. This style has the normal taper or fade on the sides and back of the hair; however, the top is left quite long. In the Brooklyn fade style, a large amount hair product such as mousse or gel is applied to the long portion of the hair, which is then slicked back. A blow-out is a popular variation of this, where the hair is formed into chunky spikes.
To cut a tape up haircut, electronic clippers with multiple guards are used. After determining where the fade or taper will start, the stylist begins at the side of the head, at the sideburns, and works toward the back. Following the contours of the head to get an even cut, the guards on the clippers are changed in stages and used in their various settings to achieve the gradation of hair lengths without any visible lines. The hair left on top is then cut to the desired length and styled.