WTF: the Male “Bun”? Somebody please educate me.

I was in the gym this morning working my ass off with a Russian trainer. There happened to be another guy in there who was incredibly strong, blond and, as it turned out, also from Russia. My trainer and this other guy yammered on in Russian while my heart came close to expiring. To make matters worse this shit-house of a human being had his hair pulled back in a bun.

Now, I have never liked the look, particularly since the guy I think of most is Joakim Noah. His dad, the French tennis player, was a cool dude. But the son? Not so much, IMO.

Well, apparently the web and the world is ablaze with the new manly man look featuring the bun.

Can that possibly look hot, macho, tough?  Someone please help me out here…

In certain arty neighborhoods like Williamsburg and Bushwick, some men are twisting their long hair into a form more famously worn by librarians, schoolmarms and Katharine Hepburn. But don’t call the male version an up-do or a chignon. Call it a man bun.

The line between utilitarian convenience and fashion statement can be hard to draw with the man bun. On the tennis court, players like Alexandr Dolgopolov and Xavier Malisse have been known to wear them. Certainly, there and in the food and beverage industry, keeping hair away from the face is important. And at Hotel Delmano, Mr. Davis, 26, sometimes uses his abundant bun as a pen holder.

But he and Mr. Anderson could not hold up their heads wearing hairnets. As for ponytails, to Mr. Anderson, 30, they evoke “Steven Seagal, hippie uncles and the like,” and would not be a good fit in this neighborhood. A hat is an option, but a bun is less sweaty.

The man bun is similar in form to the topknot worn by many women — which is going through its own fashion resurgence — but it is often worn slightly lower on the head.

“Spare a Hair Band? A Man Bun to Go” in NYT today

Image AP

About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.


  1. aboynamedstew says:

    WTF? You shave your face clean every day or every other day? How is that “hot, macho, tough?”

    WTF? You wear shoes wherever you walk anywhere? How is that “hot, macho, tough?”

    It’d be nice to have good men at the good men project not judge other men for how they want to wear their hair. Because it doesn’t really matter, does it? Who cares? Yeah, I can see criticizing the NYT for this article, because them labelling (and gendering) a particular way of wearing hair is no more newsworthy there than it is here at Good Men Project.

    I come here semi-often and always find interesting articles, but this was extremely disappointing.

  2. I think it should be called the man-up-do.

  3. A lot of guys going bald these days are shaving their heads.
    It looks good.The bun?Eh, not so much.
    Then comes the whole earring thing,which side is the “wrong side?”

  4. Some Native American and South American men wore bun-type hair styles over the centuries; as well as in Japan & China. Also ‘french’ braids & other elaborate braid designs. Depending on the man, I think they can still look incredibly masculine with an interesting ‘flair”. It’s better than the guys who spend heaps of money on highlighting, styling and wearing more hair product than most women……..

  5. The bun reminds me of David Beckham and his Alice Hair Band – seemed like a good idea at the time, but vanished ever so quickly!

    I think some other hair dressing options may have been suspect too! P^)

    Chacun son goût

  6. everydayjam says:

    The discussion of this article on Jezebel ends with this: “But seriously, may this “trend” die a quick and painless death, and let’s keep our fingers crossed that men don’t progress to the next step in hairstyle evolution: the man french braid.”

    Why? What is the value of limiting men’s hair options like that? How is that equalitarian? I’m kind of fed up with the current passion for labeling things man-whatever or lady-whatever. Buns are buns, bags are bags, breasts are breasts…why do they need to be gendered, unless its to indicate that one gender is more entitled to them than the other?

    I’m with Joanna — I think its sexy!

    • Its Jezebel. That’s all there is to that. At that place the rule tends to be, “As long as it doesn’t harm certain women (namely the ones who participate there) then its all good.”

    • Justin Cascio says:

      I came over here to the discussion thread because the uproar about men wearing buns reminded me of a time I saw a man on the subway wearing his hair in a French braid. He was a clear case of, any man who dares to wear his hair in a traditionally feminine style, better be tough enough to carry it off. No one in their right mind would have taunted this guy about his hair. Enough guys wear it this way, and eventually suburban teenage boys will be doing it.

  7. Tom Matlack says:

    To bun or not to bun, that is the question, I suppose.

    To me it cuts against the man is a man divide. I love drag queens but that is a much longer story…

    • Julie Gillis says:

      I’m laughing here, what? So if a man has long hair he isn’t a man? Or …what do you mean Tom??

      • Julie Gillis says:

        Or if he wears a bun he’s not a man? Long hair can be extraordinarily sexy on a man, depending on the hair, the face shape, how he carries it. People find different things sexy, I guess.

        • Raising my hand as another vote for long hair on men. My husband grew his hair out years ago – thick, luxurious curls, I couldn’t keep my hands out of his hair. He cut it in a measure to help him get a job, and hasn’t grown it out again since. I am trying to encourage him in that direction, especially since it’s starting to go thin at the crown and he’s only 24 – runs in the family, of course. I can’t recall him ever wearing a bun, although he did occasionally do ponytails (the curls made it tough, it was just short of where it needed to be for a decent ponytail). He has said that he’ll consider growing it out again when he’s found steady work instead of contract-hopping and having to look nice for interviews every time a contract expires and he has to line up new work. So goes the world of IT, at least in our area. I look forward to the day I can run my hands through his curls again.

  8. Julie Gillis says:

    Some men look wonderful with long hair. Some don’t. A bun is a great way to get the hair up out of the face and, I imagine, would be fun to undo at the end of a night.

    It doesn’t have to be macho or tough in order to be sexy. It could be arty or mysterious or whatever. Some women don’t like brute/macho etc etc as a look.

  9. The bun is great. To me at least, it looks elegant in a casual way, and it also says something like “I’m not threatened by the idea that someone might think I’m not 100% macho; I’m comfortable with myself.”

  10. snip from the newspaper:
    “You could theorize that a man who wears a bun is in touch with his feminine side, but the form also has a masculine tradition. Sikh men have long tied their hair in a bun, covered by a turban. And centuries ago, the samurai wore a topknot. ”

    And sumo wrestlers too wear a bun
    They look pretty menacing, masculine and beautiful to me

    Can that possibly look hot, macho, tough? Someone please help me out here…

    Anything can be hot, macho or symbolise toughness.
    And a man who is comfortable enough to wear a bun in public, would be someone i personally would be more cautious around

  11. i don't believe you says:

    It looks dirty. Which makes sense.
    That’s how Noah plays basketball, and that’s what Yee was called for sleeping with his student.

  12. Tom Matlack says:

    I am gonna have to take your word on this one Joanna…

  13. Joanna Schroeder says:

    This look is very sexy, if you ask me. Of course it depends upon who the wearer is, but generally it says, “I’m super confident, practical, and don’t want my long-hair to make me look like an aging ex-member of Anthrax.”

    There’s also sort of a yogi-esque sexiness to it. Think Rodney Yee. Peaceful, doesn’t-give-a-shit-what-you-think-on-my-way-to-yoga, sorta look.

    Maybe that helps. 😉


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  2. […] Thoughts on the Male “Bun” — The Good Men ProjectBy Tom MatlackNow I have never liked the look, particularly since the guy I most think of is Joakim Noah. His dad, the French tennis player, was a cool dude. But the son? Not so much IMO. Well, apparently the web and the world is ablaze with the new manly …The Good Men Project […]

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