As some of you may have noticed, the lob (or long bob) kind of took over the world of hair in 2015. Everyone seemed to have piecey, collarbone-length hair with plenty of texture, and I’m talking both celebrities and women on the street. I myself have been an enthusiastic participant, though I really had no choice as I’ve been growing out an a-line bob from the spring. Anyhow, all the lob business from this year is actually residual from the lob’s first wave of dominance in late-ish 2013. Which was actually an echo from its more earlier appearances in 2010.
Yes, the lob has been around for about five years or more. Trends in hair like the lob are becoming a little bit easier for me to spot, but it does take patience as they tend not to come to full fruition for at least a couple years after their first appearance. You first see the cut, likely on some celebrity or maybe a model on the runway, and they’re the only one sporting it. You think nothing of it, except for the fact that you’ve never really seen it before and they’re the only one with it. It’s their cut. But then a year or so passes and you spot another celebrity wearing the same cut, perhaps of greater status. The cut may be a result of growing out an older style, like a pixie or bob; a hairstyle of convenience, one might say. But whatever, it’s just a cut and not yet a trend. However, you’re still a bit intrigued.
But perhaps within another year or so, you see one or two more celebs rocking it, maybe with some minor variations. It looks good, and it’s starting to crowd your Instagram feed. The cut earns a buzzy name, like our beloved “lob”, and it starts showing up in magazines and blogs and is referred to by that aforementioned buzzy name. This cut is now being intentionally requested at salons, and is no longer simply a result of growing out an older style. It’s at this time that you begin thinking about what you’d look like with this haircut. Now, if you were to book the appointment at this point in time, you’d just barely be beating the rush. But then …
Then, perhaps within less than a year, the superstar A-lister gets the cut. She shows up to some red carpet event with it, and the deal is sealed- this cut has now officially reached trend status and will be everywhere for the next 9-12 months or longer.
This, my friends, is the road that our next “It Cut” has been journeying on toward full-blown trend status. And what is it? Some may call it the “swag” (short for the “swingy shag”), but because I cannot bear to use such the word swag when referring to myself or my body, I’ll simply refer to it as “the modern shag”.
We can blame Taylor Swift here for bringing the modern shag into “It Cut” territory in 2015. Full of movement and body, the modern shag these days tends to be the result of a bunch of bored lobbers like myself, looking for a way to spice things up while waiting for our lobs to grow out. The feathery texture towards the front of this cut adds lots of volume and youthfulness, but the real anchor of the whole look is in the bangs. I know bangs are a big commitment for some and can quickly devolve into a major inconvenience, so that’s something to consider when thinking about this cut for yourself. The bangs need to be thick and “curtain like” in order to balance out the fullness of the rest of the hair. Thin, wispy bangs coupled with a cut that brings a lot of volume with it will look wonky and imbalanced, so keep that in mind. You will notice in this post, however, that the bangs can be worn parted in the center or across the whole face, so there is some freedom in that.
But where was this cut back in, say, 2010? Was the swag even a thing until this past year? As it goes with most all hair trends, the answer is most certainly “yes”. And here’s our first celebrity to have most consistently worn the cut for the past five years-
I can’t remember seeing Alexa Chung without a haircut that at least somewhat resembled a modern shag. Coupled with her ever-present cat-eyeliner and Peter Pan collars, she’s been channeling the sixties since reaching celebrity status. The volume, the curtain bangs, and the messy texture all reflect the current style that we’ve been seeing more often these days.
However, I do recall noticing a model around this same time that I daresay has had even more influence over hair trends than Alexa.
Freda Beja Erichsen has been a hair muse of mine for years, mostly because our textures seem so comparable. I feel like what she can do with her hair, I can also try with mine. Freja’s hair was sort of the banner for a first round of shag haircuts around 2011. The cut frames her incredible bone structure in amazing ways. I actually jumped on board with this when I cut thick bangs in the fall of 2011 after my wedding, but I didn’t play with my texture enough and I never did get the bangs quite right. I’m convinced I could do better with a second go-round, though. Freja’s hair may not have garnered a ton of requests in salons the way ombre was at the time, but I’m convinced that her locks are actually even more responsible for this current trend than Alexa’s. I’m betting that Alexa’s cut was actually inspired by Freja’s first.
Anyhow, the trend status of the modern shag perhaps remained under my personal radar until I started noticing Kerry Washington with the cut about two years ago.
Again, wispy layers in front, tons of texture, and thick bangs. This was about the time when I noticed that it wasn’t just the bangs that were making a comeback, but the “shaggy” layers that were coming with it. Emma Stone also sported a similar cut during her press tour for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014, though her layers around her face are maybe a little longer than Kerry’s and not quite as shaggy.
Emma’s cut has a little more of a blunt feel, though it shares the same characteristics of curtain bangs, volume, and texture. Keeping the layers longer may be a better strategy for faces with more of a circle shape like Emma’s; too many layers around an already-round face can make your head look the size of Texas even when it’s not.
Along with Taylor Swift making things really official in 2015, one of my favorite hairstylists, Sunnie Brook, dubbed the haircut with its buzzy “swag” name in an interview with PopSugar Beauty just this past October, likely sealing my fate as the next victim of the swag. Lord send help.
To my long-hair friends- Lest you be discouraged, don’t think that this cut is only for those with mid length hair. You can easily acquire feathery, face-framing layers and curtain bangs with long hair, as well. But as I said earlier, this cut will likely be most popular among women growing out lobs. I know I’ve already posted on Dakota Johnson’s hair (which I am, admittedly, in love with), but we’ll wrap things up with yet another image of her awesome living example of a modern shag.
I can say that this very cut has left an itch on my brain for the past three months as I’ve watched my own lob continue to grow. We’ll just have to wait and see what 2016 holds for my hair. And yes, that is just over a week away. xo, MR
Image credits to (in order of appearance): Jason Merritt for Getty Images, Dominique Charriau for Getty Images, photographer unknown for GoRunway.com, Frederick M. Brown for Getty Images, Gilbert Carrascquillo for FilmMagic, and Jon Kapaloff for Getty Images.