Exactly one year ago, I snuck off to the salon during my lunch break and got a pixie cut. I consulted no one in advance of making this change, and waltzed back into my cube freshly shorn and without a word. I had loads of fun fielding the surprised and delighted questions from my coworkers, but considerably less fun facing my unwitting husband with my new 'do. Because he hated it.
My curly brown hair had been a signature feature for most of my life. My parents loved it, my friends adored it, the men I dated treasured it -- just about everyone in my life felt some attachment to my hair. What they didn't know was that in any given set of 10 days, I'd spend five looking like Severus Snape, four looking like Gilda Radner, and the remaining one looking like a gal with well-managed locks. My hair was a delicate ecosystem. A light breeze could transform it from mass of curls to unkempt haystack. High humidity meant frizz that no product could tame. The mere act of pulling a shirt over my head could completely ruin the day's curls. And I was sick of it. Sick of fighting my hair, sick of babying it, sick of looking messy and wild for 90 percent of my life. I'm NOT messy and wild. I'm neat and controlled. And I wanted a hairstyle that reflected my inner life.
It took a very long time, more than half a dozen products, two stylists, and an investment in a breathtakingly expensive flat-iron, but eventually I found a cut and style that I felt suited me perfectly. Not only could I rely upon my hair to look the same all day regardless of weather- or shirt-related circumstances, but I could rely upon it to look playful, edgy and exactly how I wanted it to look. My mop of curls no longer hid the planes of my face, and I began to wear new styles of earrings and bolder lip colors. My mop of curls no longer clashed with my outfits that drew upon arty, rocker or minimalist influences, and I began to subtly shift my style. I no longer felt like I had plain old hair, but instead like I had an actual hairstyle. I felt more like myself than I had in years.
Hair is extremely emotional. It can take ages to choose and refine a hairstyle that suits your face shape, taste and wardrobe, and the mere thought of altering it may cause you to break out in hives. But there are many reasons to consider reevaluating your 'do on a fairly regular basis.
1. You CAN outgrow a once-perfect hairstyle. The "perfect" style that you nailed five years ago might not be as "perfect" now if your wardrobe, body or face has shifted. If you're in college and have been sporting the same style since you were 16, you may look like you haven't matured. If you're in your fifties and have been sporting the same style since you were 40, your cut may age you. When people see the same coif without any tweaks, they may focus on how other aspects of you appearance have changed in comparison to your unchanged hairstyle.
2. Change can be for the better. If you don't tinker with your hairstyle every so often, you'll never know if an even better style is possible!
3. There's a huge difference between "refining" and "changing." Subtle change can be incredibly effective at keeping your look fresh. Add some layers, get a few highlights or lowlights, explore new updos, get some barrettes or headbands into rotation, add bangs, grow out your bangs, try a new product, add or change color, straighten or curl your locks a few times a week. It doesn't have to be a complete overhaul, just a well-considered tweak.
4. Regularly re-examining your style is a valuable practice. Many of us evaluate our wardrobes and purge out the unnecessary items every SEASON. Forcing yourself to take a long, hard look at your hairstyle about once per year can be just as refreshing. When you stop seeing yourself, you run the risk of stifling your own style. Look often and look honestly at your gorgeous self, and make sure you're doing your utmost to highlight your best features.
Hair is extremely emotional but -- for the vast majority of us -- it grows back. You get a tattoo, you've changed your appearance for life. You get a haircut, you've changed your appearance for about a month. Of course, it can feel like eons if you're growing out a bad cut and you certainly have to deal with a less-than-perfect look and irritating work-arounds in the meantime. But ceasing to explore your hairstyle options for fear of failure may mean you stick with one safe-feeling style your whole life long and never discover the better, easier, more flattering options that may be just a snip away. Re-evaluating and changing up your hairstyle is a relatively low-risk way to push your own boundaries and keep yourself looking fresh.
Oh, sorry, you wanted to know how things shook out with my husband? Well, it wasn't easy. I don't feel the need to consult anyone about alterations of this nature, but I DID completely blindside him with a drastic change. And, to his credit, the first iteration of my short cut wasn't the best. Over the months, I listened to his feedback on various pixie-fied iterations of my new style, and a few of his ideas were instrumental in refining my cut. Now he loves it, looks forward to days when I come home from the salon with fresh highlights, and thinks I look stylish and sexy.
But honestly? I adore my short hair. So even if he hadn't come around, I'd have fought him on this one.