A fringe has always been part and parcel of my style. From swooping side bangs as a teenage emo and a full, Zooey Deschanel-style fringe in my early 20s to flippy curtain bangs over the last few years as the trend saw a comeback, it's safe to say I'm willing to give all fringes the time of day. It's a common stereotype that women book in for a fringe when they’re in the midst of a crisis (hello, pandemic) but a fringe has always made me feel more authentically myself — plus it softens my resting bitch face. That's exactly why I had to try one of the most searched-for fringe trends right now.
Enter: bottleneck bangs.
What is the bottleneck fringe?
The bottleneck fringe (aka bottleneck bangs) occupies a cosy space between a curtain fringe (draped at the sides to frame the face) and a full fringe. It's ever so slightly parted in the centre, complete with bitty texture to lend the look an effortless, lived-in feel. Seen on Margot Robbie on the cover of British Vogue back in August 2021 (and a plethora of stylish women since, including fashion blogger Lily Melrose, Dakota Fanning and Lily Collins), the bottleneck fringe instantly gives a haircut a cool girl feel. Following on from the success of the shag, mullet and wolf cut in 2021, the bottleneck fringe is an easy, less drastic way to add some curated disarray to your failsafe hairstyle. It gives any cut a slightly rebellious edge without having to commit to lots of different layers or chopping inches off your lengths, much like the above trends.
So named by stylist to the stars Tom Smith for the streamlined shape that the fringe gives the face, the bottleneck can be as full-on or as subtle as you like. The key to the fringe is that it ends up being shorter in the middle and cut at an angle at the sides. As a result it appears considered (and more chic) compared to a grown-out full fringe or curtain bangs. Much like adding a few shaggy layers to your hair, this sort of fringe adds a controlled wildness — perfect for those who loved the bedhead look throughout the '00s.
Where can I get the bottleneck fringe?
I got the trending wolf cut back in June and my layers had grown out into something akin to The Rachel — a classic, flicky style. Sure, I loved the relaxed and low-maintenance style of this grown-out cut but I felt like it was missing some of the edge that the wolf cut gave me initially. Being able to choose between something more polished and a more worn-in style day to day is important to me. Adding a bottleneck fringe seemed like the perfect balance between my low-effort cut and looking more 'put together' every day.
I paid a visit to eco-friendly, Newington Green-based salon Buller + Rice and asked cofounder and director Stephen Buller to bring my hair back to life with the bottleneck fringe. "We’ve seen quite a lot of people coming in for a variation of this fringe over the last few years," Stephen told me. "Lockdown slowed down hair trends in some ways and amplified them in others. People that cut in their fringes while stuck at home soon started coming in and wanting a slightly more styled version." The bottleneck was a popular choice.
Stephen got to work sectioning off some curtain bangs and then two smaller sections either side of these pieces of hair to blend into the rest of my lengths later on and achieve that streamlined, bottleneck look. "It’s so flattering on pretty much everyone," said Stephen of the bottleneck, "and it’s actually one of my favourite hairstyles. It’s a fun way to change up hair without having to sacrifice on length or commit to growing out layers for months to come."
The key to the success of the bottleneck fringe is that it’s cut on an angle. This may seem dangerously close to the severed, emo fringe of the '00s but it’s done in a much more gentle, thought-out way, rather than haphazardly. Stephen removed some length at this angle while my hair was wet before giving it a light misting with OWAY Sea Salt Spray, £32, and then rough-drying it to see where it would sit when dry (especially important as I have a cowlick on one side).
Once dry, Stephen chipped away at the ends of my new fringe to create a slightly more shattered, less bulky look before trimming the more central strands to sit atop my brow bone. This created the perfect bottleneck shape. A few face-framing layers added to the lengths of hair next to my fringe and the look was complete. Stephen’s thoughts? "There are a few trends I was shocked to see coming back around in the last few years (the mullet being one of them) but this type of easy, shaggy fringe is something I’ve been happy to see return — especially in contrast to the big '70s fringes that have also made a comeback."
How do you style a bottleneck fringe?
To style my new bottleneck fringe, Stephen blow-dried my hair with a round brush angled down towards my chin to create the rough shape that we wanted. He then used straighteners to finish off the look. This moved the edge of the fringe slightly away from my face for a little added volume. He used Davines This Is A Dry Texturizer, £24, to hold the style while adding some much-needed texture to create the effortlessly chic and undone feel. Depending on your hair type, you may need to use more (or even less) texturising product to get the bottleneck fringe just right for you. I personally prefer my hair to look less shiny and more messy, so more product is better for me.
Fringes can be incredibly high maintenance (don't get me started on the fuller versions) but the great thing about the bottleneck style is that it gets a little messier and flickier throughout the day, which simply improves the look. In all honesty? I’ve had plenty of fringes in the past but this might just be my favourite.