A hairstyle for any look
A hairstyle for any look

It’s the Little Black Dress of haircuts.

Dress it up, dress it down, accessorize it or just let it be. It actually does exist, and it may, in fact, exist on your very pate. It’s a graduated bob, but it hews modern — that is, longer. Less Victoria Beckham, more Gwyneth Paltrow.

Susan Ford, at Chicago’s Asha Salon and Spa, says a long bob that’s angled and stacked ever so slightly — shorter in back, collarbone-grazing in front — is the go-to cut for gals who want maximum versatility with minimal futzing.

“It’s classic, but chic,” Ford says.

The March issue of Vogue says the freshest look for hair is neither long nor short. It’s jaunty and healthy and touches the shoulders, but it also manages to look effortless. “It’s not supposed to be a haircut, it’s supposed to be a hair length,” stylist Ashley Javier tells the magazine. Vogue cites Sarah Jessica Parker, Kate Moss, Gisele Bundchen and, of course, Paltrow as just a few of the recent “hair length” adopters.

The cut has very few layers, although it requires a fair amount of texturizing, depending on your hair type. Ford took my formerly shoulder-length, multilayered ‘do and cut about 1 inches off the back and not quite an inch off the front — a gradual angling that she says flatters the neck and jawline. She cut wisps into the ends to add texture and keep it from looking too chunky and blended my bangs into the front of my hair with some longer layers.

From there, the styling possibilities are as limitless as that little black dress.

In a twirl

The steps: Ford applied a smoothing lotion (Aveda style-prep smoother) to my damp hair before taking large sections and twirling them into loose curls. To hold the curls in place, she applied mousse (Aveda phomollient) to her hands before twisting the sections.

If you’ve got an hour or so, it’s best to let this style air-dry, says Ford. “The less you touch curls, the better.” But we were on a schedule, so she broke out the diffuser and blow-dried my hair, gently scrunching the curls as she dried to give them bounce.

The result: A look that works equally well for work or a trip to the playground. After the initial twirling, it’s maintenance free. Ford didn’t even add hair spray. If your hair is naturally curly, this style tames and defrizzes the curls. If your hair is wavy or mostly straight, the mousse and the twisting will add some definition and bounce.

Red-carpet ready

The steps: Without rewetting my hair or adding any product, Ford blew out my curls with a round brush and a blow-dryer set on high. She then took large chunks of hair and wrapped them around a curling iron (rather than the traditional clamp-on-the-iron-and-twist motion) to create more of a hot-roller effect. “We’re working root to end,” she said. After curling each chunk, she pinned it to my head with a clip. When all sections were curled, she pulled out the pins and brushed out the curls for what she called an “Oscars, Hollywood-glam look.” She applied a small amount of style-prep smoother to the non-curly parts.

Simply straight

The steps: Again, no rewetting or new product, just a blow-dryer and a flat brush. After my hair was decidedly curl- and bounce-free, Ford flat-ironed sections for a smoother, edgier look.