Professional, Maintainable Hair

What is the Best Professional Hairstyle? | CorporetteWhich are the best professional hairstyles or cuts?  How should you upgrade your hair as you climb the corporate ladder?  Reader M wonders:

After a lifetime of basically ignoring my hair (I’ve either kept it quite short or in a ponytail), my career is really taking off and I need to have a more ‘corporate’ look. (I work in technology, almost entirely with men, but am moving into a position where I need to represent our team to C-levels.) Unfortunately, I have no idea where to start, or how to find a cut/style that will be professional but not require oodles of time. Any tips would be much appreciated.

Great question! If you’re comfortable with short hair, you may want to keep it there — it’s hard for me to think of a short haircut that would be unprofessional, so long as it’s maintained well and styled neatly.  That said, here are a few more tips:

- Work with what your hair wants to do if at all possible — for example, get a cut especially for curly hair.

- If you hate what your hair wants to do, consider getting a style that’s easy enough for you or a professional to blow-dry and style it quickly and effectively.  I don’t think there’s anything inherently unprofessional about long hair (mine currently goes midway down my back, which I would categorize as “very long”), but I know that those extra six inches at the bottom add another 20 minutes to my blow-dry time.  My personal $.02: I feel more like me with straight hair, and because only 85% of my hair is curly — there is a straight under-layer that is noticeable (and annoying) whenever I try to wear it curly — I’ve been focusing on trying to teach myself to blow-dry it straight.  I’ve gotten better and faster at it, particularly with the investment in much better products (a boar bristle brush, a T3 blow-dryer, and Moroccan Oil, which my hair seems to love), but it is nowhere near as good as a professional blowout.  Another option: just making a weekly investment in time and money and going to the salon for a blowout — it may be $20-$50, depending on where you live — but if you feel more confident in it and can make the blowout last for almost all of the working week, then that sounds like a reasonable investment to me.  (I’ve read a lot of advice that a 5-day time frame for a blowout is doable — see our earlier discussion on “training” your hair and scalp for lasting a few days between washes.)

- if the time/money investment in the salon/DIY blowout is undesirable (or you really want/need to wash your hair every day), look to professional up-dos — a bun, the french twist, even a prettier ponytail.  (I’ve been very impressed by YouTube tutorials from women in the military, who have to wear their hair back and in a bun, such as this one from YouTuber notoriousnoee (screencap above) — these ladies get their hair back neatly, quickly, and I’m guessing those up-dos last the day without a headache.  For a less severe look, consider pulling a few pieces out around your face, or styling the very front of your hair separately, as shown in this video from Pursebuzz (as featured in the very first hair post on Corporette, awww). I hate to say it but Sarah Palin was on to something — a “bump” does tend to make things look more professional (or, at least flattering, for most people).  I prefer to tease my own hair using a special brush (I think mine is the Spornette Little Wonder), but I know Jean at Extra Petite has had success with these velcro bumpits available on eBay.  Many readers swear by Goody’s Spin Pins — after a lot of trial and error I finally do too.

- Try to reassess your hair every five years or so as it changes.  I’ve read that a woman’s hair is completely different every seven years — I don’t know if that’s true, but I know that my own hair has gotten much dryer and curlier with age (and maybe I’m crazy but it seems less shiny also).  Particularly for those of you in the pregnancy/nursing phase of your lives, you may find that your hair has drastically changed.  No one seems to talk about this either, but there’s a period of about 4 months, I think after weaning, where “wispies” were a huge problem for me and for most of my friends — short, flyaway hair at the roots and in front.  Is it extra hair breaking? New hair growth? I don’t know, but I found that hairspray was essential for that brief period if I wanted to look pulled together.

- Finally: you may want to avoid cuts or color that need high maintenance.  If your dark hair is dyed platinum blonde, the roots may look pretty funky if they’re not maintained.  (That said, going blonder can be a great way to hide gray hair.)  If you have blunt-cut bangs (or a bob) that need a regular trim every few weeks, you need to factor that trip to the salon into the equation.

Readers, how have you upgraded your hair cut or style as you moved up the corporate ladder?  Have you found a great polished and professional look for yourself?

(Pictured: The Sock Bun for Military Girls (screencap), originally uploaded to YouTube by notoriousnoee.)

Comments

  1. pagin k-padi :

    I remember a long while ago you were talking about coloring your hair navy blue. Did you go through with it? How was it received at work?

