'It's only going to get bigger': why the mullet is the hairstyle of 2021
With the pandemic leaving hairdressers closed for most of the year, 2020 has brought many unexpected hair trends.
Buzzcuts, fringes and 90s bangs were all popular. But as we near the end of the year, perhaps the most unexpected hairstyle has returned. The much-derided mullet: made infamous by Little Richard and David Bowie, is back but with a modern twist.
“The modern mullet is only going to get bigger in 2021,” Tony Copeland, the co-founder of the British Master Barbers Alliance, told the Daily Star. “We will see more men up and down the country walking around with this style. Long hair will be big news in 2021 and hair products to give control to longer styles will explode next year.”
The modern twist on the haircut is that it is being worn by women as well as men.
This year we’ve seen the do on Miley Cyrus (who debuted her choppy, blonde version on 6 January on Instagram with the caption: “New hair, new year, new music”), Rihanna during her Savage X Fenty fashion show, Game of Thrones’s Maisie Williams, Billie Eilish, Little Mix’s Leigh Ann Pinnock, singer Troye Sivan as well as Joe Exotic from the TV show of the year, Tiger King. Exotic’s bleached mullet led to the search term “how to cut a mullet” increasing by 1124% since lockdown began, according to Cometify.
Suzi Ronson, the hairdresser who created Bowie’s crimson Ziggy Stardust cut, explained how it came about in 1972. “(Bowie) walked over to show me a photo in a magazine. It was of a model for fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto with short, red, spiky hair. He said: ‘Can you do that?’ As I said yes I was thinking: ‘That’s a little weird – it’s a woman’s hairstyle. And how am I going to actually do it?’” she wrote in The Moth: All These Wonders.
The gender neutral roots of Bowie’s cut come full circle to the modern mullet of today, with LGBTQI icons from Joan Jett to Tegan and Sara and Christine from Christine and the Queens all sporting them. “The sentiment that the mullet is particularly classless, outmoded, hideous is still the dominant one,” says Willa Paskin, host of The History of the Mullet podcast.
“Which is exactly what the subcultures who have embraced the mullet – electropunk kids, self-aware rednecks, fashionistas, queer people – like about it; the way it thumbs its nose at mainstream respectability.”
This article is about the haircut. For other uses, see Mullet (disambiguation).
"Hiplet" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Hiplet (dance style).
Male or female hairstyle
The "mullet" is a hairstyle in which the hair is cut short at the front and sides, but is longer at the back.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, use of the term mullet to describe this hairstyle was "apparently coined, and certainly popularized, by American hip-hop group the Beastie Boys", who used "mullet" and "mullet head" as epithets in their 1994 song "Mullet Head", combining it with a description of the haircut: "number one on the side and don't touch the back, number six on the top and don't cut it wack, Jack." They expounded on the subject at length in a six-page article entitled "Mulling Over The Mullet" in Issue 2 (1995) of their magazine Grand Royal, offering a selection of alternative names for the cut, including "Hockey Player Haircut" and "Soccer Rocker".
In popular culture
The term "mullet head" had previously been used to refer to a person of dubious intelligence. A 1917 American Dialect Society paper, "Dialect Notes: Terms of Disparagement in American Dialect Speech", calls it simply "a stupid person" or "a know-nothing". In Cool Hand Luke defeated villains were referred to as "mullet heads", and in a 1982 first-season episode of Cheers, Sam Malone says "Don't you have customers to deal with, mullet head?"
On Slate's Decoder Ring podcast, Willa Paskin discussed the etymology of the term, noting that Oxford English Dictionary credited the Australian Street Machine automotive magazine with the first published description of the term in 1992, predating Beastie Boys.Decoder Ring discovered that the magazine image had been faked; in a 2018 apology posted to imgur, the creator had admitted to faking the text, adjusting the magazine dates, and shown proof.
A metal figurine, dated back to the 1st-century AD and found during 2018 preparations for a new car park at the Wimpole Estate, England, was hypothesised by archaelolgists to indicate that natives in ancient Britain during the Roman occupation could have worn their hair in a similar style to mullets.
In the sixth century, Byzantine scholar Procopius wrote that some factions of young males wore their hair long at the back and cut it short over the forehead. This non-Roman style was termed the 'Hunnic' look.
Researcher Alan Henderson describes the ancient hairstyle as useful, as it kept the hair out of the eyes, yet provided warmth and protection for the neck.
