(Real Simple) -- From the time flappers took up scissors to crop their hair (not to mention their hemlines), short has equaled modern. And in an era when brevity reigns — we now tell whole stories in 140 characters or less — short hair seems especially current.
But if you think of it as limiting, think again. In terms of versatility, "short hair is the new black," says Rodney Cutler, who sparked a fresh craze for the pixie cut when he famously cropped actress Emma Watson's hair, post Harry Potter, in 2010.
And to prove the point, Cutler worked with stylists at his salons — there are four Cutler salons in New York City and South Beach, Florida — to create the adaptable styles shown here.
Short, Textured Bob
Works best for: Thicker hair
What to ask for: A short bob with razor-cut layers
How-tos for this look: Spray on a volumizing product at the roots, then blow-dry the roots, using a round brush. Blow hair straight forward from the crown — don't part it yet as you normally would — giving the roots lift and volume before sweeping the bangs to the side you prefer. Use a flat brush to blow the hair at the sides so it falls smoothly and sleekly.
Easy Swept-Back Hair
How-tos for this look: For a simple off-the-face sweep, start with a strong-hold setting spray at the roots. Blow hair straight back, raking fingers through hair to keep it piecey. Finish with a little wax to give hair definition: Apply a small amount to the fingertips of one hand, rub together with the opposite and run though your hair.
Works best for: Finer hair, especially with some natural texture
What to ask for: Multiple layers that "round in" to create shape and movement
How-tos for this look: Apply a strong-hold setting spray at the roots. Using a round brush, blow out hair, lifting it at the roots to create volume. With a 1 1/4-inch flat iron, work from the middle of the hair shafts down to flip up hair ends all around the head.
Simple Side Knot
How-tos for this look: Gently back-comb the hair ends around the head. Starting on the side you part your hair on, braid across the nape, working from just behind the ear and leaving the hair behind the opposite ear free. Let layers pop out at will as you braid (the idea is to keep the look slightly messy).
Loosely gather the end of the braid with the unbraided hair and twist into a side knot. Secure with a couple of bobby pins. Pull out a few random strands, so hair does not look too "done," and spritz on a bit of hair spray for hold.
Tousled Pixie Cut
Works best for: Slightly wavy medium-fine hair
What to ask for: Layers that are longer on top and not cut uniformly all around
How-tos for this look: Even women with natural texture can sport a pixie if the cut works with their waves, as this haircut created by Cutler/Redken Salon's David Kastin does. Here, the longer layers at the crown enhance the waves, so the style feels as effortless as it is: Simply muss the hair, lifting up at the roots with your fingers, as you blow-dry it. Smooth out the bangs with a flat brush, then apply a dab of matte paste to your hands, rub them together, and run though your hair for hold and definition.
Short and Sleek
How-tos for this look: Part damp hair on one side above the arch of the eyebrow. Apply a dab of gelatine product and comb through around the head. Comb the sides straight back, and finish with a glossing spray to hold: a two-minute look that will work equally well after the beach or for an evening out.
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