How To Make A Mullet Actually Look Good
Mr Dacre Montgomery in Stranger Things (2019). Photograph courtesy of Netflix
Thanks to the unfortunate closure of hairdressers that we’ve all had to put up with this year, some unusual hairstyles have been forced upon us. For better or worse though, the one standing head and shoulders above the rest is the mullet. Indeed, the much-derided hairstyle, business at the front, part at the back, is having a real moment.
We got our first whiff of the return of the mullet in 2017 when Mr Dacre Montgomery starred as Billy in Stranger Things, rocking a particularly scuzzy mullet. Since then, it seems to have caught on. Vice recently reported that the mullet is the current go-to haircut for England’s private school boys, and Ms Ella Emhoff, the daughter of Mr Doug Emhoff and step-daughter of Vice President Kamala Harris, gave hers a particularly bright spotlight at the recent presidential inauguration.
“Funnily enough I’ve had lots of people asking about me mullets recently,” says Masami Hosono, one of New York City’s brightest young hairstylists and founder of Vacancy Project. “And honestly, I think it’s a really fun thing. I think lockdown definitely helped people who wanted to have mullet but had a hard time being patient. I’ve been cutting mullets for long time because it was very popular among my younger or my queer clients, but right now I feel like it’s everybody’s favourite style.”
Still, we don’t blame you for not rushing to the barber’s chair to show them a photo of Little Richard. Because mullets have been so derided, there’s an impression that they’re hard to pull off with any real panache, but this isn’t necessarily true if you know how to do it right. And so, to help those of us who fancy trying the hairstyle that everyone loves to hate, we asked Hosono to depart some of their hair know-how. Here’s what it takes to actually make a mullet look good.
Understand the basics
Before diving straight in to live your Ziggy Stardust fantasy, it’s worth knowing what a mullet actually is. The answer is pretty simple: “A mullet is basically a disconnected, layered style that is short hair at the front and sides, and longer at the back,” explains Hosono. This kind of vague definition is crucial to understanding that the trend for the mullet right now is not necessarily as dramatic as you may have initially thought. “Layered styles [that are longer at the back and short at the front] are a big trend right now. People come in and say ‘I want a mullet’, but they show me pictures that aren’t ‘proper’ mullets – they’re are a bit more subtle.” So, while there’s definitely a spectrum of mullets from the lightly layered to the extreme mohawk, it’s worth knowing that you can start subtle.
Know what not to ask for
When you get into the chair, it’s a good idea to go with a reference of what to ask for, but that doesn’t just mean Googling “mullet haircut 2021” and showing that to the hairdresser. “For me, a good mullet looks very natural,” says Hosono. “It’s better if it’s kind of not made too much on purpose, so I’d suggest not showing hairstylists a professional mullet haircut photo. Instead I’d say show a personal picture of someone whose hair you like, or something from a street style. A real-life example, basically.” If you want to go the full flowing hog, though, Hosono recommends looking at Mr Derek Ridgers’ photographs from the 1970s London punk scene for some inspiration.
Work out how to style it
So, you’ve got your mullet and it looks great – but what should you use to make it look good? “I like using cream, pomade or sea salt spray,” says Hosono. “I like giving the hair a little greasy or wet texture, and anything with oil always helps to make the hair little messy.” Sisley’s hair oil works well as a styling prep and will keep your hair in great condition, while SACHAJUAN’s Ocean Mist spray will add a bit of texture and have you and your mullet looking like you’ve just been for a romantic walk together on the beach. Whatever you choose to do with it though, perhaps the most important thing you need to pull off a mullet is confidence. We’re rooting for you.