Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Is It Really All About the Hair?

I’d know that bob anywhere. Anna at Milan Fashion Week, March 2015. Photo by YoungJun Koo.

I am reading a book right now called Women, Work & The Art of Savoir Faire: Business Sense & Sensibility by Mireille Guiliano, author of French Women Don’t Get Fat. I came across an interesting passage that caught my attention:


“Remember the main character in the feel-good movie Working Girl (1988)? Secretary and executive-in-the-making Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) opines, ‘If you want to get ahead in business…you’ve got to have serious hair.’ Well, she’s right. In French Women Don’t Get Fat, I wrote, ‘French women know one can go far with a great haircut, a bottle of Champagne, and a divine perfume.’ I believe it.

“Bad hair is a branding catastrophe for women. If I could give women one ‘beauty and branding tip,’ it would be to get a great haircut and invest in regular blow-dries. I am a bit embarrassed by the time and money I have had to spend on my hair over my professional life, but, though it bothers me, it was simply essential. I had to be and wanted to be presentable at all times.

“The harsh reality is that women in the workplace are judged on their looks a lot more than men. Say it’s not fair, but it is a silent reality. Face it. Women do not have to be gorgeous to succeed; indeed, there’s the argument that being too good-looking can work against a woman in many professions. A woman, however, needs to be well groomed and presentable, let’s call it soignée. Period.”

Rachel Zoe’s signature hairstyle. Photo from Streetstrut.com

I didn’t want to think Mireille was right but you know what? She’s probably right. I don’t think I’m particularly hair-obsessed but I certainly want mine to look neat and flattering, though on any given day, depending on the weather mostly, that is a supreme challenge, requiring mousse, a blow-dryer, a flat iron or curling brush, patience, and hairspray. And even then, it doesn’t always work! I like a bob of course, it suits both my face and personality as well as my job of mom/blogger/freelance writer.

Love this look on myself but the hair is not easy to achieve! Photo by G. Keresty.

Mireille’s writing on the subject made me think that ladies (and gentlemen) need to not only have serious hair, they also need appropriate hair. A Manhattan lawyer I once worked for one day commented to me on another lawyer’s hair, “I wish she’d cut that hair. It’s not professional looking.”

The comment came from a partner in his late sixties whose name was on the front door. The lawyer he was referring to was young, female, new to both the profession and the practice, and in her twenties. I could see his point—she had long flowing hair that reached halfway down her back. She never wore it up. It often could have used a comb. It was gorgeous hair, hair you might see on a supermodel, but if it’s your law firm, do you want long, flowing, romantic hair on a woman representing both your firm and your client during legal proceedings in a New York City courtroom or during a deposition? Maybe not! (Of course, since it was his law firm I assume he had a hand in hiring her so I have to wonder, did he think she’d cut her hair when he brought her on board? But that is a subject for a different post.)

I’m including some pictures of people I think have good (and serious, and appropriate) hair for their job title. Anna’s severe bob (that I love)? Ideal for the top editrix at the most famous magazine in the world. Rachel Zoe’s wavy golden tresses? Perfect for a stylist. Diane von Furstenburg’s big bouncy curls? Sublime for an iconic fashion designer and champion of women.

The divine DVF at FIT in 2012 for the exhibit IMPACT: 50 Years of the CFDA.

I find Christine Lagarde’s slightly boyish cut both modern and chic and a great choice for the first woman Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF. Photo by Getty Images.

As for Linda Fargo’s silver perfection, I can’t imagine any other hair on the senior vice president of the fashion office at Bergdorf Goodman, can you?

Such great hair on Linda Fargo of Bergdorf Goodman. Photo by Mr. Newton.

I would love to read your take on this subject, whether you are a lady or a gentleman!

20 comments:

celkalee said...

Yes, yes! You are absolutely correct. When I see an otherwise well defined style topped with a messy bob I cringe. My absolute dislike is the otherwise groomed head of lovely hair uncombed from the crown in the back. They miss the back of their heads! How can this be? No check in the mirror before leaving the house? Broken arms? Rotator cuff injury? I think not.

Monica said...

Your hair is very lovely! So chic and sleek. I do feel that hair goes a long way towards defining ladies professional identities, which is rather a shame, but an interesting phenomenon nonetheless, and definitely something to be mindful of. Unfortunately I've got the kind of hair that just doesn't stay neat for more than a few minutes but thankfully it's not been a problem for me professionally... it's my mad scientist hair ;)

Josephine Chicatanyage said...

Hair is extremely important. I always feel better on a good hair day.

Suzanne Carillo said...

It is scary how much a person's hairstyle can define who they are and how they will be perceived.

