WORDS BY CHARLES BRITTON
Hello mate, how are you? Take a seat, can I get you anything to drink?
That is one of the most used ‘welcome phrases’ in the noble barbershop, give or take a few words, and it’s not one to be taken for granted. Why? Because the person who is ready to improve your image, boost your confidence and leave you feeling refreshed, deserves more than a subtle ‘thanks’ at the end of the service. It may seem a little over the top, however, we are speaking from a point of experience.
A barbers 9-5, and some, is of course barbering. They cut hair, trim beards, shave faces and welcome the modern, everyday gent, to take a seat and relax for the duration of the service. They take pride in their work, take care of their clients and most importantly, ensure you enjoy your experience, from the moment you step into the barbershop and back out the door at the end.
This is why here at Clothes Make The Man, we have made it our mission to inform and educate our readers on the importance of barbershop etiquette.
Of course it’s to be taken tongue in cheek, however it might just be something to remember on your next trip to your local barbers.
1- Please wait to be called forward.
This might seem like common sense, however you’d be surprised at the amount of people who sit themselves in the chair before being called forward. Barbers, just like you and I, deserve some space and some time to breathe. If you jump into their chair without being called, you are invading the barbers privacy and somewhat disrespecting them. More often then none, the barber will want to tidy their section before calling you forward, however they might also want to grab a drink, make an urgent phone call or use the mens room. Give your barber some time to prepare for you, after all, it is his or her chair you’re going to be sat in.
2 – Be prepared with an idea, pictures or the exact specs of the haircut you want.
Again, this may seem like an obvious one, however many fail to prepare for the simple question of ‘what can I do for you’. Whether you’re certain on the clipper grade and length you want retained, or have some idea of what you want to achieve, make sure you can help your barber reach that conclusion. It’s no good sitting in the chair and saying you haven’t the slightest clue of what haircut you usually have or want. The barber can’t read minds and certainly hasn’t the time to waste. Of course, they will carry out a thorough consultation to understand your wants and needs, but help them all you can, even if it’s with a simple photo.
3 – Sit still.
Recall your mother, father or sibling telling you to sit still whilst having your hair cut as a child? Well it’s not the time to forget. If you want the best end result, sit as still as you can, so the barber can carry out the service with the upmost precision and accuracy. Furthermore, leave your phone in your pocket or bag. Your barber is there, giving you his or her full attention, so be kind and do the same. Make conversation, tell a story, communicate and connect with the person providing such a personal and somewhat of an intimate service. Your barber has other clients waiting, so don’t answer that phone call mid service. Respect the time your barber is giving you, and forget the troubles of the daily grind for 30 minutes. You’ll feel better for it afterwards, promise.
4 – Don’t Touch.
It’s a rarity in the barbershop, but it does happen. Very few customers, but some nonetheless, lean forward and touch the barbers tools, simply out of curiosity. There’s nothing wrong in being curious and by asking your barber, he or she might very well show you and even let you hold whatever tool you’re interested in, however these scissors, clippers, combs and other tools of the trade are very expensive and are highly valued by their owner. Some of these tools, such as scissors, can cost anything up to £1000, so be respectful and keep your hands off. After all, they’re very sharp and I doubt you want to lose a finger, curiosity killed the cat remember!
5 – Don’t be afraid to ask.
This may seem like a contradiction, however your barber wants you to leave with the best haircut you can get, so ask if you want something left a little longer, taken a little shorter, or changed completely. As much as your barber will know almost exactly what you want after the consultation, he or she might not know that a few strands of hair that fall over the temple are covering a scar, so let the barber know you want it left a little longer to cover them. And don’t forget the sideburns. If you want them taken up a little, let em’ know.
6 – Appraisal.
At the end of the service, whether it was a haircut, beard trim or shave, make sure you let your barber know exactly how happy you are. Of course, if you’re not too impressed, it might be worth being the bigger man, keeping quiet and heading elsewhere next time you need a trim. However, if you’re truly happy with the end product, let them know. They work extremely hard, passing on social events on the weekends and missing lunches to deliver the best service they can. Their backs will ache, their feet will swell and their fingers will go through the wars, yet they turn in each day to carry on grinding in the profession they love. Love the haircut? Tell them. Best shave experience you’ve ever had? Let them know. It’s a small gratitude that they’ll really appreciate, and it might just help them get through a rough day at the office.
Next time you’re heading to your local chop shop, it might be worth remembering a few of these tips. It’ll keep your barber sweet and therefor, they’ll keep you sweet. Develop a relationship, make conversation, but most of all, enjoy your experience.