Shaved, Part II

Emily Weiss

Last week was pretty makeup-heavy (hello, Jeanine—I re-read that story three times over the weekend), so let’s skip on over to hair and even the score.

I’ve been keeping a little secret since the summer. Inspired by Aymeline’s wraparound under-shave, I marched into L’Atelier de Laurie one steamy July afternoon and told Mauricio to pick up his clipper. I imagine this sort of request gives a (good) hairdresser mixed emotions—“Yessss! Most exciting job of the day!”—tempered by feelings of responsibility—“…but are you sure? This is kind of drastic.” Yes yes yes, Mauricio, go for it. Fear not, I didn’t go for the Guido-fied runway version—just your classic mid-ear to mid-ear 1990’s throwback.

I love, love, love my under-shave. (My friend Nick hates the term under-shave; thinks it sounds “obscene”. Any suggestions for a new name?) For me—meaning on me—meaning this is my very personal opinion, it keeps having long hair (and wearing 1940’s-esque printed-prim dresses) from getting too girly sometimes. I’ll wear a Louis Vuitton frock one day, hair up, and an Alex Wang skater-boy ensemble the next, hair down. But the same could be said for lipstick—isn’t it fun to throw on a red lip when you’re just in jeans and a t-shirt?

Like many a beauty choice, it’s no joke in the upkeep department. Once a week, Phillips clipper set to “2”. I’d do it myself—Orlando Pita swore up and down that I could—but that really seems like an accident waiting to happen. So Nick comes by and we have a ten-minute hair party, and wind up talking about beauty and perfumes (he’s recently taken to wearing Tom Ford’s new women’s fragrance Violet Blonde). Hey, a little rule-breaking never hurt anyone. Growing this out, however, will be a real pain.

Photographed by Tommy Ton in Paris, October 2011

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • chelsea

    it looks great on you! i could never do it. but what happens when you want to grow it out?

  • inspiredloser

    As someone with extremely thick hair and about to enter an Australian summer I am extremely intrigued by this idea, but unsure of whether I'd have the figurative hair balls to pull it off!

    • Jane

      Ah! I gave this ago and the results were fantastic! People didn't even notice when I tied my hair up. You don't need very much guts to pull this off I think because it's very unnoticeable especially if you have thick hair (like I do!) and it is so much cooler.

      I have no regrets and I'm even thinking about doing it again now that it has grown out.

  • Joseph Slaich

    You look awesome ! I love your site ! Kisses from Czech Republic !

  • Denise

    Omg. I did this in high school, all the girls thought I was a crazy lesbian but it was the coolest thing ever. I love it!

  • Joy

    I love how subtle it is. I didn't even notice anything until you pointed it out! I agree I hate it when things look too girly girly for my liking and this balances it out nicely. I dig in. "Under shave" brings into mind armpits for some strange I understand why Nick would want to call it something different.

  • Amelia

    i really want to get a side shave, actually, because i always have my hair extreme parted on the side, and i have a lot of piercings on one ear, so i think it'd look kind of cool. BUT i am way too worried about growing it out because my hair takes forever to grow in the first place! i absolutely love the way it looks though and i'm so glad they've made a comeback!

  • The Minx

    ahh I have an undershave too! except it's on the side of my head, I just got it. It's such a cool look, yours looks great.

  • mlle p

    I agree it gives that edge to an otherwise more basic hairstyle - maybe you could dye/bleach the underside when it starts to grow out for another interesting look?
    Not sure what else to call it...underbuzz? That sounds like some odd cartoon character.

  • Liz

    You really pull off this look. Amazing!

    Liz Lizo

  • Ashley at The I on Fashion

    I wont lie, I don't really fancy the term 'under-shave' as well, but it will do! This look definitely does suit you, but I guess it would depend on the person.

    The I on Fashion

  • Jenny

    I love it, I think this is awesome and kudos to you for taking the risk! I remember when undercuts were in style in Grade 7, and I wanted one too. My dad took me to a crappy hair salon at our local mall in B.C. and instead of getting an undercut, I got a straight-up BOY's haircut. It was mortifying and being pre-pubescent everyone totally thought I was a boy. This whole experience brought me to my next phase: GIANT HOOP EARRINGS AND LOTS OF PINK (read: I AM A GIRL DAMNIT). I hope to see more photos of your hair and you are totally rockin it girl!!!

