Wait, Are Dorky Bangs Back?!

While the rest of the world was busy looking at dresses on the Emmy’s red carpet, I was looking at foreheads. I couldn’t help myself. I was transfixed. They were sending me such an insistent signal it would have been rude to turn my attention elsewhere.

BANGS ARE BACK,” they shouted from the rooftops of Sofia Vergara’s cranium. “Not just any bangs, though,” they whispered shortly thereafter. As I fielded similar cranial communications from Jane Fonda, Robin Wright, Tanika Ray, Renée Bargh and Rashida Jones, it became very clear what kind of bangs comeback we were dealing with here…

[insert drumroll]

School Picture Day Bangs! I repeat: School Picture Day Bangs. This is not a drill. (Although you likely sported this hairdo during a fire drill or two).

Allow me to break down the various types of bangs, because context is important here:

“It” Girl Bangs

These are the bangs you pin to your Pinterest board and subsequently show to your hairdresser after you walk into the salon and say, “I think…I think I want bangs.” They are sexy in that very particular, offbeat way that only the protagonist of an indie romantic comedy can conjure, although Instagram It Girls come very close.

Micro-Fringe Bangs

A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

Micro-Fringe Bangs are “It” Girl Bangs’ edgier, artsier cousin. They’re about a third of the length, and they sort of look like a mistake, but in a good way. Beyoncé flirted with this style in 2014 and almost broke the internet; other noteworthy micro-fringe perpetuators include Rooney Mara in Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday.

2000s’ Side-Swept Bangs

Given the low-rise skinny jeans comeback lurking on the horizon, I wouldn’t be surprised if side-swept bangs rode the 2000’s resurrection right back onto our scalps, but for now they’re still tucked safely away where they belong: on the covers of your old Avril Lavigne and Mariah Carey CDs.

Self-Inflicted Bangs

I think this scene from Girls says it all.

School Picture Day Bangs

School Picture Day Bangs are bangs with an exclamation point. They are the bang-iest bangs in town: polished, poofy, try-hard, unapologetic and ready for their close-up. They are the bangs your mom painstakingly combed the morning before you toddled off to your place of education, waited in line, sat down on a stool, posed in front of a charming solid-blue backdrop and said “cheese” for a photographer. Your two front teeth were probably missing, but that’s neither here nor there.

I was surprised at first to see them popping up on glamorous actresses’ faces at a red carpet event, but after giving it some thought, I realized it makes perfect sense. We’re living in an era in which irony, memes, nostalgia, awkwardness and try-hard chic are calling the shots. Of course the dorkiest iteration of forehead hair would be brought out of childhood retirement accordingly.

I hope School Picture Day Outfits start trending next.

Feature photo by Mark Davis/CBS via Getty Images.

Get more Beauty ?
  • I love bangs!!!

  • Hayley

    My hairdresser always talks me out of doing bangs. Ugh. I have such a low maintenance mop of hair and do not want to deal with the upkeep…BUT I LOVE THEM!

  • Caroline Fallon

    Nicole Kidman rocked some beautiful bangs in Big Little Lies and Veronica Lodge in Riverdale has some old school fringe bangs too!

  • Claude

    Oh boy oh boy thank you for including Jane Fonda in this article, I already stared at this picture of her for minutes on end but there’s always time for more. She’s perfect whatever her hair choices.

    • Harling Ross

      she’s a dream and so are her school picture day bangs

  • Rae

    I just got bangs for the first time since school picture days, and I am VERY into them. I’m a dork anyways, so I think they kind of work on me!

  • I love bangs. I’ve always had bangs up to this day (hi hi my profile picture). I want to get micro-fringe bangs next, LOVE them!

    Charmaine Ng
    Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • Sara

    What? Bangs were OUT?!? Not to me! 🙂

  • tmm16

    I got bangs 2 weeks ago and NO REGRETS, I love them! #trendsetter

  • Cassandra

    I gave myself a combo of the self inflicted/school picture day haircut last summer and went for a full on mushroom cut. It was a LOOK.

  • zenobar

    I’ve had bangs for years and while I’d like to think of them as retro or even It Girl bangs (depending on how long I’ve put off going in for a trim), the truth is that a gentle breeze, or a humid day, or a flustered checkout at the store, or a glance in the mirror followed by the thought “Hey, my bangs are on point today!” will instantly render them Picture Day Bangs.

    • Harling Ross

      hahaha love the idea of bangs being able to waffle between the two

  • Diana McNeill

    I’m so excited! I’ve been rocking this style for nearly three years now!

  • Jessie Roselyn

    I’m like Patsy Stone. My bangs are my security blanket! Have had them since I was about 14 and have failed everytime I work up the courage to grow them out. I’m 28 now……..#bangsforlife

  • Emily M

    Cute and cool and great but how how howwww do people wear them…I get annoyed if a strand of hair falls on the side of my face, I will forever not understand how people can deal with their entire forehead being covered! Do you just get used to it??? I’ve never been able to experience the bang life because of this issue.

    • Basil

      I had bangs for many many years (like, on and off for 25 years – from around ages 5). It’s something you get used to, but it does getting annoying when they get too long which is why I’ve never been able to manage side swept bangs a la Mariah.
      There are advantages though – eyebrows a hot mess? Not an issue! Wrinkly forehead? Nope, because no one can see it! Spot on your forehead? What spot. True story – a friend got bangs ON HER WEDDING DAY, when she developed a major forehead spot and freaked out

  • Eliza

    I wish more than anything I could have bangs because I LOOK GREAT WITH THEM…. at first….but then my greasy grease forehead turns them into greasy grease bangs that no amount of dry shampoo can cure. And my forehead breaks out and it’s horrible. Sigh.

