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Hair: Hot Summer Styles


Change is Good! Sizzling Summer styles swing between all or nothing, with wild looks coming from faux extensions and minimalist ones originating from hand styling. The uniting theme: Touchable texture. When you want something new, here are some ideas to try.

Hot Summer styles take their cue from Spring runway trends, which this year went 180-degrees from sleek and straight to incredibly textured. Intentionally frizzy, just-got-back-from-the-beach hair is easy to have if your locks are long; shorter styles are off-the-face and fuss-free. The overall mood of the moment leans toward the conservative, and as a result, more and more women are skipping the brush and dryer in favor of finishing hair by hand. An offshoot of this trend is more tactical styling tools. Think fewer hairsprays and gels, and more cremes, waxes and molding pastes.

Notes Robert LaMorte, owner of Robert Jeffrey Salons in Chicago and Orland Park, IL, “Looks right now are not flashy, radical or overly strong; women want to feel good about themselves, pretty and secure in their styles. Punk, vibrant and opaque colors are giving way to color that enhances what you have. Think of cool blondes, subtle highlights and color washes. To avoid flat haircolor, we’re breaking the base for just 5 minutes or adding a touch of lighter, brighter color over the top. Anything harsh is off the mark.”

Within the trend toward softly textured, wearable hair—displayed in braids, weaves and waves—there are many ideas you can try-on, discard or adapt. Low-maintenance glamour is the thing, but if you’re bored with minimalist looks, seek sanctuary in adapting influences from other cultures.

Haute Bohemian looks are mostly African and Indian inspired; think Gypsy hair that shows off a braid or two, or three. On the wild side, hair is interwoven with scarves, kerchiefs and fanciful fabrics. If your locks are not long, add a faux piece to get the style. Hair extensions are just the thing for peasant-girl looks. Add just one braid or create dozens, then twist and pin them up for Summer-smart appeal. Unwind them later and luxuriate in glorious waves.

Off-the-face is always a warm-weather favorite and whatever the length, this season it should be worn with a side part and with another big runway hit—bangs. Locks with some length are then tucked behind the ears; shorter hair is molded back with some texture and volume—don’t slick it straight like you did last year. Once hair gets beyond shoulder-brushing—the dominant length—texture really takes over.

For hair that’s in the midlength range, the hottest look looks home-styled. It’s really a trick from the past. Take large sections, twist them slightly as you dry from front to back and avoid precision. The result is soft wave that can move from roots to ends or be positioned along the final third of strands. Soft styling creme enhances the effect; gels smooth hair too much or create a crunchy feeling. For extra texture, try out a small amount of molding paste and twist large or small sections. Generally, hair on top is volume-free. On the extreme end are frizzy textures; get them by using multiple products and scrunch drying.

There are a fewer bobs than ever, but that doesn’t mean you can’t wear one to work. The basic bob cut permits versatile styling. By day, brush hair back and tuck it behind your ears. Or, add rounded volume at the sides, keeping the crown fairly flat. For playtime, add any type of texture you like, from softly waved to super-coiled. Bobs tend to be just below the ear-lobe for a smart shape and maximum versatility. Naturally, they almost always feature some layers.

The newest take on the bob has cut-in texture that’s created in panels. Once the bob shape is in place, stylists go back into the hair and slice out sections. The look can be simple or extreme and usually shows off slightly ragged endings. In the UK, the technique is used to extreme so that each panel of hair stands out on its own, since lengths vary within the cut. State-side, the look is more toned-down with a single front piece moving off a side part to frame the face and stand out from the bob shape. These looks don’t really work well for fine hair; if your locks are baby-fine, slightly rough-cut edges add the texture of the moment.

In general, hair reflects the soft, flowing fabrics of the season, meaning it still has to be healthy enough to move and swing on its own. One of the big beneficiaries of this trend is conditioners; manufacturers report sales are soaring—particularly if the product was formulated for a specific hair color. Over time, some of these products make locks a bit brighter or deeper, depending on the color. Regular trims, conditioners and hair treatments all keep locks in the tip-top shape you want. Gone are the days of “letting it go” for Summer.

If there’s a singular radical look, it’s with the younger set that favors super-short hair. LaMorte notes that "borrowing from the boys is a trend with a two-year lead-time". Meaning, whatever men are wearing will be emulated by younger girls about two years later. Right now, that’s super-short and blonde with raked-in texture on top. Another variation is buzzed at the sides with a longer top that can be waved, styled for volume or transformed into freeform texture with waxes and cremes. Again, you get the look from fingerstyling and hand work. Besides shifting by season (lighter in Summer, darker in Fall), haircolor reflects the favorite fashion shades on the runways. This season, eggshells and pinks dominated, while red replaces black for evening.

Haircolor can’t be to harsh or bright if you are pairing it with a red dress, nor can it can’t be flat or namby-pamby paired with pink. This means mainstream color is more conservative, but it’s still shiny, pretty and noticeable. Micro-lights in sand, gold and light copper replace flashy slashes of color; brunettes are less murky, blondes are believable and redheads are more natural-looking, which means you can skip the orange range. Complementing skin tones is doubly important this season, since avoiding clash is the aim. With feminine softness and simplicity at the forefront, hair accessories are showing up as a single chignon stick or pin; the multiple bugs and cubes of yesteryear are gone. Using a single clip or pin to hold up a twist or secure a chignon is favored, and it’s an easy look to sport at the beach. Once you let your hair down, it takes on a little natural wave from having been pinned up all day, which puts you right back in the forefront of fashion.

Because styles for the office or evening lean toward simplicity with a twist, the natural equal-and-opposite reaction is that special occasion hair has to be incredibly done.

For the big event, more and more women are relying on salons for intricate updos, multiple braids positioned among with voluminous puffs and true designs that show off separation from front to back. Polish and panache area the words of the day when moment is one you want to cherish forever.

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