  • sashi

    I have to really laugh at the thought of doing this with my very curly hair, because imagine, to ever grow it out would literally be like I stuffed a small poodle underneath my hair. Umm, is that a beanie baby under there....?
    Looks rocker-chic on you though

  • stephanie

    I love how it slyly announces itself in the photo -- the surprise when paired with a ladylike ensemble. Lovely. I had one (we called it [an] "undercut") for ~10 years and really miss it. It was also a fun bonding experience getting friends/dad (!) to help out with shave-maintenance. Enjoy!

  • Aya

    It looks great!!
    I agree it gives a bit of edge. I feel the same way as I got a pixie cut a few months ago--I can go really girly with clothes and make up but still maintain a bit of an edge from the hair. Perhaps if/when I grow out my hair I'll try an undershave. What a ballsy surprise to be hiding under a sweet chignon!

  • dawn

    i love the look + the mix of feminity that you throw in to keep it becoming overly edgy! also liking that you can cover it up without anyone knowing the better.

    i'd love to try an anya inspired look (i.e. from 'project runway- the side shave), but it's the growing out stage that would haunt me. my hair grows out way too slow...

  • georgia

    I think you look so much better with this done (that is you in the image right?) than the model in your last post on under shaves. You manage to make it almost, erg I can't find the right words, erm mainstream? That doesn't sound right. I guess what I mean is that you make it seem like anyone could have it done without being a punk. Especially paired with that girly dress, it looks amazing.

    I would be tempted if I was bothered by my long hair but I looooove having loads of volume and masses of hair because it has taken me so long to grow it from a thin volume-less bob.


  • PhotoGirl

    OK, I seem to be in a minority of one here, but I'm going to say that I don't like it. On you or anyone. I suppose I just don't understand why it's always the really beautiful girls who want to do this sort of thing to themselves. Or perhaps my inner girly-girl finds this look threatening. Or I could just be a hopelessly old-school Midwesterner who doesn't "get it." All of the above? Paging Dr. Freud.
    That said, I'll also add my belief that everyone has the right to wear their hair, makeup, clothing -- whatever -- exactly as they please. The fact that some people may not care for it doesn't really matter.

    As always, your posts are thought-provoking.

    Off to don my flame-retardant suit now.... :)

    • Fiona

      I'm with you, PhotoGirl. My (total hipster) sister got one a couple of years ago, and it made me shudder to look at - but then I am really weird when it comes to hair, I get grossed out by just about anything. Extensions, wigs, greasy hair, you name it.

      Emily's undercut is by far the most acceptable I've seen, though! Probably helps that she is a) gorgeous and b) has a very lovely 'nuque'. I like that it's a really unusual and unexpected look... I just wish it didn't involve short, bristly hair (I just shuddered typing that; obviously a basket case!)

  • Meli

    I love this look but do You guys think I will be able to pull off braids (in all its variations) without it looking weird?

  • audrey

    under-cut. i love it.

  • Marcela

    I like the look, it's risky and safe at the same time, which makes it even better.
    As one who once shaved everything I say enjoy the moment. And if you are happy with it then everything else is just that, everything else.

  • Nat71

    It looks good on you - but I have terrible memories of a DIY version I did in high school with a Bic razor (yes, really). It looked awful and was a nightmare to grow out. Which is possibly why I have had short hair pretty much ever since...

  • Sandra

    I love it - both the haircut and your delicious attitude to beauty as not just being a girly thing, but something that can be chic and cool at the same time.

    Unfortunately my hair is way too thin to pull of an under-shave.

  • Lou

    I did this in my teens and felt very much like a rebel but I don't think it worked on me. My ballet teacher was very cross. I wasn't aloud to attend classes till it grew back.... Oh that has now taken me to a bad place. But it looks good on you.


