The trend of men moisturizing and working out daily was considered so remarkable in 2004 that D Magazine published a roundup of Dallas’ most “metrosexual” gentlemen. To be “metro,” which is to say a man who cares for his appearance, was not quite a slur but also not a compliment. Times have changed. The well-kempt man is in again, and this time no one’s stifling a giggle.
Today’s stylish Dallas man caps long evenings, perhaps spent under the hood of his refurbished Land Rover Defender, with a splash of Balcones Brimstone and a light layer of fortifying face balm. He keeps his inches-long beard professionally groomed, attends bachelor parties at Brass Tacks, and books straight razor shaves with his startup investors in lieu of tee times.
But that’s just the tip of the Van Dyke. Men’s grooming in Dallas has become a campfire-scented, bourbon-swilling, mustache-twirling thing. Consider this your starter kit to rediscovering the art of barbering.
The ambitious newcomers reimagining the scene
Barber to see: Owner Brandon White
Expect your barber to wear a waxed canvas apron and a sleeve or two of tattoos at these new-wave, throwback barbershops, which serve local beer in addition to excellent comb over and beard trim combos. A third location will open in the Adolphus Hotel this fall. Cuts, $30; shaves, $30. Open seven days a week. Appointments online and by phone; walk-ins not guaranteed.
Barber to see: Owner Omar Longoria
At the newest of the biker-slash-barbershops, you’ll wait on one of the leather Chesterfields as staff give you the choice of Jameson or Tito’s in a shot-size Dixie cup. Cuts are consistent, and you can download the shop’s app to schedule in a flash. Cuts, $30–$60; shaves, $35. Appointments online or by app/phone appreciated; walk-ins welcome.
Barber to see: Ryan Standifer for most cuts, AB for fades.
Their claim to fame is the “speak-easy” in the back (barbershop purists might call this a gimmick), but late-night weekend hours mean you can freshen up your fade and shotgun a complimentary Miller High Life before trying to get past the Punk Society bouncer. Cuts, $30; shaves, $35. Appointments online or by phone; walk-ins not guaranteed.
Barber to see: Milton Campos
Owner Milton Campos is seeing more loose, natural styles these days, but younger guys request blended haircuts (for a squeaky-clean look) or freestyle fade designs (for an edgy-cool look) as they sit back in one of the shop’s quintet of refurbished barber chairs. “I want them to feel like they’re sitting in a sports car,” says Campos, a former DJ who plays everything from blues to Latin rhythms in his Oak Cliff shop. Cuts, $30–$40; shaves, $30. Appointments only, online or through the Urban Soul app.
In the privacy of an Oak Lawn salon studio, Brandon Rogers offers clients imported beer and their choice of what plays on the flat-screen (Snoop Dogg music videos? Jason Bourne?) before tackling anything from fades to tapers to faux-hawks. Expect to sit for at least 30 minutes and leave knowing exactly how to care for your hair type. Cuts, $25-$30; shaves, $25. Appointments only, via phone, text, email, or online.
Barber to see: The sole female stylist known as “Empress Elan.”
Get past the dingy strip mall location, and you’ll find a clean, modern shop that has 2 Chainz playing over the buzz of electric razors. The shop’s seven chairs are usually full for a reason: the professionals here handle Afro-textured hair with precision. Cuts, $25–$50; shaves, $20. Appointments primarily online; walk-ins not guaranteed.
Rob’s Chop Shop
Barber to see: Rob Villarreal
A third-generation barber embedded in rockabilly culture, Villarreal has been whipping men’s manes into bygone era styles for 23 years and counting in his Expo Park shop. He comes with some eccentricities: Villarreal insists on maintaining a gentlemen-only shop, but tag-a-long moms, girlfriends, and wives can find a cozy seat at the mezcaleria next door. Cuts, $30–$50. Appointments only.
Need something with a little more regularity? A massage and a shoe-shine to go with your cut? The salons below allow for monthly memberships that offer all that and more.
Barber to see: Corey Thompson
Every surface is made of rich oak wood, save for the leather salon chairs and felted pool table. And, at least at the Inwood location, you’ll be greeted by beautiful receptionists who could pass as Kardashian sisters. A beer is provided before the hot towel services begin. Cuts, $43–$60. Unlimited cuts with the works—think hot towels—plus hand massage and paraffin dip, six manis, six facials, and six massages for $1,600 a year. Appointments online or by phone; walk-ins not guaranteed.
