Shag Haircut Definition

Short shag haircut - Jessica Alba
Jessica Alba - Photo by Jaguar PS/Shutterstock
Q: I would like to know what makes a shag haircut. I know there are long, medium and short shags, but what is the definition of a shag haircut?
A: In a nutshell, what makes a “shag” haircut is the “shaggy-looking” resultant style. The shag is generally characterized by evenly progressing layers in the hair. Whether the overall style is long, mid-ranged or short, the layers progress from shortest lengths at the top of the head to the longest lengths at the bottom.
There are many hairstyles over the years that have been “shag” haircuts - from David Cassidy in the 70s to the 80s hair bands and even today. The trouble is that the name is often changed. When Stevie Nicks wore her hair in the long-layered shag haircut in the late-70s and early 80s, it was called a “gypsy” cut, but it was the same basic cut.
The names by which haircuts are known tend to “drift” over time. The changes can be gradual: such as the A-line Bob becoming known as simply The Bob, then being referred to as a “Stacked Bob” and finally being called simply a “Stacked” cut.
In other cases, the changes are generational. The haircut known as the shag because of the “shaggy look” in the late-sixties became known as a ”gypsy” cut because of Stevie Nicks and the song “Gypsy”.
Sometimes, the changes are simply regional. The long razor-cut popular among the cast of “Friends” in the 90s was known by a variety of names depending on where you lived. In some areas it was called the Rachel, in others it was a “soft layer cut”, and in other places, still, it was called a “Two Stage Cut” because of the two specific levels of length.
When you want a haircut, sometimes using the popular name is sufficient, but you are usually best served by give specific descriptions of the cut rather than using names.
See also:
How to cut a shag
How to razor cut hair into a shag bob
What is the difference between a shag hairstyle and a layered hairstyle?
What products and items should I use to style a shag haircut?