If you're shopping for a new 'do, you might want to consider a shoulder-length hairstyle. Not only is medium-length hair flattering on nearly all hair types and textures—not to mention, face shapes, too—but it's also an incredibly versatile cut. Whether you're looking for a hairstyle to suit your personality, lifestyle, or occasion, the possibilities with a swingy-yet-sexy, collarbone-grazing length are endless.
So in order to inspire—rather than overwhelm—we consulted expert hairstylists Nunzio Saviano and Trey Gillen on what makes medium-length hairdos so flattering, plus gathered some of their favorite looks and the celebs who wore them best. From mussy shags to tousled lobs, scroll on for some serious medium wavy hair inspo to show your stylist.
It-girl Alex Chung proves that "Jane Birkin's bangs are still the rage for today’s lobs," according to Gillen. To get this look, he notes that you'll want to opt for shattered ends rather than blunt. "Piece [hair] out and separate with Sachajuan's Matt Wax ($22). You don’t want too much shine with this trend," he says.
Chrissy Teigen's wavy lob looks stunning on her. By maintaining length and parting hair to the side, this cut and style work to elongate and balance round faces.
Instead of telling your stylist to cut so many inches off your hair, show them where you want your hair to fall. It's far more accurate and ensures you get the finished length that you would like.
For women who have enjoyed long hair for quite some time, deciding to go shorter can be a little intimidating. However, "With balayage color and trending brighter ends, chopping off a few inches into a lob is almost necessary from time to time. It removes all those tired, over-processed dry ends and allows you to hit the reset button on your hair," says Gillen. "Medium to thick textures will absolutely love this haircut."
If you have any wave to your hair, you can easily show it off with this cut. Saviano says, "This face-framing gives a soft look to the bangs accentuating Marta's cheekbones. The crown layers are quite short to give body and movement to the crown of the head." According to Saviano, this style works best on those with thick, wavy hair and is not recommended for those with thinner strands. To pull off this look, simply let your hair air-dry and scrunch to style. If you want a little more wave, grab the curling iron.
Mary J. Blige
Mary J. Blige's cut is a perfect example of the volume and movement layers can add to straight hair. According to Gillen, "Long layers are classic. Thicker hair tends to work better as thin hair may lose too much with all the layering. I always tell my clients that layers are the alphabet for the hair to make a perfect sentence. This haircut is ideal for thicker hair if you want to wash and wear or style out."
Lauren Santo Domingo
The shoulder-length cut looks fabulous with straight hair. Lauren Santo Domingo's hairstyle is a little edgy because it is so straight and choppy. Get this look by asking your stylist to avoid blunt ends as they cut. If your hair isn't naturally straight, you'll have to blow dry and/or straighten hair using a flat iron.
According to Gillen, "A medium-length lob with bangs pushed to the side brings all the focus to your eyes. Don’t style this too perfect; keep it messy and sexy. Use Sachajuan's Dry Shampoo Mousse ($37) for added grit and tousled fun."
If you have flat, thin hair, that is naturally straight, you'll find that going a little shorter may be your best bet. Taking a little more length off also reduces your hair's weight so you won't need to use as much product. Best of all, this style requires little upkeep—perfect for us lazy, or rather, low-maintenance girls.
"Going ‘mussy’ or the ‘bedhead’ look is super trendy these days. Many people don’t want to look 'overdone' or that they tried hard to look good," notes Gillen. He suggests using moisturizing and shine-inducing—not to mention, anti-frizz—Sachajuan Leave In Conditioner ($36) for this trend, which tends to work best on thicker, wavy, and curly textures.
Saviano adds, "A great natural look, this shoulder-length hairstyle shows off how easy and versatile shoulder-length hair can be. It's simple styling: naturally dried to enhance her hair natural texture, and softly pulled back into a low ponytail or a bun to show off her beautiful long neck."
If you have naturally curly hair, it's best to let it grow a bit longer. Longer hair weighs down curls, whereas shorter hair can pouf up. It's important to get long layers cut into your hair, and some stylists prefer to cut curly hair dry so that they can see exactly where the curls lie.
The versatility of the medium cut is shown off in Mena Suvari's two looks from the same cut. When it comes to how to part your hair, Saviano points out, "A side part or middle part gives a totally new look to a shoulder-length lob. A middle part isn’t the best look for a thin, elongated face shape, but off-center would work perfectly. A middle part works best on a round face shape. By just changing the part, it can also give the front more body and an all new look."
"Shoulder length hair is great for a mature woman," says Gillen. "Choose a length anywhere from mid-neck to the collarbone. I especially love the shag at this length. The extra layers add a lot of 'flirty texture' and it’s very versatile to wash and wear or take time to style out. As we age our hair can thin a little; however, this length can accentuate the positive aspects of your hair. The ends look full, the roots have volume, and the mids flip and twist and add personality."
Diane Keaton has a great look for any woman over 50. Her long bob emits what Gillen calls his "'sexy secretary' hairstyle. It’s so incredibly versatile and can be styled conservatively for the office and then tousled and messy for a Friday night out. It works great on finer hair textures because it keeps the ends looking full (I usually cut this haircut on the blunter side)."
Jenna Dewan plays with texture, using the same cut to go from stick-straight hair to gorgeous waves. Gillen admits, "I love a haircut that keeps them guessing! I often find that women who change their hairstyles up seem a lot younger."