Barber to see: Patrick Steadman
You’ll be offered a cocktail the moment your foot crosses the threshold; staffers here are as accommodating and professional as it gets. The pampering takes place in a salon resembling an upscale hunting lodge (think: wood beams, iron chandeliers, and a stacked stone chimney). Cuts, $45–$75. For $2,100 a year, you can get weekly cuts with the works plus hand massage and paraffin dip, discounts on merch and specials, and monthly shoeshines.. Appointments online or by phone; walk-ins not guaranteed.
It’s usually $5 and a dice roll when it comes to getting a good cut at a hair school. Deep Ellum’s Blade Craft Barber Academy, however, is on another level. Located just a couple doors down from High & Tight (a proximity that has led to more than a few mix-ups), the school is suffused with easygoing masculinity: reclaimed-wood accents, concrete countertops, and Ray LaMontagne-ish tunes. Students always work under the supervision of a master instructor, and all have logged at least 300 hours of schooling, which include the art of the traditional hot towel shave (the detailed treatment takes at least 40 minutes). Reserve a private suite at no additional cost, and you can de-hair your entire face (they do ear- and nose-hair waxes, too) while sitting on a conference call. Cuts, shaves, and beard trims, $30. Appointments by phone or email; walk-ins welcome.
The Oldest of the Old School
Barber to see: Ivan Havins
Opened in 1938, Lovers Lane Barber Shop is not technically the oldest barbershop in town, but it sure acts like it. TV Land plays on two flat-screens and, especially on Saturdays when dads pull up with pajama-clad kids in red wagons, the scene is “just like Mayberry,” says barber Ivan Havins. Havins, the shop’s most popular barber, doesn’t accept cards or appointments, though he’s been known to make house calls for clients in ill health and reserve time for the ones who fly private planes in for regular trims. Men brave enough to visit the nail salon in the back will leave knowing all the gossip Park Cities has to offer. Cuts, $20; shaves, $30. Some barbers take appointments and cards.
More Classic Cuts
Barber to see: Ray Vasquez
Even before Ray Vasquez unlocks his small shop on Saturday mornings, Uptown bros and the preened men of Oak Lawn are idling in cars waiting to get a red vinyl seat for a 15-minute cut. Cuts, $25–$28; shaves, $40. Appointments accepted on Thursdays via phone; walk-ins every day.
Barber to see: Todd Blalock
A good place to get your ears lowered and trade a few dad jokes. Be sure to bring cash, and you can bring your kid, too; there’s a play area in the front window. Cuts, $20–$23; shaves, $23. Walk-ins and appointments.
Barber to see: Lance Nail for basic cuts; Machelle Ussher-Davis for trendier looks.
Cuts are inexpensive, but don’t be surprised to find a shiny Cadillac parked out front. Generations of Perots, Murchisons, and other local bigwigs have been enjoying the simplicity of this shop for decades. Cuts, $25–$50; shaves, $35. Walk-ins and appointments.
Barber to see: Rick King
It may be located in a new shopping center, yet it’s full of old-school charm (a row of wood stadium seats acts as the waiting area) and has a solid reputation for delivering classic cuts, close shaves, and good conversation. Cuts, $25; shaves, $30. Appointments preferred; walk-ins accepted.
Barber to see: Juke Higgins
Recently acquired by two ambitious barbers who left Deep Ellum’s High & Tight to strike out on their own (thus the name Sovereign), the shop caters to lunch breakers and downtown dwellers alike. Cuts, $25; shaves, $25. Appointments recommended via online and phone; walk-ins welcome.
How To Trim Your Beard
A YouTube how-to hosted by Brass Tacks’ man-crush-worthy Brandon White and produced by local beard oil brand Beard Supply has been viewed about 850,000 times.
Think about the shape you want—round, pointed, or square—and make sure your beard is clean and dry. Also, don’t trim if you’re fighting with your girlfriend.
You’ll need shears, an edger, a handheld mirror, and a wide-tooth comb. You don’t want to use a fine-tooth comb, because it will pull out the hair in your beard.
Comb out your beard com-pletely to expose all the different hair lengths. You only want to cut those long bits; you never want to cut into the bulk of your beard.
Trim the hair above your Adam’s apple that is longer than the hair on your chin. This is what’s called “neck beard,” which is what you don’t want.
In trimming the cheek area, you want a steady blend. Focus on making straight lines from the edge of your mustache to the bottom of your sideburn.