In Mourt's Relation, author Edward Winslow described the Plymouthpilgrims' first encounter with the Native Americans, Samoset of the Abenaki in 1621:
He was a tall straight man, the hair of his head black, long behind, only short before, none on his face at all; …
— Mourt's Relation
Tom Jones sported a mullet in two of his three 1965 performances of his hit song It's Not Unusual on the Ed Sullivan Show, May 2, 1965 and June 13, 1965.
Mullets were worn by rock stars David Bowie, Rod Stewart, Keith Richards, and Paul McCartney in the early 1970s. When writing Neil Peart's eulogy in January 2020, Greg Prato asserted Peart had a mullet, based on his observations of a 1974 video, further suggesting "he also may have been one of the first rockers to sport another hairstyle – the rattail", based on a 1985 video, "The Big Money".
See also: 1980s
In Australia, the United States and the United Kingdom of the 1980s, mullets were "everywhere", according to Tess Reidy writing at The Guardian in 2019. The 1980s were also the high point of the mullet's popularity in continental Europe.
Also in the 1980s, the mullet became part of lesbian culture, where it came to be used as a way of identifying oneself as a member of that culture in public.
In the Pittsburgh area of Pennsylvania, the mullet was adopted by several members of the Pittsburgh Penguins, including Jaromír Jágr. The mullet remains popular to this day, even mocked to much acclaim by WDVE radio hosts in particular. Jágr in particular became so well known with the hairstyle that it actually headlined the local news when he cut it off in 1999;[failed verification] likewise, he again made headlines in 2015 (by this point playing for the Florida Panthers, his seventh NHL team after the Penguins traded him in 2001) when he announced that he was regrowing his mullet.
After the much-publicized 1992 DC Comics storyline in which Superman apparently died, the character returned in the 1993 follow-up storyline "Reign of the Supermen", in which he was depicted with a mullet. The look was depicted in an action figure released by Mattel in 2009. The cancelled Superman film project, Superman Lives, would have depicted Superman with a mullet.
Punk rock band the Vandals sang of the mullets worn by country music singers and guests of The Jerry Springer Show and listed regional names for the style in the 1998 song "I've Got an Ape Drape".
Country music singers Billy Ray Cyrus, Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson, Joe Diffie, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Tracy Lawrence, Vince Gill, Aaron Tippin, Morgan Wallen and Blake Shelton were also known for their mullets.
Vocalist Wesley Willis wrote and released the track "Cut the Mullet" in 1998 and frequently performed it at live shows.
The mullet and its associated lifestyle have been central themes in movies such as Joe Dirt"business in the front, party in the back" (2001) and the television show The Mullets (2003–2004). Christian ska band Five Iron Frenzy sang about the mullet in "The Phantom Mullet", a song off of their 2000 album All the Hype That Money Can Buy, referencing Billy Ray Cyrus and REO Speedwagon in the lyrics. The 2001 film American Mullet documents the phenomenon of the mullet hairstyle and the people who wear it.
In 2003, Legacy Recordings released Mullets Rock!, a 2 CD collection full of mullet-wearing classic rock and hair metal bands from the 1970s and 1980s. The same year Universal Records (Canada) released the album Mullet Years: Power Ballads, a collection of hard rock ballads.
Indie rock duo Tegan and Sara sported mullets during their The Con album era.
Between 2009 and 2012, the mullet was in fashion among individuals of Lebanese descent in Australia. The style had already been popular with the bogan subculture. The fashion trend quickly waned by 2012. This was the type of a mullet that had a crew cut at the front, top, and sides and long hair at the back.
In 2009, Kate Gosselin, from the reality television show Jon and Kate Plus 8 made famous the tellum, or reverse mullet.
The mullet was banned in Iran as one style on a list of "un-Islamic", "decadent Western cuts".
The mullet was returned to the spotlight in 2015 by K-pop idolG-Dragon during his band BIGBANG's Made World Tour. Other K-pop artists who have worn mullets include Block B's Zico, Song Min-ho, Nam Joo-hyuk, Byun Baek-hyun, Dean, Stray Kids' Chan and Han, VIXX's N,B.A.P.'s Himchan,Seventeen's Woozi and The8, BTS's V,Got7's JB, SF9's Youngbin, NCT's Taeyong, Ateez's Hongjoong and The Boyz's Hwall.
