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How to achieve the modern mullet, 2020’s breakout hair trend


TextAlex Peters

Favoured by Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Cara Delevingne, and more, an expert answers all your burning questions

When models including Cara Delevingne and Raisa Flowers, and Rihanna herself walked the Savage x Fenty runway last week with full-blown mullets it confirmed what we’ve been saying since January. The mullet is back, baby, and now it’s reached full mainstream consciousness.

The mullet renaissance happened like most great things: slowly and then all at once. Miley Cyrus, a direct descendant of one of the best mullets in the business, kicked off the revival back in January with a shaggy 70s version of the style and we also saw Barbie Ferreira and Billie Eilish experimenting with the look. 

But it was in lockdown that the trend really picked up pace. Joe Exotic, a terrible person with a glorious mullet, captured everyone’s imagination with his peroxide locks when Tiger King dominated early quarantine and with the world looking pretty bleak, it seemed the time was right to find joy where we could and express our creativity with truly bonkers hairstyles. Christine and The Queens, Maisie Williams, and Euphoria’s Jacob Elordi all adopted the style while Cyrus levelled up to full Rod Stewart-esque mullet with the help of Sally Hershberger and mum Tish.

“Lockdown had a massive impact on people getting mullets, our chairs have definitely been seeing the forefront of it,” says hairstylist and queen of mullets Jemima Bradley. While some people found themselves with a mullet by accident during lockdown – “people with short back and sides didn’t have an option but to cut themselves a mullet,” Bradley says – and came to love them, others have sought it out. “Once lockdown was over it was the perfect opportunity for a ‘fresh start.’ People have come out of lockdown ready for something new.”

For Bradley, who has become known as somewhat of a mullet connoisseur, the style holds a special place in her heart and has been a big part of her personal and professional journey. “It allowed me to find my place in the hair industry as a queer women, somewhere that I could explore my creativity and create a safe space for myself and for my clients,” she says. “Mullets had a big impact on me and being able to come to terms with my sexuality, I think it's a big part of who I am. Being able to include that in my everyday life is so fulfilling.”

Here Bradley answers all the questions you’ve been asking yourself about getting a mullet.

WHAT TO CONSIDER

If you are considering a mullet but unsure what to expect, Bradley says you should be prepared for the look to be both low and high maintenance. “Unfortunately mullets are a lot of upkeep, I'm sure anybody with shorter hair understands this, you'll find yourself in the salon more often than having an easy going shape,” she explains. “Hair grows fast and the original shape can soon be lost, though styling wise is easy – it's a wake up and go sort of cut, but to keep it this way you'll find yourself in the salon chair regularly.”  

WILL IT SUIT YOU

The good news is that mullets can vary in shape and style so can be adapted to suit all face shapes. “They are so tailored to the individual that anybody can pull one off. It's just about finding the correct shape and texture that works best for the client,” Bradley says.

Before a cut, she will have a consultation with the client to assess their facial features and style to understand what will look best on them. “It's really important to gain understanding of whether they would like it to feel femme, masc, or androgynous, this really helps me gain an idea of what they are envisioning,” she says. “Mullets really reflect who a person is, so it's important to be on the same page as each other.” Bringing visual examples to the consultation is also a great tool and helpful for your stylist to know what you are looking for. 

And remember you can always let your stylist know during the process how you are feeling about it. “Once I've begun the cutting process, I'm communicating with the client to check how it's feeling for them. Mullets are very visual. The process can be lengthy to find that perfect shape,” Bradley says.

WHAT TO ASK FOR

With this mullet revival we’ve said goodbye to the classic mullets of 80s country stars and welcomed in the modern mullet. Gone are the bigger, harsher shapes, the volume, and the eccentric amount of hairspray. “The modern mullet is all about soft lines and funky details around the ears and a fringe,” Bradley says. “It tends to be softer towards facial features, it has more of a soft flow, it's all about finding a balance that works for you.”

She also recommends that you put down the hairspray when styling your new look and go for some sea salt instead for a more natural finish.

WHO CAN GET ONE

Mullets come with a boatload of baggage and cultural connotations, reading so differently in different communities. In some parts of the world, the polarising haircut has become infamous for being the butt of the joke, the weird cousin of the hair world, and because of this might read as unprofessional in some settings. However, these views are changing, Bradley argues, thanks to this new resurgence. “I've had clients from professional jobs adopt this style and they make it work. People are far more accepting of this modern mullet, I think it's only going to rise more,” she says.

IS IT QUEER?

Long before most people came around to the second wave mullet, lesbians and queer women held it in their hearts as a firm favourite, something Bradley puts down to the fact that mullets can often have a “no gender feel” that connects to them. “Mullets can be a statement of how that person identifies, it can change someone's appearance massively, it can take someone away from having to conform to a particular gender or sexual orientation stereotype,” she says.

With the look now having a moment in mainstream culture, however, Bradley says this dynamic has shifted and the style can often be more about fashion. “It’s about bringing a new edge to their style, trying something new – stepping out of the norm,” she says. “It can mean different things for different individuals although it still has its moments of ‘oh you have a mullet, we are both queer.’”

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