And at last, in Building Attractive, we enter the realms of relative frivolity. My friends, it’s time to talk hair.
Your hair is your single most leveraged point of attraction. Since we began this project, I have been paying attention. I walk to work and look at women on the street. Guess what? I see their hair first of all. Well, maybe their coat, but the coat’s going to come off, the hair is not.
You’re going to have to pick your strategy and execute with focus. Here are the simplest rules I can infer:
- If you are going to fuss with hair, fuss all the way to done.
- If you are going to experiment, experiment along a clear aesthetic.
- If you are going to leave it alone, leave it alone in all its glory.
- Realize that you are likely to move about, and your hair will either have to come along or stay put.
The High WASP Style Archetypes illustrate hair principles pretty well. Thanks oh spirits of my culture. Once again your obsession with style and the appropriate serves all well – regardless of origin or affiliation.
Grande Dame Tresses And ‘Dos
The Grande Dame’s hair knows what’s what, whether pinned to her scalp or dried, curled, and lacquered. She fusses, but with intent. Contrary to popular iconography, she doesn’t have to be blonde.
Artsy Cousin Tendrils
The Artsy Cousin likes her hair to resemble flora, or fauna for that matter. Her hair conveys creativity, insouciance, and her acceptance of natural forces. Choose your aesthetic here, an era, locale, or icon. Victorian? Jamaican? Punk? Then make it your own.
From top right, me with hair down at my brother’s rehearsal dinner (had to go Artsy for him), and all others from Naurnie’s BRILLIANT pinboard
Not to forget, now that Lauren has reminded me, there’s also the Urban Warrior version of Artsy Cousin. She sports an untamed pixie-referring do, subversive in color, cut, or both. Kate Lanphear, for example.
Sturdy Gal, Well, Um, Hair
This is the arena where most of us play, at least those with more conventional office jobs or a kid or two or three to care for at home. At work, we have to think about what our hair says about us. Competent? Unflustered? Nobody pays you to have hair, so you’ve got to make it serve your job purposes. And few can make fancy, sprayed or frayed, work around small children.
Good Sturdy hair needs to be as healthy as possible. Don’t torture it, don’t neglect it, a little taming goes a long way. This is the territory of blunt cuts, ponytails, pixies, slightly edgy short, or curls at appropriate volume. Hillary Clinton, love her, shouldn’t be about the Secretary of State’s hair, but Don’t. Carly Fiorina, not my favorite, but Do.
Pixie cut, from A Collection of Passions
Finally, where are many routes to attractive hair, it’s all too easy to wind up elsewhere. Here are the four most obvious Unattractive Hair Outcomes.
- Tortured. AKA fried, dull, no movement, ragged, all shine dyed right out. The intent may have been admirable, the results are counter-productive. Back away from the heat and chemicals, let your hair find its way back to the light. The only way to keep this kind of hair in Attractive Land is a fantastic colorist and LOTS of hair spray. Few of us care to invest.
- Blindly Trendy. AKA perms in the 80s, straightened in the previous decade. My sister looked great with her perm. Not everyone did. And let’s all move on from the straight-iron unless it suits us, shall we?
- Frumpy Hair #1. AKA Layers Gone Wrong. The sad fact is that layers blown dry by your killer salon guy are not guaranteed to behave like the layers you wrestle with, in the bathroom mirror, at 6:45am. Ride herd on those layers, boss them but good.
- Frumpy Hair #2 AKA Can’t Put My Finger On It But I Know It When I See It. Somehow, your hair is always going to signal your attitude towards s*x. (I asterix only to keep spam away.) Said attitude has enormous impact on Attractive. My High WASP culture allows me to say only that your hair has to indicate that you are neither a little girl, nor afraid of risk, nor one to shut down that which ought to run free.
And I’ll keep fighting for my right to Scrunchie, right until the bitter end.