Return mullet Short long naffest haircut Now dress

Return of the mullet: Short at the front, long at the back, it was the naffest haircut ever. Now it's back... as a dress
By Anna Pursglove

The mullet has a troubled style history. Most commonly associated with the coiffure of the likes of footballer Chris Waddle, it has become a regular in the upper reaches of the 'worst celebrity looks of all time' lists.

Long at the back, short at the front (or 'business at the front, party at the back' as it was often described) - the mullet hairstyle's main difficulty, besides looking intrinsically risible, was that it tried too hard.

A look that says 'hey, let's play with convention' while ironically demanding hours of precision styling.

And the mullet might have died out completely had it not been given a surprise new lease of life this autumn on the catwalks of New York, London, Milan and Paris - as a dress.

Yes, the ‘mullet dress’ is huge news this autumn.

Sent down the runway by designers including Sarah Burton at Alexander McQueen, Peter Pilotto, Antonio Berardi, Narciso Rodriguez, Lacoste and Betsey Johnson, it has also been featuring on the red carpet with increasing regularity.

Everyone from Halle Berry to Carey Mulligan and Sarah Jessica Parker has showcased the look.

The dress shape’s popularity among the beautiful people was confirmed this summer when model Anja Rubik married boyfriend Sasha Knezevic wearing a mullet wedding dress, which she had co-designed with Emilio Pucci head Peter Dundas.

The mullet’s sartorial rehabilitation, however, has been a rocky road.

Only last year Mad Men actress January Jones, an early adopter of the look, was being taken to task for wearing a blue Versace mullet to the Emmys, while Cheryl Cole’s Julien Macdonald mullet (worn to collect her Glamour Women of the Year Award) received a similarly frosty response from fashion critics.

Even the designers themselves tried hard to avoid the dreaded ‘m word’, preferring the terms ‘high/low hemline’ or ‘fishtail dress’.

So why bring the mullet out of retirement at all? Why take a risk on a word so intimately associated with such trendsetters as cheesy DJ Pat Sharp or sentimental crooner Michael Bolton?

The answer is mainly that it’s a clever way of ‘doing long’ without looking like a totally over-the-top Disney Princess - which is what has made it so popular on the red carpet.

The mullet dress is an incred-ibly versatile style. It might be mostly mini skirt with just a suggestion of bustle or overlay.

Or it might be 90 per cent sweeping Oscars’ gown with just a hint of a raised hem at the front (a good way to show off strappy sandals which would otherwise be hidden).
Mullets: Cheryl Cole (Top), Christina Aguilera (Centre) and Sharon Stone (Down) have all worn the dress style

A mullet can be demure and sculpted (see Stella McCartney at this year’s Met Ball) or full and flouncy (think Sarah Jessica Parker at the Sex And The City 2 film premiere in London last year).

And the style is surprisingly easy to wear, provided you follow a few basic rules. For a start, only go for a mini-skirt shape if you really have the legs for it - otherwise stick to a style that hits the knee.

Whatever mullet variation you go with, the heels should be as high as you can do. Flats and mullets do not mix.

Still not convinced? There’s still plenty of time to think about how to make this look work for you.

As designers - conscious of their recession-struck customers - attempt to create clothes that work across more than one season, so the key shapes from one season leach into the next.

And the trend has already started to influence other items of clothing: if you can’t quite countenance a mullet dress, then how about a mullet shirt?

In fact, any permutation of the look is acceptable right now. Just don’t let it spread above the shoulders!