The New Shag

The New Shag

Effortlessly on-trend and ultra manageable, the Shag cut has re-emerged as one of this year’s most coveted hairstyles – and no wonder

Following on from the super-starched bouffant and beehive styles beloved of the 1960s, the Shag cut first gained mainstream exposure when Jane Fonda sported it in her role as Bree Daniel in the 1971 neo-noir crime thriller Klute. The mid-length style with ruffled layers feathered at the crown and sides that fanned out for a ‘shaggy’ silhouette fast became a favourite of the celebrity set, with both men and women sporting the rebellious, androgynous cut. Joan Jett, frontwoman of The Runaways, epitomised rock and roll with her edgy, raven, spiky Shag, while Rolling Stones showman Mick Jagger opted for a collarbone-length style that he still wears to this day. Soon after, David Cassidy, Rod Stewart and David Bowie all followed suit.

The Shag was briefly revisited in the 90s by stars including Meg Ryan and Jennifer Aniston – whose layered ‘Rachel’ was the most requested cut of the decade. Today, the post-modern style is all about deconstructed layers and undone texture, and can vary from a bob to shoulder length. Instead of extreme layering around the crown, the updated version is more subtle, seamlessly balancing disconnected lengths to give a casual, lo-fi feel.

‘It’s a modern take on the 70s technique, which perfectly coincides with the fashion movement we’re seeing at the moment, particularly with fashion houses like Gucci who are reviving 70s style but giving it a contemporary twist,’ explains Toni&Guy International Artistic Director, Jon Wilsdon. ‘This year’s look is less polished and much more relaxed. It’s cooler.’

One major modern-day poster girl is television presenter-turned-fashion designer Alexa Chung. The fashion model and muse favours a shoulder-grazing bob and chic split fringe that pairs dishevelled texture with a healthy, lustrous shine. Other converts include actress and model Suki Waterhouse and Mick Jagger lookalike Harry Styles – who demonstrates that the Shag hasn’t lost its unisex appeal.

‘It’s a modern take on the 70s technique, which perfectly coincides with the fashion movement we’re seeing at the moment’ Jon Wilsdon International Artistic Director

‘The cut suits all hair lengths and types, and works especially well for those growing out their hair,’ says Wilsdon. It’s also a great cut to opt for if you prefer to keep your hair colour hassle-free. ‘It plays on that lived-in feel,’ Wilsdon explains. ‘Team with free-painted Balayage – a low-maintenance colour technique that will complement the low-maintenance cut.’

The time-conscious can also rejoice as the Shag is one of the most manageable styles to choose from, needing little more than a rough blow-dry and a handful of products to style into place. Wilsdon recommends a generous application of label.m Sea Salt Spray to boost natural movement in the hair, and label.m Resurrection Style Dust to pep up roots throughout the day; he suggests leaving ends straight for a laid-back look that’s not too ‘done’. And to really update this retro style for the 21st century, have a fringe cut in to frame the face. According to Wilsdon, your face shape should dictate the type of fringe you choose. ‘With a wider face, you don’t want a thick, blunt fringe as this will make your face look wider still. Instead, cut in a narrow fringe and part in the centre to slim down the features.’ Slimmer faces can embrace heavier bangs – turn to model Freja Beha Erichsen for inspiration. Lived-in hair has never looked so good.

  • Words: Rebecca Parker

  • Banner Photography: Jack Eames Hair Breakthrough Team Xtra 2015 Styling Clare Frith Make-up Rhea Le Riche

  • Photography: Alamy, @frejabeha.erichsen