The iconic 1970s shag hairstyle continues to adorn both celebrity and common heads, though with continually revamped and updated style. A versatile 'do on both men and women, the purposely disheveled look suits most any hair type. However, those with particularly fine hair should avoid this cut. A shag cut can reflect varied personalities, from wild and long to shorter and more tamed. Famous faces such as David Bowie and David Cassidy showed off the shag style in the 1970s.

The Cut

A 1970s shag consists of layers throughout the hair, with shorter layers on top and longer layers at the bottom. The choppy nature of the shag gives hair definition and movement. A skilled stylist can adapt a shag to work well with your hair texture, face shape and best features. If you have a large forehead, for example, the addition of long blunt bangs will minimize it. Layers that stop at your jawline or cheekbones will highlight those features.


The most important component of the shag cut is the layers. Razor cutting commonly achieves the heavily layered look. This technique involves razoring the ends of the hair to achieve a sharp, angled, choppy effect. Shorter layers at the top of the head create height and volume. Layers can be cut to any length but the shag will work best on mid-length to longer hair. Thinning shears give the style more definition and make it more manageable on particularly thick hair.


The length of your shag will dramatically alter the appearance of your style. The 1970s shag cuts come in a range of lengths from chin-length to past the shoulders. For a fuller or round face, choose a longer cut to elongate your face. Shorter shag cuts can grow out to longer shag styles. Because of the messy nature of the style, it will retain some of its shape during the awkward transition phase.


The shag shouldn't look neat and tidy, but messy and natural. Although at first glance the shag make look like a simple “wash and wear” style, it often involves time invested in meticulously styling the layers in a way that looks undone, similarly to the surfer style. A 1970s shag is suitable for those who want a carefree look but are willing to style it each morning. To keep your shag looking its best, maintain it with regular trims every six to eight weeks.

About the Author

Natalie Baker

Based in Manchester, U.K., Natalie Baker has been a freelance beauty and fashion writer since 2009. Her work appears in the beauty pages of "The Detour Magazine" and online at Just Makeup Artists. Baker is experienced in both television and print journalism, and holds a Bachelor of Arts broadcast journalism from Salford University.