The mullet has also experienced a revival within American sports. After winning back-to-back Stanley Cups, Phil Kessel was spotted in Pittsburgh Penguins training camp in September 2017 bringing the mullet back to its native roots of Pittsburgh Hockey. Similarly, Oklahoma State head football coach Mike Gundy wore a mullet starting in early 2017; the popularity of his mullet supposedly earned Oklahoma State millions of dollars in marketing revenue. In addition, from 2010 to 2015, Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks popularized the "playoff mullet," an alternative to the traditional NHL playoff beard. Current Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner began sporting a mullet in 2018, continuing the Yinzer tradition of the hairstyle in Western Pennsylvania.
In the 2020s a variant of the hairstyle called the "modern mullet" gained popularity with LGBTQ+ influencers and celebrities such as Miley Cyrus, Crystal Methyd of RuPaul's Drag Race season 12, Euphoria's Barbie Ferreira, and Tiger King's Joe Exotic. "Modern mullet" hairstyles are characterized by long back hair, short side hair, and medium length front and top hair.
While an irony laden hairstyle for some, mullets actively serve as a tool for flagging queer visibility and embracing creative authenticity for queer communities, echoing the sexual revolution of the 70's and following queer mullet-sporting LGBTQ+ icons.  For some, mullets facilitate the appearance of fluidity, echoing both masculine and feminine hairstyles, while others attribute the look to maintaining an artistic gaze on oneself, thus protesting conventional beauty standards, opposed to maintaining the male gaze.
In September 2020, i-D called 2020 "the year of the mullet", attributing its boom in popularity to COVID-19 lockdowns and their closing of hair salons. In an article for Vice Media, the mullet-wearing teenagers interviewed all described getting the haircut as a joke, with one stating "There’s an irony to the mullet haircut. It’s this disgustingly gross haircut, which means it’s definitely worn in an ironic way". Magda Ryczko, founder of the queer-owned barbershop Hairrari in Brooklyn, notes that mullets allow for a professional front facing look for Covid-19 era Zoom meetings, while maintaining a messier, more fun look off camera, when the longer back section of hair may be revealed. An annual national USA Mullet Championship began in 2020.
Mullets are also becoming popular with male teens in Australia and New Zealand due to the Australian drill scene.
Like many 90s trends, mullets have made their way back into mainstream hair styles. The most popular version is called the mullet fade. The versatility of the taper fade has modernized the classic mullet giving it a cleaner look.
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- ^The Editors of GQ (25 July 2014). "The Nicolas Cage Superman Documentary Reminds Us of the Man of Steel's Bad Hair Days". GQ. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
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- ^Passmore, Daryl (13 November 2010). "Bogans of today evolved beyond stunned mullets". The Sunday Mail. Queensland: News Corp Australia.
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- ^Shahid, Aliyah (6 July 2010). "Iran launches crackdown on Western hairstyles, Culture Ministry bans mullet, ponytails, long hair". Daily News. New York Daily News. Retrieved 30 November 2018.
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- ^BIGBANG Official Facebook (11 October 2015), M.A.D.E Tour in Newark, NJ, retrieved 25 September 2017
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- Hoskyns, Barhey (2000). The Mullet: Hairstyle of the Gods. Bloomsbury USA. ISBN .
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The Modern Mullet Isn't Going Anywhere
Say what you want about the mullet, but the "business in the front, party in the back" style has inched its way back into relevancy in recent years, thanks to a number of celebrities putting a modern spin on the once polarizing cut.
These stars' nostalgic mullets have the classic shorter, layered tops and longer backs, but their stylists play with extensions, texture, and color, demonstrating that the cut can be extremely versatile and also ridiculously chic.
Another common thread is how these mullets are layered. Rather than stark contrasts between lengths, stars like Miley Cyrus and Rihanna have face-framing pieces or bangs added to their cuts to add softness and play up their hair textures.
RELATED: The 8 Breakout Hair Trends of 2021, According to Top Stylists
Ahead, the best celebrity examples of how to style the modern mullet.
VIDEO: The Anti-Summer Hair Color That's Trending Now
While Miley Cyrus's mullet may have been a happy accident thanks to an at-home trim by her mom, the cut has now become her signature look. Here, the star channels '80s rocker Joan Jett with her choppy bangs, face-framing layers, and flipped ends.
Fashion is back at the White House again, thanks in part to Emhoff, the stepdaughter of Vice President Kamala Harris. After capturing the nation's attention in Miu Miu and Batsheva at the inauguration, the Parson's grad signed a modeling contract and has a fashionable curly mullet with bangs to match her new gig.
One of Rihanna's most memorable hair moments is her 2013 mullet with shaved sides. And we're here for the 2021 shoulder-length version of the style with side burns and wavy ends.
