Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Is The Curled Shag The 'Worst' Hairstyle In History?


Originally published for Vintage Fashion at The Examiner. (Warning: do not attempt this hairstyle at home.)

The curled shag and/or mullet is a high-maintenance hairstyle worn by almost every actress appearing in the first season of the The Bob Newhart Show, an MTM Enterprises series that began its run in 1972. In the first episodes of the first season of The Bob Newhart Show (and subsequently), the dubious hairstyle appears on: Carol Kester, Bob Hartley's secretary (played by Marcia Wallace); Emily Hartley, Bob Hartley's wife (played by Suzanne Pleshette); the Hartleys' neighbor, who frequently drops in; Bob Hartley's mother; and so on. But first, two important distinctions must be made.
Primarily, the curled shag -- or curled mullet -- is curled laboriously using a curling brush or hot rollers; it is not be mistaken with a naturally curly mullet, or a naturally curly shag. Secondly, please note that labeling this hairstyle as the 'worst' is based on how labor-intensive the hairstyle is to achieve, in direct proportion to the resulting look of the hairstyle -- and in relation with its lifespan, or later resurgence and popularity. To that last point, the curled shag/mullet is a hairstyle that has not been recycled or replicated since the 1970's, unlike nearly every style in the history of hair design. Reasons behind its inevitable demise, and its failure to reconnect with subsequent generations, are plenty.
The curled mullet (a.k.a curled shag; a.k.a. curled 'ape drape' -- defined by the Urban Dictionary as having the silhouette of a mountain gorilla -- is a laborious style to achieve, unlike other shaggy looks. The purpose of a shag or mullet is (and should be) that it's an easy hairstyle to wear and maintain. At the very least it should have the semblance of ease, even if there is a great deal of effort behind its carefree appeal. (See Rod Stewart's perpetually-spiked, admittedly high-maintenance mullet; he dedicated an entire chapter to his hair in Rod: The Autobiography.) 
There have been so many variations of the mullet. But whether it's a spiky, shorter Ziggy Stardust look, the Paul and Linda McCartney Wings-era wings -- or a longer, more metal version -- the mullet, shag, 'ape drape', etcetera tends to have a rock-and-roll edge. Even the Florence Henderson/Carol Brady hairstyle, which has gotten such a bad rap over the years, can make the right gal or guy look rocker cool. 
But take that shag and/or mullet, then take a curling brush and/or hot rollers and start curling each layer, then tease those curled layers up, then spray them in place and you're left with a time-consuming horror of helmet hair that has all the potential to be worn by an active, spunky 90-something-year-old lady. Even she would rather not wear her hair in a curled shag.
Indeed, there's nothing cool or fun about this hairstyle and it's unflattering on even the most beautiful woman. Case in point: Suzanne Pleshette, who was a stunning beauty, could barely pull off this hairstyle. 
Do you agree that the curled shag and/or the curled mullet is the worst hairstyle in the history? Or is there a less attractive, more high-maintenace, non-replicated and/or non-recycled hairstyle than the curled shag, or the curled mullet? Share your take on the curled shag and/or curled mullet in the comments.

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