If there's a single piece of style news this season, it's the dominance of casual. In the Fall-Winter, 1999-2000 runway shows, if there was one casualty, it was straight, sleek, shiny hair. Call it a matte attack, where day-old, undone and even ultra-long 'dos dominate.
In the mainstream, it looks like hair you can do at home is here to stay—at least for as long as style setters don't get bored with it. That's great news for most of us!
Casual Hair Is Hot
If the recent Oscars were any indication, even formal, party 'dos are cool and somewhat casual—either swept-up, sleek and simple or worn down but never completely in place. However, that doesn't mean "bed head," but hair that's swingy, touchable, moveable and mussed with finesse. To gauge what's hot on the style barometer, think of modern looks as falling smack in-between just-got-out-of-bed hair and helmet head.
With casual becoming commonplace, it's easier than ever to steal the stars' sexy styles. From Gwyneth Paltrow to Meg Ryan, celebrities are wearing hairdos that are created by hairdressers, but don't look like they took a lot of time, energy or effort. That's intentional—and your clue to steal a style, adapt it to your liking or create a star-influenced look of your own.
To start, check out these major influences, then use them to your personal advantage.
Hair Diversity Rules
For year's we've heard that individuality is the "trend," but this year, diversity has genuine meaning. Women want a cut that can look different every day and more often than not, that means hair that's neither ultra-short nor super-long, but somewhere between below the ear lobes and just-below-the-shoulders.
According to the style pros at TRESemme', changing your hair for the sake of change alone is one of the biggest style influences now. In the '70s, women actually wanted a look that was consistently in place and looked the same each day. No more, stylists say. Consider Drew Barrymore and you'll realize she has 10 looks you can adjust or adapt at whim.
Color Is A Diversity Key
Another way diversity plays out is with the return of solid color. Once, highlights were hot, now women are finding ways to accent their blonde, red or brunette locks by making them lighter, darker, warmer or cooler without highlights. It's a new way to celebrate your own color, by making it a focal point of your look. On the extreme end are blue blacks and carrot oranges; on the subtle side are lightened dark browns and strawberry blondes.
At Head Designs in Oakland, CA, Sheila Head says the trend is to alter the tone based on being in harmony with your environment. When it's cloudy and cooler during winter, she prefers cooler tones (like blue-based red); when summer sunlight dominates, she opts for warmer colors that reflect light more, such as copper reds.
Look to steal: Queen Latifa's, who lightened and brightened her brown by "breaking the base," which means lightening it just enough to remove some of the dark color.
Parting - Such Sweet Options
Yet another off-shoot of individuality? Part Smarts! Side parts gave way to zig-zags; now hair is parted all over the place, with a far side (or center) part at the first inch from the hairline, then a second part—angled, centered, or otherwise skewed—to contrast against the first part.
When parts are central, European teens are making them a focal point by painting them with lipstick. (In the U.S., the approach involves lining the part with stick-on rhinestones.) Cross-crossing strands over a center-part is also a great way to take advantage of part power. Look to Steal: Cameron Diaz's.
Texture Is Happening
There's lots happening with texture and when it's not properly mussed, it leans toward the extremes. Madonna made the Geisha look hot with super-straight, ultra-dark locks and the flat, glossy surface continues to have some influence. On the other side is clean-cut curl, manifested in neat, even spirals that don't show a hint of frizz.
Going from one end of the spectrum to the other has never been easier. For the ultimate in straight, blow hair dry with a paddle brush, then use a flat iron on each section. Finish with pomade. For great curls, rely on leave-in conditioners and styling cremes when you spiral set locks. Look to steal: Madonna's.
As for the tousled-texture trend, it's what makes any haircut casual. But what tousled means today is moveable, touchable and natural—never overly windswept or slept-in. The easiest way to get the look is with softer styling aids (cremes, flexible hair sprays, styling foams) and quick roller sets or round brush styling.
One idea, says Chicago stylist Charles Ifergen: Today, you are blow styling, not blow drying. Create the swing and the shape, then don't over-spray it in place. Styles to Steal: Loose, down-worn 'dos, from Christina Ricci's to Kim Basinger's.
Opposing Color Trends
We already mentioned that a single solid shade of color is cool, but there are two opposing trends within the color realm that you'll want to note: When hair color is solid, make it strong and when you opt for highlights, keep them soft and subtle.
For strong colors, you can't get more obvious than the changes Madonna makes, but Kate Moss tried out strong color, too. (Her runway hot pink got lots of talk, until she changed to espresso.) A hot option among teens is to have underlayers made one solid color and the entire surface yet another. Think of Christian Applegate's darker underlayers.
Highlights, which naturally alter a look when created as sun streaks, aren't all-over anymore. Just a sprinkling of subtle lights gives you the sun-kissed style and holds upkeep to a minimum, which is a must for the time-deprived.
Hair Extensions Are Still Hot
Finally, hair extensions are still around. They got hot after two events: the Victoria's Secret runway show on-line and the 1999 Oscars, where first, Gwyneth Paltrow, then (for better or worse), Angelina Jolie made a splash. Suddenly, hair extensions went mainstream and everyone was wearing "hair to there" for an evening. Helen Hunt proved they are more than a flash in the pan; the Fall runway shows used extensions in contrasting colors, or as long Renaissance plaits. (Watch for the romantic Renaissance trend to explode!)
One of the companies that provides human hair extensions for celebrities (and for Victoria's Secret models), Garland Drake offers a clip-on set of human-hair extensions, which are affordable and easy-to-wear. To tap the trend, call (877) 414-0770 or set your Internet Browser to the company's web site.
Hair Jewelry Trends
As for other accessories, hair jewelry is still important, the trend has given way to less girlish clips, and more jeweled pins, rhinestone bobby pins and Velcro-stick decorations. The best accents for an updo: use faux pearl or rhinestone hair pins to secure an updo, showing off the entire back seam. Again, you don't need a fortune to look great. Best Bet: Make your own accessories or buy bejeweled ones.
Start With A Great Cut
Finally, with home styling, blow shaping and mussed and matte 'dos taking their cues from Hollywood, there's a final style clue not to miss. For less-dressed hair to look great, you've got to start with a superb cut that works with your hair type. Get one from your favorite hairdresser, discuss styling options, then keep up with trims, even if you go to a less-expensive stylist and have him or her maintain the lines of your earlier, more costly cut. This way, you'll be able to create plenty of fabulous styles at home and enjoy a great new look every day.
About Victoria Wurdinger
Victoria Wurdinger is an award-winning writer and researcher who specializes in business and beauty.
She has written for dozens of magazines, including Drug Store News, Longevity, Beauty Digest, Drug & Cosmetic Industry, Modern Salon, Art Business News, British Hairdressers Journal, Celebrity Hairstyles, Color & Style, Beauty Store Business, Studio and Day Spa. Victoria has also authored several books, including "Competition Hairdesign," "Home Haircutting Made Easy," "The Photo Session Handbook" and "Multicultural Clients."
She has won several American Society of Business Press Editors awards, not only for her writing but for her design and layout concepts.