In my previous posts in this series (there’s a list of links at the end of this post if you want to catch up), I first confessed to being in a state of confusion about my identity, particularly as it’s expressed in my wardrobe.
Next, trying to bravely face myself, as it were, I created silhouettes of myself so I could begin visualizing how various styles actually look on me.
And in Part 3, I introduced you to my new style icon, Christina Hendricks, whose body type is quite similar to mine, and whom I admire for her willingness to dress the body she has, as opposed to hiding her curves.
Which brings me to this week’s major step forward in this process:
I got my hair done.
I’m sure many of you can relate to the connection between going through some big emotional upheaval and doing something radically different with your hair, right? (Oh, how I wish I’d kept a photo diary over the last 35 years or so— I could easily remember what events prompted various changes in my hair.) Well, I got to thinking about this: If a new ‘do can become a reflection of internal change, could it work the other way around?
In other words, could changing my hair actually create internal change?
Let’s take a look at my pre-salon hair:
I look okay. My hair is not horrendous. I like the color (I’ve always been a redhead), but I suspect this particular shade is not optimal. I’ve seen worse (including on my own head). But is “not horrendous” what I’m going for? And even if “I’ve seen worse”, does that mean I shouldn’t strive for something better? I really need to be able to say something positive about my hair, but right now, it’s just… there.
It’s time for a really major change. However, I don’t want to just randomly chop off my hair; given my current quest to define myself, image-wise, I want to approach something this important (I mean, it’s my hair!) consciously. So I sat down to make a list of the qualities, characteristics, and preferences I see in my style that I would also like to see in my hair:
- artsy/bohemian (but not what I think of as “floaty-batik woman”);
- collage-y; I like mixing things, trying combinations;
- colorful; no beige for me! (I don’t hate beige, it just doesn’t look good on me.)
- witty/whimsical; trompe l’oeil is a favorite graphic effect, as well as visual puns;
- dance-y, light feel, as opposed to heavily structured or severely fitted; relaxed, easy;
- interesting textures;
- modern, but not trendy;
- above all, not perfect.
Just for fun, I next made a list of the opposites of these qualities:
As I finished these lists, I realized that, if possible, I would like to incorporate as many of these characteristics as possible into not only my hair, but my wardrobe, and ultimately, my personal style. It occurred to me that what the combination of both lists adds up to is this:
But how does all this apply to my hair? What does contrast have to do with it?
First, I considered the color, not thinking so much about the contrast between the “before” color and “after”, as about the contrast of the hair color with my skin. As you can see, my skin is quite fair, and I have lots of freckles along with my green eyes. I’ve pretty much always had some shade of red hair, but if it’s possible for red hair to look mousy, I think mine does. I don’t want to go lighter, though, thinking that this would wash me out even more.
Next, thinking about the shape and the length, well, it all needs to go. I’ve kept my hair on the longer side ever since I started ballroom dancing several years ago, but it really doesn’t suit me; I’ve always thought I looked better in shorter hair. (But I have to admit to a horror of that generic middle-aged-woman short hairstyle. You know the one I mean.) So I’m going shorter. Lots shorter. And I’m toying with the idea of an asymmetrical cut…
So here’s what I’m thinking as I head to the salon:
1: Darken the color to a cool brunette for better contrast with my skin tone, but add red highlights to warm it up. So I have not only the color contrast, but a warm/cool contrast.
2: Create not only a shorter length, but an interesting, maybe even slightly edgy shape; I’m going with an asymmetrical cut!
Tip: I used one of my Pinterest boards to collect photos of hair styles and colors I liked, then printed them out and took them to my stylist. She was thrilled to have references to work from (as opposed to me trying vainly to describe what I wanted), and I must say that she absolutely nailed it, as you can see here:
And here are my before and after photos, side by side (for maximum drama, don’t you know):
When I was first settling into the stylist’s chair, what I was thinking was that I wanted the change to be so great that I would be shocked. But what I actually felt, surprisingly, was relief, a kind of “Finally! It’s me!” feeling. I can’t really describe the difference this experience has already made to the way I feel about myself, how I look, my age, and my style— I can only say that I’m certain that, by changing my hair, I’ve taken a monumental step forward in the internal process of re-defining myself and my style.
Catch up on the rest of this series: