9 Model-Approved Haircuts Made For Standing Out

Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage.
This story was originally published on Jul. 23, 2016.

We've waxed poetic about a haircut's transformative powers many times, and there's no profession where that's more apparent than modeling — especially right now. "The days of the uniform [model cut] is over," says Wes Sharpton, New York-based hairstylist and Lead Haircutter at Hairstory Studio. "It’s the return of the haircut, because the haircut can show off the individual."

There's no shortage of examples of powerful chops through the years — would Twiggy be Twiggy without the sleek, androgynous cut she got in 1966? And without her 1988 pixie, would Linda Evangelista be the iconic supermodel she is today? For the current generation, the pressure to get a dramatic chop is even more intense — which makes sense, given the sheer competition out there.

"Models lead these incredible lives, but what people forget is it’s exhausting and competitive, and standing out from the crowd is really important," Sharpton says. "A good haircut can really make a girl’s career and set them apart. It can allow them to make a really great first impression."

International L’Oréal Professionnel hairstylist Anh Co Tran, co-owner of cult L.A. salon Ramirez Tran and the artist behind many of Coco Rocha's most dramatic cuts, agrees. “In a world of social media and constant advertisement, a signature look helps to set one apart from the rest,” he says. “The simplest thing, like adding bangs, can completely change a person’s look. It has the ability to not only change other people’s perceptions of the individual, but more importantly the individual’s perceptions of themselves. It also makes them more memorable, and in turn more versatile, [which] means a broader audience.”

This is all well and good
, you're thinking. But how on earth does it apply to me? Well, a single standout, confidence-boosting snip can be life-changing, even if catwalks and go-sees aren't part of your job description. As anyone who has gotten a great new haircut knows, it's so much more than just a haircut.

Ahead, we've rounded up nine of our favorite model chops, including curly shags, messy lobs, stick-straight bowl cuts, and more. Bonus: Sharpton weighed in on the technical reasons each of these nine cuts works. So, put your finger on your Pin It button and click through this generation's most transformative haircuts.
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Photo: Randy Brooke/WireImage.
Freja Beha
Long before the Danish model was starring in every major campaign (Chanel, Chloé, Coach), she was walking runways with long, shiny locks.

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Photo: Darren Gerrish/WireImage.
Why It Works: "I love Freja and when I look at her after photo, I think she really comes out with the haircut — the way it's cut brings out her cheekbones," Sharpton says. "The cut is much more lived-­in, more French-girl. It’s not forced. It's great for someone who has been a long-hair person and isn’t quite ready for a dramatic short cut."

Tip: This cut is great if you have a little natural wave and want something effortless and easy, Sharpton explains. "It’s organic, from the bangs to the layers to the ends." Just make sure to have your stylist layer and cut to flatter your unique bone structure, he says.
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Photo: Marc Stamas/Getty Images.
Coco Rocha
The Canadian model is the quintessential hair chameleon — she's experimented with nearly every length and color.
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Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.
Why It Works: "What makes this cut on Coco powerful to me is that the bangs don’t curve on the side, which really opens up her face," Sharpton says. "These bangs are straight-across and draw attention to her entire face, allowing us to really see her; it’s a bit stronger and more graphic [than most bangs]."

Tip: "I’ve seen this cut look great on all types of people," Sharpton says. "I think the days of using haircuts to hide things that you don’t like are long gone. Now, it’s more about bringing out the features that you do like." The only prerequisite to this chop? "Developing trust with your stylist."
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Photo: Randy Brooke/WireImage.
Anja Rubik
Like many models, the Polish supermodel started her career with long, bombshell curls.
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Photo: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images.
Why It Works: "She looks amazing with this cut," Sharpton says. "It’s a great bob in the sense that it’s not so classic; it’s really heavy at the bottom, but it’s not so broken apart that it feels shredded."

