Last year, the "wolf cut" trend on TikTok had everyone rushing to the nearest hair salon for a snip. Effortlessly cool and chic, who wouldn’t want to get the hairstyle for themselves! But did you know that the hairstyle it originated from is even more universally flattering? If you love the body and volume of the wolf cut, but don’t want to enter mullet territory, the shag cut is the style for you!
What is the shag haircut?
This popular 'do was originally ideated by Paul McGregor in 1971 for American actress Jane Fonda's movie, Klute. Initially created for her character, the choppy layers and fringe bangs soon became a symbol for the ‘70s and ‘80s rock and roll scene. Just to give you an idea of how popular it was, the likes of Joan Jett, David Bowie, and Mick Jagger were all known to sport shag cuts!
The shag cut's messy and defined texture is definitely is main charm. As you can see, the original ‘70s shag is made by creating a lot of choppy, feathered layers—especially from the crown of your head, creating more volume and lift, and topped off with a fringe bang.
But as with all things, as time passes, trends can either evolve or disappear. In the case of the shag cut, it evolved from its rock band beginnings into a more lived-in hairstyle; offering a “woke up like this” but better look.
The Modern Shag Cut
These days, most people aren’t looking to have the same aesthetic as an ‘80s rockstar. That said, on the days when we want to “shake things up” and add more character to our hair—more often than not—we look for a modern shag.
Universally-flattering and works with all types of hair texture—no wonder there have been numerous hairstyles that have been born from the ‘70s ‘do. A famous spin-off was “The Rachel” haircut in the ‘90s, inspired by Rachel Green from Friends. This iteration was full of bouncy volume at the top of her head, flowing down with face framing layers that add texture and flatter one's mug.
More recently, a popular hairstyle with roots stemming from the shag, is the “wolf cut”. At first glance, they may look one in the same, but we’ll let you in on how to spot the differences. A hybrid of a mullet and a shag cut, the wolf cut focuses less on face framing layers and draws attention to the top of your head. Meaning, all of the volume and choppy layers are created from the crown of your head—creating that mullet-like shape. Another difference is that a shag cut makes sure to seamlessly blend all the layers for seamless body and texture; whereas a wolf cut encourages the contrast by having lots of volume and short pieces on top, along with thin and longer pieces at the bottom.
Now that we’ve covered all the bases, let’s get to an even more exciting part: the inspiration. If you’re looking to spice up your lock this summer, we’ve got you covered.
How to Wear the Modern Shag Cut
1. Soft Shag Cut
Kathryn Bernardo’s caramel shag cut is gorgeous in every way. By adding honeycomb highlights to her brown base, she defined her layers and gave overall soft dimension to her waves. "Messy" but effortlessly put-together, it gives us major surfer girl crush vibes!
2. Classic Split-Dyed Shag
As expected of the Sagittarian rockstar, Miley Cyrus easily rocks the shag cut. Staying true to the OG shag with a full fringe, she gave it a modern twist by pairing it with a split blonde and black dye job that perfectly captures her devil-may-care persona.
3. Modern Shag Cut with Choppy Bangs
Showing a softer side to the shag, Raiza Contawi’s dark chocolate color gives a certain mysterious and sultry aspect to her choppy face-framing layers. We love how she blow-dried her bangs to create more body texture to the cut and make it look extra playful!
4. Shag Lob
We can all associate the wolf cut with Billie Eilish, but once your hair starts growing out, a great way to seamlessly incorporate all of those layers is to get a shag cut! Just look at how Billie's sunflower blonde layers and wispy bangs give her locks a lightweight feel while giving it a ton of texture. A cut like this is perfect for those who don’t want to spend time styling their hair!
5. Mullet Shag
Ever since her Street Woman Fighter days, choreographer Aiki has been stealing hearts in her signature bright red wolf cut. That said, the leader of Korean dance crew, Hook, has rocked the shag cut in the past, too! The hairstyle definitely suits her alluring, edgy vibe, and the pop of red on the right side of her hair is the icing to the cake that is this modern rockstar look.
6. Curly Shag Cut
The shag is flattering on all hair textures, and Zendaya is proof of how beautiful and flattering this cut is on curly hair. Compared to straight tresses, curly locks have more volume and body naturally, which when combined with the layers of a shag cut, the curls look more pronounced and luscious. Not to mention, look at how chic Zendaya’s curly bangs are—a true icon indeed!
7. Shag Cut with Chunky Highlights
Because the shag offers a lot of movement and body to the hair, what better way to bring attention to those layers than a stark color contrast? Ida Anduyan's gray chunky highlights are the perfect example for this, since it accentuates her layers while matching her edgy, minimalist aesthetic to a tee.
8. Shag Cut with Curtain Bangs
For those who don’t want to commit to a full fringe, get curtain bangs to go with your shag cut like Itzy's Ryujin! Not only will it grow out more seamlessly than a front bang, but it’s an extra layer that will add more volume to your hair.
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