The extra-long back of Doja Cat's heavily-layered mullet leaves room for styling options. At the 2021 Grammys, the singer wore her mullet in undone waves for an effortless vibe.
The singer's mullet got even edgier when she dyed it sky blue for summer.
The textured top of Halsey's pixie-mullet adds extra volume and movement to her shorter cut.
Hands down, this choppy, textured cut is the chicest mullet we've ever seen.
15 Best Curly Mullet Hairstyles for Men
Men who can pull off having a curly mullet usually have a great sense of style. Some people aren’t that keen on the mullet hairstyle while others are obsessed with it! However, we can all agree that it’s an iconic hairdo. The trend started in the 80s when everyone had crazy and unique hairstyles.
Some of the most popular rock stars from that era used to have insanely voluminous curly mullets. Nowadays men turn to mullet styles only when they are trying to express their bold & unique sense of style. If you are thinking about growing out a curly hair mullet, you are at the right place!
How to Style Mullet with Curly Hair
Styling a curly mullet for men is much easier than people might think. Here are some simple steps that everyone can easily follow:
- Depending on the length of your fringe, comb the top of your hair forwards or backward. If your fringe is shorter then comb it forwards, and if it’s longer comb it backward and away from your face.
- Apply a pomade or a gel on the sides of your head so that the hairstyle stays put. A curly mullet is best styled with stronger pomades and gels.
- To enhance your curls, use some hair gel on the rest of your hair as well. Put the hair gel on your hand, comb it through the hair. Lastly, lightly push the strands of your hair upwards by making crunching motions.
Curly Mullet Hairstyles
Below are 15 unique curly mullet hairstyles for men we would love to recommend. Go through these styles to adopt an iconic hairstyle with your curls.
short curly mullet
brown curly mullet for men
Mexican curly mullet
black men’s curly mullet
men’s curly mullet with fade
men’s curly mullet with fringe
men’s curly mullet with beard
8. Messy Black Curly Mullet
If you’re a laid back kind of a guy, then this curly mullet hairstyle might be a perfect hairstyle for you. Letting your curly hair air dry is a great idea here because this look is all about looking natural. Going along with this style, you can have a full beard or a bit longer than usual.
9. Mullet with Enhanced Curls
Men who enjoy looking well put-together will love this mullet hairstyle with curls. If you already have curls, you can easily enhance them by using a hair gel designed for curly hair. Since the focal point of your look is this stupefying curly hair mullet it’s a good idea to shave off your beard.
10. Mullet with High Fade
Combining the curly high top fade trend with a classic mullet hairstyle is a very creative idea. Men who enjoy modern fashion will enjoy this hair and beard combo. If you want to maintain this look, you should shave both your head & facial hair regularly. If you’re not precise enough, you might want to visit a barber.
High Fade Vs. Low Fade
11. Mullet with Short Bangs
If you want to express your unique personality throughout your hairstyle, then a curly mullet with short bangs is the way to do it. You will have to regularly maintain the front part of the hair and keep it short, but it’s totally worth it in the end.
Ideal Short Hair and Beard Combination for Men
12. High Volume Mullet
This hairstyle with stubble beard is for men who want to look smart and professional while rocking their mullet. Even though mullets are usually chosen by more rebellious men, this doesn’t mean that only they should rock it. A high volume of curly hair mullet can make a nerdy guy look very unique and interesting.
13. 80s Curly Mullet
14. Curly Blonde Mullet
15. Long Curls + Mullet
Frequently Asked Questions on Curly Mullet
Can Women Also Try Mullet Hairstyle?
Of course, they can! These days more and more women are trying out different mullet styles. In fact, a curly mullet hairstyle is more common among women than among men. Just remember that there are many variations of a mullet hairstyle, so you’ll be able to find the one that suits your personal style.
Why It Is Called a Mullet?
The word “mullet” describes a family of edible spiny-finned fish. When the mullet hairstyle became popular, some people were joking around that it looked like they’ve had fish on their heads. Finally, the name “mullet” became official when Beastie Boys released their song “Mullet Head” in 1994.
Mohawk Mullet – Unique Styling Ideas for 2021
Those classic and plain mullet hairstyles from the 80s are not that common anymore since they have had many changes over the years. Nowadays we have improved the classic hairstyle with our stylish curly mullet haircuts for both men and women.
Hair mullet curly
As far as makeovers go, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a hair transformation—especially when before and after photos are involved. So, in the name of Renovation Month, we’re resurfacing this incredibly satisfying story that was originally published in August 2018.
