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The Modern Mullet | Inspiration & Styling Guide

Ah, the modern mullet. Personally, I never thought we’d see the return of such a classic hairstyle, but it is 2021, so nothing shocks us anymore. Read on to learn what exactly the modern mullet is and why it’s trending.

The bold and controversial mullet haircut is back, but with a few updated twists on the classic. See examples of how men are wearing the modern mullet hairstyle and what makes today’s version a little different from mullets past in our complete style guide. 

What Is a Modern Mullet?

The Modern Mullet Haircut depicted in a graphic with an explainer of what it isThe Modern Mullet Haircut depicted in a graphic with an explainer of what it is

A modern mullet is an updated, trendier version of the short top/sides, long back haircut you remember from the 80s and 90s. Modern mullets have a lot more variation than the earlier versions. Think of it this way:

80s mullets were like the beta version, and now we’re working with the mullet 2.0. Today, the mullet haircut typically features one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Short hair on top (may not be shorter than the back)
  • Short or shaved hair on the sides
  • Long hair in the back (or hair the same length as the top)
  • Hair in the back reaches the neckline

Modern mullets look similar to other popular hairstyles and cuts today. But there are two important distinctions. First, mullets need sides that are shorter than both the top and back. Second, the hair in the back must touch the neckline. 

Similar haircuts like high drop fades can have a lot of features in common with a modern mullet. They both feature shaved or short sides with length that dips down in the back. But since a drop fade is shaved above the neckline in the back, it wouldn’t meet the mullet criteria.

There’s a lot of variation in mullet haircuts today.

As you’ll see in the next section, adding or removing length, working in a fade, deconstructing the cut with defined lines and no blending, and combining features from other popular haircuts (like fades and mohawks) can all create uniquely styled mullets that don’t look or feel outdated. 

Let’s start by taking a look at the different ways men are rocking the modern mullet. Then, we’ll talk about styling a mullet to make it modern and things to consider before committing to this often-controversial style. 

10 Modern Mullet Examples We’re Digging

Guys that don’t mind being the center of attention are made for bold, sometimes-wacky styles like the mullet. If you’re working with a little length and are thinking about going the mullet route, you’ll want to see these unique and creative examples of modernized versions. 

Pay attention to the differences between the features in each one of these examples. You can build your dream mullet if that’s a thing by combining your favorite features into one awe-inspiring haircut.

Maybe you like the burst fade component from #2, but want the shaggy length of #8. Screenshot your favorite examples to create a mullet that works for you! 

1. Deconstructed Modern Mullet With Bangs

Deconstructed Modern Mullet With Bangs

Jasmin Bauer/Shutterstock

If you’ve been just a hankerin’ for a real country mullet with a modern twist, we reckon this one oughta do the trick. This hip take on the classic is deconstructed, featuring defined lines where the length changes and no precise fades or blending. 

The length on top is nice and short, just long enough to be brushed forward to create an uneven line of point-cut bangs that lay across the forehead. At the crown, the length begins increasing to give you that signature long haired look in the back. 

The sides are shaved short (looks like the #3 guard) in a burst fade shape minus the actual fade, since this is a deconstructed style. The short sides accentuate the length differences between the top and back to really nail that mullet look that is becoming so popular. 

2. South of France Mullet Fade

South of France Mullet Fade for an example of a modern mullet

Erik Van Ingen/Shutterstock

The modern version of the mullet doesn’t always feature hair that is longer in the back. The South of France mullet fade is a perfect example. The length on top continues down to the back neckline, leaving the only short section in a small burst around the ear (a burst fade). 

This cut resembles a wide mohawk combined with a fade and it’s one of the most popular ways to rock the modern mullet trend.

One key feature of this cut is the smooth, gradual fade that transitions the longer length down the top and back into the shorter, shaved length around the ears. The edges are not defined they’re perfectly blended and faded. 

3. Edgy Burst Cut-Out Modern Mullet

Edgy Burst Cut-Out Modern Mullet on a guy in a side profile image with the man wearing a black peacoat

George Mayer/Shutterstock

If you prefer casual and messy over clean and precise hairstyles, consider an edgy mullet with a burst cut-out. This medium-length mullet style is an update on the classic, featuring unkempt hair with tons of volume to really catch the eye. 

The medium-short top seamlessly blends into the longer hair in the back. The top and back are tied together with the shaved-short burst cut-out sections around the ears. 

Here, the burst cut-outs are not gradually blended into the longer hair on the top and back they’re just cut with a defined line. This makes it slightly different from a burst fade, where the short lengths are seamlessly blended into the longer sections. 

