Style 101: The Crop
The crop is a popular look for many women, having established itself as a statement style in the 1920s.
Award-winning hairdresser Martin Crean of MODE Hair in Chipping Camden – which was a finalist for Trend Image at the 2021 British Hairdressing Awards with this stunning image – looks at the evolution of the style and how to create it today.
While very short haircuts on women are now commonplace, go back a century and seeing a woman with short hair would have been a rarity. It wasn’t really until the First World War that women in the UK started to cut their hair shorter because it was easier to manage during difficult times.
It was the 1920s that saw short hair become a genuine fashion statement with the advent of the bob and the even shorter crop.
The crop was – and still is – created by taking hair ultra-short at the back, but exaggerating length at the front. Its popularity surged again in the 1950s when film stars like Audrey Hepburn sported the cut, proving a woman could have short hair and still be feminine.
Its mainstream status was secured in the late 1960s, when Mia Farrow appeared in horror movie Rosemary’s Baby sporting a crop which her character attributed to Vidal Sassoon. Whether Sassoon himself cut Farrow’s hair is much debated. The actress later claimed she cut it herself, although the hairdressing icon did trim Farrow’s hair on the set of the movie for a publicity photo.
Through the 1980s music icons including Annie Lennox and supermodels such as Linda Evangelista kept cropped hair fashionable, ensuring the style maintained its place as an evergreen trend throughout the decades. Let’s not forget Victoria Beckham aka Posh Spice’s pixie crop of 2008, or Scarlet Johansson’s love affair with short hair since around 2014.
How to do it
Creating the look’s signature shape is all about cutting each section at 90 degrees from bottom – about 1inch in length from the scalp – and cutting in a C-shape around the hairline while maintaining length in front.
Always remember to over-direct in order to keep the signature front length. You can create a tighter fade by using a scissors-over-comb technique to remove excess hair around the ear.
Leave the nape full yet shaggy for a soft, feminine look.
Very short hair won’t suit all face shapes. Always conduct a thorough consultation before making a dramatic change to a client’s hair.
Don’t take too much length off the front of the hair!
For more crop inspiration, take a look at the HJI hair gallery – with looks by Martin Crean himself. In our gallery, you can create bespoke searches by selecting the cut, style, length, colour (and many more) categories that you’re looking for.