This article was first published on 7 June 2021.
Is a wolf cut a mullet? Not really. You see, cyclical trends don’t just apply to fashion, they’re also apparent in hairstyles. Remember when the ‘90s barrette look had a big comeback a couple of years ago? It looked chic and cool. A testament to the fact that what’s old will definitely become new again — just give it a decade or two.
However, each time a trend comes back, it doesn’t get revived the exact same way. Thanks to modern touches, recycled trends are given a fresh makeover and the result is something that’s similar to the original looks but with some undeniable differences that distinguish them. The wolf cut definitely borrows elements from the mullet, but they’re not the same. Here are the ways they are different from each other.
@coolmadsgames there’s a difference 😌#greenscreen#wolfcut#05 ♬ MMM MMM (feat. ATL Jacob) - Kali
Wolf cut started in Asia, while the mullet is a Western trend
Mullet’s history goes way, way back to ancient times. But the modern mullet, as we know it today, had a big moment in the 1980s. The signature ‘80s mullet look is largely attributed to David Bowie and his alter ego, the androgynous Ziggy Stardust. Soon, it was adopted by other influential figures of the decade such as Patrick Swayze, Billy Ray Cyrus, John Travolta, Rob Lowe and many more. While it was seen as a hairstyle for males, women also sported the haircut including Meryl Streep in Silkwood (1983), Cher and Ellen De Generes.
During the noughties, the mullet look had a brief moment with Dolly Parton and Scarlett Johansson, among others. It was also around this time when a mullet-like look became popular — the infamous pouf which mimicked the upper volume of the mullet. More recently, young stars have also rocked mullets during special occasions, including Kristen Stewart in the 2014 American Film Awards and Zendaya during the 58th Grammy Awards.
But by the late 2010s, another mullet-like look had taken over: the wolf cut. This time, the trend wasn’t started by Hollywood stars but was popularised by K-pop idols.
And unlike the mullet, the wolf cut is worn by men and women alike. It’s also more versatile as it can be adapted to suit short and medium hair. The wolf cut is also friendly for many hair textures.
Wolf cut’s popularity skyrocketed in 2019 when it began appearing in Douyin (the Chinese version of TikTok) where many ladies attempted to give themselves haircuts.
But it wasn’t until recently that the style became a TikTok trend and gained new heights of worldwide fame. It also helped that Billie Eilish got a new wolf cut “shag”, which inspired youngins to try it for themselves.
More recently, Wednesday star Jenna Ortega was seen donning a short version of the look too at the 2023 Golden Globe Awards!
Wolf cut vs. mullet: it’s all about the layers
The main difference between a wolf cut and a mullet is in the way they’re layered. Mullets have a bowl-like haircut at the top with the volume concentrated on the bangs and a long bottom which looks like a tail.
On the other hand, the wolf cut’s layers are more even; they frame the face in graduated levels. The cut usually features bangs that are at eyebrow length, whereas mullets don’t usually have bangs (and if they do, they’re cut at the mid-forehead). This usually results in wild-looking wolf-like hair hence the name.
Wolf cut variations to consider before you make the cut
1. Soft layers
Wolf cut with soft layers are less dramatic, with the shortest layer just somewhere around the earlobes. This gives the illusion of volume without necessarily giving the look a choppy feel.
2. Curly wolf cut
If you think the wolf cut can only be enjoyed by people with straight or wavy hair, then you'd be delighted to know that it works on curly hair too. As seen on Bretman Rock, wolf cut is also ideal for people with naturally textured hair to give more shape. Don't have curly hair? A curling iron can give the same effect, with the layers giving your hair more body.
3. XXL Wolf Cut
Thinking of getting this look but want to keep the base length of your hair? The XXL wolf cut is the answer. It follows the basic structure of the wolf cut, with the volume focused on top. However, it has a lot more layers to create a cascading effect.
How to get either looks
If you want a mullet, your best bet is to go to a hair salon. Since it’s like a combination of two haircuts, a mullet is more intricate and requires professional skill to achieve.
On the other hand, you can easily give yourself a wolf cut at home. The ease is probably one of the reasons why it became so popular.
All you need are some sharp scissors (preferably hairdressing scissors if you have a pair) and two hair ties. First, tie your hair as close as possible to your head and then tie it again near the end tail leaving about four to five inches (or as long as you like). Then cut the four to five inches tail-end of the hair. Remove the hair ties and that’s it. Now you have gradual wolf cut layers! It’s easy to achieve, doesn’t look boring and grows out sans an awkward phase.
Would you try the wolf cut at home?
(Cover photo from: @jennaortega)
Next, learn how to style the wolf cut.
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