Bob, be gone: why I'm embracing the return of super-long hair for 2024

Emma Stone's unkempt, leonine mane in hit new film Poor Things is a nod to this season's hottest new hair trend, says Madeleine Spencer
Ramy Youssef and Emma Stone in Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things
Photo by Yorgos Lanthimos. Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures © 2023 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved
Madeleine Spencer8 January 2024

Over Christmas, my mum turned to me to discuss my appearance. Many of you who regularly spend time with your mothers will I’m sure have some version of an exchange where you are looked at with consternation and love and then gingerly emerges a musing pertaining to the way you look. My mother is Austrian, so in her case you can remove the gingerly bit and substitute it for brutal candour. “Your hair Madeleine, it is very long. You want this for your hair? It is everywhere, so much of it!”

Actually, absolutely yes, mum. After years sporting bobs of various lengths when the style was at its zenith and felt fresh and exciting, I like many decided to let things become a little dishevelled during lockdown and was surprised to find that I rather enjoyed looking a little less constructed. Hair accessories which I’d previously placed in my neat hair at careful angles could be thrown into the bird’s nest with abandon. My inner turmoil (lockdown! Brexit! Insanely high utilities bills!) seemed to be represented by my hairstyle, and I was keen on it. 

That was just the start, it turns out. Over the years since the pandemic, I’ve surprised even myself by continuing to long for ever longer locks – and quickly realised that I'm one of many. Friends with envious lengths have started peppering me with handy advice including colourist Jack Howard telling me to treat my hair like an expensive fabric and my friend Shireen warning that if I wanted long hair that's healthy I'd need to condition it with each wash to avoid it looking ratty. My favourite came from fellow writer Emma Firth, who told me to assiduously allow no hairdresser near me with scissors even if they told me it was for the good of its health. 

Daisy Hoppen

This mania for long hair is hardly a new thing for me. Growing up, I developed a fixation with the film Splash and promptly decided as a grown up that I would like hair so long that I could forgo a bikini top (yes, I was an odd child). I almost achieved this goal at school – until, to my horror, I had to chop it all off after an incident with an excess of bleach about which I would rather not speak. Since then, my hair never made it far past my collarbone again.

Until now, that is. With the help of many conditioning products, much care, and a fair amount of Emma’s suggested scissor-dodging (though I do allow Mark Smith at Nicola Clarke’s John Frieda to give it a trim as he is the best hairdresser I’ve ever found for not robbing me of hair while removing what’s absolutely necessary), my hair is long once more. Above my boob, but long enough – and I don't plan to stop.

For me, the next 12 months will be about continuing to peruse photos of Victorians, hair pooling around their body, and allowing the mermaid hair trend to direct my styling decisions - or perhaps I'll simply allow it to take on a life of its own. 

Jessie Cave / Alex Cameron

While writing this piece I phoned my friend George Driver to ask about her hair which, like mine, was once short but is increasingly inching down her back, and she tells me that despite my personal references being dated, that actually my desire for long hair is very current.

“Maddie, loads of people have long hair right now. Daisy Hoppen for one. Look at Jessie Cave – bonkers long and she makes loads of videos on it. Also did you know that Emma Stone’s very very long hair in her hit new film Poor Things is a weft because they didn’t want wigs?” she asked me.

I did not know this, but it is good intel because if my hair doesn’t make it past my boobs this time round, I might need all the help I can get. Oh and if you’re reading this, mum, apologies but you've seen nothing yet. I am going to look a lot messier in the coming 12 months. Let my year of super-long hair begin.