By Cassidy Ritter
Man bun rocker Brogan Moroney’s hair rests a little below his shoulders at about 12 inches in length. Until this summer, Moroney, a senior from Overland Park, Kan., never put his hair up; instead he always wore a hat. When he woke up for the first day of his internship, he didn’t know what to do with his hair so he put it up into as much of a bun as he could. “It was kind of a pain in the ass, but I wore it and I was like, ‘Oh, everyone’s going to think I’m a huge hippie,’” Moroney says. This is when Moroney first partook in the man bun trend.
Brogan Moroney, a senior from Overland Park, Kan., wears his man bun with shorts and a t-shirt.
First, what is a man bun? It’s not the butt of a hot guy walking to class or breaking a sweat at the gym. A man bun is a hairstyle when a man with shoulder length or longer hair secures it in a bun towards the top of the head. Some men use gel while others use the unwashed look for a more rugged feel. Either way, it’s supposed to look like men didn’t put much time into their hair, even if they did.
“The man bun looks like you didn’t try, but it was such a pain in the ass to grow,” Moroney says.
Buddha is the first trendsetter of the man bun, which dates back to sixth and seventh century BCE. Next came the Terracotta Warriors from third century BCE, according to Male Standard, a men’s online magazine. These warriors were among the armies of Qin Shi Haung, the first Emperor of China. Fast forward through the samurai time period to George Harrison in the ‘70s and you’ll find male groupies rocking the man bun hairstyle, too.
After the ‘70s, man buns were labeled as hippie hair until 2003 when David Beckham reinvented the bun to a slicked back hairstyle signifying game time.
So when did the man bun become what it is today? This look combines hipster and hippie with a nice beard or scruff to top it off. Similar to other fashion trends, the bun became popular when celebrity actors started to wear it. Take Ivan Vanko in 2010, playing Whiplash in Iron Man 2, who wore half his hair in a bun and the other half down to his shoulders with a clean-cut mustache and small beard. Then Tom Brady wore a similar quaff in 2011. After Brady, many other popular celebrities followed suit including Colin Farrell, Jared Leto, Leonardo DiCaprio, Harry Styles and that hottie strolling to class on campus.
Today, there are more than 26,000 posts with “#manbuns” on Instagram and more than 40 accounts dedicated to this style.
David Cooper, a graduate student from Overland Park, wears a full beard to compliment his man bun.
Bob Brandt, owner of Malls Barber Shop, says he thinks the man bun is “for the younger people of this time.” Brandt has owned the barbershop for 47 years. “They [hairstyles] come and they go,” he says. “We’ve had some we didn’t like and we cut them anyways.”
Jeffrey Brown, a barber at Malls Barber Shop, thinks the bun will be worn in Lawrence for another two years, but he will be happy to see it go. Just like any other hairstyle, people wearing man buns will look back in 15 years when they are in a professional job and wonder what they were thinking, he says.
Hairstylist Alyssa Keberlein first noticed the style transforming from actors to college students about nine months ago. Keberlein’s not a fan of the style, though, which could be why she thought it would only stick around for another year. She said the man bun is not attractive and looks girly. Katie Thompson, a freshman from Colorado Springs, Colo., says man buns frustrate her. “I don’t have much hair so it frustrates me when I see a guy with better hair than me.”
Contrary to Thompson, Natalie Schelbar, a freshman from Tulsa, Okla., says she loves the man buns. Schelbar said if she dated a guy with a man bun, she would make sure the two of them had matching buns.
Not all girls’ opinions of the bun are black and white, though. There is a fine line between a good man bun and a bad bun in my mind. A good man bun is defined by the his style. I, for one, am not a fan of the man bun in LFK worn by hipsters and hippies, but find it to be a sexy style among surfers in Australia.
I could never date a guy with a man bun unless he rocks the look with a surfboard in hand. The man bun in LFK looks like a lazy college look for guys who didn’t want to pay for a haircut. This looks says: “I woke up late for class and threw my hair up as I ran out the door.” If I was on the west coast and saw a man bun, I wouldn’t think twice about the look. Near any beach town, the man bun becomes a statement that says instead: “I wake up early to surf and don’t need hair in my face to catch a rad wave.”