    • Not yet. Instead I changed my job and went with a super dark brown. I still want to do it though and I think it would be professional enough in my area because I have very short hair. I have actually been seeing professional women with pink, purple and green hair more and more.

      • ooo fun! I used to have just a couple little streaks of color that would peak out underneath. I thought that was the best of both worlds: easier to maintain bc you don’t have to worry about the roots, and yet I get to feel crazy and fun. ;o)

      • Baconpancakes :

        I know I’m a day late but man, what industry/region do you work in, k-padi? I am super jealous. I really miss the two wide pink streaks I had in my hair in college.

  2. Senior Attorney :

    I spend a ton of time and money on my hair. I am gray and have it colored blond with highlights, and to keep the roots at bay I am in the salon every three weeks. My hair is naturally curly, but not quite curly enough to look fun and intentional rather than like a hot mess, so I generally blow it out and flatiron it. And when I get sick of that routine (like now), I spring for a Brazilian blowout.

    And yes, with all that upkeep I feel like my hair looks pretty darned good, most of the time.

  3. Need to Improve :

    Keratin smoothing treatment. I have thick, wavy hair that frizzes up in the rain and that I used to blow dry straight. I got a keratin treatment, and now it’s straight and lustrous without blow drying. This shaves 20 minutes off my routine every time I wash my hair, and better yet, it keeps it looking slick all day.

    • Agreed. It’s not cheap, but the 20 minutes that my Keratin treatment saves me each morning is worth it. I still blow dry (or wear wavy if I let air dry), but I don’t have to straight-iron any more.

  4. You would post this on a day when I am having one of the worst bad hair days ever…

    ..and found out that I didn’t get the jog I interviewed for (not a huge surprise) but the reason I was passed over makes me feel like a total loser.

    • Coach Laura :

      Ashley, hang in there. Job rejections are really hard (speaking from experience) but after you pick yourself up and get back out there, the rejection will fade and can even be a springboard for bigger and better things.

      • Thanks very much. Onward and upward.

        • Plus, who knows. As someone on the other end, who interviews candidates frequently for job openings, I can tell you there are a million different reasons a company might not hire you. Many of these reasons have nothing to do with you. I can’t tell you how many times we have gone through the interview process and realized midway through that we needed to restructure the position somehow and start all over. Don’t take it personally– chances are, it is NOT you. You were qualified enough to have an in-person interview, and soon enough, some other company will snap you up.

    • It is not the _reason_ you were passed over. It’s what they gave you as the reason. It usually has nothing to do with reality.
      I’ve been given BS reasons for not getting the job, that made me go “Really???” but now that I am on the hiring side, I have confirmation that they were exactly that – BS. Many candidates that make it to the interview are qualified, and get rejected on nebulous grounds of “fit”.
      Hang in there. Making it to the interview is a big deal. You’ll get farther next time.

      • Watch out using “fit” as a grounds for rejection. “Fit” is a great way to hide all kinds of illegal hiring decisions and verbalizing “you’re not a fit” to a candidate is dicey. Our employment practice counsels clients not to use the nebulous grounds of fit.

    • Hug’s Ashley, you will get the job you want, and my dad say’s that if they don’t give you the job, mabye you dont want to work there anyway. Just say FOOEY and move on!

      As for the hair p’ost, I have been thinking for a long time of getting a shorter, more professioeal hair style now that I am NO longer in my 20′s and cute. I still have long straight hair that the manageing partner likes me to wear down, exept in the summer when I can put it up, but alway’s with a schrunchie if I am doing research. Lateley, I have tried to ask him if I can cut my hair shorter b/c it would be easier to manage, but he says NO, my main asset is my blond hair and he does NOT want me to do anything to mess that up, particulearley with the judge, who is crazy over me (why I will never know, but I will go with that.) The manageing partner says that Marisa Meyer of Yahoo got to be CEO and he think’s she looks alot like me, but he likes me even better! I think he say’s that b/c he want’s me to think positive, b/c dad told him my tuchus is way to big.

      So the message for me is to see if I should dress and act more like a 30 year old and not like a 20 year old, b/c I am not in college any more. FOOEY!

  5. TO Lawyer :

    I had long hair for years (my hair is curly/wavy but I pretty much always wear it straight) and I impulsively cut it into a chin-length bob a few months ago and got SO many compliments at work, including from senior male partners who told me it made me look more professional and sleek. So times a big hair change can be really good!

    Do you have a regular stylist? I would ask their opinion. They know the texture of your hair and would have a good idea of what would look good and be easy.

