Argentineans, Porteños especially, have a certain flare, a fashion tilt towards the extravagant. While clothes in the capital are on a par with international standards, even merging closer to the mundane, hairstyles show the truly creative side of the countries youth. The mullet, in all its glory, has staged a righteous comeback for fashion forward men and women of all ages. Short on top and long in the back, the mullet has found its way back into society.
It is not uncommon to be caught in the throngs of downtown Buenos Aires on a busy Monday morning walking behind a well dressed young business man, shiny suit, polished shoes, and oh so highly stylized mullet. While North Americans have relegated the mullet to humorous websites and glittery Halloween wigs, considering it one of many unfortunate fashion missteps of the 1980s, Argentineans walk tall and sport their layered hair with pride.
The mullet is not alone in the Argentine hairdressers bag of tricks. Huge chunky layers are chopped into the long hair of twenty-something ladies, and in a minimalists mullet young men have ‘rat tails’, one long section growing from an otherwise short head of hair. Hair is an important feature for Porteno youth and mulleted, feathered, or mohawked, it is an interesting and often entertaining fashion statement and a fierce part of the culture.
Here’s the catch. If you are an ex-pat living in Buenos Aires, or a tourist desiring a new do while on vacation, a trip to the salon could result in a disastrous Billy Ray Cyrus flashback. It is imperative that you choose the right hairdresser and that you are emphatic about the cut you want.
Being the cosmopolitan city that it is, it is hard to walk a block without hitting some kind of beauty salon. For the truly chic and deep pocketed, the coiffeurs of Recoleta are plush and modern. The trendsetters all head to Palermo’s hip hairdressers, though these pose the highest mullet threat of them all. Downtown salons will give your hair a trim on your lunch break, and the barbershops of San Telmo provide a cultural experience along with a clean shave. You can find salons of all sizes, prices and styles, so don’t walk into the first one you see.
Unless you speak fluent Spanish try to find a salon with an English-speaking staff member. Many of the larger all-purpose centers, such as Roberto Giordano on Florida Avenue, will have someone sit down with you and ask what you want in English, and then they can then explain it to your hairdresser. It may be fun to choose random unknown items on a lunch menu, or attempt a conversation in Spanish with your taxi driver, but when it comes to getting a new do you might not want to take chances with the language gap. The best option is maybe to bring a photo of the look you want or have someone translate key words like ‘long layers’ or ‘no bangs’ and simply repeat these phrases ad nauseam.
A decent haircut will set you back at least five US dollars, and depending on where you go, washing, styling, dyeing, treating, and any other extras, a trip to the hairdressers can begin to cost. But no matter how extravagant you choose to get, the price will still be a bargain compared to an equivalent experience elsewhere in the world. If you want to fit in with the fashionistas and in general beautiful people of Buenos Aires, an expensive and hip haircut is the best way to begin to blend.
So bring a photo, a translator or a Spanish phrasebook and freshen up your look with a trip to the hairdresser. Or, if you like to live dangerously, head to the nearest salon that’s bumping techno music and has flashy décor, and ask the most uber-chic employee to use their creative genius. There is nowhere better than the Argentinean capital to experiment with a new look and a new you.
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