Spot the Nought: The Wispy Hair Trend

"Y2K?" "Why not 2K?"

We all remember the glory days of the early Noughties: Girl power, platform sandals, A-line skirts and terry tracksuits galore. Beauty-wise, it was the heyday of pencil-thin brows and equally pin-straight strands, not to mention those telltale tendrils of wispy hair that, for better or worse, drew even more attention to our tight ponytails.

Funnily enough, as trends are wont to do, we saw a sudden (and surprisingly adorable!) renaissance of this quirky, post-grunge look. First spotted on the street stars in Korea and Japan, the wispy hair trend made its way to the West via runway appropriation. Now everyone has seen a version or another of this once-popular look, whether on the latest fringe hairstyle or as a final touch to a stringy half-updo. We discuss further:

Big in the Noughties: The Wispy Hair Trend

wispy hair long black asian
Parted in the middle, of course! Photo credit:

1. Long, Straight Hair

If you came of age in 2000s, chances are you had a close relationship with your flat iron (Ed’s note: I took it a step further and actually went full rebond). The super-straight look was so in vogue that serums and shine sprays also experienced a spike in popularity. Overuse of these cult products sometimes led to our already-flattened hair going limp or stringy midday, a look that spun off into its own microtrend.

wispy hair tendrils
We surmise it was to soften the era’s sharp ponytails, but wearing your hair with two loose tendrils just made a lot of sense back in the day (And with a wet finish and more modern waves, it still does.). Photo credit:

2. Temple Tendrils

Ah, the nostalgia! That decade’s first-generation temple tendrils are this decade’s prom photo ~lewk~ of our nightmares, so thankfully these 2017 versions offer a less-cringeworthy take. (Also grateful for the wet-look trend, which gave more runway cred to this throwback look.) How to wear: Give this wispy hair version the props it deserves by tying hair in a half-updo, and dabbing each tendril with some gel. Awe-yeah!

wispy hair side lob
So cute and wash-and-wear! Photo credit:

3. Side Lob

Cool and nonchalant, the side-swept bang + lob combo was another Noughties look that’s been given a runway reissue this year. Hair was usually cut to the collarbone—a totally flattering length, btw—and accentuated with long-ish bangs that hit past the cheekbone. An offshoot of the wildly copied “Rachel” haircut, this featured subtler layers and, you guessed it, a softer, wispier fringe.

wispy hair shag
This look features rounder layers and a very ear-tuckable length. Photo credit:

4. Soft Shag

Noticeably rounder than last year’s It Girl shag, this version can also credit the Noughties for its softer curls. Girls with straight hair who wanted a look with a bit of a wave or more body usually went in for some point-cutting, which resulted in boy cuts and pixies with a lot of piecey texture. Paired with a halter top, some flared jeans and a wide belt, there was no hipper look to speak of.

wispy hair curls
Curls are more tousled, resulting in an airier, more separated feel. Photo credit:

5. Crunchy Curls

How to wear curls and waves in the era of straight hair? Loosen them up. The Noughts were still reeling from the minimalist wave of the 1990s, and as such, was rife with simpler, lower-maintenance looks. Curls took on an airier feel—perhaps by scrunching and air-drying some mousse in, instead of going full-blast with a blowdryer—and were usually cut in a cropped, almost bob-like shape.

wispy hair bangs black asian locks
Skinny bangs give an interest point to a textured down-do. Photo credit:
wispy hair high ponytail
They take the high ponytail into haute territories. Photo credit: Allyson Alapont

6. Piecey Bangs

Need a 2017 refresh but want to keep some length? Ask your stylist for some tiny, skinny bangs. This wispy hair trademark look is perhaps one of the easiest to pull off, given your dedication to trims and a dry shampoo, a must-have that keeps your look from venturing into greasy territories. All in all a winner in our books, wispy bangs are also quite versatile, even doing so much as elevating the humble high pony.

Want more cute throwback looks? Check out these retro-inspired hairstyles from the glamorous 1940s.

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