    Instyle has a hair website with a ton of celebrity hairstyles so you can look at a bunch. They also have an ipad app where you can “try” hairstyles on which might be a good idea if you’re debating between a few…

    • Wildkitten :

      +1 I love my short bob. I’m less sure about trying on celebrity hair. I’d look awesome with a Kate Middleton blow-out but it’s not gonna happen, with my hair, every day before work.

      • TO Lawyer :

        I’m probably biased because I found my haircut by trying on Katie Holme’s bob…

        • Ha – I have that bob right now too. Love it but thinking about going just a little longer. Tons of people compliment it though, it’s a great cut!

        • Boot conditioner :

          I have that bob and some highlights. I get regular compliments as well. Such an easy style for lots of fine, straight hair.

      • OttLobbyist :

        I have a shoulder length bob-like cut – a bit longer in the front, shorter in the back. I find it works well with my hair straight or wavy. If things are super-hectic, I straighten it because it’s more predictable, but leave it wavy for normal-hectic times. Dealing with bangs used to be my biggest time-waster….

    • I hate my bob. Despise it. It only looks okay if I blow it dry and straighten it, which I am just too lazy to do everyday. I miss my long hair so much.

      • I’m sorry you hate it but I’m also glad you posted this because I always only hear people rave about their new short hair. I know that if I went the bob route, I’d actually have to spend time styling my hair when my current long hair is wash and go.

        • I agree that hearing both perspectives is helpful. I currently have a chin-length bob after (much like TO Lawyer) impulsively chopping off fairly long hair.

          I did get a ton of compliments on the new cut, including lots of “you look more mature” and “your hair looks so sleek and professional.”

          While the short cut takes much less time to dry, I find I have to spend a bit more time styling it. On average, it takes about the same time as longer hair did. However, I really miss the ability to just throw it in a ponytail or pin it up when it’s not cooperating. Overall, I think once my hair grows out again, I’ll keep it long for awhile.

          • Ditto. I grew my chin length back to past my shoulders and it does take less time to style. Also, when it was short, I hated not being able to do a decent updo. Now I can do a quick twist and go. Pulling it back and up looks far more corporate, but I usually wear is down because 90% of the women I work with lean casual.

          • TO Lawyer :

            +2 I’m growing my hair out now because I have found it takes more styling to make my hair look good. And I miss being able to put it in a ponytail (although as my hairdresser reminds me, I rarely did much with my hair but wear it short)

          • hoola hoopa :

            agree. It’s definitely know your hair and preferences. I love the look of a bob on me and get lots of compliments, but I inevitably grow it back out because I personally just can’t handle the maintenance. If I wore my hair equally styled, long and short would be about the same amount of work, but I feel like with my hair and style I can get away with a fairly unstyled do with long hair half the time vs must style everyday with short.

      • Yes, thanks for this perspective. It definitely is a good reminder for days when I think “this hair is so much effort, I should just cut it short and then it’ll be so easy.” Short hair does not always imply easy to manage hair.

    • I chopped my long-ish thick, wavy but usually blown dry straight hair to right below the shoulders. It’s cute but a total pain in the ass– there’s not enough to weigh it down, so it’s a lot harder to blow dry. I always have to flat iron or use a curling iron on it afterwards, whereas that was sort of optional with my longer hair. I can’t imagine what would happen if I went even shorter. I would do another keratin/brazilian treatment, but my scalp is sensitive and I’ve been trying to limit what I do to it.

    • IT Chick in MN :

      Ask, ask, ask until you find a stylist you like and who works with your hair well. I have challenging hair – baby fine, lots of it at the back, thin at the front. It has just enough wave to be annoying, not enough to look purposeful. I flailed around at what to with my hair for years. Finally a friend suggested I try her stylist.

      Key point – I loved this friend’s hair. It was wonderfully expressive of her personality. I made myself an appointment over lunch one day. It took longer than I thought and it cost more than I planned, but I walked back into the office and my team literally did not recognize me. The financial research guys noticed enough to feel compelled to comment.

      My stylist listened (and continues to do so). She specifically taught me how to style my hair. I effectively learned to give myself a blow-out with chin to shoulder-length hair. I took her recommendations on styling products, and discovered that the pricier stuff lasts 3 times as long because I didn’t have to use as much.

      I now compulsively recommend my stylist. Any ‘r*ttes in Minneapolis, go see Ande at Spalon Montage in Edina!

