Adding dimension to your haircut

Shape and balance cut by Brian Toohey, as modeled by Susan Monahan. Going short is a trend Toohey's young client, Madeline, also tapped into.
WAG stylist Brian Toohey adds dimension to a young client’s hair.

It was a Friday afternoon and the salon was buzzing with the sound of hair dryers and conversation.

My next appointment was a student in for a haircut. I expected to see a teenage girl with long hair who only wanted a trim.  

Suddenly there appeared two young women with a little girl about 3 ½ feet tall standing between them. I wondered if this could be my new client.

And it was. She was quiet and poised as I leaned over and extended my hand and introduced myself as if I was meeting a young princess. She graciously received my hand and said, “I am Madeline.” As we moved toward the dressing room, I asked her sisters what she wanted to do with her hair.

Madeline’s hair was all the way down her back so I expected to hear, “just a trim.” I was shocked when they said, “She wants a bob.” I was amazed and with great enthusiasm I told them she was in the right hands.

After the shampoo, this darling little girl walked confidently between her sisters. They helped her climb onto the cushion we provided so she would sit tall enough in the chair. As I combed through her hair, I asked her how much she wanted to cut and she said, “I want to cut it off.” With some caution, I stopped the comb just below her collar and asked if that was OK.  She said, “yes” and then with a pause added, “with an angle in the front please.”

At that moment, I knew she would have a fabulous style. She had my complete focus and attention as I shut out the sounds around me as well as the watchful eyes of the audience forming around us.

It was as though Madeline and I were of one mind as she had complete confidence in what I was doing. One of her sisters commented that she had never seen her sit so still. After putting the finishing touches on the angle we created around her face, she was so pleased that her lively blue eyes opened and there we saw the beautiful princess truly come to life. As she walked away enjoying her new style, all eyes were on her.  

This 8-year-old was right on trend as hair is definitely going shorter. You may have noticed in the fashion magazines and on newscasts that this trend is taking hold. In one day I had three clients asking for shorter hair, and I was able to design each style so it had individual flair. I just love it when their eyes are fixed on the image in the mirror, and I hear them express how much they love the cut and their new look.

This new shorter hair doesn’t necessarily mean short. It can just be longer hair cut to just above the shoulder, as I did for Madeline. The right length can be just the start; if appropriate, long layers are added to release swing and movement.

I can’t help but get a kick out of the fact that this 8-year-old knew without a doubt what the trend was.

As with any haircut, you want a style that has finesse and sophistication. Begin by asking your stylist what he/she sees as the right shape and balance for your haircut.  The accompanying photograph of Susan Monahan, a stylist here at Warren Tricomi, demonstrates this perfectly. When I cut Susan’s hair, shape and balance were uppermost in my mind.  

I have developed a technique for cutting hair that has been described by a stylist in my training program as three-dimensional hair cutting. The process builds shape as opposed to a two-dimensional cut, which is flat and tends to grow out more quickly.  My technique of building shape three-dimensionally creates a form that continues to evolve beautifully no matter how long it grows.

I have clients returning after six weeks and I ask, “Why are you here?  Your hair looks great.”  And the response is usually, “I know, but because it was six weeks, I thought it was time.”

Please feel free to come in for a consultation. I would be happy to offer my thoughts about your style and, perhaps, even have you model for a class. And maybe, like Madeline, you can be the inspiration for the next column.   

Visit Brian at Warren Tricomi Salon, 1 E. Putnam Ave., Greenwich. To book an appointment with him, call 212-262-8899. For more, email Brian at

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