How To Stock Your Vanity
We asked Allen Schafer, the Dallas-based co-owner of Fulton & Roark, to share the best locally owned brands every well-groomed man should have in his medicine cabinet.
The Straight Razor King
The Lodge Barbershop’s Rick King is so skilled with a straight razor, he has regulars who drive from Dallas to Flower Mound for face maintenance each week. King breaks down his shaving method.
The People You Need to Know
The Original Throwback
On a quiet Wednesday evening, hair flies in the back of Rob’s Chop Shop as Howlin’ Wolf sings softly against the soft hum of clippers. A customer opens the front door and the bell rings. He plucks a cold beer from a 1930s-era fridge and takes a seat next to a stack of old Playboys on a magazine rack. While he waits for his turn in the chair, life waits outside.
When Rob Villarreal opened Rob’s Chop Shop in a shotgun storefront on Parry Avenue in 1995, it was intended as a throwback to the golden age of the male barber. It was—and remains—a simple affair: a single salvaged chair from the 1930s, tiled floors, old rock-and-roll photos and signed memorabilia on the walls, and vintage barber gear displayed in antique glass cases. Two decades later, as his classic cuts have come back into fashion, the no-nonsense grooming shop has proven ahead of its time.
There’s a simple reason for Villarreal’s prescience: he wasn’t pioneering a concept, but rather staying true to his roots. The Galveston native’s father and grandfather were both barbers, and he grew up hanging around their shop, listening to the banter, watching them cut hair, and practicing his skills on local kids.
Over the years, Villarreal’s reputation has extended well beyond Exposition Park. He travels regularly to rockabilly festivals in London, Italy, Las Vegas, and elsewhere, where he cuts hair and sells his sought-after custom-made RCS pomades. Local and touring bands alike seek him out for a trim.
Despite his success, Villarreal is still a solo act with one chair. He’s talking about setting up a neighboring storefront for assistants. But even then, he’d continue to hold court in his own space. Cuts, $30–$50. Appointments only. —Peter Simek
The Barber of the Boardroom
Corey Thompson has a few claims to fame. For one, his friendship with Rob Van Winkle, aka Vanilla Ice, goes back to their teenage years when they formed a breakdance group, and last year he joined the rapper-turned-house flipper to film season six of the DIY Network’s The Vanilla Ice Project. And second, Thompson once worked at NorthPark’s The Art of Shaving shop, where his regulars included Elvis Andrus and KiddNation’s Big Al. Now that Thompson’s moved his chair to Inwood Village’s The Boardroom Salon for Men, we caught up with him to talk hair.
What’s your specialty?
Shaves got me discovered, but fades are my thing.
Did you ever cut those iconic lines in Vanilla Ice’s fade?
We all cut each other’s hair back then, but Rob always styled his own hair and the eyebrows were all him.
What’s your most-requested style?
Pompadours. And guys cannot find somebody who can either do the side of the fade or the pompadour right. A lot of times, the part on the right side is so thick, it looks like a highway on top of their head.
How can you avoid the highway?
The best thing they can say is they want a natural-looking part. Most parts are 2 millimeters thick and go 3 inches back.
The New Bosses
Meet Roberto Montalvo and Juke Higgins of Sovereign Barber Shop
Did you know anything about the shop’s his-tory when you bought it last year?
Roberto Montalvo: The previous owner was Frank Avila. He said, You can change whatever you want, but keep the same phone number because it’s belonged to a barbershop in downtown Dallas since the late ’60s. He says all the hotels know that number as a barbershop.
How’d you get the name “Juke”?
Juke Higgins: When I was in high school and then in the Marine Corps, I thought I was gonna be a beatboxer. There was a lot of cats in the Marine Corps that if they never saw me in uniform, they didn’t know that wasn’t my real name. Everyone called me Juke. Beatboxing is weird because you’ve probably seen someone do it on the internet, but never in real life. So I was always the best anyone had ever seen.
Who’s the most memorable person to sit in your chair?
Higgins: My first job in town was at Brass Tacks. My second day, there was Leon Bridges, a local musician from Fort Worth. I really liked his style, and I saw him sign up for a cut. I was trying to show off for my new boss, so I’m pulling out all the stops. Well, Leon was so impressed, I cut his hair for a year and a half. A month after I cut his hair the first time, he got signed by Columbia Records. He gave me a shoutout in Vogue that year.
Want to learn more about Juke Higgins? Head here for an interview with our Caitlin Clark.