Shortcut to spring: More women opt for the breezy freedom of a bob

05/05/2014 1:00 PM

05/05/2014 12:10 PM

In early April, a week before she was due to leave for South Africa to run an ultramarathon, Cortney Harding decided to get her hair cut. Harding, 33, went from hair that hit just above the shoulder to a short jaw-length bob with bangs. “I wanted to feel the sun on the back of my neck,” she said.

After a punishing winter, many women are cutting their hair short as a way to finally embrace spring.

They are emboldened by the many celebrities who have chopped their hair. It is, perhaps, a retort to the arduous glamor waves that have become such a staple of reality television and blowout bars.

“In America, they love their long hair,” said Julien Farel, who is French and whose eponymous salon is on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. “But all the big actresses have changed their hair. That’s the basis of the trend: ‘If they do it, I can do it.’ ”

In recent months, Taylor Swift has gone from hair down her back to a long bob that matches the signature hairstyle of her friend Karlie Kloss; Jennifer Lawrence and Shailene Woodley have both opted for boyish short cuts; Kaley Cuoco chopped her long hair into a bob; and Pamela Anderson chose a Jean Seberg-like pixie cut that defied all previous notions of the actress’s style.

Rihanna, an eternal hair chameleon, graced the cover of March Vogue with a textured pixie, and then wore a short bob and bangs to Paris Fashion Week. The spring Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and Alice & Olivia campaigns all include the pixie.

And then there’s the signature short style of actress Lupita Nyong’o, who was recently voted People magazine’s most beautiful person of 2014. Kenesha Sneed, 29, has had short hair for two years, with the sides and back shaved and the top longer.

“I have a major girl crush on Lupita,” said Sneed, an illustrator in Los Angeles. “She represents the woman that can take on a short hairstyle and make it her own. That’s the look I’m eyeing at the moment, short and simple.”

Short cuts (above the shoulder on up) can work on anyone, said Morgan Willhite, the creative director for hair care company Ouidad. “You can style it where you camouflage features you’re insecure about. If you have a high forehead, you can have fringe. If you have a prominent nose, you can shift the direction of the part. If you have a fuller face, you can have it longer.”

Ann Weiser had a specific vision of how she wanted her hair cut. “I had been keeping my hair long in front and short in back, but this new cut admittedly is inspired by Claire Underwood on ‘House of Cards,’ ” she said. “The first season. By the second season, it’s too short for me.”

Weiser, 56, a real estate agent in lower Manhattan, brought photos of Robin Wright (who plays the character) and Tilda Swinton to her stylist this spring. “Maybe it is the Claire Underwood effect, but you telegraph confidence and strength,” she said. “I felt so free and 10 years younger, and my husband said so, too. It’s such a chic look that even in a black turtleneck and jeans, you look like a secret agent.”

Stylist Chris Lospalluto said that women “are over the long, hippie, Coachella hair. Of course it’s beautiful if you’re 18, but they’re looking for a style that’s not so bedhead-y and sexualized.” Short hair “is chicer and more sophisticated,” he said. “Clothing has become more polished, trends have calmed down, and people want to simplify.”

With the ‘90s revival hitting fashion, it should be no surprise that it’s influencing beauty, especially with so many iconic short cuts of the era: Winona Ryder, Meg Ryan, Jenna Elfman.

It’s about the allure of the tomboy, said Laurel Pantin, 28, the style editor at Lucky magazine, who has a chin-length blond bob. “You want to be the girl who doesn’t really care. That whole mood of the Levis 501s and the white T-shirt and messy, short hair on a girl is so sexy in a way that hasn’t been sexy in a while. It’s the ideal right now.”

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