As someone with long, curly hair — the kind that frequently feels like a more powerful accessory than a favorite necklace or pair of shoes — I spend a decent amount of time thinking about the connection between the stuff that grows out of my head and the stuff that goes on inside of it. In other words, I’m deeply intrigued by the close interplay between hair and identity. Considering that hair can be easily altered, that it’s programmed to grow back no matter what you do to it, isn’t it fascinating that we imbue it with so much power?
The truth is, a dramatic haircut really can feel like a seismic shift, not only in terms of how you look but also in terms of how you dress and how you act. That’s why committing to getting one takes guts. It takes extra guts when the dramatic haircut in question is one you never thought you’d get, which is exactly the kind of chop four Man Repeller community members received last week at the hands of Hairstory stylist Wes Sharpton. Read about their experiences below (spoiler alert: It’s a real treat).
A roundish, neck-length shag.
From an emotional standpoint, I was afraid I wouldn’t like how the haircut turned out and then I would have to walk around with it on my head for months. I was also worried my potential disappointment would justify not taking more risks in the future. From a practical standpoint, having long hair is pretty handy. Mine is textured enough that when it’s long, I can twist it into a bun without a hair tie and it stays put. I knew if I cut it off, I would miss that.
At the same time, I recognized that my hair would always grow back. I started to understand that my underlying fear was more about how I would explain why I cut it. Was I rejecting femininity? Was I embracing femininity? My long hair has always been one of the first things people associated with me. It was tied to my identity, even though that’s not what I intended when I let it grow out. It wasn’t a statement, but it was a safety blanket — a part of myself that I didn’t have to question. I fretted that a major change in my appearance would reveal the existence of my inner identity turmoil, which in high school is a particularly terrifying prospect. As someone who likes to maintain an assured persona, I wondered what it would feel like to expose that I have absolutely no idea who I am.
Ultimately, I decided to ignore my existential angst. I decided I don’t need to justify myself to other people and, most importantly, that I can be excited by the idea of not having everything figured out yet and just cut my hair already.
Chopping my hair was liberating. I didn’t notice how much it weighed me down both physically and metaphorically. Wes did such a great job, and I’m really happy with the way it turned out. It definitely has me living in my ’70s dreamscape.
Judging by how well the haircut turned out, I’ll be taking more risks in the future. I think this shag will be my gateway to loosening up in general. Looking back, I realize that I shouldn’t have been so nervous, and I wish I had chopped it off sooner. Sigh. I guess I need to buy some hair ties now.
What’s the one haircut you never thought you’d get?
Why were you initially opposed? What made you change your mind?
It’s definitely a fraught hairstyle. For a long time, when I thought “mullet,” an image of Billy Ray Cyrus in the ’90s would pop into my head, which isn’t generally what I’m trying to emulate. For years, the prospect of any haircut, let alone a risky one, was unthinkable to me, and even as I’ve slowly come to embrace new lengths and colors, I’ve still stayed within a certain comfort zone. However, after moving to Bushwick (which I assume has the most mullets per capita of any New York neighborhood), I started seeing ones that were both fashionable and feminine, and this new versatility really intrigued me. At a certain point I realized it was time for me to evolve past my blunt cut (maintained via dull scissors in dorm rooms), so I cautiously committed to getting the haircut I’d become so preoccupied with: the mullet!
How did it feel to finally take the plunge? Do you like it?
It felt exciting and nerve-wracking. I was so disoriented on my way to the salon that I nearly entered through the building’s freight entrance. Nevertheless, I eventually arrived at the proper address and I couldn’t be happier with the final product! My sister compared it to Joan Jett’s hair on the I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll album and I didn’t even have to bait her to say it, so it’s been really ideal.
How do you think this haircut will affect the way you act?
I’m hoping that as I inhabit a hairstyle that’s more unruly, I’ll allow myself to loosen up more with my appearance. I tend to dress with a certain exactness. It’s exhilarating for me to steam my clothes each morning and it’s really important for me to feel like the colors in my outfits coordinate and that my overall appearance is fairly polished. Especially coupled with the bold makeup and jewelry I’m inclined to wear, I feel like this jagged mullet is going to add some really cool dissonance to my more “put together” ensembles, and I’m so stoked to play with that!
What’s the one haircut you never thought you’d get?
A buzz cut.
Why were you initially opposed? What made you change your mind?
