Thursday, December 15, 2005

The word on men's hairstyles: longer

Connecticut Post

There was a time when men's hairstyles only came in one form: short. Close-cropped, clean cut and, frankly, a bit dull, short was pretty much it when it came to cutting men's hair. Men's hair fashion has taken a couple of detours, mainly in the '60s and '70s, into super-long locks, but recent trends showed a return to short, military haircuts.

Now, it seems, another hair revolution may be brewing. Men are moving away from the super short look and embracing a slightly longer, more romantic look, said Ronald Braso, a designer and stylist at Frederic Fekkai & Company in New York.

"I do a lot of men clients and most of the men do have longer hair," he said.

That doesn't mean that a huge number of guys are suddenly donning shoulder length tresses, but Braso has seen a lot of mid-length hair, about 4 to 6 inches long. It's also softer in addition to being long — think Hugh Jackman in "Kate & Leopold," or Matthew MacFadyen in the new movie adaptation of "Pride & Prejudice."

Braso attributes the new 'dos to men's fashion trends that favor romantic fabrics like velvet. "Everything in fashion is sort of romantic and soft, almost dandyish," he said. "In a way, hair is sort of following that."

Local stylists agree that longer hair is making an appearance on many of the heads of their male clients.

Annie Minardo, owner of Studio Hair Design in Stratford, said a few of her younger male clients are sporting longer 'dos.

"Some of the younger ones will grow their hair out and wear it in a messy style," she said. "I don't know why. It changes every year."

Charles Tuozzoli, owner of the salon Hair in Fairfield, has also seen men take the leap to long. His theory, however, as to why men are growing out their locks has less to do with fashion, and more to do with follicular ennui.

"They've been wearing their hair short for years," he said. "Now, it's natural for them to want a change."

But Braso said not to discount fashion as a factor in the move toward longer locks. As a whole, he said, men are edging closer to a hair-consciousness that's always been the rage in Europe. In England, for example, this mid-length hair on men has been popular for a long time.

Now, American guys are adopting the trend to suit their sensibilities. That means it's longer and softer — but still controllable. "American men don't like that real wild look," Braso said. "Their hair is a little more styled, and fixed and finished." It's not just length that's seeping into men's hair fashion. Braso said that sideburns are also fashionable for men, and Tuozzoli said that more young men are coloring their hair.

Tuozzoli said he's seen an increasing number of men opt for highlights or other color. One recent customer even had his hair bleached at the salon.

"That's unusual," Tuozzoli said.

Maybe it's just the fallout from the recent metrosexual trend in men's grooming, but guys do seem to be paying more attention to their hair. Tuozzoli said that men are far more likely to consult a fashion or entertainment magazine for hairstyle ideas than they were in the past.

"Men are more influenced by fashion than they were a decade ago," Tuozzoli said.

Braso agrees. "Men know exactly what they want from their hair these days," he said.

Though men's hairstyles are changing, Minardo points out that it isn't a seismic shift. Plenty of guys still favor the short look, she said, and even she likes it better. "It's a nice, neat look," she said. "I think short hair is classic."

Dino Cellini also thinks short is the man's style that has the most staying power. Cellini owns the Aliette Monjoux salon in Trumbull and agrees with his fellow stylists that men are more hair conscious today.

But long hair as the reigning men's hairstyle? Not in his salon, Cellini said.

"Short is still popular," he said. "It's easy to take care of. It's wash and wear."

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