Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dear Cherie. . .Out On A Limb

The metaphorical "mailbag" was overflowing this past week, not only Cherie's but You-Know-Who also received her share of e-mails.

They all stared more or less like this: Dear Cherie, Have you seen the article? I thought of you immediately. What do you think? 

They were talking about the piece in the New York Times written by Dominique Browning, former editor-in-chief of the late "House & Garden" magazine on the subject of her long, long, long gray hair. In the unlikely possibility you have not read her "argument" (Cherie is using the word here in its Socratic definition), please click below.

Speaking of arguments, Duchesse made interesting points on the subject earlier this week you might like to read and think about her take on the psychology of the debate.

This is what Cherie thinks: To each her own. Frankly, what else can one say?

A woman's hair is such an intimate, integral part of her very essence, mirroring her deepest feelings about herself. A hairstyle can say: 
  • "I really don't have the time and I really don't care.
  • You can see my roots? That's your problem.
  • My husband/boyfriend/fill-in-the-blank likes it long.
  • Long is easier.
  • Short is easier.
  • Gray? No that means I'm old.
  • Gray? I hear it's the new platinum blonde -- bring it on.
  • I was a redhead, I will always be a redhead.
  • I had black hair, I will always have black hair.
  • I have no idea what my natural color is (and don't care to find out).
  • If Demi Moore and all those other celebs can wear their hair to their elbows, why can't I?
  • I can't wear my hair to my elbows because I'm not traveling with a hairstylist wherever I go.
  • My hair is my shield against the world.
  • My hair is just one more chore. Where are the rubber bands?
  • I don't care what anyone thinks. Period. 

Cherie could go on and on, but bottom line: a woman isher hair. If she goes over budget on cut, care and color she is giving out a message. If she lets the roots show, never conditions, has a cut whenever without the slightest concern for "style" that's another message.

Now, to get back on message. If Dominique Browning likes her long, long gray hair and her mother, sister and others are suggesting she may be mistaken, why do we care? It's her hair.

Out on a limb. . . Cherie thinks gray and white hair can be ravishing. It's a lot of work to keep it shiny and healthy. Then there is the other gray hair route, a trip to the hair salon for one of those short, tight perms -- heaven forbid -- it's easier to take a detour to the tattoo parlor and have "I'm old and don't care" tattooed on your forehead. In the long run it's cheaper.

No more dithering, Cherie, in general thinks long, long, long hair is aging. It pulls the face down, unless it has already been lifted. In France, and You-Know-Who confirms the observation, Cherie has never seen a woman of a certain age with elbow length gray hair -- or any color hair for that matter.

Cherie is not big on compromises, but when they are to her benefit, she's all for them. Between jaw and shoulder can be a flattering compromise. It's all about you.

Pictures from the top: Carmen Dell'Orefice (now there's a woman YKW should have put in her glamour list); 45-year-old model, Kristen McMenamy, (photographed in August Vogue by David Sims); Penelope Fillon and her husband, François, the prime minister of France; Jamie Lee Curtis; Dame Helen Mirren; and Dame Judi Dench.


Deja Pseu said...

Pour moi, certainment what Cherie says about longer hair dragging the face down is true. I haven't had Long Hair since my teens, but just recently cut the just-below-the-chin length bob I was wearing earlier this year as I realized it wasn't doing me any favors. I also don't buy that current meme (here in the US anyway) that going blonde will make one look younger. Tried it, and just looked washed out.

But what Cherie says is true, hair is a statement.

Britta said...

Dear Tish, the famous German figaro Gerhard Meyer (Munique, Hamburg, Berlin - now back to Munich alone) simply refuses to dye my silver hair - dito Vidal Sassoon. "Would be a sin". People are asking me on the street if they are "true" and who my figaro is. They are :-) But you are right: I have a very good cut and look after it - and think that too long is ageing (makes the face hollow and longer). I see silver as the mother nature's soft diffuser - though I put vivid colours on my eyes (Shock!) and wear colours - a pink Cashmere winter coat from Laurèl looks smashing to silver hair - and brightens a dark day. Britta

CailinMarie said...

goodness- Carmen Dell'Orefice is amazing.

Bombshellicious said...

Personally I think you should wear your hair how you want to wear it and what colour you like to be. My hair is short and I have been a platinum type grey since I was in my 20's and I have never dyed it, a lot of people come up to me and say what a lovely colour it is. But saying that sometimes it does make me feel old!

My Carolina Kitchen said...

Oh Cherie, I think long hair is aging. I never looked good with long hair when I was young, so I would look only worse now. Plus I don't want to look like an aging hippie.

Long hair - non, not pour moi. But if long hair looks good on a woman, why not. I feel the same way about color - whatever looks best on you is what you should do.

It's all about looking your best, n'est pas?

James said...

From my old fogey viewpoint it's the length not the colour that matters. Length should match your face shape, hair condition and age. This should apply to men as well. Many bad hair choices for both sexes are based on fighting the aging process. One should accept and embrace it. Look at Ms Curtis or Sir Connery .

hostess of the humble bungalow said...

On my walk yesterday I saw the most interesting 60 something gal with grey hair in was very thick and she wore it Pippi Longstocking style...I did look a little longer than might have been polite but it suited her...given the boho clothing she was clad in...who knew that it could be flattering?

Jeanne-Aelia Desparmet-Hart said...