  6. I have thick wavy hair and am lazy to dry or style it in any way (do not even own a hair dryer if you can believe it). I used to air dry with a few seconds of “scrunching” with anti-frizz products per my hairdresser’s advice and this has been my low-effort, sometimes nice but often messy hairstyle for the last couple years.

    I’m now planning to go the straight route and get a Japanese straightening done when it grows out a bit (hesitated for a while due to the formaldehyde health hazard, but now determined to bite the bullet after seeing how good straight hair looks on me).
    While I grow it out, I’m considering getting a home flat iron for the first time so I can style it at home occasionally for important meetings and such (maybe every week or every other week realistically). Road Warriore_t_t_e recommended the small $15 Remington Digital Ceramic Anti static hair straightener. Is this a good one for a complete newbie (and a lazy one to boot)? I’m reluctant to spend more than say 5 minutes doing visible and particularly wavy sections of my hair, and hesitate to spend a ton of money because it’ll be (a) temporary and (b) occasional use.

    • AttiredAttorney :

      Spend the money on a good flatiron. Especially if you hate spending time on your hair, it will pay its cost back in biiiiig dividends. Sign up for email alerts from folica dot com and you can get a really good one for a great price. I have bought four of the sedu brand over the past ten years, and I usually end up getting them for about $85 when you can catch a sale and stack a coupon. They are SO worth it!

    • "Allergies" PSA :

      Beware if you have any respiratory issues. I have asthma and had to switch salons because being there when another client was having this done triggered an attack. Wow. Who woulda thought.

    • That flat iron is a good one for travel, and for occasional use. Maybe you could buy it and see how much you would really use a flat iron. However, if you think you are going to use it every day or even several times a week–I agree with AttiredAttorney that for regular use a high-quality (expensive) flat iron is the way to do it.

  7. It kind of depends on how old you are, how big the company is, whether you are in Silicon Valley tech or other tech. I’d say you want to keep coloring your hair through your 40s. Then, when you hit 50 and are by then a VP:), at least in Silicon Valley, it’s a good time to let some individuality flourish. Like gray hair.

    In terms of cut/do, etc., it really doesn’t matter as long as it’s well-kempt and visibly under control. A shiny ponytail without frizz is fine. Updos are OK, but not too Wall Street. A bob like Marisa, fine. Cropped is always OK.

    • hoola hoopa :

      +1

      Find 1-3 hairstyles that you like and can do yourself (or maintain a blow out, etc). Routine is fine. My stress over my hair vanished when I realized that I didn’t need to master every style I saw or be creative. Think about the powerful women you know – they probably all or nearly all have one maybe two styles that they can do in their sleep.

    • Frugal doc.. :

      Agree with the coloring advice.

      I am in my 40′s with visible grey hair and people (usually strangers…) actually ask me about it. You would be shocked what sometimes people will say. Interestingly, they are often indirect “compliments”, as it is clear that my grey hair ages me and I look “too young” too be grey. But the fact is that coloring your grey in the professional world is such the norm that you are an outlier not to do it.

      Coloring for me is very expensive, as my grey is severe, my hair grows very fast, and my dark brown coloring makes the grey pop. Also those grey hairs can be creatures with a structure/life of their own that look kooky. I really only look good when I touch up at least monthly, and have complicated highlights to even hide the grey as it mixes in and have a good cut and regular styling. It is a lot of work, and is not conducive to my frugal nature.

      So I have gone though this transition period of trying it grey, and it is not a good idea in my situation if you are not very well established/senior…. and single.

      I agree that a good stylist is worth their weight in gold… ask their advice on a style that suits your face/body type and a color that flatters your coloring. Let them know your time/lifestyle issues. My stylist made very good recommendations. But they are still too expensive and complicated for me…. So it’s my choice…. pay and look pretty good, or skimp and look a bit frumpy.

      • “But the fact is that coloring your grey in the professional world is such the norm that you are an outlier not to do it.”

        Part of the reason I stopped coloring.

        (The other is the former stylist who could never do the same color twice.)

  8. Wedding Dress :

    TJ – I am getting married this May and bought a wedding dress. I am second guessing my selection now though. I mean I like it, but I don’t love it. People keep telling me “you need to love your wedding dress.” …do I? I am overly analytical so I am probably giving this too much thought, any advice would help. Basically I thought I wanted a poufy dress, but after trying them on I thought they made me look bigger than I was, so I changed my mind and decided I wanted a sleek A-line, which I bought. Has anyone gotten married in a wedding dress they didn’t love? Should I keep looking or just do the practical thing and stick with what I have? FWIW I’m not one of those people who is never happy with what they get. I do sometimes agonize over decisions but I do have items of clothes that I tried on, fell in love with, bought immediately, and never looked back. I guess I just want my wedding dress experience to be like that.

