The shag haircut is very rock 'n' roll—casual, mussy, and visually effortless. The typical features that make up a shag hairstyle include choppy ends, layers around the crown, and lots of texture.
The shag works on almost every hair texture, and in every hair length. You do have to be careful with the shag, though, because it's a hairstyle that can appear dated with too many layers. Search online for "shag hairstyles" and you'll see tons of photos that look like they came straight out of 1999 (or literally did). Think Jennifer Aniston on the early Friends episodes, or a dude with a mullet.
The modern shag is choppy and has lots of texture, but doesn't make you look like you're in an '80s hair metal band.
The Modern Shag
Alexa Chung is sometimes credited as the "inventor" of the modern shag hairstyle, and has worn many versions of it over the years. Her looks range from short to long to shoulder-length, to somewhere between the chin and shoulders. It can look both mod and classy, depending on how it's styled, and Chung is proof of that.
The Shag With Bangs
The secret to a truly great shag hairstyle fully lies in the cut. Ask for choppy ends and layering. Your stylist may need to create layers with a razor, which helps add movement to hair, and allows the stylist to remove some of the heaviness. As for bangs, they work great with the modern shag, too. Chung has sported some sexy bangs with the shag, including a pretty blunt cut. Long side-swept bangs paired with a shag hairstyle are lovely as well.
The Mussy Look
Though there are exceptions, shag cuts are at their best when they're not overly done. You know the look: blow-dried to perfection, with not a hair out of place. No matter the hair length, mussy shag almost always looks better. Dancer and singer Julianne Hough is a rockstar at the mussy shag. Here's how to mimic her style:
- If you have straight hair, ask for choppy ends when you get your hair cut. Scrunch it and let it air dry.
- For curly hair, ask for layers to be cut in so that the fullness isn't on the ends. You want to avoid A-frame hair, where the ends fluff out like a poodle skirt, a look that is accented with curls. Muss up your curls by allowing them to air dry and twist the curls into thick ringlets as they dry.
- When it comes to wavy hair, you can skip the flat-iron and embrace your waves. With a great cut, your hair should dry naturally into an envious, gorgeous shape. Freshen your hair with gorgeous highlights, instead.
- When styling, add texture with a texturizing spray like Sachajuan's Ocean Mist ($34).
The Well-Kept Short Shag
Jane Fonda is another person famous for her shag hairstyles. This is one of her shorter cuts, though she looks lovely with a well-kept longer shag as well.
To get this look, ask your stylist to cut choppy layers from front to back with shorter layers framing your face. This is a neater shag, so feel free to use a molding gel to style your hair.
The Messy Shag
Actress Dianna Agron's shag is more messy than mussy, and it's absolutely fabulous. It's another perfect example of a modern shag hairstyle on straight hair and leaves a shorter cut in the back. You can definitely mimic this look after getting the cut. Scrunch in the texturizing spray, and let your hair air dry the rest of the way. The more natural, the better.
The Fall-in-Love Shag
Allure asked Mark Townsend, Jennifer Lawrence's hairstylist and the man who created her layered shag hairstyle, for the story behind the cut. She was apparently inspired by Dianna Agron, and her choice to get the cut was "totally spontaneous." She fell in love with it and "couldn't stop running her fingers through her hair as I was cutting," he told the publication.
The Mature Shag
The shag hairstyle isn't just for women in their teens and 20s. Here, former French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld models a gorgeous shag hairstyle that's mussy and casual, with a little bit of rock-n-roll thrown in. The face-framing nature of the cut shows off her face shape, and highlights her bright smile.
The Gorgeous Blonde Shag
Medium-length hair can have some great shaping. Actress Tori Spelling allows her bright blonde bob to look both shaggy and elegant at the same time. This look is easy to get by way of curling your hair around a large-barreled curling iron. It's a quick way to take your style directly to super sweet.