4. Wide-Top Mullet With Burst Fade

Wide-top mullet with fade on a black man in a barber's chair

Pressmaster/Shutterstock

Many examples of modern-style mullets show a relatively thin or skinny section of longer hair running from the top to the back of the head. We really like how this cut switches things up using a much wider section of length on top.

You get more scalp coverage this way (perfect for guys who may be experiencing thinning) and a fuller overall look. The burst fade in this cut is what gives it that characteristic mullet look. The hair is shaved short with the #1 guard above and slightly behind the ears.

Then, the #2 and #3 guards are used to seamlessly blend the short hair into the longer hair on the top and back. Give this cut a more traditional mullet appearance by making the shaved sections come up to the crown area. Or rock it as-is for a fresh take on the classic! 

5. Morgan Wallen’s Shaved Sides Party Mullet

Example of a modern mullet showing Morgan Wallen’s Shaved Sides Party Mullet

Debby Wong/Shutterstock

Medium-short length on top is the “business” portion of country music artist Morgan Wallen’s modern mullet. The length down the back (which also slightly wraps forward around the sides) is much longer to create that signature shaggy “party in the back” look. 

Tying it all together, the front portion of the sides is shaved from the temples to just behind the ear. This much shorter section brings the volume in on the sides to really accentuate the length differences on the top and back. 

6. Geometric Mohawk Mullet With Shaved Lines

Geometric Mohawk Modern Mullet With Shaved Lines

Pat Tr/Shutterstock

There’s a lot going on here! Featuring a top and back of equal lengths and shaved sides with lines and geometric shapes, this unique take on the mullet haircut is truly creative. The length runs in a wide line from the front hairline to the neckline to create the base of the mullet. 

The shaved sections on the sides of the head are key here as they give the cut that modern mullet look. This is also where the cut gets super creative.

A shaved hard part separates the top length from the short sides. The hair is faded with the #2 guard in a triangle shape in the U-shaped zone between the top and back.

Beyond the line of the triangle, the hair is shaved down to the skin with the #1 and #0 guards, creating a bald fade. Shaved lines further draw your attention to this updated take on the mullet! 

7. Mohawk Fade/Modern Mullet Mashup

Mohawk Fade/Modern Mullet Mashup

Cameron Whitman/Shutterstock

If a true mullet is a little over the top for your look, opt for a mullet/mohawk fade mashup like this instead. This haircut features key elements from both iconic styles to create a really unique style. 

It borrows the strip of length running from the front hairline to the neckline from the mohawk fade, as well as the blended length where the long top/back meets the short sides. 

It borrows the close-cropped sides with length in the front and back from the mullet. The result is a fresh, updated mullet ‘hawk! 

8. Modern Mop Top Mullet

Modern Mop Top Mullet

Tom Wang/Shutterstock

This crossover between a trendy K-Pop inspired two block haircut and a modern mullet is one of our favorites. You’ll get more hipster vibes than Billy Ray Cyrus with a cut like this. The top and top half of the sides are left several inches long to give that messy, tousled look. 

Small sections over and behind the ears are shaved short to create that recognizable mullet look that keeps the volume controlled on the sides. In the back, it’s shaggy and long just like a mullet should be!  

9. Bieber Shag Mullet

Guy in a black and white skinny suit wears a modern mullet in the style of the biebs

Olga Vasilkova/Shutterstock

Throw it back with a Bieber-esque shag mullet that we think the Biebs himself wouldn’t mind sporting. This modernized mullet features a good amount of length in the front, which isn’t typical of a classic version of this cut. 

But make no mistake it’s still a mullet! The length in the back is longer than the top, and it has those characteristically short sides to really emphasize the length difference. This shag mullet gives us 80s prom night vibes and we’re definitely here for it. 

10. Modern Country Boy Mullet

Modern Country Boy Mullet

Caseyjadew/Shutterstock

This kid understood the assignment. Here’s a fresh take on the classic mullet, featuring that signature shorter length on the top and sides with much longer hair in the back. This style really looks like two haircuts put together:

A bowl cut in the front and long, flowing hair in the back. 

What’s modern about this traditional haircut? We like the heavily razored bangs that create that uneven, choppy line across the forehead. Layering throughout gives any curl or wave in your hair more opportunities to curve and bend for more texture. 

This type of cut works best on hair with some type of wavy or curl in it, but you can make it work for pin-straight hair with a little volumizing mousse. 

How to Style a Modern Mullet

Styling your modern mullet can seem intimidating because of the differences in length across each section. How do you manage the business in front? How do you properly host the party in the back? And what is even going on with the sides?

