The classic shag haircut might conjure up images of the freewheeling 1970s—Joan Jett’s iconic chop and Farrah Fawcett’s feathered layers come to mind—but the look is back in a big way, but with some very modern tweaks.
Like its retro iteration, the new shag is all about layers, both at the crown and throughout. But it’s not as severe as it was in decades past, and the length can vary from a bob to collarbone to long strands. It also has significantly more texture, but as card-carrying cool-hair expert Anh Co Tran notes, “It definitely shares similar vibes and movement with the traditional shag.”
“Shags are all about texture, volume, and layers,” adds stylist to the stars Sally Hershberger, the woman responsible for cutting Jett’s covetable rock ’n’ roll layers and Meg Ryan’s decidedly less covetable—memorable, let’s say—proper ’90s shag. Hershberger stressed that a great texturizing product is key to define the layers to bring out the choppy layers and texture. She uses her own Sally Hershberger 24K Superiority Complex Texturizing Paste ($40) on all of her shagged clients. “I rub it in my palms and start working it into the root to get great lift, then I work it through the ends to achieve great piecey layers.”
As for who can realistically pull off a look? Pretty much anyone, since there are so many versions to choose from. But Tran warns that if you have super-fine hair, you should proceed with a bit of caution. “Challenges could arise for those with thin hair, as the style would thin out the hair even more … but there are always extensions,” he says. Point taken.
If you want to get in on the modernized shag trend, Hershberger says you should always, always bring with you a photo of what you want. “Do your research, find a couple of styles you think would work for you, and show your stylist to get the best style for you,” she says. So go ahead and click through—we’ve got 10 versatile options to help you get inspired before you even enter the salon.