    • hoola hoopa :

      You need to like your dress not love it. I tried on plenty of dresses and didn’t love any of them, so I picked one of the dresses that I liked. I looked and felt beautiful in my dress. When I look back on pictures, I still like my dress. I didn’t LoOoOoVE my dress and it does not keep me up at night.

      The only thing you really need to 100% love in your wedding is your fiancé.

      • THIS: “The only thing you really need to 100% love in your wedding is your fiancé.” is the best. I love it. ;o)

      • So true! There is so much to plan and you kind of need to just pick good enough and move on with soooooo many things… anyway has anyone every been to a wedding and remembered specifics about someone else’s wedding dress? You just remember the bride looked great (and most likely) the dress was white and long.
        When I bought my dress I knew that I liked it better than all the other dresses I tried on, even though it wasn’t what I had imagined. Cut to 1 week before the wedding and I started freaking out and trying on other dresses/getting desperate. My mom calmed me down, I wore the dress I had bought and I looked great in my pics (thank you professional tayloring!).

    • Wildkitten :

      I’m not married but I’m 100% sure that the high rates of divorce in this country are not due to people having lukewarm feelings about their wedding dresses. I also know plenty of people end up buying a second wedding dress later, so if you can swing that financially, I don’t think buying a different dress will doom your marriage , either. Do you feel confident and pretty in this dress? Is getting a different dress important to you?

    • I really would not worry about it. Unless you’re going to say “ugh” every time you look at a wedding picture, I think a good enough dress is good enough (especially since you typically can’t return wedding dresses). If you really think you want something else, you should see how much money you can get from selling it, just to off-set the expense. But if you’re just basing this on what other people tell you, I’d get them out of your head. I hated my hair (went with my mother’s hairdresser against my better judgment) and the caterer used the wrong napkins (after me agonizing over three different shades of green and getting input from all the women in my office). I’m still happily married and look back on my wedding as one of the best nights of my life, despite the hair and napkins.

    • i got married in a dress i liked OK but didn’t love. It way WAY poufier a dress than i ever thought i’d wear. But it had a crazy slimming effect and the pics turned out great.

    • Kontraktor :

      Sometimes it is what it is. I had to have a long sleeve dress for religious reasons (and sadly was on a rather low budget so couldn’t afford any of the pretty couture more modest dresses) and it was so impossible to find anything. Dress shopping itself also was a pretty clinical experience, as it would generally invovle me asking point blank, what do you have with sleeves, trying on the 1 or 2 options available to me, and leaving feeling awful at the prospect of wearing something hideous. I ultimately found a solution that I liked and was nice/fine but wasn’t over the moon about. It was literally the best out of a lot of bad (ugly, bad) options. Heck, my husband was even with me when I purchased/was trying on because I had no family or girl friends who would bother to shop with me.

      On my wedding day, I looked fine/nice/great/whatever and I got a ton of complements on the dress. The dress made for nice photos. I felt really happy and over the moon that day, but it had nothing to do with my dress.I was so happy on my wedding day regardless I can’t imagine a different dress having made the experience any different.

      • I have no religious restrictions on clothes but the lack of anything not strapless in wedding wear generally is ridiculous! A couple of my bridesmaids are busty and asked for dresses they could wear a regular bra with. I wound up searching on religious sites (Mormon mostly) just to find any bridesmaids dresses that had full bodices. And there were some real atrocities on those sites. I’m hopeful that Duchess Kate’s wedding gown and Pippa’s bridesmaid’s dress will inspire more designers to make wedding clothes with sleeves.

      • Sydney Bristow :

        I’m really nervous to go dress shopping. I’m not as limited in my choices but still nervous about the whole process.

        OP I haven’t gone dress shopping yet, but if you felt fine about your choice before others said things to make you doubt it then I think you’re fine. That being said, there probably isn’t much harm in going shopping again to see if you have that moment with another dress (assuming you can afford to). Do what feels right to you!

    • Manhattanite :

      The wedding dress is so different from the type of dresses that you normally wear that you are just not going to have the same fall in love never look back kind of reaction. As someone else said, the only thing you need to be 100% head over heels never look back in love with is your fiance.

      If I could do it over again, I would have gotten the train chopped off my dress and worn a floor sweeping veil.