You can take a big, deep breath and relax styling your mullet is incredibly easy once you ensure your hair is properly prepped! To style your modern mullet, you’ll need a few supplies to make it look its best. 

  • Boar bristle hairbrush (or your favorite brush)
  • Comb
  • Volumizing mousse or light- to medium-hold gel
  • Curl definition cream (for curly or coily hair only)
  • Hairspray (optional)
  • Hair dryer with diffuser attachment (optional)

Prepping Your Hair

Start with damp hair that has been gently towel-dried. Work a small amount of your preferred styling product through your hair from root to tip (typically a dime-sized amount for short hair). Mousse is best for fine or straight hair in need of volume. 

Light- to medium-hold gel is best for medium or coarse hair that has some wave or curl texture. And if your hair is curly, using a dime-sized amount of curl definition cream on your fingers to coat the ends of your hair will help make those curls stand out. 

Styling the Top

Once your hair has your preferred product in it, you want to start guiding each section in the direction you want it to lay. You should decide whether you want to slick the top of your mullet straight back or brush it forward to create bangs. 

To slick it back, put a dab of your mousse or gel on your fingers and brush them through the top, pushing the hair back as you go. Guide your hairbrush through the same way to help set the top into the slicked-back position. You can then blow dry or let it air dry.

Set with hairspray if you’re worried about the style holding. If you prefer wearing the top brushed forward, use your brush to direct the hair forward from the crown all the way to the hairline. Blow it dry using a hair dryer or allow it to air dry in your chosen position. 

Styling the Back and Sides

Dealing with the back is easier, especially if it’s relatively short. The back and sides are the heart of the mullet haircut. If you slicked the top back, it should nicely blend into the longer hair in the back without much styling needed from you.

You might work a little curl cream into the ends to help define any wave or curl you’ve got going on back there. A diffuser attachment on a hair dryer is really handy for quickly drying curls without making them frizzy! 

If you brushed the top forward, use your brush to direct the hair from the underside of the crown down toward the neckline. Again, curl cream for the ends will help bring out any wave or curl texture you’ve got. Styling the sides is really simple. You can leave them alone if they’re shaved short.

If the sides of your mullet are long enough to brush, you can either direct them toward the back or brush them downward toward your ear. It all depends on the look you’re going for. 

That’s it! Styling a mullet of any type is as simple as prepping with the right products and guiding each section into place with a brush or comb. As your mousse, gel, or curl cream dries, it will help hold your hair in the styled position all day long. 

Things to Consider

Redneck with a modern mullet fishing from a dried lake next to a number of small mountain ranges

Lazyllama/Shutterstock

We’ve looked at a range of modern mullet examples. We’ve shown you the different steps to styling a mullet. If you’re still on board and think a mullet is the right haircut for you, there are just a few more things you need to consider:

  • Mullets steal the spotlight. Mullets are becoming pretty popular, but they’re still not quite considered the norm. People might absolutely love your new ‘do but they’ll probably laugh, too. If you’re cool with being the center of attention and the topic of giggles and whispers in the room, the mullet might be perfect for you. If you prefer to blend in and fly under the radar, this stand-out cut won’t be a good fit. 
  • Mullets don’t happen overnight. If you suddenly wake up with a hankering for a mullet, you may have to wait a while. Mullets can be cut into relatively short hair, but they won’t have that traditional and classic “party in the back” look. If you just can’t wait, try a mohawk fade/mullet mashup like #7 on our list to try the look with short hair. 
  • Growing them out can be annoying. With the top, sides, and back all cut to varying lengths, mullets are one of those haircuts that are a royal pain to grow out. It’s tough to grow them out naturally without them looking wacky in the process. You’ll likely need to go as short as the length on the sides once you tire of the look, so keep this in mind when you decide how short the sides should be! 
  • Styling possibilities are limited. Mullets, like many other haircuts, have a built-in style. There are limited ways to wear them to change up your look. Your options are basically brushing the top forward or backward, brushing the sides backward or straight down, and heat-styling the hair on the top or back for a different texture. If you like to switch your look up daily, the mullet will not be a good style for you.

So, What’s Your Favorite Modern Mullet?

You’re now a certifiable modern mullet expert. You’ve seen the different versions of this up-and-coming trendy look, you’re aware of how to style it, and you’re thinking about the things you need to consider before you commit to this cut. 

Does the mullet still call to you with its twangy siren song? If you haven’t been scared off yet, we’re thinking the mullet just might be the perfect haircut for you to try next. It may not become your signature look, but it’ll sure be fun to rock while you’ve got it! 

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