I don’t know if I was exactly opposed, but I’d long orbited the style and was looking for a sign (I ended up receiving multiple). Part of my motivation was simply pragmatism. I had so much thick hair, which was expensive and took a lot of time to maintain, but I’d never gone shorter than a bob or had so much new growth in my hair’s natural state.
Some of my motivation stemmed from growing up and being told that having “good” or “long” hair is important. I could write many books on what learning that as a Black girl has meant for my Black adult self (or how the generational wisdom regarding the aesthetics Black women passed on to Black girls to ensure a smoother existence in a non-Black public plays out in 2018). But, long story short, my baby rebellion of opting for only slightly shorter hair just wasn’t cutting it (haha) anymore.
And some of it, I’ll admit, was stress and sadness: I just moved back to New York, and I’m working a ton but am still beyond broke. The idea of getting a buzzcut was my means of navigating the recent loss of my grandmother/personal style icon PLUS the gooey, complicated space of hurt/-ful family. Hair maintenance was starting to feel like a symbolical rehashing of all these dilemmas every day, and I was never satisfied with any one style.
With all that in mind, going home for my Nana’s service earlier this month involved taking in a lot of photos and realizing that her stylistic “peak” involved — and had kind of always involved — little-to-no hair. A huge chop suddenly felt like a good way to feel a little less stuck, a little more in touch with her memory, and to realize my agency at this stage of my life.
How did it feel to finally take the plunge? Do you like it?
It felt fine — until the day before, which felt more, “Oh…wait shit, really?” The subway ride to the deed itself was spent in a full-on dissociative, wide-eyed dream state. But in the chair, watching my hair fall was somehow easy. It also helped that Wes and Louisiana were amazing at building the hype and reassuring me that this was indeed a Good Decision. For now, I’m easing into feeling the wind on my scalp and always seeing my absurdly small ears. I’ve already forgotten how I look with a head full of hair — and that’s very cool.
How do you think this haircut will affect the way you act?
I’m excited about observing a potential shift in my behavior, because hair is at once so personal and interpersonal! Right now I feel pretty mousy/hyper-aware because the shave is so fresh, but with time I’ll be out in the world and dealing with strangers, more settled into the new look. There are public social advantages large and small that I’m sure I’ve exchanged just by getting rid of my hair — that snap association with more normative “pretty” femininity being the main one — and seeing that change in the way people interact with me might in turn have its own impact on my general attitude.
I see myself with the buzz, though, as…kinda no-bullshit? For sure a teensy bit “smirking sunglasses emoji.” The cut itself notwithstanding, I’ve gone through a lot of hard adjustments in the past 12+ months. Buzzing off my hair feels like I’ve launched a change on my own terms for something that matters to me, which makes it possible to look back with more pride on what I have accomplished over the past year (new hair, new context?). Time will tell if my longstanding aesthetic of “eccentric celestial aunt/grandma who spent ten formative years on the Upper West Side” will survive the cut, though; if it doesn’t, I imagine more of a “Sailor Scout estate sale clothes shopping for themed club parties” vibe is my next logical style step.
What’s the one haircut you never thought you’d get?
Baby bangs! I have fine, thin hair that is on the wavy/curly line and I have a very hard time finding the right person to cut it. My last two haircuts were way too short and not what I wanted (basically cutting all my hair off), so I’ve been trying to grow it out since January.
And yet! I have a dream haircut — a blunt bob around my chin with baby bangs. I am totally into the bob but am scared to death of the bangs. I’ve tried bangs before, but long ones. In grad school, I flat-ironed them and left the rest curly (oh, the mistakes of youth) and the rest of the time I’ve just pushed them to the side and grown them out.
I’d decided to get the long bob but without the bangs, even though I wanted them, because I felt like they wouldn’t work for me. But dammit, shouldn’t I just go for it for once? I’m 39 years old. If not now, when???
Why were you initially opposed? What made you change your mind?
Bangs don’t usually work on my curly hair. I’ve never worn curly bangs as they are hard to control and they make me feel self-conscious. For some reason, wearing them straight across my forehead and curly seemed somehow aggressive and “too much,” and I was worried about the amount of time and effort styling would take. But I had a hair inspiration folder that was 95 percent curly short bangs — it’s clearly what I wanted, so why not just go for it?
How did it feel to finally take the plunge? Do you like it?
I was really on the fence in the days preceding my cut. I (hopefully) have a job interview coming up and didn’t want to change my hair right before, and I was also worried about not liking the cut and being stuck with a high-maintenance style. But the whole point was that this was supposed to be a haircut that terrified me, right?
