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The man bun has proven to be one of the more divisive hairstyles in recent memory. While most of the time expressing yourself through style can only be considered a good thing, could it ever affect your career? Is a man bun professional?
A man bun may be considered professional in workplaces with more relaxed dress codes. This is unlikely to include corporate settings where nontraditional hairstyles such as man buns may be frowned upon. The nature of the man bun itself might also determine whether it is considered professional.
Although that’s the gist, as you’d expect, there’s more to it.
With every workplace and every employer being different, it’s important to dig deep into your specific situation and figure out whether a man bun would be acceptable or not.
This article may well help you to avoid a potentially career-altering workplace faux pas.
Is A Man Bun Professional Or Not? [4 Factors]
When deciding whether a man bun would be professional or formal enough for your specific workplace, consider the following factors.
Consider them one by one – I’ve listed them in order of importance.
Let’s start with the most important factor of them all.
1. Company Culture
I use the term “company” loosely here. It could just as easily refer to an “organization” or something else.
Essentially, the “company culture” that matters here is the general attitude toward non-conservative style choices.
Because a man bun is exactly that. A hairstyle that may well stand out from a crowd. It’s not traditional and will turn heads – in some workplaces more than others.
When it comes to dress codes, it’s soimportant to gauge what the overall culture is where you’re working.
While every workplace is going to be different, there are general trends that can help guide you, especially when you’re applying for an interview.
For example, corporate settings such as investment banks or city law firms are quite likely to have strict dress codes.
In general, any large office setting where you’re expected to dress sharply in a suit and tie may not take kindly to attention-grabbing hairstyles such as man buns.
Part of this is down to the fact that employers at these institutions are generally a little older and more conservative. They’re less likely to take kindly to non-traditional hairstyles.
As a result, you’ll probably find that man buns are frowned upon, if not banned via the company dress code altogether.
In contrast, more modern and relaxed workplaces may not mind a man bun at all. In general, these places are more likely to have more chilled dress codes overall.
The type of places where “business casual” is the norm. For example, a digital marketing firm or a tech start-up.
A man bun may not even get noticed at these workplaces.
When you start working somewhere, get to grips with the company culture as soon as you can. It’s generally best to do this before you go for the man bun.
This is because going for the interview in a man bun or even simply rocking up to work with one on your first day could give off the wrong impression if it’s out of sync with the company culture.
While man buns can look sharp, they may not look sharp enough for some workplaces Image From Shutterstock
2. Customer Facing Or Not
This factor has less to do with the specific workplace itself and more to do with your role.
Put simply, the more client or customer-facing your role is, the safer you should play it when it comes to your style choices.
If your role involves meeting and trying to gain the business of many potential clients and customers, you generally don’t want your sense of fashion to get in the way of that.
It sounds unfair and in many ways – it is.
Why should your style choices and hairstyles have any impact on how you’re perceived by potential customers?
But the general consensus is that it probably does.
Man buns are a divisive hairstyle. You either love them or hate them.
You may be the greatest salesman at your workplace, but if some people simply can’t see past the man bun you’re potentially losing out on sales.
Your employers will probably understand this too and may change their dress code to reflect it. They know their audience.
If the audience happens to be older, more conservative people there’s a good chance they wouldn’t want their salespeople to go for more “outlandish” style choices – it could affect their bottom line.
I need to add a caveat here.
Although I said that this factor has less to do with the specific workplace, you still need to take it into account.
There are certain customer-facing roles where a man bun might be absolutely fine. For example, a salesperson at a guitar store. Of course, this is a generalization and won’t always be true – but hopefully, you see my point.
It’s just important to be more cautious and think more carefully when your role is customer-facing.
You come into contact with so many more people that affect your business on a day-to-day basis that your dress code and style choices simply matter a lot more.
Compare this with a guy that works more on the backend of the same company – for example, technical support.
A man bun is probably going to be considered more acceptable or at least less noticeable.
3. The Rest Of The Overall Look
Let’s put it this way.
A man bun worn together with a tailored suit and immaculately maintained beard is more likely to be acceptable.
At least where wearing a man bun matters. For example, a corporate setting.
It still probably won’t be ideal, but you’ve got a better shot.
A man bun with an unbrushed and unwashed beard and an untucked shirt with baggy cotton slacks is harder to get away with.
A neat and tidy man bun just isn’t enough.
It’s about the overall look. The overall impression your sense of style and dress gives off when you walk into a workplace.
Once again, it matters in some workplaces more than any others (see “company culture” above).
But just know that the rest of your look could potentially determine whether the man bun is considered “professional” or not.
Having long hair can sometimes occupy quite a lot of time. So much so that you start to neglect other aspects of style and grooming.
Try not to let this happen.
4. The Man Bun Itself
I mention this last because it’s probably the least important.
After all, if you’re working at an investment bank that outright bans man buns, the type of man bun you’ve got really won’t matter.
It simply won’t be allowed.
But if you’re at a workplace where a man bun potentially may be considered professional and formal enough, you’ll want to be sure that the man bun itself is ideal.
There are different types of man buns – high, low, messy, “highballers”, top knots, and so on.
Although there’s no way of knowing for sure which would be “acceptable” and which wouldn’t at your specific workplace, there are certain principles that may help to guide you.
