Should I Get Bangs?

Mackenzie sans bangs
The Fetus Bang
The Girly Bang
The Bi-Bang

I like to think that I’m one minor adjustment away from becoming the perfect woman—the Gwyneth Paltrow I always knew I had inside me. Imagine going baby blond—suddenly you're adding "Kennedy" to your Carolyn Bessette. Do a Key Son workout DVD and you'll know what it feels like to be Daria Werbowy (spoiler: awesome). Put on the right red lipstick, and now Liv Tyler is referring to you as the "Chunginator." I'll put it to you this way: in lieu of a linen closet, I keep a closet full of skincare, hair products, supplements, and makeup purchased with the hope that I would someday be able to look at myself in the mirror and think, "There she is."

And, until last month, I had yet to consider the most alluring and terrifying of image transformers: Bangs. Fringe. La Frange. LaBeouf. Whatever you call them, that swath of above-the-eyes hair has the ability to make or break a woman or a Bieber. They could go terribly wrong, but did fear hold back Lou Doillon from shrouding her face in mystery? Did Rooney Mara turn down The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo because of a requisite trim? What Would Grimes Do? Better yet, What Would Suri Do? And, after binge-watching Funny Face and The Devil Wears Prada, I decided it was time I took my blunt cut into Freja Beha territory.

"I'm getting bangs!" I announced to the office with the pride of a newly engaged woman. And, like all good, concerned boss-friends, they suggested that I ask hairstylist Ashley Javier to fashion temporary faux fringe for me before making any rash decisions. "Like a hair piece?" I clarified. "He did the same thing for Annabelle [Dexter-Jones]," Nick said, explaining how Javier could color-match and cut a few clip-on styles to send me home with before I took scissors to my real hair. And after a phone consultation with the extremely wry and charming Javier—“I don’t do 'cuts,' I do careers,” he told me—I set up an appointment to visit his sunny Flatiron salon.

I was greeted by a hot tea, a terrier, and a rainbow arrangement of fake bangs. In other words, I had taken the subway and an elevator to heaven. I thought that I would get the ball rolling by whipping out my own set of color-matched clip-ins—until I realized I'd made the mistake of ordering ones made of synthetic fibers. "I can't believe my scissors are going to cut this," Javier said, laughing. He would not be able to dye my faux hair, nor could he do much in the way of taming or styling, out of fear that too much heat would melt the—yes—polyester. Thankfully, the color was more or less spot-on and Ashley was able to look past my naiveté.

After cornrowing a two-inch-wide section of my real hair back over (to which the faux bangs would be clipped), Javier swiftly chopped polyester and talked me through the World of Fringe, which includes:

1. The bi-bang: A Birkin-esque bang that can be swept to the side so it disappears into the rest of the hair.

2. The brow bang: Cut right above the brows, so the eyebrows are still visible.

3. The girly bang: Cut one finger-width above the eyebrows, it's a "very Sandra Dee" bang, ideal for shorter lengths.

4. The baby bang: Audrey Hepburn mini fringe.

5. The fetus bang: An extremely graphic, very edgy, choppy bang that is two-and-a-half fingers above your eyebrows.

All the while, we laughed, played with hairstyles, talked references, and weighed the pros and cons of each look. It felt adventurous and extravagant. I was the Tai to his Cher. And, like any good tryst, when we were done he asked if he could light a cigarette before telling me about his childhood, about his passions (hair), and he even showed me a painting he was working on. He told me that I looked the prettiest in the girly bang, but that he'd want to hang out with fetus-banged me, so I left with one fetus bang [2], one girly bang [3], and one bi-bang [4].

I spent a week in those beautiful, bespoke face-merkins, but as much as I liked them, I ultimately decided I wasn't ready to commit. It's the same way I feel about getting a dog. Of course I want it, but it wouldn't be fair. I don't have time to take care of bangs, and I really do enjoy the freedom of not having to style them or have such a signature look everyday. And I couldn't be happier that I went temporary, because I'm no longer taunted by the mystery of 'What would I look like?'

Here's what I learned about getting bangs, both faux and real:

1) When going fake, invest in real hair if you can get it. It's much more versatile, and you can manipulate it to match the texture of your own hair.

2) As a general rule, bangs should never go wider than the arches of your eyebrows. This will not only keep your face from looking wider (an unfortunate reality of a lot of fringe), but will also keep you from looking like you have a bowl cut on the front half of your head. We can't all be Willow Smith.

3) If you're going to taper your bangs (and not cut straight across), make sure the length is consistent at least within the gap between your eyebrows.

