This time last year, most of us were on the fence about shag haircuts. Maybe it’s all the incredible inspo being served up by the likes of L.A. stylist Sal Sal and cool-girls models Mica Arganaz and Suki Waterhouse; or maybe it’s the fact we’ve spent the past year in loose sweatshirts, but it feels like we’re leaning into the shaggy vibe much more these days.
That said, it’s quite a baller move isn’t it? A traditonal shag incorporates extreme choppy layers around the crown and while it looks cool and rebellious, it’s a pretty big commitment. Since our hair is as much a statement of our personality as the clothes we wear, they have to align. “A much more ‘rock ‘n’ roll’ girl is going to suit something different from a ‘sweet’ girl,” says Luke Hersheson, Kérastase consultant and CEO of Hershesons salon. A shag is tougher than most standard chops so “you’ve got to have the confidence to wear this look,” he explains.
He’s right, as smokin’ as a “full-on shag” may look on some, it’s not for everyone. “Someone who likes a more traditional look is a different tribe,” says Hersheson. But that doesn’t mean you can’t adapt the elements of a cut that you like—*the volume, the breeziness, the attitude—*and combine it with your own style.
That’s where the “pretty shag” comes in, it combines the rebellious spirit of a shag but the structure is more laid-back, with a beachier texture. “The key thing that makes a shag a shag is layers around the front, the sides and the crown to get that volume towards the roots,” says Hersheson. “The shorter those layers are, the more extreme the look is. The longer they are, the less extreme it is. So if you want to adapt it to make it feel softer, keep the layers a little longer.”
It’s a balancing act though. “If you don’t go short enough, it won’t feel like a shag, but going in with less layers and making them slightly less drastic will still give you that rock ‘n roll vibe,” says Hersheson.
And, if you’re still not ready for the chop, clever styling can help give the illusion of layers and create that signature rounded shape around the crown. The trick is to create a bend in your hair high-up where a choppy layer should fall. Check out our how-to here.
This story originally appeared on Glamour UK.