Think about your favorite classic rom-com—and then think about the hairstyles worn by the heroine as she navigates life, love and a dramatic misunderstanding that eventually ends up in a happily ever after. Maybe it’s Jennifer Lopez in her slicked-back, all-business chignon in The Wedding Planner, Julia Roberts’s full, wild curls in My Best Friend’s Wedding and Runaway Bride, Eva Mendes’s cute updos in Hitch or Drew Barrymore’s beachy waves in 50 First Dates. The wardrobe isn’t the only thing that makes “rom-comcore” such a fun trend to recreate; those slip dresses, shrugs and cropped cargo pants with spaghetti strap tank tops are nothing without a hairstyle to match.
As the trends of the 2000s continue to cycle back into our wardrobes and beauty routines after 20 years of dormancy, it’s only natural that the rom-comcore looks of yore would make a comeback too. It’s fun to pair your treasured, thrifted Y2K pieces with a more modern hairstyle to balance the clash of decades, but it’s also fun to go full-on throwback and have a little fun channeling your main character energy.
Rom-com hair is the sister of “mean girl hair,” with both having roots (pun intended) in classic films of the late ‘90s and ‘00s. However, mean girl hair is more Regina George, queen-bee-of-high-school style with accessories like barrettes and Bring It On-esque high ponytails, whereas rom-com hair feels a bit softer and more, well, romantic. Think updos and half-updos, face-framing tendrils, bouncy curls and cute, perky ponytails.
“I think the [rom-com style] ‘90s updos are back in because there is a simplicity to them, that undone look that can be easily achieved,” says Heggy Gonzalez, editorial stylist and creative director at Inspire Greatness Aveda Institutes. “There is a look and styles for many different lengths and textures of hair. I love that [some] also are an ode to the looks of the ‘60s … Brigitte Bardot comes to mind. It’s a fun look that can be easily achieved but still has some sophistication to it.”
A great modern example of the rom-com hair trend is Lily Collins in Emily in Paris, who could have stepped right off the set of a mid-’00s movie with her bangs and flirtatious swirly curls. Kate Hudson, one of the OGs of the ‘00s rom-com, has been busy promoting Glass Onion in a bevy of ponytails and updos that a 2023 version of Andie Anderson would definitely envy. In general, if the look feels like something you could wear to work as a top editor at a fashion magazine who falls in love with a bad boy advertising executive, it’s probably a rom-comcore mainstay and well worth adding to your styling repertoire.
But wait! It isn’t just the rom-coms of the late ‘90s and mid-2000s that are having a moment in the spotlight. If you have short hair, you can absolutely participate in the fun. The classic ‘90s rom-com bob is also a key player in this hairstyling game; think Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail, Rachel Leigh Cook in She’s All That and even Courteney Cox as Monica on Friends. Volume, layers and super shine make the short cut flirty and fun without feeling dated.
How to Get Rom-Com Hair
Depending on your inspiration, you’ll need a few tools: a flatiron if you’re feeling Y2K, some Velcro rollers and a blow dryer for late ‘90s volume and bombshell curls or some gel and pins if you’re trying out a sleek chignon to pair with a jaw-dropping dress.
If you’re feeling glam and want to lure in a potential mate with piles of tumbling curls like Julia Roberts, queen of the classic rom-com, book a little time on your calendar for sky-high hair. “You will want to use a good root boost product along with a styling product with some hold,” shares Gonzalez. “If you are not great at round brushing your hair, there are a lot of great new tools out to help assist.” (Now’s the time to grab the Revlon brush or Dyson Airwrap.) “Using Velcro rollers can be a lot of fun. If the hair has cooled down when wrapping around the roller, hit it with some high heat for a few seconds, then allow it to cool down fully before taking it out,” advises Gonazlez. Thankfully the glamorous and romantic bombshell blowout is currently trending hard on TikTok, so you’re bound to find a tutorial that works for you.
For a super sleek chignon a la J. Lo as Mary in The Wedding Planner or Kate Hudson in that yellow dress in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, product is your BFF. “If you’re doing it yourself, hair that is a little dirty will be your friend,” shares Gonzalez. “If it’s fresh hair, adding a hair lotion or a pomade will really help you get that sleek look.” Depending on your hair texture, Gonzalez recommends using an edge control or gel to help shape the sleek style for your big date night moment. “I love using a pomade or edge control along with a toothbrush or edge control tool to really smooth down those baby hairs,” she says. “For flyaway hairs around the part, you can also use hairspray on a makeup brush to smooth down that part.”
If the bob is more your speed, ask for a long layered bob or a choppy bixie style for that Kathleen Kelly You’ve Got Mail sweetness. Cardigans and children’s bookstores are optional, but the romantic vibes are not.