  • Nina

    When I was in college (quite awhile ago!), I had a very close friend who was from the Philipines. She was just beautiful and had the most amazing thick, straight, dark hair. I was quite surprised when summer rolled around, she put her hair in a pony and OMG - she had an "under shave!" I asked her about it and she said that it was really common among Filipino women because although they have straight Asian hair, it is super-coarse and creates a "pyramid effect" when the weather gets humid. Her "undershave" wasn't quite as close-cropped as yours, Emily. I think you would look pretty edgy even if it weren't as "buzzed," if that helps you with lessening the upkeep. As always, your blog just makes my day!

  • Hanna

    Great one, great look! Call it the undercut. This name is better ;)

  • Jane S.

    Hmm, I just had to go back and rewatch your D & G makeup video to see if your "undercut" (I like that name!) could be detected. I think you benefit from having really nice thick hair that's shoulder length. On the model you showed, her hair looks quite stringy and thin -- I realize that was part of the look for the show - but it doesn't look healthy. I saw Freja is also sporting this look which also works because she's got a ton of hair. You know what - you're young and gorgeous and having fun - this is the time you're supposed to take risks with your looks! (At your age, I did the Linda Evangelista inspired blonde tips on my otherwise short dark brown hair.)

  • Katherine

    Cool!! I did the same thing after I read your previous under-cut post. I have a full head of fine hair, and in the summer it was feeling like a scarf around my neck. Not pretty either! I buzzed mine up to the same area as you. It leaves my neck feeling clean and like a peach, I love it!

  • Christina Hovland

    I had an undershave from just above the ears all the way around from ages 14-16 (it was the late eighties). Growing it out took over a year, but the area over the ears was the worst part. Yours shouldn't be too bad... it'll be pretty easy just to ignore it!

  • Lauren

    I did this last year (when I pulled my hair up it created a triangle shape) and am in the process of growing it out. It's actually less noticeable than you would think (growing it out- that is) because I have a lot of hair. If you have superfine hair- and not a lot of it - growing it out may be a more tenuous process. But, I'm glad I did it and am looking forward to the next thing!!
    Ombre is so over.

    Also- my vote's for "Under Cut."

    - L

  • Amber

    I totally didn't notice it until I read the article. Lovely errr..undershave...yea weird term. But anyway, I dig the look I am a girly-boy-girl myself hehe.

  • Abi

    My hair dresser calls it an undercut, I had one in highschool and i used to dye the saved part to look like leopard spots

  • Mariela

    Wow, I don't think I could ever pull something like this off, but it looks absolutely fabulous on you!!

  • claire

    how about "nape shave"? haha sounds even more obscene but at least it rhymes

  • murt

    Hmmm it reminds me a bit too much of elementary school (quite a few girls in my class had them then) but I have to say I like it on you for the reasons you mentioned. It looks both juvenile and a bit trashy but in a good way!

    Unfortunately my hair is way too thin to make it work.

  • Jellytea

    I used to cut my hair like this all the time in high school, as my hair weighed about 5 lbs coming out of the pool after swim practice. We called it the "hidden boy" cut.

  • Lani

    In NZ we call it the under-cut. Same thing, still shaved, but I guess under-cut sounds better than under-shave.

  • Steel Toed Heels

    Wow, it looks good but I would be terrified of doing it.

  • Hanne

    Wow, it looks great on you, I didn't even realize it at first!

    x - A model's beauty secrets and tips

  • Ashley

    This post was the last straw. I made an appointment and had it done! It is fantastic!

  • Julie

    Emily your makeup looks amazing! I got a much better view from other photographers sites of your face. Please tell me its Douceur by NARS on your cheeks! Love that blush!

  • Brittany

    I think it looks really good on you, I do not have the courage to do that. the most I've done is cut my hair short. How long will it take to grow out? and what hair styles can you do?

  • BonQuiQui

    ha I spotted you with this in august! Would have got one myself if my hair was thicker or I didn't have to go back to the Netherlands where I am constantly freezing as a california native. But I'll probably be tempted again in the spring

  • Lisi

    OMG. SO brave. And chic. Love.