When I made the decision to go from a natural blond to a ombre redhead about 6 years ago I knew it would require more maintenance than I'd given my hair my entire life. And I was right. Visiting the salon once every 4 weeks is a huge pain the butt. However, I get far too many compliments it to give it up any time soon.

bisous
Suzanne
http://www.suzannecarillo.com

Coulda shoulda woulda said...

I feel better after a blow dry than a facial or even a massage!! If I had to choose between hair or makeup it would be a good hair day...

GSL said...

I could never do a post like this without a Feminist SWAT team crashing an up-armored Subaru through my door...but since you ask you are on the money my dear Jill. Nuclear Wintour has a fab Kevlar Helmet Bob (known simply as the 'KHB' at the Den). i can always tell by a glance at a gal's hair if her idea of heavy reading is US Magazine.
The Den has long been an updo advocate but love your lovely soft bob Jill and hope EJS has locked up Mya's services long term.

PinkCheetahVintage said...

Yes!!! Hair is so important!!!

Jan Graham-McMillen said...

Yes, you wear that bob perfectly ... and it looks way less "clenched" than I always perceive Anna Wintour's! (Know you love her, and I admire her in so many ways ... but you look better.)
My pixie choice is as much political as it is a matter of style. It's a rarity here, and I take special pleasure in causing even a little cultural consternation. God knows, someone needs to, here!

Jill said...

Hi Celkalee, your comment made me laugh! I know just what you are talking about! I am so careful to check the back of my head after I do my hair. It's the first place I check and once that looks okay I concentrate more on the sides and front. XO, Jill

Jill said...

Hi Monica! I was having a very good hair day when that photo was taken, and I was inside, I am hardly ever that lucky the moment I step foot out the door. I love the idea of your mad scientist hair. Your hair looks so lovely and romantic in your avatar photo! XO, Jill

Jill said...

Hi Josephine, I'm with you, I feel so much more confident and put together when my hair looks good. XO, Jill

Jill said...

Hi Suzanne, I totally agree with you, a lady's hair has a lot to do with how she is perceived. I love your ombre hair, I cannot imagine you without it, to tell you the truth. It seems part of your signature style! XO, Jill

Jill said...

Hi Naomi, yes, I'm with you, hair wins out! I love getting it blown out, it looks so sleek and perfect and stays that way for more than one day! XO, Jill

Jill said...

Oh GSL, making me laugh, as usual! I like Anna's helmet bob, I can't help it. Don't judge! Every day is a good hair day for Anna! I am sticking with Maya, she has been cutting my hair for years and hopefully won't be leaving any time soon! XO, Jill

Jill said...

Hi Becky, you have good hair my dear. XO, Jill

Jill said...

Oh Jan, thank you for the compliment. Wow! I love your pixie cut, it really suits you. Of course, I have seen you with different hair so I know that you have a face that looks good no matter what hairstyle you choose. Lucky lady! XO, Jill

Pam @ over50feeling40 said...

I am catching up with reading I did not do while I was in Nashville. I believe this is true, but we also have to do what makes us feel confident. I love your hair, but it would not look good on me....nor Anna's. I recently wrote a post because there has been a reader who has written me 10 times to tell me she hates my hair. I like my hair, but she has rattled my cage a bit...so now I just wonder what direction is best. I am happy with it, but do not think it is a signature hair style as the ones you have pictured here. Now, you have given me more food for thought. I would be surprised if I made big changes any time soon.

Jill said...

Hi Pam! I had already planned this post when I read your moving piece about the reader writing you to say she hates your hair! I cannot imagine writing that to someone even once, let alone 10 times. What is wrong with (some) people? Hair is so personal and I understand why people are sensitive about it. I know I am. I have tried a lot of hairstyles over the years but the bob is what works for me. As soon as it grows out it looks so wrong on the shape of my face. And I don't look good in short hair either, so the bob wins!

As for your hair, I like it just as it is, I don't think you need to make any changes to it! XO, Jill

Mrs C said...

Hair.. urgh! Not a good episode for me. I have straight, heavy, flat hair. Typical Asian gene. I wish I have that unruly by choice, out of bed sexy hair like Zoe but it will never happen. If I want my hair to look even close to presentable, I have to keep it in short bob with slight side bang which in return make me look more on the rounder side. You see the problem here? It's a no win situation. You somehow look good in bob cut, suits your face shape. I guess in life we cannot have everything.. I'll get by with bad hair as long as I'm healthy :) Thanks for dropping by my blog. Your Hermes sounds fabulous!

Jill said...

Hi Mrs. C! Oh your comment made me laugh. Hair is really hard and I have more bad hair days than good. So much of my dilemma is because of the weather--any humidity and there goes my nice sleek bob. I'm with you, I'm getting by with my bad hair as long as I have my health. And some Hermes, ha ha! Right? Love your new Bolide, now I want one too! It is so nice to meet you! XO, Jill