The Sartorial Student – Week Four

Roisin Kberd 9 February 2010

Roisin Kiberd Reports from the Razor’s Edge

If last week’s column was about stylish methods of head covering, then this week’s is about leaving your head bare. As in, shaving your hair clean off. On one side of your head.

No I’m not promoting some religious observance or well-meant charitable manoeuvre; the Undercut has been slowly clawing it’s way back onto the head of discerning style setters for several years. Its journey from dive-bar to catwalk began with Alice Dellal, the rocker heiress and high-fashion model whose punk tattoos and half-shaven, half-luxuriant head of hair have her featured on the most illustrious magazine covers.

So now the undercut is back with a vengeance, lopped off on one side for the girls or brutally hacked all around for the guys. For examples, look to the myriad style-setters who have adopted it over the years, from Rihanna to Patrick Wolf to eighties band A Flock of Seagulls (does anyone remember these guys for their music and not their hair?). And now I feel the lure of the undercut myself, and find myself pinning back my hair in the mirror, and wondering.

Blame it on relationship traumas or the ennui of term, but I want something brave and new, drastic, bolshy and confrontational. Some kind of follicular upheaval is calling.. The problem is that there’s nothing really shocking about this haircut anymore. The post-apocalyptic coif is now feted in magazines and mild-mannered student newspapers. I see half-heads of hair in town on Saturdays, and, yet more surprising, in the FacultyLibrary! And they look good; undercut Cambridge boys seem less anarchist, more Saville Row sharp. Female wearers, meanwhile, are not DIY punks but simply dedicated followers of fashion.But still it seems a drastic step, and I have second thoughts wondering what the February winds would feel like, blowing cold on one side of your head… Perhaps I’ll leave it a little while yet.Want to know how to get an undercut of your own? Braver, more intrepid readers ought to try it themselves with a nail scissors, a comb and a bottle of tequila. No-one will mind that the results are uneven and haphazardly stubbly, you’ll seem all the more ‘authentic’ for it. Or failing that you can just take the un-punk route, rip out a photo and head to the nearest barber.

Roisin Kberd