If you're looking to change up your look a bit, Gillen recommends that you start your week off with a blowout, followed by a dry shampoo on your day off, and flat ironing hair pin-straight at the end of the week.
Nicole Richie's "medium-length lob, tapered and beveled on the ends, is great for fine to normal hair," says Gillen. It gives great swing and movement on the ends. This haircut really pulls the focus up to your cheekbones and eyes." To get this chic style, he says to bring out the flat iron, and remember to use a heat protectant.
Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Priyanka Chopra Jonas is one of our go-to sources for hair inspiration with her back-to-back gorgeous styles. The middle part allows hair to fall organically, framing her face and creating symmetry. Her subtle wave and chopped ends lend body and movement to her thick tresses.
If you were blessed with thick, wavy hair, a shorter bob is a great choice. Alice Eve's blonde waves are gorgeous and this particular length is just long enough to keep her thicker hair tamed down. Any shorter and you would be risking the pouf effect that comes with thick, short hair.
Christina Hendricks proves that if you have flaming red hair and bold curls, show them off. While it can be glamorous, this style can also be fun and bouncy with jeans and a t-shirt. "Curtain bangs with naturally wavy hair is a very unique and edgy look on mid-length hair. It’s a versatile look that you can naturally diffuse to enhance the hair’s natural texture or you can add waves with a curling iron," says Saviano.
"The shoulder length with long layers give Rosie Huntington-Whiteley's hair body without making it look thin," says Saviano. "Long bangs incorporated into the short layers give this mid-length a lot of movement while flattering her face shape. It’s a very versatile cut and can be done wavy or straight."
Gillen agrees: "So classic and so timeless. This is the way to go if you want to look back at your pictures and love your hair through the decades. It's perfect for medium to thick hair that doesn’t have a ton of natural texture. Use a generous amount of Sachajuan Root Lift ($32) from roots to ends, blow-dry with a round brush, and twist the brush as you dry your hair.
On day two and three, pull out hot rollers and use the largest size to refresh this style.
Thandie Newton embraces her hair's natural texture in this explosion of curly volume. Enhance your curls and eliminate frizz by using a curl cream to style, define, and moisturize your strands.
When Kim Kardashian cut her hair from long to shoulder-length, everyone went crazy. What really sets this style off is "Texture, texture, texture," says Saviano. This look is "Another version for super thick hair, textured at the bottom to give a non-blunt look that’s soft and stylish. It can be ironed straight or curled very loosely with a curling iron for a wavy look," he says. Plus, remember to finish with a texturizing spray.
"Show off that natural wavy texture by adding some dimensional highlights around the face. Use Sachajuan's Over Night Hair Repair ($50) to help repair the dryness highlighting can cause," says Gillen.
Reese Witherspoon's heart-shaped face is perfect for this cut. Since the curls begin along the jawline, it slims down the wider part of her face. This is a look that you can wear to the office or for a night out.
Gillen encourages you to "Have some fun with this asymmetrical lob and curl it for a new twist on a '70s classic. Sachajuan's Finish Cream ($29) is a great way to get shiny, silky curls that won’t frizz."
If you've got stick-straight strands, holding a curl can be tricky. Fortunately, there are simple and fool-proof ways to liven up limp locks with a killer wave.
This shag on Halle Berry looks visually effortless and sexy. Her fringe and face-framing highlights make her radiate.
When commenting on Jennifer Lawrence's piecey fringe lob, Gillen notes, "These disconnected chunky layers that define the jawline are a hot number right now. A center part is a must, as is a light round brush blowout using a styling mousse."
Jennifer Aniston's long, layers beautifully complement her oval face. To get the look, "Try a few more layers starting around your upper lip and gently layered all the way to the ends," says Gillen.
"Use Sachajuan's Curl Treatment ($34) for soft, silky curls that won't frizz or fall. I love how Oprah doesn’t hide her forehead but celebrates it by pushing the fringe up and over," says Gillen.
Saviano says, "Jaime Pressly's bangs and face-framing layers are ideal for shoulder length, fine hair, and give this style edge without compromising hair's natural texture by making it either too flat or thin-looking. To get this look, it's important to use a volumizing spray at the root before blow-dry/styling and then a mist of hair spray to finish for hold and shine."
January Jones's lob with curtain bangs is "always a great option to open up your face a little bit more," says Gillen. He recommends wearing this lob wavy and especially if you've got thick hair. When it comes to product, "Use Sachajuan's Hair Powder ($42) on dry hair to shape and style throughout the day," he adds.
This medium-length shag on Laura Harrier is sexy casual. Use a shine-inducing spray to get her glossy tresses.
Emma Stone's long blunt lob with side swooped fringe is très chic. Gillen says it's "Perfect to soften a square face shape." He instructs to blow-dry with a round brush and Sachajuan's Volume Cream ($32) "for a soft, natural polished look."
Heidi Klum "Keeps the lob fresh with this chunky layered technique’s—read: tapered with shattered ends—that modernizes how the hair hangs at the perimeter. Style with Sachajuan's Hair Wax ($28) for shine and separation," says Gillen.
Choppy ends are in. It's a trend that is not going away and a fantastic, quick way to freshen up your look. Ashley Olsen has a great chop that is somewhere between a long bob and a shag. It's sweet and sexy and really works with her bold blonde highlights.
This interview has been edited for concision and clarity.