A Brief History of "The Shag"

What is a "Shag" haircut exactly?
When we think of a shag, we think of "shaggy" layers, often cut with a razor.
It is characterized by layers feathered at the top & sides, with full layers at the crown.
In this post I'll explain how The Shag can be many things at once, has been a cultural staple for decades
& continues to evolve in contemporary haircuts today.

It is deemed as a "youthful" cut that was popularized & worn by some seriously badass folks.
Jane Fonda, Debbie Harry, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Joan Jett, Stevie Nicks & Rod Stewart all rocked a shag.
Some say it emerged out of New York's East Village in the 1970's.
Others say that someone named Paul McGregor "invented" it- but I have a theory about the humble origins of the Shag.
With it's easy, low effort nature, I think that the shag emerged as a grassroots haircut.
It's easy to maintain at home- and I believe has origins in punk & DIY culture. Sources needed here- reach out if you have any information :)
Some might even call the iconic "Rachel" cut from friends a shag. The elements are there- but opinions might differ.
Hilariously enough- I got the idea for this blog when I was struck by the memory that we used to call Justin Bieber and Zack Effron's hair "Shags" in middle school and early high school. I'm pleased that this kind of flat, difficult to maintain haircut that only looked good on very few people has managed to lessen in popularity.
Today one sees longer shags- with the characteristic razor edge framing the face.
Bangs are typically a necessity & plenty of crown layers to add height and volume.
To get the most out of the volume-loving cut, make sure you have a good Dry Shampoo on hand.
Often times, people get confused between a Shag and a Mullet-
"A mullet is always shorter in the front and longer in the back, some with drastic drop offs.
A shag on the other hand is a heavily-layered haircut that is usually shorter and layered around the face
but still connected to the rest of the cut by layers,” explains Paige Brueck.
Whether you decide to go for a more drastic mullet, or a softer shag- what your left with is an effortlessly lived in cut
that frames the face & adds volume to what could otherwise be fine, flat hair.
pictured above are @corndawgcowgirl @_systrum via @hayflux @depressocowboy @dirtypaws @itstarasgroovyworld & @fatstevienicks
It works well on almost all face shapes, and with a lot of hair textures. It's perfect for people who want good hair but don't really want to spend hours in front of the mirror. It's nearly impossible for it to look un-styled, which is a risk for even-ended bobs and other "crisp" haircuts. Simply spritz some Shag Spray in it when its wet, damp or dry, and be on your way!
It's beautifully androgynous in nature- and for decades shag cuts straddled the line between male and female. Here at Rabbit Brush we believe that hair has no gender, and the Shag cut was one of the pioneering styles that afforded an androgynous look.
Trends may come and go- but because "The Shag" seems to be an amorphous & evolving thing, I believe elements of this flattering cut will continue to resurface for decades to come. To us at Rabbit Brush, The Shag is cool, effortless, accessible & overall, pretty freaking badass.

1 comment

  • I’ve sported a shaggy cut off and on and so glad I found it again. My hair has become thinner and finer over time and a shag makes it look fuller and very rock n roll cool. Loved the article.


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