    • Yeah, I definitely did not have the emotional, sobbing reaction to my wedding dress that society seems to think brides should have. I liked it more than other dresses I tried on, so I bought it but I wouldn’t say I was absolutely in love with it. I did the opposite of you – originally wanted something sleek and fitted and ended up with a big poofy dress. Although I liked how it made me feel and how it looked in pictures, “friends” suggested that I should have worn something that showed off my figure more, since I’ll probably never be as fit (and certainly I’ll never be as young) as I was at my wedding. But in the end I felt great on my wedding day and I liked how the pictures turned out – even though I probably could have put on 15 pounds right before the wedding and it wouldn’t have been visible under the poofy dress. It’s not like I don’t have other pictures of myself from this age in more fitted clothing.

    • DC Wonkette :

      I really liked my dress, but it wasn’t one of those SYTTD moments of OMG I can never wear anything else. For those looking for a more conservative look in the DC area, check out Elegance by Roya. She and her sister are from Afghanistan and do beautiful work. I’m not super conservative but strapless looks weird on me, and i was really impressed with the quality of their dressmaking.

    • You need to love your husband-to-be, but just liking your dress is fine. ;)

    • My wedding was in 2012. TODAY, as I hang pictures on my wall, I’m in love with the dress because it was part of a really special day in my life. On my wedding day, I was happy with it. Before…. it was just a choice among several acceptable choices, and I worried about my lack of passion for it.

    • As long as you like your dress, it will be fine.

      I think our society gets too wrapped up in the “you have to love it!” and “it has to be perfect!” view of weddings, causing people to spend way, way to much time, energy & emotion on their weddings, which really are just one day. I blame shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Four Weddings”. It really is an awful lot of pressure to be putting on one day.

      Really & truly, the wedding is important because it’s the start of your marriage. As long as you don’t absolutely hate your dress, the feelings you have on that day while wearing that dress will almost certainly make you look back on your pictures and if not love the dress, really like the dress.

      I love what the previous poster said – “The only thing you really need to 100% love in your wedding is your fiancé.” It’s absolutely true.

    • S in Chicago :

      I’m always fascinated when I catch a bit of “Say Yes to the Dress” on TV. I liked my dress more than others I saw but it wasn’t a teary moment or anything like that when I tried it on. In fact, my mom didn’t even come. She said she would be willing to if I still couldn’t find anything, but it wasn’t treated like this divine experience it’s made out to be. I had a great time shopping with my best friend but I didn’t even think to bring in any of my other friends either, since I usually go shopping with just her for other things. Honestly, I basically just thought about what was flattering to my shape and seemed appropriate to the location. My friend took some photos, and then I ordered the best of the bunch the next day. And then I actually didn’t give my dress a whole lot of thought after buying it. Looking back now, I really love seeing it in pictures. I usually like it more than 95 percent of the dresses I see at friends weddings or on TV or even in celeb photos. I really made an outstanding choice. But I didn’t feel magical or anything, if that’s what your asking.

    • Nope, you do not need to love it. Your day will not b e ruined if you have a dress that you liked well enough to stop looking but wasn’t total love omg. (I speak from experience.)

    • Also a 2014 Bride :

      Honestly, with your wedding just 3 months away, you may not have time to order a new dress. You may be limited to just samples in the salons. Don’t stress yourself out right before your wedding trying to find another dress unless for some reason you you have absoletely decided that you dislike it. Stick with what you have and spend your time on all the other stuff that has to be done the few months before your wedding.

    • Diamond Lil :

      I didn’t love my wedding dress – it was custom-made by a dressmaker as a rush job, as I had 2 weeks to organize my wedding due to my father being diagnosed with a fast-moving and highly-lethal cancer and due to some physical idiosyncrasies I can’t buy ready-made dresses. No one could come with me, as we’d recently moved to a new city far away from family & friends. I didn’t have the veil or headdress that I wanted, the flowers were from local grocery stores and not what I would have chosen, I’d always wanted to get married at a different time of year, etc. etc.

      But…people thought we looked appropriate. My father cried – he died soon after, but he’d seen his daughter as a bride, so important to him. The pictures, while I will snark about details to myself, look perfectly fine to everyone else. And we had a wonderful wedding, followed by a good marriage. When it comes down to it, you need a partner and an officiant, and everything else is just ‘nice to have, but not necessary’. And let me tell you, when you are under that kind of time & life pressure, you really understand that most of the wedding industrial complex is about making you feel guilty for not spending money on things that are entirely incidental to a successful marriage.

