Rule: It’s time to release your inner boufhead

In Actors, Celebrities, Hair on June 8, 2011 at 3:22 pm

My original idea for the name of this Rule was a little less catchy: ‘extreme looks herald a fundamental trend shift’. So you can see why I went down the boufhead road instead, but that rather up-itself sentence above, is the point here.

What I’m trying to say is that when there is about to be a radical and long term change to a key element of the way we all look – and to the collective aspiration for the ideal – it takes a slightly crazy version of it to help us make the mental adjustment.

That’s why the clothes we see each season on the catwalks in Paris and Milan always look so nuts. They’re pushing taste forward into new territory and it takes extreme looks to provide the momentum for change. It can take the real world a few years to catch up, but it always does.

Remember Alexander McQueen’s bumster trousers? He first showed them in 1996 and there was universal outrage at the notion of pants cut so low, you could see the top of the buttock cleavage. Builder’s bum style.

But those outrageous pants led directly to the global fad for low-cut jeans, and then to all pants being cut to sit below the natural waist, which is still with us fifteen years later.

In fact, it’s still only the most fashionable who have embraced the high-waisted pants which were re-introduced at the designer level several years ago.

Exactly the same process is going on with hair and, when you think about it, the first person to parade the new/old massive bouffant was someone as radical in her field as Alexander McQueen was in his: Miss Amy Winehouse.

She started the process that has led directly to SJP’s wild hairdo here. It’s so big it needs its own zip code – and she got ridiculed for it. As did UK singer and X Factor judge Cheryl Cole, when she wore her massive country music legend-style bouffant in LA recently.

Well, we’ll see who’s laughing in a couple of years time, when it will be absolutely normal for us all to be embracing big rollers, setting lotion, backcombing, hair pieces, and gallons of hairspray, to get our hair the way we want it. Humongous.

When it comes to hair, big is definitely going to be beautiful again.

It has to happen. After the messy high hair obsession of the 80s (different to the more sculptured 60s looks coming back in now – fear not) the default ideal went to the extreme of smooth flatness, in what I now think of as the Hair Straightener Age.

Remember when we all thought it was absolutely normal to roast our hair (and accidentally our scalp and ears…) on a daily basis to make it lie against our head like it was laminated on? Remember the Christmas when everybody wanted ceramic hair straighteners as their present?

Watch any of the mid-to-late period episodes of ‘Friends’ and you’ll see just how dated that looks now. And as fashion is all about reaction, it just has to go to the other extreme first, to find a new sense of ‘normal’ somewhere in between.

And what we are all about to rediscover, is just how flattering huge hair is. It frames the face and makes the entire body look smaller by comparison.

Now, where’s my setting lotion…?


While researching pics for this post I came across some truly marvellous big dos. I’m particularly taken with this one, below, which is the cover of a (slightly pervy) book about massive Texan-style boufhair. I want that book. And I want the hair.


These are some legendary boufs I just adore. First, Brigitte Bardot, giving Bed Hair Bouf.


Classy Bouf: hair styled by Alexandre (the greatest hairdress of all time IMHO), picture by Avedon.

Big Hair Elegante. My favourite up do of all time, in My Fair Lady.

  1. Love it! Let’s all embrace the bouffant!

  2. Come on Maggie – let’s see your’s first…..

  3. Ah …. I remember them well! I cringe recalling how much time was spent in backbrrushing, teasing, etc. and then the spray! No wonder i was a virgin until I was 20. Who had the time?
    In the U.S. big hair is still common in the South and Midwest. It is especially popular with Republican women. Eeek! Not very attractive on aging conservatives!I Some men in that same political party still think the Elvis do is a win-win. No-no!
    I understand why your email now flips readers to the website as it is pretty. But, this visually impaired reader missed the old format. On email my software for the blind made it big and it wrapped around so I could read normally. No can do on the website. Takes forever and the words will not wrap when enlarged.

  4. Oh my goodness! I am very grateful, but your other readers may not be so pleased. I do thank you.

  5. Shattered. My hair just will not do the bouf.

    I have fine, straight and very flat hair and while everyone around me was burning theirs straight I was doing nothing. I’m old enough this time around not to try to tease or backcomb it into submission. I think…

  6. Well I’ll certainly be very glad to see the return of big hair, as one whose hair seems to get half-way there by itself most mornings. Fortunately for me the 80’s were my prime years of caring about being “in”.

    I think it’s just like all the other body trends that swing one way then the other. So boobs are in, then they’re out; skinny is in, then it’s curvy girls turn-I long ago gave up on being really in fashion and try to just update with what suits me but still a nod to current looks.