Choosing a man bun that’s small, neatly coiled, and sits relatively low at the back will be less likely to draw attention.
It’s going to be more likely to be considered “professional”.
In contrast, a man bun that’s messy, poorly tied, and more obvious (eg. further up the top), is more likely to draw attention.
As a result, it’s more likely to be considered “unprofessional”.
But it isn’t just the bun itself that needs to be on point.
The hair should be well looked after as well. Properly washed, brushed, and so on.
Tying a man bun using unwashed, unbrushed hair is never going to look good – no matter how well the bun itself is tied.
Finally, keep the man bun as simple as possible when you’re looking to play it safe in the workplace. The simpler the man bun, the less likely it is to turn heads.
While man bun undercuts are great, they may be too bold for some work settings Image From Shutterstock
For example, while “man bun undercuts” are popular, they are going to be too bold and attention-grabbing for a lot of the more traditional workplaces.
Go for something simpler and less noticeable when you don’t want to risk having an “unprofessional” hairstyle.
Potential Benefits Of Man Buns In The Workplace
If you’ve read the section above and decided that a man bun may be considered professional and formal enough for your specific workplace, here are their benefits.
1. It Keeps Long Hair Hidden
In many workplaces where man buns are frowned upon, long hair may well be a problem too.
In fact, man buns are actually a great way to keep long hair tidy and out of the way at work.
In many ways, they’re probably the neatest way to tame long hair while you’re at work.
Because of this, if you’re a long-haired man and you’re looking to keep that hair looking presentable while you’re going about your job, a man bun could be a great way to do it.
A man bun is less likely to draw attention than long hair, particularly if the long hair is “difficult” to groom and keep tidy in the first place.
So, if you think a man bun would be considered professional and formal enough for your workplace, it may be a great way to keep that long hair under wraps.
2. It’s Easy To Keep Hygienic And Safe
This is more important in some workplaces than others.
For example, if you’re working with food and drink – catering, etc, long hair might possibly be banned in the dress code.
It’s why hairnets are often worn by chefs – to keep that hair wrapped up and out of the way.
A man bun may not be quite enough by their standards, but it sure does a good job of keeping hair out of the way.
Long hair may also be seen as hazardous in some workplaces. For example, in factory settings where you’re working with machinery, you don’t want anywhere near long hair.
Again, man buns can help you keep it out of the way. It may not be quite enough by their standards, but it’s something.
Essentially, having long hair comes with its difficulties in some workplaces. If you’ve got a method of keeping it wrapped up and out of harm’s way, it’s worth considering.
A man bun may well be just that.
3. It Isn’t Distracting
While playing with long hair can sometimes seem like it improves your concentration, in many ways, it hinders it.
This is especially true in warmer climates and in offices with poor air conditioning. Having long hair pressed against your neck is going to feel warm, uncomfortable, and distracting.
Although this may affect some men more than others, it’s still important to consider.
A man bun is a great way to keep the hair wrapped up, comfortable, and out of the way. It’s a great way to keep cool in the warmer months too.
If you feel as though having long hair is often distracting in the workplace, a man bun may be a great way to deal with the issue.
4. It Shortens The Morning Routine
Don’t get me wrong, a properly tied man bun isn’t always quick. It can take a few tries to get right.
But the more you do it, the quicker you get at it.
After a while, you’ll be tying that bun in no time at all.
It’ll often be quicker than trying to make sure your untied long hair is groomed, styled, and professional-looking enough for work.
Sure, you’ll have to make sure it’s washed, brushed, and so on before tying the man bun in any case.
But when you’re going to tie it all up in any case, it’s less important to aim for perfection.
Overall, your hair grooming and styling routine will be quicker when you’re tying a man bun as opposed to letting it all hang loose.
Is A Man Bun OK For A Job Interview
A man bun would be OK for interviews where the workplace is relaxed when it comes to dress codes. If there is any doubt, it’s better to avoid the man bun for the interview and try it out once the job is accepted or choose a different style altogether.
When you’re applying for a job you really want, playing it safe is always the better option.
If you know the industry or workplace you’re applying to is pretty conservative with their dress sense, strongly consider avoiding the man bun.
For example, corporate settings such as investment banks. If the workplace requires a suit and tie, there’s a good chance that non-traditional hairstyles such as man buns may be a problem.
When you’re applying to a job there, it’s hard to say with certainty that it won’t influence whether you get it or not.
They probably won’t openly say it, but it’s true.
It may not sound fair, but you can’t predict what your interviewer will consider “professional” or “formal” enough.
When you want the job, are you really willing to take the risk?
If the workplace you’re applying to is known to be more relaxed with their dress codes, you can afford to be a little riskier when it comes to the interview.
It’s not ideal, however, as once again – you can never be sure. When you don’t actually work there yet, your understanding of their company culture and dress code may be pretty limited in any case.
It’ll probably still be safer to ditch the man bun unless you’re sure the dress code is super relaxed.
If you’re a long-haired man applying to work at a city law firm and wondering what to do with his long hair for the interview – there’s no easy answer to that.
If you’re intent on keeping the long hair for the interview, a neat man bun may not be the worst option here.
Just know that a short and tidy hairstyle would be a safer option altogether.
There you have it. A guide to man buns and professionalism.
It may sound like an odd subject to discuss in such detail, but you’d be surprised by how many people are curious about it.