  • sarah

    I LOVE this. On you. could shave your name into the side of your head and still look flawless.

  • Adela


  • M. Racha

    At the risk of being cliché, you could try French! Some things always seem to sound better in a different language , no matter the language.

    I imagine it would start out as "sous-rasé" [sue-rah-zay] or "sous-coupé" [sue-coop-ay], and eventually make it's abbreviated way to "sous-raz" [sue-razz] or "sous-coup" [suze-coo].

    I can see it now, haha.

    A hurried New Yorker or edgy Mid-wester pops into the salon mid-morning, the wind billowing her trench coat as she fumbles with her gloves, bag, and soy peppermint latté.

    "'Ey, Jimmy? Can we just touch up my suze-coo really quickly? Time is just NOT on my side this morning, but I swear, the shag has been driving me crazy.."

    The added benefit is that no one outside of the beauty world will have a single clue what you're talking about, so you can keep your cut just as anonymous as it is when you have your hair down. Looks like a win-win for all. (Plus, it actually makes perfect sense!) :].

  • Brea

    running into you at Zara this afternoon has been the highlight of the whole two months i've lived in new york! you are so kind and very gorgeous, even more so in person. love love love your blog!

    • Emily

      Haha thank you so much Brea. Great meeting you as well! Hope you found some good stuff...Zara rules. xE

  • mimi

    unfortunately, i cant do anything too fun and interesting with my hair as i work in a very conservative environment, but i love living vicariously through others who are brave enough to be bold with hair! i like that it's subtle and practical with a hint of edge. very nice emily! x

  • Alisa

    I got one in June and have kept it ever since (actually, I got my dad to cut it over Father's Day weekend...). Mine is a bit more dramatic- starting at about an inch above each ear - but I absolutely love how it toughens up any look juuust enough. Any outfit becomes a 'style', no matter how little effort. It's also amazing how different it's made me feel.

    The bizarre thing is, though, that somehow my hair still feels just as thick as it did before- even though half of it is missing! My hair is very full and wavy (and currently about collar-length); I had hoped the undercut would thin it out a bit, but no such luck...!

    • Denisa

      haha! I hoped the same when I got the undercut! you just destroyed my dreams :). But I love it all the same, it feels really edgy.

  • Laura

    Love the pic! Classy but edgy style. Well done!

  • josephine

    does mauricio color your hair as well? i'm in love with your color!

  • solita

    So, I was inspired by your undercut and went ahead and did something I've been toying with for a while now. Shaving the sides of my head. That's right ladies I went for the glam, Anya-style mohaw. Literally did it just now. In my bathroom. Myself. Probably not the best decision to DIY it but I can always get the wonky bits trimmed in the AM. I am loving it! It looks so good and I feel super cool! I'm gonna save so much on shampoo! lol!
    And also... shame on the poster who said "it’s always the really beautiful girls who want to do this sort of thing to themselves". How rude! As if something as inconsiquential as hair determines the net worth of a woman. As if a beautiful woman is somehow les beautiful because she dares to do something so villanous to herself as cut the hair on her own head. I mean really?! It's not the midwest, sweetie. It's your own inability to remember that a woman, especially a beautiful woman, is so much more than a pair of tits and long hair.

  • Sasha


    I had the same hair cut two summers ago and seeing this pictures makes me want to shave the bottom again.

    I am tempted. Big time.

  • Stasi

    Looks great on you! My real question though is how do you get your bun to stay like that exactly?? Tell me your secret to that nice looking bun please!

  • Laura Cha

    I have a small one on the side of my head, above my ear. The term I use is "UNDERCUT". I love mine and yours is beautiful!

  • Danielle

    Barf! I had this hairstyle in 1991 and when I look at pictures, I want to shake my otherwise adorable 16 year old self and say, "Every time you show your prom picture to someone in the future, they're going to ask if you were a white supremacist!"

    Showing this on a gorgeous woman is really misleading. Any average-looking woman is going to look ridiculous with the bottom of her head shaved.

  • mociun

    I called it an undercut it middle school mid 90s :)