  7. Yay for the return of the bouf. I was a bit young to get in on it in the 80’s so my poor, naturally wavy/curly hair has been being straightened for ages. Although is it just me, or is it higher maintenance? A good straightening could last in my hair for days. Boufing it up, seems to require loads of work every morning. I guess we all just need to learn the new techniques.

  8. Oh,, to be so young as to not know what it was all about! I envy you!
    One thing to consider, if you are single, is that when do the bouf do’s — your potential lover can’t run his fingers through your hair. Will this matter to you?
    It can be a good look — and most especially if you not in America and not a Republican!
    IA bouf can be very sexy. Back in the days, we’d buy a “fall” and weave into the crown of our hair for an even higher look. Check out old Supremes looks. Diana Ross rocked.
    I wanted to be Diana Ross and sing like she die and have that amazing hair ….
    Oh well, memories are good and can inspire.
    I am considering a wig. There is a fabulous hop on the via Natxionale in Rome that has about a zillion wigs. Every time I am there, I go in and gasp in aw. I think I can be anyone when I see these wigs.
    I think I mispelled the name of this famous street. Sorry.
    Don’t we love Maggie for this exchange???

    • As I said in another reply,I have always been impressed by Jackie Collins’ use of the wig. Have a friend having to wear one after chemo – not so fun – but went to a wig party once and it was one of the best ever. Different hair gave everyone a new personality. ps can’t work out how to change the page back, but haven’t forgotten… x

  9. Maggie, you’ve tweeted about a big hair product you love before, think it has a different name in Australia. Would you let me know what it is please? My flat hair needs help! Thanks

  10. It’s the Babyliss Big Hair – not sure if it’s available in Australia? I bought mine from Amazon in the UK and (as they wouldn’t ship it to Australia – because it’s SO huge, I think) my sister brought it out for me when she visited!

  11. I have baby fine, dead straight hair that will not be back combed, so this trend is going to leave me behind just as it did the first time.

  12. Of course the fashion set would be embracing big hair–because I’ve just abandoned it this year. As a ‘loveable eccentric” I teased my hair into massive bouffant styles (French roll, quiff and a creation I invented called the “wave” where your barrel curl goes in the opposite direction to the roll at the back)…after 3 years of constant teasing and pinning, my hair is getting seriously thin at the front, so I have abandoned all teased styles, adopting a new hair philosophy called “don’t do anything to your hair” (yup, not one bobby pin or hair band is coming near my beloved thatch).

    But seriously–Big hair rules!


      • I always loved Fran’s hair on THE NANNY. It got bigger each season. There was even a “Nanny Fine” doll, like a barbie. It talked too, on thing it said was “the bigger the hair the smaller the hips look”

  14. I have been waiting for this to come back since 1986 when one of the bogans at my school wrote “Andrea sucks her hairspray” on a school desk.

  15. I LOVE big hair! Short and spiky for me tho, since I’m another with very fine, dead straight hair 🙂

    Is anyone else concerned about SJP’s upper arms in this photo?

  16. I was just about to comment on SJP’s arms – eeeww. That’s why I don’t go to the gym, the only reason, in fact…
    Yay for big hair, I look like total cr*p with flat hair on top, I have a ginormous forehead (well. so it appears to me in my mirror anyway) and a bit of height on top has always been necessary to balance the forehead. I fondly remember my 80’s clubbing days (Oxford St, Sydney, of course) when we would spend hours teasing and spraying to get the (then) Madonna look – you know the one, the Like A Virgin look. Oh happy days.

  17. I can’t begin to explain why I love reading all these bloggers to Maggie. I love haring about Australia — most especially after reading Maggie’s books that take place there. Two, all that is available on They must get ALL of Maggie’s books. Please.
    Tell them there are fans like me who will pay for such.
    It is so fun to remember bouf days and teasing and going out.
    I remember hair spray when it didn’t have a pump. Where they the good old days?
    At times, my hair was so hard I thought it would break and crack!

  18. What an exciting prospect! Thank goodness the laminated look is dated (love that phrase – spot on!).
    Now I’ve always had a penchant for the ridiculously big wigs of the 1700s – do you think they might come back (obviously sans miniature ships, flour and and mice….) . A little hat perched on top just gave a certain something to those dresses. Can we do it all again? Oh bring it on!!

  19. The Bridget Bardot do, how gorgeous! … up, big and full but still soft enough to be very feminine and doesn’t resemble a helmet (which a big do can).

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