If a guy wants to wear a man bun, he needs a strong, wide face with facial hair, says Monica Funk, a junior from Overland Park, Kan. She thinks the bun works on some guys and not on others.
Collectively, the challenge with buns seems to be having long enough hair. Christian Hardy, a sophomore from Derby, Kan., began growing out his hair 11 months ago. His hair now reaches the back of his collar but says he still struggles to put all his hair up. To compensate, he wears his hair half up, half down with gel on top and along the sides for a cleaner look, though occasionally he tosses on a hat to avoid dealing with the awkward length.
Brogan Moroney said he, too, went through many awkward stages and styles until reaching optimal length for a man bun. Moroney, like many, began with a buzz cut and let it grow from there.
“What you don’t know about man buns is you don’t just grow your hair, you have to cut it all the time,” he says. “So then I started getting a trim every couple months where basically they just cut the back so I wouldn’t get a mullet and then let the top grow and now it’s all even.”
It’s “been there, done that” for Mike Maicke, a junior from Chicago who regularly wears a compact man bun with minimal stragglers. Maicke said he didn’t know how to tie his hair when he began growing it out.
Mike Maicke, a junior from Chicago, sports his man bun on campus with a flannel and jeans.
“It kind of took me awhile to get the routine down to do it myself, which is pretty embarrassing,” he says. “It’s something you should know how to do. But yeah, my hair was at an ideal length so after some practice I was just putting in beautiful buns daily right out of the shower.” Before learning how to do it himself, girls at bars would put his hair into a bun, he said. After about a month of practice, Maicke said he became used to putting it up and it now takes about 10 seconds to do.
Photos by Cassidy Ritter
Variations on the #manbun
This look is a combination of ‘70s hippie meets today’s hipster. It’s an unwashed, just rolled out of bed look generally accompanied by a beard and mustache. A typical man bun pairs nicely with a flannel and leather boots or jeans and a graphic, faded t-shirt.
This is for the professionals—think red carpet Jared Leto at the 2014 Golden Globes. A slick man bun requires gel along the top, sides, and sometimes bottom of the bun to contain stragglers. Unlike the typical man bun, this style calls for a suit or nice button down shirt with sleek dress shoes.
This hairstyle may be hard to find around Lawrence, but it’s still part of the man bun family. This look is the reverse mullet—it’s all about party in the front (or top if you will) and seriousness in the back. Take a one or two length buzz cut along the sides and back leaving long hair up top. To style, use gel to slick the top in hair in place and create a clean cut bun with no stragglers.
This seems to be a popular look, but provides more of a challenge for men. Brogan Moroney once wore the braided man bun for a KU football game but says it’s not something he could do regularly even though he received compliments galore. Mike Maicke says, “I love the progressiveness in our society with the male hair so I guess I’m a big supporter of that. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to perfect the braid that might be a little bit out of my skill level. But if you have the right hair and the right slight of hand and can do it on your own then that’s something you should go for.” If you see this look, congratulate the guy rocking it because he put in extra effort this morning.
By Chiaki Tomimatsu
You might recall when Style on the Hill introduced a trendy new hairstyle called the man-braid a few weeks ago. Does that mean the man bun is a thing of the past? The answer is no. Here’s James and Shane, two KU students, to share their experiences with the man-bun.
Why did you choose to have a man bun?
James: “Do you know Jon Bellion? Because of him. Also, it makes me feel pretty.”
Shane: “I chose to have a man bun because I enjoy many aspects of having long hair. Buns are a good way to style long hair and very convenient in most situations. Also girls really dig man buns!”
How long have you been growing your hair?
James: “The top part, over a year.”
Shane: “I got a haircut about two and a half months ago to switch to the undercut man bun I have now. Before that I had a regular man bun for about half a year. It takes about a year for my hair to grow long enough to put it in a bun.”
When do you tie your hair in a bun?
James: “All the time except for when I go to bed.
Shane: “Right now I have it in a bun about 50 percent of the time and wear headwear the other 50 percent. When I had a full man bun I wore my hair down much more.”
Do you like having a man bun?
James: “I do, I like being referred to as the man bun guy.”
Shane: “I really enjoy having a man bun. It lets me express myself and isn’t as plain as other haircuts.”
Photos by Emma Creighton