    • I had a lot of buyer’s remorse after buying my wedding dress. I ended up spending a fair amount of money in alterations to make it more what I wanted. Is that a possibility for you?

      In the end, it probably didn’t matter all that much, and I think one of the reasons that I was second-guessing my decision was because I really don’t like “look at me” clothes (essentially what a wedding dress is).

      Finally, I can’t remember the wedding dress styles of any recent weddings I’ve attended.

      • My husband and I are celebrating 7 years of globe-trotting, career- and life-changing wedded bliss. We planned our wedding in two weeks due to an international job move. I wore a white cotton cause sundress from a mall store. Sometimes I wish I had a big princess gown, but then I think about the money we saved and used for travel, as well as that we had an ocean-front ceremony, so a big dress would not have worked.

    • On the off chance someone here is still looking for modest gowns, I can recommend Couture de Bride in Teaneck NJ as a source. They have a website that says they will work with out of towners.

    • Take pictures in it :

      Take pictures in your dress. Even it’s mid-alterations, put on as much of your “day of” getup as possible. Bring someone with a good camera who is willing to take the time to photograph you in 100 different poses and places both inside and outside (and who is super positive and upbeat- no Debbie Downers at this photo session). This will help you get a sense of how the dress looks on you and give you some ideas about poses you really like for your wedding photos.

      Also promise yourself that you won’t be too critical about the test pictures. Be sure to look at the dress and how it flatters you more than your go-to imperfections. Those will be there no matter the dress, and they’re parts of you that your fiance loves. These pictures are about the dress. YOU will sparkle on your wedding day (and your fancy wedding-day hair and makeup will make sure that you do even during the anticlimactic parts).

      I’ve never been a bride, but I’m very analytical and know about dress shopping from doing pageants as a teenager. (Yeah, I know how that sounds- and I don’t regret it one bit because I learned killer interview and presentation skills that got me where I am today.)

  9. Cutting my hair short was one of the best decisions I ever made. After years of fighting with my split personality hair, I chopped most of it off and I don’t think I’ll ever grow it out. I liked to wear my hair straight and that took too much daily effort. I exercise hard every day and thus have to wash it every day. With my new haircut it takes about five minutes to dry and needs no styling products. Downside is the expense of frequent cuts, but it’s so worth it. And it does look a lot more professional than my previous ‘do.

    • Agreed. I grew it out to a longer pixie for the winter and couldn’t stand hair long enough to reach my earlobs. Yay for short hair!

  10. I’m glad the “long hair isn’t professional” conversation isn’t as huge anymore. I have long “mermaid” hair. It’s the longest it’s ever been in my life and I absolutely love it. In fact, the longer it is, the better it looks naturally. I take a shower and sleep with wet hair and wake up with beautiful waves. The waves can be inconsistent so if there’s no fixing them, it only takes about 5min to straighten. I love my long hair. I feel like it balances out my 5’11″ frame. I’ll only cut it short when this no longer looks good.

    • Sydney Bristow :

      I love my long hair too. I wear it down if it looks nice and polished that day and pull it into a low bun if it doesn’t. Every 5 years or so I decide to chop if off above my shoulders and inevitably hate it. Hair past my shoulders is just much more flattering on me.

    • Frugal doc.. :

      You bring up an interesting point. Your height and relative hair length.

      I am medium tall and slender, and my hairstylist emphasized that I needed a bit more body/volume in my very straight hair or I looked like I was “all body… no head”. He was absolutely right, and a little more length looks right for me too.

      I have to admit that all the men in my life (and strangers…) have told me to keep my hair long, and my stylists/working women friends, tell me to cut it short. ha ha ha…

    • Same here. Tall, have long hair, love it. I also know how to style it professionally (nothing like a classic bun, IMHO). I also don’t believe that work gets my hair too. They can make me dress a certain way, but I’ve got a life after hours and that life likes long hair.

    • Anonymous :

      As a tall girl with fine hair and somewhat broad shoulders, after years of trial-and-error I’ve found that even though my hair looks fuller in shorter cuts, longer hair better evens out my height and upper body.

  11. I can’t bear myself in short hair, and so I’m pretty sure I will be wearing my long hair until I die. Short hair looks wonderful on lots of women, but I just hate how it looks on me. I don’t even like it when the stylist accidentally cuts my hair too short, even though it would still be technically “long.” I just keep a variety of hair accessories in my office so if I had to go meet a client or something I can throw my hair into a french twist and look very polished. Around the office I wear a variety of hairstyles depending on how my hair is behaving that day.

    http://www.polishedpinstripes.com

  12. Did anyone else’s mom own the women’s Dress for Success book in the ’80s? I’m so glad we can do things like wear long hair nowadays without it being a huge thing.