    • Jessica

      I have the same problem. Every few years, I forget about all that for the sake of style, commit to bangs, and then immediately regret my decision that evening when the grease arrives. My hairdresser came VERY close to talking me into the first photo “it girl” bangs at my last haircut. I’m still contemplating….

    • Harling Ross

      WTF CLAIRE U LOOK SO COOL. also i have that shirt.

    • Laura

      fake bangs? as in fangs? okay sorry i’ll stop

  • Alicia Johnston

    YES!!!!! In January this year I went and got myself some dorky bangs, an exact triangle shaped replica of the ones I sported throughout the nineties/early noughts and my forehead and self-identity have never been happier. They do require a little TLC in the morning because apparently I spend my nights in bed with my head out a speeding car’s window but other than that it is pure love.

  • This bumper bang thang is going no where ! I don’t see it catching on ! Keep your middle Part and let Jane Fonda look ridiculous!
    Dress The Part

  • I don’t have nearly enough hair in the front of my head to pull off this look, but I hear clip-ins are a thing these days…

  • Fuuhhhh I still have such a soft spot for micro/baby bangs. I loved mine when I had them. So tempting but Australian summer is a significant obstacle!

    • Harling Ross

      your micro bangs make me want micro bangs

  • I just grew out my bangs and now I’m tempted to cut them again. It’s an endless repeating cycle


  • TinySoprano

    Oh man I have had all of these bangs at some point in time. And now I have what I’ll call “enforced natural bangs” aka aggressive baby hairs.

  • Laura

    Bangs convert here – just got bangs again for the first time since I was a wee thing. They certainly take a week or so of getting used to https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dd2cc13450962e5d747f0b103fd22862852c87fce4b96b2fe1ad95b53d6ea3e1.jpg

    • Aydan

      just had mine trimmed today and literally told everyone I look ready to take over the world today!!!

  • Sarah Mårtensson

    Uhhhh the need for bangs!! Sadly with my natural curls it is an impossible task. I tried it once and never again. Couldn’t control the frizz for the sake of my own life, sadly

    • Kattigans

      I’m right there w/ you. I wanted the side swept bangs so bad when it was the “IT” trend. Every attempt was a fail. Even too short of face framing layers are just a nightmare for me and my natural texture even when straightened

    • Selina Moses

      I know exactly how you feel

  • Sarah Mcgrew

    I just shortened my bangs and I love them. Itty-bitty bangs!!

  • JB

    I’m in the “growing out bangs” stage right now. Currently rocking the 2000’s side swept bangs.

  • penkwin

    I got bangs in March and I can’t live with them. The tiniest amount of humidity in the air makes them curl up and look horrible. 🙁 Gotta go back to sideswept.

  • Louise Rhodes

    I think I may have had Picture Day Bangs for years without knowing! Except in England we call it a ‘full fringe’. Behold : https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/16c4ea36f3e2a5d5b2e0a730b96331333b31c9ef20be4ef77d5c3f6f25f603c9.jpg

  • Jessyca Taef

    My bangs & I are currently in that awkward, beginning-of-a-divorce phase — when we’re emotionally separated but still living with each other.

  • Selina Moses

    I have curly hair and tried to get my fringe in order for years but sadly it just won’t work on me. I got a fake fringe instead so I can have the look I like without sacrificing time and my hair

  • Jamie

    I fully do not understand the physics of Jeanne Damas’s bangs. How are they so tiny and wispy? How do they shape shift so often and so well? I want them, but they are such an enigma I dare not attempt them.

  • Michelle Tsai

    I just got bangs two months ago and my life has changed! See below for a list of reasons why:

    1. You know when it’s the last day of your vacation and you’re intent on soaking up the most out of the tropical location before you go back to real life? What do you do? You go to the beach and sit, alternating between roasting in the sun or resting comfortably under a tiki hut. Life with bangs is the extended remix of being under the tiki hut.

    2. WIND. Wow. You know those videos of colorblind people seeing color for the first time? For a similar experience, go get your bangs cut, and then walk down the street on a windy day. You will experience wind as you never have before. Wind goes from a 75-85% friend to 50% friend. The unpredictable, possible back stabber friend. A true frenemy.

    3. Optimal Bang Window (OBW). I don’t place a lot of weight into horoscopes or whatever Mercury in retrograde is, but I have recently converted to full incorporation of using my OBW to make life decisions. The OBW (patent pending) is the time period after your NOBW (Non-Optimal Bang Window). Your NOBW is defined the time period between your last haircut/bang trim and the time it takes for your bangs to reach the length you actually wanted it to be. OBWs vary in length – personally, my OBW is 1 week. Here’s the important part – your OBW is when you should make all important romantic and professional decisions, as it is your peak in appearance. Take everything in this OBW seriously – the bang gods have spoken!!

    4. The necessity of hairbands. I went from 0 hairbands to 20 overnight! I keep one on my nightstand, one in my bathroom, and one in each of my most frequently visited friends’ apartments.The worst is when you’re caught sweaty and off guard and just want to wash your face. This is an impossible task with bangs and without hairbands, so thank you, hairbands.

    (also, what was that Styrofoam looking wrap that soccer girls used to wrap around their hair? I need that).

    In sum, I love my bangs and have learned many life lessons I would not have without this experience. Will probably keep them for at least a year, if not forever. (Think about winter hats and the possibilities of looking French!)