So, this time, I did not get banged. But, the experience left me with the itch to change something, so I made an emergency hair appointment and chopped off a full five inches—right to the collarbone. A day later I ran into Leandra Medine who told me point-blank, "I like your hair. It's not short enough." I'm still very much on the journey to revealing my inner Gwyneth.

—Mackenzie Wagoner

Photos by Mathea Millman

Let’s Talk About It! JOIN IN
  • lynsey shepherd

    You do suit the girly bangs though they look lovely ^_^ your length is really nice too x

    Lynsey x

  • Jessica Rose

    You should get a fringe cut that is slightly longer than the that parts in the middle slightly like how Sienna Miller wears her fringe or Ms B.Bardot!

  • Lela London

    I think you've stopped me from making a HUGE mistake. Thank you ;)


  • Megan McClen

    I personally like the bi-bang on you, but that might just be my unrefined bang palette speaking.

  • Kimberly

    I just cut bangs a couple of weeks ago (at-home DIY) and regretted it almost instantly. They are so high maintenance! Next time I'm craving a hair change, I will try the clip-in variety.

  • Helen

    Another peril of cutting your fringe too wide is reaching the baby hairs at the temple. Mine frizzed out until they finally grew past my ears, lesson learnt.

  • Babou

    I got bangs 3 weeks ago... And I love it, my husband does too
    It was recommended by my hairdresser and I went for it... a bit of a shock at the beginning and a new routine (morning blowdry essential) but such a nice change !
    It was a big leap of faith as I cut my own bangs in 2002 and it looked awful but this time I went for the professionals

    And I looove the bangs on Mackenzie ! Especially the bi-bang and the girly bangbang

  • Aly

    "beautiful, bespoke face-merkins" (A+)

  • Marie

    The girly bang is really perfect on you

  • TheProcrastinator

    Vote: girly bang! It makes you look like you should be living in Paris.

  • Lady

    You look rather like me, and I'd say sideswept bangs look best, but a bit softer. Get the stylist to use thinning shears to get a bit of volume and texture there.

  • leticia

    yes, the bi-bang

  • Emily

    bi-bang 100%!

  • Ainsley Hellrud

    Entertaining read!

  • Shann Oliver

    Oh girl, go get that bi-bang STAT. You literally look bangin'. I totally think it's your Gwyneth.

    • ITGMackenzie

      Marry me

      • Shann Oliver

        Done. You bring the bangs, I'll bring the tux.

  • Aubrey Green

    Where can I get the faux bangs?

    • ITGMackenzie

      Hi Aubrey,

      I got mine from HairUWear, which was very affordable, but I don't know if they sell real hair:



      • Aubrey Green

        Thank you.

  • rosie

    this article read my mind - pretty sure there is a direct correlation between being newly single and wondering if you should get bangs - and i am having a crazy itch to cut them right now - unfortunately i don't think bettie bangs/baby bangs work that well on square face shapes :(

  • jfs537 .

    seriously the girly bang is beautiful.

  • Rebeka Osborne

    I don't say this often but you look really great with bangs. I think I like you best with bangs (vs. without). Girly are good, and so are the bi. I vote BANGS!

  • Leah

    I like the fetus bang - edgy, yet very pretty.

  • maggie

    I am really missing my bangs lately but there is a certain freedom in getting caught in the rain now and not having to worry about my bangs curling up and looking terrible for the rest of the day! But sigh, they make me feel so much more stylish.

  • Guest

    The bi-bang looks great on you, you should definitely do it.

  • Anna

    When I saw your photo my initial thought was; don't get bangs, instead cut your hair so it's just below chin length. Not exactly a bob but you know, like a Karlie Kloss type of style :)

  • Ms_Edgeley

    you dont have a look unless you have bangs! get the girly bangs they look amazing and suit your heart shaped face to perfection. its your look go for it.

  • Behind the Mirror

    I love bangs. I did the bang thing earlier this winter, but now it is time to grow them out. Too much maintenance. When you are over it, here is a great guide to growing those lovelies out:


  • ais

    real great and well written article. i was throughly entertained and well informed. thanks Mackenzie. you look awesome in all of them, you can keep modifying it as it grows out, it'll always grow back so what to lose?

  • june2

    You should totally get the girly bang. Why the hell not? I think it adds so much character to your, already, cute look!

  • Grace

    I just totally ruined my bangs from a DIY bang cutting at home. They are right above my eyebrows now, and I totally regret it. What do you think?