    • Coach Laura :

      Hey! I owned that book. It was my bible in banking in the late 1980s. Although I refused to wear the cookie-cutter navy suit.

    • Someone’s mom? I don’t think I owned a copy, but that was the thing we were all supposed to read when I was getting ready to enter the workforce. I actually did buy some high-neck blouses that buttoned in back.

  13. Diana Barry :

    I have a long pixie right now (like Robin Wright on House of Cards) and when I blow dry it it looks gooooooooooood. I generally only do that when I’m going out. But most of the time I don’t want it in my face and I just air dry and pin one side with one bobby pin.

    My hair has gotten less curly with age. When I was a teenager/early 20s it was pretty curly and now it only has a slight wave.

    • hoola hoopa :

      My hair has gotten straighter with every pregnancy.

      • I had 3 miscarriages and then 3 successful pregnancies. My curly hair (which only became really curly in my late teens) got straighter after every miscarriage, but curlier after every successful pregnancy. I’m really curious to see what menopause does to my hair! But I can wait to find out! ;)

  14. Extensions :

    I’m thinking about getting hair extensions. I’m willing to spend the money to get them done well so that I don’t look like Britney Spears.

    Do we think that extensions are unprofessional?

    • I don’t think they are unprofessional, if they are done well, most people can’t tell they’re extensions.

      I will, however, say, that good ones require A LOT of maintenance and upkeep, and they can be really bad for your real hair over time. My stylist has told me stories of damaged hair from extensions that scare the cr*p out of me.

      • Anonymous :

        I had some extensions done professionally about 5 years ago. Quite expensive. They looked amazing but they were a serious pain to maintain and you never quite get used to all this extra weight on your head. You have to use special loop brushes, aren’t allowed to shampoo as much, and can’t put your hair in a normal ponytail. The most annoying thing for me was that I went from being able to blow dry my hair in about 8 mins to it taking closer to half an hour, which gets old FAST. And no matter what method you use, they WILL damage your hair. When I had them taken out it definitely took a couple years before I really feel like my hair filled in again.

        As great as they looked, I would not do it again. I have a set of natural-looking clip-ins for special occasions (warning: the clips will start to hurt like crazy after a couple of hours), but as I’ve stopped using my flatiron and pamper my hair more, I find I don’t really need them either.

  15. My hair is dark blonde, just past my shoulders and curly. I’m planning on growing it out a bit longer so that it’s a few inches below my shoulders but since it gets curlier when it gets longer, that’s going to take a while. Typically, I just wear it down parted to the side, down with the heavy side back in a small barrette, or all pulled back in a low ponytail.

    Unfortunately, I’m getting some white hair (skipping grey apparently), but it’s gradual so I think I’m just going to let it happen.

  16. BTW, I scanned the comments and didn’t see anyone else mention this yet, but there is a rather unfortunate typo in the last sentence. I’m sure you meant to say “blunt cut,” but unfortunately… there’s an extra consonant.

  17. omg, you might want to fix the inadvertent faux pas above: it should be “blunt-cut” not “blunt-c**t”!

  18. I like half up and half down – one of my favorites is to take two chunks of hair from each side and tie it in a not in the back. Looks so cute and its more professional because its not in your face. With my curly hair, the professional updos never look that great unless you take the time to straighten first.

    The editing mistake on the last paragraph is hilarious. I almost choked when I read it.

  19. growing it out :

    I cut my hair from mid-back length to a short pixie when I was a 2L, and it did wonders for my self-confidence as a summer associate. I just felt more competent and professional. Also after long nights out “networking” with the attys it was a lifesaver in the morning and I could be out the door in 20 min. The unexpected downside was that it put my romantic life into a chokehold–I was shocked at how few dates I got all of a sudden, my guy friends’ reactions, and the stereotyping that people engaged in just because I had short (still girly!) hair. I’m growing it out now (and it’s painful), but it was totally worth it though bc it gave me a surge of self-confidence when I needed to impress people at work.

  20. I telecommute most of the time, but I also get my hair professionally permed straight (Japanese Hair Straightening, or “magic perm.”) I love it. It is the best investment I’ve never made hair-wise, I budget by not getting haircuts, and all I ever have to do is wash my hair and let it dry.

    It’s not easy to find everywhere, but the NYC metro area has a bunch of salons that do it.

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