Mirror, Mirror: Shorter 'do is cooler in every way

Model Karlie Kloss' nape-of-the-neck shag with a bit of bang boosted the look.
Model Karlie Kloss' nape-of-the-neck shag with a bit of bang boosted the look. (LIONEL CIRONNEAU / AP)
Posted: June 06, 2013

In recent summers, mane trends dictated that women had to brave the humidity in wavy, below-the-shoulder hair. The only stylish relief was a fishtail braid.

This year, inspired by celebs from Miley Cyrus to Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams to Rihanna, women are getting much more severe chops. And they're liking it.

"Short hair is soooo feminine this year," said André Richard Baldini, owner of André Richard Salon in Center City.

"It's not new that women cut their hair in warmer weather, but this year, I have a feeling the Gatsby movie is encouraging them," he added, referring to the bob, a popular Roaring Twenties flapper look.

Baldini and his 12-person styling crew have been giving clients shorter looks since late winter, when supermodel Karlie Kloss inspired a slew of Tweeters, Instagrammers and Pinteresters to try a nape-of-the-neck shag featuring a bit of bang.

Experts predicted Kloss' do was going to be the coif of the year. And while "the chop" - as it was deemed by Vogue magazine - was pretty hot, it wasn't the only cropped look making heads turn this year.

Spiky styles, like Cyrus', are high on the fantabulous meter, as are inverted asymmetrical bobs like actress Chelsea Kane's.

"Women are finally not afraid to cut their hair anymore," said stylist Giovanni Mele, owner of Center City salon Giovanni & Pileggi. "It's all going back toward the '80s."

My favorite cut of the moment is the longer-in-the-front, shorter-in-the-back bob, also known as the lob, à la Kerry Washington and Jessica Biel. (I'd love to do this look, but I'm too afraid to commit. Don't judge.)

One woman who committed to a drastic cut is 18-year-old high school senior Sarah Smith.

For two years, Smith, of Springfield Township, Montgomery County, wore glam Beyoncé-like hair straightened with a product that acted like a relaxer but didn't have any chemicals, she said one recent Saturday afternoon.

"I used to want to get rid of my curls," Smith said. When dripping wet, her hair reached down her back and revealed two textures - wavy loose curls from the scalp to mid-ear. The rest was bone-straight and limp.

"Now, I just want my curl back."

Stylist Eric Nowacki knew just what to do. He was thinking a beat-the-heat lob, but he wasn't sure how short Smith was going to let him go.

"I'm just going to see how I feel," Smith said.

It took Nowacki about 20 minutes to cut Smith's hair to a working style that hit her shoulders. He asked, could he go even shorter? Why not give this new bob a bit of dimension?

Smith shyly nodded.

Snip, snip. Trim, trim. Smith's natural curls coiled into layers. Only a smidgen of processed hair hung just below her chin.

After Smith sat under the dryer, she emerged with a new look - a lob that was cute and messy.

Will she venture further? Probably in the near future. It's rare that women go from very long to very short in one visit.

"I really do like it," Smith later said.

Until then, Smith will attend her graduation from Springfield Township High School next week with the season's trendiest look.

Contact fashion writer Elizabeth Wellington at 215-854-2704 or ewellington@phillynews.com. Follow her on Twitter @ewellingtonphl.

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