What’s it got that the Shag, Frizz or China Doll hairdos don’t have? All a body had to do was watch 19-year-old skater Dorothy Hamill twirl her way to a gold medal at the Winter Olympics to appreciate the value of the short bob she wore. The swingy, bouncing hair nearly stole the show. “I love it,” says Dorothy. “I don’t have to worry about it before I skate. Afterward, if I have to go before the TV camera, it looks okay with just a quick brushing.”
Not all women flocking to hairdressers for “the Dorothy Hamill cut” are athletes, although the style is visible on tennis courts and jogging paths everywhere. By summer it may be as ubiquitous as the bikini.
Sometimes called “Wash ‘n’ Wear hair,” or the “Wedge,” it is basically a short cut that falls over the forehead, bares the earlobe and tapers to a triangle in the back. Its major benefit seems to be easy maintenance. After a 25-minute trim, the wearer need only keep her hair clean and well conditioned until the next cut five weeks later. “It’s a social statement,” says fashion designer Halston. “Women are no longer willing to fool around with the curlers, the hairspray. They just want to wash their hair. It’s a terrific look, very modern, very chic and reflects the trend to easy-care clothes.”
New York stylist Suga did Hamill’s hair, but the vogue seems traceable back to Vidal Sassoon’s London salon where it was named the Wedge in 1974. Actually, it is an update of the ’60s Sassoon cut, which was more geometric. Many stylists have been offering the Wedge for about a year, but the boom did not occur until Hamill’s Olympic triumph in February.
There’s no end to the ways the cut can be worn—straight, waved, curled or even frizzed. The only requirement is healthy hair. “We had the twangy, mattress-stuffing look long enough,” says pop culture critic Albert Goldman. “It was time for something different.”