Trimming your sideburns correctly is the difference between looking well-groomed and looking ridiculous. Here's how to make them complement your haircut and face shape. Kayleen Schaefer
Stubbies—they stop at the top of the ear—are so shrunken that they'll be visible only if you have a crop cut to match. "I love them with a very short flattop," says New York stylist Paul Labrecque. They should be left their natural width but be trimmed frequently with an electric razor so they don't get bushy. And if you have inflated, Jack Black cheeks, don't go short—your face will only look rounder.
Mid-length sideburns should be clipped immediately above the cartilage in the middle of the ear and complement a basic short-back-and-sides cut. They don't need to be trimmed as frequently as their shorter counterparts. And if you can get away with it, wear them with a couple of days' worth of stubble, like Jake Gyllenhaal. Guys with oval faces should settle at this length—anything longer and you risk looking like Lyle Lovett.
In the seventies, muttonchops mimicked the bell bottoms of the day. Today's plunging 'burns are more like boot-cut jeans: They can flare out slightly as long as they don't dip below the hollows of your cheeks. If you're not comfortable looking retro, don't let them grow past the bottom of your ear. According to stylist Martial Vivot of Salon Pour Hommes in New York, guys with square faces can pull off Shaft shafts best, and a hairstyle with height, like a pompadour, will balance out the length.
HOW TO GET THEM EVEN
Most guys make the mistake of using their earlobes as a guide. "They're not always at the same height," Labrecque says. Instead, place your index fingers at the bottoms of your sideburns and imagine a line running between them across your face. Cut and thin them every three days using a trimmer with a guard, like the Forfex ($90, forfex.com).
Photographs courtesy of: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images; by brad bridgers; Paul Morigi/WireImage; Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage.com; Avik Gilboa/WireImage.com.