Real shopping: Style Police - Don't miss the point

There's a difference between spiky hair and scary hair - as Sporty Spice found to her cost. By JAMES SHERWOOD

By now we've all laminated our two souvenir copies of OK! to treasure forever the nuptials of Posh and Beckham. Style Police thought Princess Posh looked luscious in ivory satin Vera Wang. However, we've got a real problem with Sporty's new blonde spiky crop. This is a national scandal up there with the Daily Mail's recent shock headline: "What Has Happened to Sue Barker's Hair?" The Sporty one looks like Gloria Hunniford's love child. Furthermore, she's completely missed the point. Scary hair is it for high summer. But we're talking scary chic, not a barnet that makes babies cry.

Scary hair used to be reserved for club kids who reinvent themselves nightly. It's a rough and ready cut that looks as though you've narrowly escaped a brush with Sweeney Todd. The style is soft-core punk spike, gelled-up shark's fin or knotted twist. Boys do it with a tub of gel. Girls do it with those baby butterfly clips. Fashion editors think the butterfly clip is so last season. Girls on the street take no notice and continue to knot short cropped hair with a flotilla of sparkly neon butterfly clips bought for cheap at Claire's Accessories.

So why, all of a sudden, has scary hair escaped from the club scene to rampage on the street in broad daylight? Toni & Guy has been hyping scary hair for a good few seasons in its ad campaigns. It led the way with the concept that hair is the number one way to alter image totally in zero time. Five quid for a tub of hair gel is a reasonable way of looking this season. Three figures for a Prada frock is not.

The street trend is invariably a backlash against high fashion impracticality. The mags have been banging on about hair extensions for ages. But who, bar the utterly glam black dance-hall queens, can bear so much pain for beauty?

If there's one thing British girls have learnt, it is the nightmare of Rapunzel locks. You'll see scads of long, softly curled styles in the mags this month under Seventies crochet beanie hats. It's very Marisa Berenson and very lovely. But low maintenance it ain't.

Scary hair doesn't take time. It's got to look spontaneous and edgy, not groomed. So sleek blond streaks like Sporty's don't work. If hair is streaked, then it's got to be brash blond with thick, dark roots. It's got to look as if your stylist was well hungover and visibly shaking when he slapped on the peroxide. Go to the hairdresser's on a Saturday morning and he probably will be anyway.

How to style it

For guys you've got to have a fairly sharp haircut to make sure it isn't too scary. You're not interested in just-got-out-of-bed, Sloane-like Naked Chef Jamie Oliver's hideous thatch. The cut is very short and sharp on the neck but long enough on top to play. The gelled shark's-fin is urban, clubby neo-punk. Basically, get a glob of hair wax and sweep the hair into a rough wave. Not too slick or your barnet will look like a Cadillac fender. The random spike is simple. Gel up porcupine quills until your hair looks like a dangerous weapon.

For girls it's vital to start with scary blonde streaks and build. Be careful with those butterfly clips. Not too cute or matching or we're in Claire from Steps territory. Zip down to Top Shop or Claire's Accessories and clash colours, glitter finishes and sizes of butterfly clip, then stick and twist them in your hair. Style Police is particularly taken by a young accessories designer called Kate Woods who has made a collection of hair ribbons, bows and beads. Again, too many hippie hair accessories leans too far towards Woodstock. Scary hair must never be hippie. It's gotta be hip.

Where to buy it

We've already covered hair accessories and, besides, that's totally personal and totally the point. Wear a diamond tiara for all Style Police cares. Just remember to wear it well.

Now we've got one product that is guaranteed to revolutionise scary hair. Bet you've all been cringing at the thought of nasty streaks and peroxide. Well, you don't need to cause terminal damage to your hair to get the new colour. For sure it's simple to buy a DIY hair colour kit and experiment at home, but don't come writing to us when your hair falls out.

The alternative comes courtesy of Fudge, which has just launched Paintbox Extreme Colour Hairspray. These wash-out neon hairsprays are fabulous. Of course the colour is stronger on blondes so we still recommend those streaks. But even on dark hair, these hairsprays hint at hot pink, burnt orange and acid yellow.

Style Police is particularly taken by the silver and gold glitter sprays. The metallics, particularly gold, are working this season. If you're not the kind of girl - or boy - who wants to wear glitter kitten heels, then use your hair as an accessory. Frankly, what could be better than a halo of glitter gold on a scary, spiky cut?

Address book

Claire's Accessories: 0171 731 8199.

Fudge: 0128 268 3100.

Kate Woods: 0181 305 0151.

Toni & Guy: 0171 836 0222.

Top Shop: 0800 731 8284.

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