By Adam Hurly.
Let me be clear: I loved Harry Styles’ long hair. We all did. But I love his current medium length even more. Because Harry Styles' new hair is better.
As iconic as Harry’s long hair was, I'd argue it didn't flatter him. He tell me to “Piss off, mate”, or something more polite (and maybe not cockney), because long hair does suit his iconic rocker style. However, his hairline isn’t cut out for that length of hair. I’m speaking from experience, here: I’ve got the same hairline and texture, and I dropped my own down to the shoulders a few years back. The front portion, a peninsula of hair, jutted out almost like a widow’s peak thanks to two largely recessed sides. Harry still has plenty of hair, as did I, but a medium style, especially with wavy hair, offsets the recession much better. This is because it doesn’t look like an attempt to deny the hair loss. (Whether you agree with me or not about Harry’s hair, at least take notes for yourself here. I’m only trying to help.)
Let’s use Jared Leto’s long hair as a quick comparison. Leto’s hair is straighter, usually parted down the middle, with less recession. Pulled back or worn down, it doesn’t age him as much as Styles’ long, wavy, recessed hair did him.
This is why I was relieved when Styles chopped his hair for a role in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (due this summer). He wears it damn well. He instantly looks younger, but simultaneously more grown up. I sound like my mother when I say this, but I think he’s much more handsome without the shoulder-length hair. He trades the bad-boy sex appeal for rakish handsomeness.
And why does that matter? It really doesn’t. Harry’s genetically engineered to be handsome either way. But, in terms of the direction his career is going—that is, David Bowie reincarnated—a shorter or medium style gives him surprisingly more versatility than a longer, harried style. If Harry wants to keep evolving his grooming game, he’ll want to keep the hair off his shoulders. You can’t innovate longer men’s styles as easily as you think. Sure, you can highlight it, pull it back, or straighten it, but then the style starts wearing you. Check out how frequently Harry’s former band mate Zayn Malik innovates his hairstyle, all while maintaining short and medium lengths. (That being said, Zayn’s hairline is perfect for a longer look. Here’s hoping he tries it out at some point, which seems inevitable given his adventurous grooming habits.)
So while the longer hair is, in and of itself, a middle finger to the status quo, I sincerely want what’s best for Harry (and Harry Styles' new hair). I love the promo art for his first single, “Sign of the Times”, almost as much as I love the song itself. We got Titanic-era Leonardo DiCaprio vibes from it, and the image felt like a press release for a new era of Harry’s heart-throbbery.
And, when Harry debuted his new sound on Saturday Night Live in April (with dashing style to boot), he confirmed that his 2.0 era, at least for now, will play to his strengths: less pop, more rock, less hairy, more style. Sure, you can still see the recessed hair with his medium, coifed cut, but that’s what any guy (aside from Jared Leto and Zayn Malik) has to deal with. He sounds more grown up, and now he looks it, too.
For the record, I also loved One Direction, as a grown man. But I think I’ll love solo Harry better than Boy Band Harry. He was captaining that ship, destined to Timberlake himself into standalone stardom. That’s why I’m certainly going to love solo Harry even better—because it suits him better.
This story originally appeared on GQ.
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