Tip: "This look is great for people with finer hair," Sharpton says. "Good for someone who wants a little bit of sexy with a little bit of edge. It’s great if you want to be somewhere between classic and rock-'n'-roll." Sharpton notes that the shape can work on a variety of lengths, so it's paramount to have a conversation with your stylist about which one is right for you.
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Alanna Arrington
The latest up-and-comer has always had beautiful hair, which she showed off in this story. But it wasn't until her major chop that she started booking dozens of shows.
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Photo: Jamie McCarthy/WireImage.
Why It Works: "This cut is about making people look a little bit more intriguing," Sharpton says. "She looks sexier. The shag opens her up and adds a little edge. This cut is great on someone with naturally curly hair who’s looking for something that isn’t long and basic."

Tip: "A picture’s worth a thousand words when requesting this haircut," Sharpton notes, "and this is a great image to bring to your stylist. I would tell them that you want a '70s-feeling, curly shag — and bangs."
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Photo: Andrew H. Walker/WireImage.
Karlie Kloss
Arguably one of the most successful models working today, Kloss really stepped into the spotlight in 2012 — when she chopped her hair. Coincidence? We think not.
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Photo: Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage.
Why It Works: "This is very powerful," Sharpton says. "I love that you can see her neck with this cut, and it demonstrates that finding flattering proportions is key."

Tip: "It’s important to ask yourself where you want the focus to be," Sharpton says. "With Karlie’s cut, the length brings the attention back to her face. Bobs are very classic, and this one is a little bit sleeker...it’s very polished."
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Photo: Jamie McCarthy/WireImage.
Imaan Hammam
Another up-and-comer on the scene, the Dutch model is only 19 and yet her résumé is packed with everything from Givenchy to Victoria's Secret.
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Photo: Catwalking/Getty Images.
Why It Works: "This is a great example of how volume and proportion can show off something great in someone," Sharpton says.
"This is more about creating a change with styling a slightly shorter cut. The way her hair is moved over to one side really keeps it from distracting from her face."

Tip: "This is definitely for curly girls. I recommend using Hairstory Hair Balm to get this look, and air-dry with little clips to get some height and separation."
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Photo: Robin Marchant/WireImage.
Tao Okamoto
It wasn't until the Japanese model (and now actress) got a major cut that she caught the attention of designers like Phillip Lim and Hedi Slimane.
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Photo: Jun Sato/WireImage.
Why It Works: "I love when someone goes for a cut that’s iconically strong," Sharpton says. "This bowl­-ish cut is very Peggy Moffitt [by] Vidal Sassoon. I love that it’s a little lived-in and the bangs aren’t perfect. It shows off her face by bringing your attention to her eyes and cheekbones."

Tip: "It’s all in the details for this cut," Sharpton says. "If you’re looking for this exact feeling, having naturally straight hair will make it much easier to wear. It’s great for someone who loves that cool, mod feeling."
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Photo: Fred Duval/WireImage.
Edie Campbell
The British model has made her mark in campaigns for Chanel, Burberry, and Hermès — with a different 'do each time.
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Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
Why It Works: "I think this cut makes Edie look interesting and cool," Sharpton says. "It’s anti-­sleek but classic, and I love that it looks like she cut some of it herself. The cut draws you to her eyes. She really stands out in a crowd now."

Tip: "If you’re the person who wants it to look a little rawer and rougher, this is perfect," Sharpton says. "Ask your stylist for a bob, but let them know you want it to feel a little more lived-in." That can mean chopped or razored ends. The best part? It works on every texture.
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Photo: MCV Photo.
Ruth Bell
For many models looking to break away from the pack, high risks yield big rewards. The British up-and-comer went all in last year, and it paid off.
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Photo: Selin Alemdar/Getty Images.
Why It Works: "Ruth has a beautiful, doll-­like quality, but is still powerful," Sharpton says. "I think the long hair puts her in a too­-sweet category, and the minute that she cut it, that distracting element was eliminated. I love the juxtaposition of sweet and tough with this cut — I think it’s really powerful."

Tip: "I would recommend this for anyone who’s really ready to own it," Sharpton says. "If you’re ready to rock it and want the attention walking down the street, go for it. This is great for the woman who’s not attached to her hair. When you go to see your stylist, make sure to ask for the scissor-over-comb cut, so it's really tight. This is not a pixie. It’s really freeing and can simplify your life."
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