I love the cut. Wes really cared about working with my hair and teaching me how to style it. He kept the length in the front and just trimmed the back and bangs. It wasn’t long enough for the bob length but it looks good as is and will grow into what I want. And the bangs — they are a miracle. I just air dry everything and the bangs come out perfectly. Not too long, not too short, and they sit well with their natural texture. I’m actually wearing them across my forehead, big and bushy! It’s outside of my comfort zone, but I like it!
How do you think this haircut will affect the way you act?
I’ve been on a journey of expressing myself through my clothes and style without being so concerned about standing out or what other people think. I recently lost over 100 pounds and am slowly discovering the ways in which I was suppressing my style for fear of standing out (I thought if I wasn’t making an effort, no one could judge me). I’ve completely rebuilt my wardrobe since then, purchasing the majority of my new stuff from vintage or secondhand stores. I’ve found myself buying really unique pieces that I love but then not wearing them, so I started a new policy called “wear your clothes!” I now wear everything I love as a result, even if I think it makes me stand out or is a bit weird. It’s been completely liberating.
I’ve finally stepped outside my comfort zone in favor of a hairstyle that’s a little zany — curly, a bit boxy, with short bangs. And instead of feeling self-conscious about it, I feel confident and at peace. This is me being who I am for me, not for anyone else. So what if I’ve got some wild bangs? I feel like it’s all part of the process of me coming out of my shell and living life for me.
Photos by Louisiana Mei Gelpi.
Shags and mullets: navigating this season’s most desired hairstyles
‘Here’s the thing about mullets,’ James Pecis – legendary hair stylist and Session Stylist for Oribe – told us over a recent Zoom call. ‘You say mullet and everyone laughs… but really it’s just a super heavy fringe with some length in the back. It doesn’t always have to be an extreme Canadian hockey player or Australian surfer mullet.’
It’s true that the mullet has been undergoing something of a makeover lately, going from one of the most derided hairstyles of the 20th century to one of the most cultivated cuts of the 21st. Whether you’re thinking of trying a full-blown ‘Canadian hockey player’ look or going for the more subtle ‘shag’ look that Pecis’ describes, it’s best to consider all your options before taking to the scissors.
To help, we’ve asked hair stylist and fellow Orbie representative Nicci Welsh to talk us through it all.
Mullet or shag?
Dress, by Chanel. ‘Koam’ sideboard, by Jean-Marie Massaud, for Zanat, from Viaduct. ‘Repp Stripe’ rug by Thom Browne for The Rug Company
‘If you are thinking of trying a shag or a mullet, two of the trending cuts of the season, there are a few pointers you need to know,’ says Welsh.
‘A mullet is cut short in the front and on the sides, but left untouched or longer in the back. Although hair will be longer in the back, you will only see a short hairstyle straight on.
‘A shag haircut stays longer all the way around the edges, with lots of internal layers. These shorter layers create volume around the crown, which you often loose with a longer layered haircut. This look gives the perception of having longer hair,’ Welsh continues.
‘You can take these looks one step further by attempting the shaggy mullet. The shaggy mullet is a choppy layered combination of the two styles.’
Finding the cut that best suits your hair texture
Jacket and mini skirt, by Dolce & Gabbana. Shoes and earrings both by Aeyde. ‘Koam’ sideboard, by Jean-Marie Massaud, for Zanat, from Viaduct. ‘Bai Lu’ chair, by Neri & Hu, for Lema. ‘Loom’ fabric in Plaster, by Mark Alexander
‘Hair types play a big role with the outcome of these styles,’ says Welsh. ‘Going along with this, hair and scalp health are the main foundation of any amazing hairstyle.’
Unsurprisingly, Welsh recommends looking to Oribe’s wide range of products to ensure hair is as healthy as possible, and we have to agree that the luxury haircare brand offers the best selection for all hair-health concerns.
‘A shag haircut creates fullness from the layers, which is great for fine hair,’ says Welsh. ‘Using Oribe Grandiose Hair Plumping Mousse will help pump up the volume, giving your hair an even fuller look.
‘If you have thick, straight hair, both the shag and mullet will suit you. Use Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray to bring out the texture in your hair, while adding lift and volume.
‘Curly hair is best for a mullet, as it creates the perception of a narrow shape to your head. If you want to enhance your curls, use Oribe Curl Control Silkening Crème, which includes a beautiful blend of oils that helps define your curls, while controlling frizz.’
