The 1970s was a decade of political strife, huge leaps in technology, unforgettable music, and even more unforgettable style. Somewhere between the breakup of the Beatles and the Three Mile Island disaster came the introduction of the VCR, the founding of Microsoft and Apple, the end of America’s involvement in Vietnam, the rise of disco and punk rock, Nixon’s resignation, Pong putting video games on the map, and the release of little-known sci-fi flick called Star Wars — before today’s kids called it “A New Hope.” Just as memorable as those pop culture moments were the hairstyles that accompanied them, and many of those styles are back in a big way this summer. Here’s how to prepare for the (new) wave of 70s-inspired requests, along with a soundtrack to set the mood.
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That 70s Summer: Iconic Styles to Stay Cool in the Heat
The era of dancing queens and piano men was full of memorable hair.
The shag represents endless possibilities
Stylists, get ready for short layers and choppy textures at the salon this summer, because the shag is back in a big way. Aside from being an iconic ‘70s lewk, the classic shag is an incredibly versatile way to cut and style your hair. Whether your mane is long or short, straight or curly, textured or wispy, there’s a shag for you. Is your vibe more Farrah Fawcett or Joan Jett? Disco or punk rock? With the shag, you can be either — or both!
These days, you’ll see modernized shags on anyone from Cardi B to Taylor Swift. According to celeb stylist Clariss Rubenstein, “I’m seeing a lot of variations on the modern shag haircut… You can modify it for your hair type, and I think it can be really flattering.”
“Cherry Bomb” - The Runaways
“Today Your Love, Tomorrow the World” - The Ramones
“Fernando” - ABBA
“Heaven Must Be Missing an Angel” - Tavares
“The Chain” - Fleetwood Mac
The glam mullet is fit for a star(man)
Who knew the mullet would ever be considered glamorous? Well, Ziggy Stardust did about half a century ago. It wasn’t actually called the mullet yet, but that “business in the front, party in the back” style is easily recognizable as a more extreme version of the shag. While each decade brings its own twist on the mullet, David Bowie’s bright orange high-low cut from the early ‘70s is easily one of the most recognizable versions of the contentious hairstyle. Fifty years later, style icons like Miley Cyrus can be seen rocking their own versions of the “hockey hair” ‘do while somehow making it look modern and chic.
As stylist Lulu Richards put it, “Mullets used to be a negative term that people used to describe a haircut that had gone wrong.” Now it’s a top request from clients of all ages, backgrounds, and lifestyles. Just like rock and roll, the mullet will never die.
“Five Years” - David Bowie
“Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” - Elton John
“Wild Horses” - The Rolling Stones
“Brass in Pocket” - The Pretenders
“Because the Night” - Patti Smith
The afro makes a bold statement
With a long history dating back to the 1800s and rife with political meaning, the afro is far more than just a hairstyle. It’s a symbol of embracing one’s natural beauty and not conforming to Eurocentric beauty ideals, though it took a 1976 racial discrimination suit for the afro to receive protection under the Civil Rights Act.
In the 1970s, music icons like Diana Ross and Michael Jackson made the afro more mainstream. Today, celebrities like Tracee Ellis Ross (sitcom star and Ross’ daughter), Beyonce, Solange, and Yara Shahidi are proudly carrying that torch.
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” - Diana Ross
“ABC” - The Jackson 5
“I Will Survive” - Gloria Gaynor
“Killing Me Softly With His Song” - Roberta Flack
“Lady Marmalade” - Labelle
When in doubt, feather it out
While there can be some overlap between feathered hair and the shag (see again: Farrah Fawcett), they’re not quite the same. Feathering involves layering and brushing out straight hair for a major volume payoff, turning flat hair into a whole look. Feathered hair was embraced by Goldie Hawn, Cybil Shepherd, Suzanne Somers, John Travolta, and several members of the Bee Gees, making it a suitable style for men, women, and everyone else.
Even if you’re not looking for the full Farrah experience, stylists have discovered numerous ways to modernize the trend. “Feathered hairstyles have become less finished and more undone, with waves and texture to make hair look air-dried,” says Paul London, an award-winning stylist and the founder of Paul Edmonds London. For style inspo, just check out J. Lo’s recent feathered look.
“Dreaming” - Blondie
“Stayin’ Alive” - The Bee Gees
“We Are Family” - Sister Sledge
“Don’t Stop Me Now” - Queen
“Going to California” - Led Zeppelin
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