The mullet is arguably the most controversial hairstyle ever, often the source of ridicule and worn ironically at 80s costume parties. But does this infamous haircut deserve this reputation? That’s up to personal opinion.
In the 80s, the mullet was favored by men with fluffy fringes and ratty strands down the neck, worn with cut-off t-shirts and acid-wash denim. Others favored floppier styles such as heartthrobs Rob Lowe and John Stamos, complete with leather jackets and sparkly smiles.
Women chose spiky or permed tops with poker-straight mullets tucked behind the ears and creeping down their necks. Check out any compilation of 1980s yearbook photos and you’ll be faced with many-a-mullet and much blush.
Jokes aside, the mullet has made somewhat of a comeback in recent years. At the 2016 Grammy Awards, Zendaya rocked a honey-colored mullet and looked incredible (despite criticism).
Another style icon, Rihanna has also rocked a mullet, with glossy black tresses and a side shave.
Let’s bring this underdog of the hair world back! Welcome to our guide for how to wear mullets in 2020.
Style tip: add unique color
Celebrity inspiration: Billie Eilish, you know, the wondrous kid who has brought back oversized, grunge style fused with hip-hop exaggeration and unashamed high-end label bashing? That’s the one.
She has also worn a soft mullet, with smooth, sleek lengths at the back with choppy shorter lengths on top. The iconic Billie neon-green dye-job took her mullet from 80s cringe to 2020 cool.
- Color the tips of your existing mullet in a neon shade to shake things up during the Summer party season (post-C19)
- Make it a little more subtle and professional-friendly by picking an ombre shade to seamlessly flow from your natural color. Navy works great with black hair, yellow or peach with blonde hair, and pink or peach for ginger hair
Style tip: a sleek fringe
Celebrity inspiration: Zendaya, one of fashion’s youngest frontrunners, wore a mullet in 2016, a risky move indeed. However, it looked fabulous, despite spiky critique.
She wore her caramel-honey mullet with a shine-finish two-piece double-breasted black suit and 90s-nude makeup. A power play. Zendaya’s mullet featured a fringe that reached below the eyebrows with a true bowl-cut style.
- Use hair straighteners or a barrel brush and hairdryer with a diffuser to shape the fringe and finish with a crunch-free spray to ensure it doesn’t separate in the center
- Be totally certain before you commit to a fringe, as it requires maintenance and can wreak havoc when unkempt (speaking from unfortunate 90s-kid experience)
Style tip: side-shave, high-shine, and choppy layers
Celebrity inspiration: Rihanna is the woman who can do no wrong when it comes to fashion and beauty (bravery and confidence go a long way, take note). She has worn a few mullets in her time, a memorable one being a choppy cut with shaved sides, straggly lengths, and a short fringe.
This look worked beautifully with her thick hair and seemed to be treated with a high-shine finish for an ultra-glossy look.
- Keep the mullet or rat’s tail straggly, with the roots at the top of the head thick for extra height
- Slick the sides of the hair down (if you don’t have a side shave) and raise the roots down the center of the head for a mohawk-turned-mullet aesthetic
- Style the straggly look with high-glam accessories such as thick gold hoops, layered necklaces, luminous skin, and a velvety red lip
Style tip: raised roots and long tresses
Celebrity inspiration: you don’t need to commit to cutting your hair into a mullet to achieve the look, you can cheat it with your existing, long locks. Demi Lovato showed us (way back in 2013) that this is possible with her raised roots, slicked-back sides, and lengths swishing down the back.
This faux mullet is surprisingly easy to create yourself, as long as you’ve got a comb, pins, and hairspray.
- Use a comb to tease and lift the hair at the roots and secure with pins to create a mohawk-style ridge on the top of the head
- Comb the hair at the sides of the head so that it lies as flat as possible, and feed the ends into the hair at the back of the head
- Use pins to secure the side lengths at the nape of the neck to create the mullet look
- Add extra 80s styling with blue eyeshadow, rich matte blush on the cheeks and temples, and metallic cool-pink lipstick
Style tip: full-80s styling (for costume parties)
Celebrity inspiration: if you’re looking for the perfect 80s mullet look for an 80s costume party, look to Billy Ray Cyrus, John Stamos, Joan Jett, or David Bowie in ‘The Labyrinth’.
Afterall, David Bowie is the king of experimental glam rock, Joan Jett was rock goddess, and John Stamos was all of our first crushes.
The key is to achieve a contrast between the top of the head and the lengths over the back. For example, try a spiky, feathered top and fringe with a super-straight back.
Or, try a frizzy, fluffy top with glossier curls at the back. Tuck the hair behind the ears to get that separation between the side of the head and the back.
Scour the costume stores for a classic 80s mullet wig if your hair isn’t going to play ball at being styled into a makeshift mullet