Finding the haircut that best suits your face shape
Dress, by Loewe. Earrings by Aeyde
‘If you have a wide jawline, the face-framing layers of a shag can soften the face frame. Finish the shag look off with Oribe Airstyle Flexible Finish Cream. The product’s natural flower wax blend creates touchable, reworkable texture, giving it that on-trend finish,’ advises Welsh.
‘Avoid either look for small or narrow foreheads, as it will create the illusion of a smaller face. Instead, opt for a longer, sweeping curtain fringe that pulls away from your face.
‘A mullet cut can also even out a long face with a sharp or more prominent jawline. Use Oribe Rough Luxury Molding Wax to bring out a feathery texture to the back while adding some structure to the top.’ §
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If you type “mullets are” into Google, a compelling list of thought finishers pops up: hot, ugly, weird, cool. Few hairstyles are as polarizing as the business-up-front, party-in-back optical illusion featuring a straight-on short cut that is quickly betrayed by cascading longer lengths down the neck. It provokes such strong feelings that the look has actually been argued over by legislators—banned in Iran in 2010 and forbidden in an Australian school just this March for being “untidy” and “nonconventional.”
But unusual times call for unusual haircuts. As the vaccine effort ramps up, hairstylists are reporting that their novelty-starved clients, emerging from a year in quarantine, are eager to embrace the drastic, statement-making style, which is fast becoming a symbol for this postapocalyptic era and its promise for rebirth.
“People want to stand out in a crowd, and there’s no better haircut than a mullet to do that,” says celebrity hairstylist Harry Josh, who is perhaps best known for crafting Gisele Bündchen’s ubiquitous golden beach waves in the early aughts—a very different moment from our own, which is decidedly devoid of barrel curls. “It’s one of the only haircuts that can be on a man, a woman, or a nonbinary person,” confirms Mischa G., effectively describing the diverse clientele at Treehouse Social Club in downtown New York, where she has been cutting about five to seven mullets a week. It’s also surprisingly versatile, adds G.—elegant or punk, Middle Earth or feathery soft, à la the “shullet,” a cross between a mullet and a shag. “What makes it cool is its unapologetic effortlessness,” continues G. “A mullet doesn’t have to be maintained like a pixie or a sharp bob. Grow it in for six months and it still looks great.”
This maintenance-free promise only added to the mullet’s budding popularity during last spring’s lockdowns, when ersatz stylists had to rely on their own ingenuity—and everything from kitchen shears to craft scissors—while nonessential businesses remained closed. You can count second daughter Ella Emhoff among them. While stuck at home in Brooklyn, the model sculpted her own curls into a helmet-like mullet snipped high and tight above her ears. “I feel like in the past, the mullet was deemed unattractive and kind of odd, and I’m really drawn to that almost ugly-chic look,” says Emhoff, who showed off the idiosyncratic style in her runway debut for Proenza Schouler in February. The internet-breaking moment kicked off a truncated fall fashion schedule during which few shows were mullet-free: Simone Rocha gave the style a Renaissance spin in London; at Dolce & Gabbana in Milan, the look received an acid-bright rainbow makeover with a blunt micro fringe, while Brooklyn-based hairstylist Holli Smith embraced natural textures at Ferragamo and Sportmax for a fresh and edgy twist. Meanwhile, Anthony Turner mined Vidal Sassoon’s Mouche innovations of the 1960s at Raf Simons, adding a futuristic update via frizzy finishes and shocking-pink ombré dye jobs that Turner describes as “quite daring and left field.”
Mullets aren’t new, of course. According to British hair historian Rachael Gibson, they’ve actually been around for centuries. Used as a practical military tactic among Vikings and Romans, long hair in the back kept soldiers warm on the battlefield, while shorter hair in front was less likely to get yanked by an adversary. The style had a more recent resurgence in the ’70s, when the Ur-mullet burst onto the scene courtesy of David Bowie’s spiky red brush cut for his alter ego, Ziggy Stardust—a riff on a cut Bowie spotted in a 1971 magazine spread for designer Kansai Yamamoto and asked his mother’s hairdresser to re-create. Now it’s being reinterpreted by a new generation of pop superstars, with Rihanna, Miley Cyrus, and Troye Sivan all adopting the style in the last year alone. “I had one option, and I needed it,” Cyrus joked last year of the lockdown cut she got from her mother, Tish, who warned the “Prisoner” hitmaker that the lone style she knew how to do was the one she gave Miley’s father, mullet icon Billy Ray Cyrus, in the ’90s. (Veteran stylist Sally Hershberger later stepped in to mastermind Miley’s current feathery shoulder-length shag with a choppy fringe.)