Typically January inspires legions of us to rethink our hair – New Year, New You and all that. Except this year the zeal for radical changes just isn’t there. As we hang in the balance, so do our hairstyles, which need to be as adaptable as the new hybrid way of working.
“What women want now are easy, versatile hairstyles that look as good dressed up as they do left alone. Cutting in a fringe is the perfect way to refresh your style without the high-maintenance commitment,” says Luke Hersheson, hair stylist to a roster of celebrities with often-copied haircuts such as Victoria Beckham, Dua Lipa and Keira Knightley.
Fringes were popularised in Ancient Egypt on wigs and were often cut into natural hair until, according to The Encyclopedia of Hair: A Cultural History, 16th-century England when the Church presided over politics and fashion. Cut and curled fringes became controversial and were seen as sinful.
It was the 20th-century Jazz-age era which made the fringe fashionable again, most famously by enigmatic flapper Louise Brooks, known for her ‘Dutch Boy’ haircut. The style was first seen on actress Mary Thurman in 1921, but its influence is still apparent today – see Vogue’s Anna Wintour, who never strays from a modern interpretation of the geometric, fringed bob.
From presidential wives such as Jill Biden and Brigitte Macron to actresses including Dakota Johnson, Margot Robbie, Sharon Stone, Sienna Miller and Jane Seymour, the fringe is more prominent than it has been in years. Should you get one? Absolutely, but not before doing your research.
Hairdresser and salon owner George Northwood, who invented the choppy ‘Alexa’ bob on his friend and muse Alexa Chung, says that before jumping in you should take a step back: “You can’t just decide on a fringe without assessing your full hair style, otherwise it could end up looking really out of place.”
Interestingly, says Northwood, it’s not simply a question of which fringe suits your face shape; the balance between your existing haircut and your fringe should seamlessly coexist in order to pull it off with confidence. “People with longer hair may be more inclined towards French girl fringes, while those with shorter cuts might be better with a micro fringe,” advises Northwood, who says it is always worth discussing any restyle with your hair stylist at a consultation before committing.
In simple terms, Luke Hersheson suggests focusing on one thing at a time. “If you’re having a fringe for the first time, don’t change too many elements at once,” he cautions. “Executing one thing masterfully is the most classiest way to nail a new haircut – then you’ve created a foundation to build on. You can always take the length shorter later on.”
There is a fringe for everyone no matter what your age, hair type, texture or face shape. But if in doubt, follow this guide to the four main fringe types to find out which one is best for you.
The micro fringe
As seen on: Jennifer Lawrence, Sharon Stone, Audrey Hepburn, Mia Farrow
Best for: those with a short, pixie cut or a bold, fearless fashion style
It is this type of fringe that Jennifer Lawrence’s character is sporting in the new Golden Globe-nominated Netflix film Don’t Look Up. Yet her micro-short style is hard to make flattering.
“Her character is a little kooky and off the wall, and her fringe deliberately reflects her rebellious nature,” explains Hersheson.
Can a micro fringe ever work? You need two components: the chutzpah to carry it off with confidence and/or the gamine features of Audrey Hepburn or Mia Farrow who both wore their fluffy, ultra-short bangs with aplomb. In essence, such a wide gap between your eyebrows and your fringe suits a short, pixie cut. Soften the look by styling it with texture and wearing it to the side.
The blunt, straight-across fringe
As seen on: Claudia Winkleman, Anna Wintour and Dakota Johnson
Best for: those with a heart shaped face and thick hair
The classic straight-edged fringe is best worn by women with a confident sense of personal style such as Anna Wintour and Claudia Winkleman, whose bangs are the anchor to their whole look. To avoid it appearing Lego-like, be mindful not to go too wide.
“Even with a blunt fringe, ideally the line should begin to taper slightly longer from the middle of each eyebrow outwards, which is more forgiving,” says Hersheson. Don’t go there if you’re self-conscious about emphasising a wide face.
The textured fringe
As seen on: Taylor Swift, Stevie Nicks
Best for: those with curly, coily or textured hair who don’t want the maintenance of daily blow-drying
“A rounded, textured fringe is very romantic. Although it’s a feminine look, it’s not too girly and still has bags of attitude. To get the look, ask your hair stylist for a choppy fringe with soft, rounded edges. It can be adapted to work with any face shape fairly easily,” suggests Northwood.
The curtain fringe
As seen on: Goldie Hawn, Twiggy, Caroline de Maigret
Best for: elegant framing
The face-framing curtain fringe is loved by almost every tastemaker French model and actress out there, including Caroline De Maigret, Jeanne Damas, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Brigitte Bardot, Francoise Hardy and Lou Dillon.
Brits with the long, cheekbone skimming bangs include Felicity Jones, Twiggy and Alexa Chung, plus Kate Moss at times. “Soft, curtain bangs are the most universally flattering fringe shape there is. The outer edges blend into the sides of the hair which creates this diamond shape that brings out the cheekbones and frames the face. It suits everyone and is incredibly youthful,” says Luke Hersheson.
The butterfly fringe
As seen on: Halle Berry
Best for: transitioning from an all-one-length cut for the first time
This has bangs that hang just below the cheekbones. Longer than a curtain fringe, the idea is that when you put your hair up, the long, middle-parted fringe hangs down in soft tendrils that give the illusion of a short hairstyle. Perfect for women who are used to having long hair, this is the best way to ease into a fringe.
The Daily Telegraph