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To Middy or Not to Middy: The Pros and Cons of the Classic Vintage Cut

Updated: Jun 15, 2023

EDIT- I am working on an update of this post that will feature hand drawn charts of these haircuts as they would appear from the 1940s and also mapped out in a similar way to how modern stylists draw haircutting charts. Kind of like a vintage cut translator, if you will. :) Please stand by!

The Middy hair cut was a commonly worn style in the 1940s-50s with a very particular "U" shape. It has resurfaced in popularity for modern day vintage styles. So, is the Middy cut right for you? Well, let's take more info about this shaping and weigh in the pros and cons.

First let's start with the traditional variations of the Middy cut, and the different shapes and names. The reference to the shaping and names were taken from the book 1940s Hairstyles by Daniela Turudich.

The Standard Middy is cut at 4" at the longest point, tailors into a rounded "U" with heavy blunt layering that is also cut at 4" long and has face framing layering. Styled out, this cut gives an Elizabeth Taylor kind of look.

The Middy Plus is the same shaping as the Middy, but it is based off of 4 1/2" instead of 4", leaving just a little more length. The length of this styled (and perhaps with the iconic center part) resembles Hedy Lamarr's hair style.

The Baby is the shortest of the four haircuts. It is cut at 3" at the longest point with also the "U" shaping (not as much of a dramatic shape since it is closer to the face), and also has the 3" layering and face framing. Styled out it has that kind of Marilyn Monroe bob look.

The Long Middy, or "Femme Fatale" has the longest point cut at 6" and rounds into an even more dramatic "U" shape with 6" layering and face framing layers. This is the longest cut of the four looks, and styled out it has more of a Rita Hayworth appearance.

So, Let's start with the Pros:

-The cuts are tailored to vintage styling

-They give the foundation for sets, and make sets easier to style and brush out

-The curls flow more seamlessly with the right shaping, instead of holding on to heaviness in the length or shaping

-It has a much more authentic appearance

-They will help the set hold and stay better

-Ideal if you wear a vintage style almost every day

Now with the Cons:

-The layering has kind of a "mullet-y" or "shag" like appearance

-All of the haircuts are a shorter length

-It can be hard to put all of your hair up in a ponytail

-The face framing can feel really short if you aren't used to it

-You might feel compelled to have to style it every day

-Not a great idea for those who don't style their hair often or wear it in vintage styles

-The "U" shape un-styled might make you feel like Johnny Ramone (speaking from experience)

BUT there are ways to have the shaping for vintage styling without having to worry about these issues. These days we have created a terminology to have a cut that is inspired by the Middy, but not as restricting as a true Middy. We call it a "Modified Middy". What this means is we can tailor the haircut to exactly your needs.

Some examples include:

-Having the length longer/shorter

-Making the layering longer or have no layering depending on hair type or style versatility

-Keeping the "U" shape less dramatic and more subtle

-Having the face framing longer or less dramatic

-Making the layers not as blunt (although it helps to have it blunt when wearing it in a set)

Here are some examples of "Modified Middys" I have cut and how compelling they can still look styled. From left to right, the first photo had longer layering since my client had finer hair. The traditional layering would have taken too much bulk from the length and make her hair feel thin when not styled out. The second photo was not as dramatically "U" shaped and still had longer layers and a very slight face framing so it would be easier from my guest to style. The last photo had the dramatic "U" shaping all the way to the traditional face framing but is longer than the standard "Femme Fatale" and had no layering other than the face framing.

And even if you're still convinced that the traditional Middy is for you, there are plenty of styling options. When I had my middy, my lazy day go to was usually to have it all in a scarf, or to put it in a ponytail and just bobby pin the shorter layers down. I also have a little bit of a natural wave and like to sometimes wore it natural and have almost a purposeful "Joan Jett" shag style, if the occasion fits.

The biggest factor to a good Middy is of course having a hairstylist who knows how to cut one for you, and that's where I come in handy! If you are in central Texas or visiting soon, you can schedule an appointment for a Middy cut and heat set. Feel free to contact me prior to your visit with any questions.

I look forward to your visit!


Here are some videos I find helpful on the infamous Middy:

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