At the tender age of 14 I committed a cardinal beauty sin. Ignoring my hairstylist’s better judgement, I waltzed into Headmasters and demanded a pixie cut à la Anna from The OC. Unlike other OC characters – intimidatingly pretty Summer, sad and sinewy Marissa – emulating funny and quirky Anna seemed achievable. She wore jaunty sweater vests and delivered sarcastic one-liners, all the while sporting an adorable, side-swept blonde bob.
The haircut was part fashion choice, part escapism. I longed to waltz down the corridors of glitzy Harbor High School, clutching a Death Cab for Cutie CD and, most importantly, hang out with floppy-haired heartthrob Seth Cohen. But I wasn’t in Newport, California. I was in the grey London suburbs at my equally grey local comprehensive, where an unusual fashion choice earmarked you as low-hanging fruit for bullies.
Reader, it was bad. Flat-chested, gangly-limbed and with no hair or beauty knowledge, my pixie pipe dream made me look like a little boy. I spent agonizing years growing out the cut, desperate for a flowing, feminine mane like the girls privy to everyone’s attention at school. I experimented with clip-in extensions, eventually growing my split end-riddled hair to boob length. It wasn’t until my mid 20s that I finally felt comfortable asking for a chic blunt bob. Even then, I felt I had no business messing with a pixie.
That was until 2021, when the pixie was catapulted back into our cultural consciousness thanks to the popularity of the jawline-skimming Bixie: the love child of the bob, the mullet and the pixie. "The Bixie is slightly shorter than a bob, coming right above the chin," says Fer Porro, a stylist at George Northwood salon in London. "It’s very thinned out underneath, almost like an undercut but with choppy, 'invisible' layers you can’t see from the top."
The Bixie is gaining traction online and IRL. In October, actress Florence Pugh chopped off her long, brown locks, debuting a slicked back Bixie on Instagram, and suddenly the cut started popping up everywhere. Everyone from pop stars Saweetie and Doja Cat to Instagram cool girls like Kaia Gerber and Hannah Kleit showed off fresh Bixie trims.
Those invisible layers Fer mentioned are the Bixie’s secret weapon, breathing new life into the tried-and-tested bob while taking some of the weight out of the style. This prevents hair from looking, in Fer’s words, ‘shelfy’, like a French girl bob. Fer tells me that the majority of his clients allowed their haircuts to grow out during lockdown, making peace with life sans hairdresser and enjoying their new lengths. Months since restrictions were lifted, interest around experimental, edgy trims like the mullet, the ‘70s shag and the Bixie is finally picking up again as we march towards a (hopefully) lockdown-free party season.
With the new It haircut’s popularity booming, I revised my no-pixie rule and put my hair in the capable hands of Fer, who seemed to sense my reservations. We pored over pictures of babes with Bixies and he assured me that we’d keep some length in the front while adding texture with invisible layers at the back, preventing my hair from taking on the unfortunate, Lego character shape it had back in 2007. However, opting for length at the front and a shorter back presents a new challenge: avoiding a Karen cut. The side-swept, choppy pixie cut has, in recent years, become affiliated with the kind of meddling woman who demands to speak to the manager. How do we separate cool-girl Bixie from fun-ruining Karen? "Don’t go asymmetric," Fer tells me. "Be careful with the top layers if you want to avoid that kind of cut."
Depending on your hair type, the Bixie is surprisingly hassle-free to style. During our appointment, Fer cut my hair once when wet and went over it again when dry, using a small barrel brush to blow-dry the shorter hair at the back, switching to a medium size for the front section. However, he says that fine, naturally straight hair like mine could easily be styled with a rough-dry and a pump of styling cream like George Northwood Moisturizing Cream, through the lengths and ends. For a slicked back style like Florence or Kaia, he recommends using additional styling cream on the sides and tucking behind your ears. Second-day hair can be kept looking fresh with a spritz of dry shampoo.
Snip by snip, my hair fell to the salon floor and I thought back to 14-year-old me and her pixie tragedy. No, Anna from The OC’s face-framing pixie cut didn’t exactly complement my prepubescent features but the horrified response from my peers at the time was telling. I’d like to hope that today’s technologically blessed teenagers wouldn’t be ostracized for playing with androgynous styles. This is 2021: Harry Styles is wearing a dress and Billie Eilish is in a tracksuit. Gender norms no longer have the same chokehold on society.
Nothing proves this more than the immediate response I received upon leaving the salon, when a passing builder flashed me a smile and said: "Great haircut." He’s right, it really is a great haircut. The shorter length accentuates my cheekbones and the flattering, floppy fringe highlights my better eyebrow (we all have one, right?). Getting a dramatic chop like the Bixie might be intimidating, particularly for anyone cocooned in the comfort blanket of long hair. But the payoff is a haircut that propels you into 2021, requires minimal styling and looks, to be frank, cool as fuck. This is your sign to get a Bixie. You won’t regret it.
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