Letitia, yes, gray hair on someone can be flattering ; I do think there are a number of guidelines to follow however: great hair, thick and healthy, short-ish great cut, and worn by a woman with TONS OF STYLE. 2 of my friends have gray hair: one (American)is relatively young and has fabulous hair, a great cut and it is very soft on her VERY beautiful face. The other(French) was always pale blond since a baby and is letting more and more gray creep in. There again great hair great cut and both have great style. The trouble with gray is that is very quickly looks granny or hippie. So gray maybe, but with treated a lot of care. GREAT post! love Hellen Mirren and Judy Dench. Merci.

Duchesse said...

The short, tight perm does not necessarily mean "I'm old and I don't care". (Ever ask an 85 year old if she no longer cares? The salon was always packed in my mother's retirement home.)

I learned from her friends that physical challenges can get in the way of hair care. The shoulders and hands may be arthritic and wielding a blower is very difficult. Sight can deteriorate. So taking care of anything past the chin is a chore.

As for the short, tight perm, I saw very little of that, and the few who had it thought it looked nice. There is a generation that revered their perm and who are we to mess with them?

Spiralstyle said...

I think hair has to flatter the face. I have a small head and face (I have to buy children's size sunglasses!) so short hair looks best on me. I have a Jamie Lee Curtis type style and get compliments all the time. When it gets long and I get it cut, which is every 3 weeks, I feel as if I just got a facelift! I'm edging into the more silver than brown category now and my husband says if I color it, don't come home! (he's kidding but that's how strongly he feels about color) Oh, and he told me when I was dating his friend to dump the friend and get my haircut and he'd ask me out. I did (the long, wild hair really needed to go) and the rest is history. A great marriage of 33 years and 3 grown children.

J.W. said...

I think it depends on the person and the hair.

My hair has always had a mind of its own and all through my youth was opposed to any way I tried to wear it – short, long, permed, you name it. It never looked good. I will be 55 next month and finally appreciate my hair. I have hair that falls just past my shoulders and do not color it. I generally wear it pulled up in such a way that it appears mostly dark brown with a very prominent silver streak. Strangers stop me to ask if it is real. My hairdresser looked at me one day last year and asked me if I had ever seen myself with straight hair. He then flat-ironed it and the result was astonishing. Down and flat makes it even longer and appears to be all shining gray and silver with no brown. This is now my choice for special events and I receive many compliments when I wear it this way...a lot of them from men :)

Je m'appelle Cynthia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Je m'appelle Cynthia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Je m'appelle Cynthia said...

Great post - a topic I am always grappling with every month ... when the gray hairs pop out. I have my plan of attack - highlights about twice a year on my dark brown hair and then I just do a semi permanent dark neutral brown along my hairline around my face - that's all I need. I have some strands of gray at the back of my head (nape of neck) which I leave. I have shoulder length, thick layered hair. I am complimented on it a lot. The length is PERFECT for my hair, face, age and stature. Thanks to my wonderful hairdresser who never steers me in the wrong direction (and my mom).

(Sorry for having to delete two comments to correct typos!)

Villette said...

Forgive me for being catty, but should Madame Fillon reconsider her choice of -- or lack of -- bra?

deb said...

What a timely post! I'm about to start the transition to gray and admit to some trepidation. I agree that it may be as much work to be gray as to do the dye rountine. Gray hair only looks fantastic if it is carefully maintained. I do NOT want the frizzy, brillo pad look and with my hair, it's a distinct possibility. Other people have normal hair; my hair is always having a party.
I also recently had my hair ironed and wow, what a difference - smooth, sleek, normal hair - who knew??
I applaud women who have gorgeous gray hair. I hope to be one of them, but if not, I do know where the chemicals are!!

Beth Hazelton said...

I love my short gray hair! It is short, sassy, goes with everything and makes a bold statement ~ I don't need to hide beneath the color. The only one who doesn't like it is my Dad because I'm sure it reminds him we are all getting older!

BODECI body said...

Hello! If I looked great with long, long gray hair, I'd have it that way. I think what is so great is that all of those women are polished and very attractive within their style. They look beautiful I would look absolutely like a dead mouse!

"All things French" said...

What a handsome couple are Penelope & Francois Fillon !!

gucci 2011 said...

Although I do agree with your post, I have my own reservations.

Tree said...

Thank you for helping to spread the "long gray hair"discussion world-wide. The New York Times article garnered the most reader comments of all time, and interested readers here should also check out the continuing comments on Dominique Browning's blog, Slow Love Life.

Ultimately it is about the power of the mature woman to be remain feminine and self-determined, which is what this blog supports also.

Marsi said...

This may make me sound dumb, but I pay my hairdresser to figure out what best suits me. She is an artist. So to me, this long, grey issue is a non-starter: if my stylist suggested that I'd look great with long, grey hair, I'd go for it. If not, I wouldn't. End of story.


Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed this dialogue and would love to share my experience, for whatever it might be worth. I had two false starts before going gray at 52 and I have to say, having finally achieved gray, I feel so free and genuine and fabulous. If I may suggest, I truly believe that for most of us it is really about embracing our subconscious fear of getting old and all that it means. But the good news is that it means all empowering and good things and it is all about genuine character as beauty. I highly recommend it!

NotesFromAbroad said...

I have to admit I am so very lucky.
I was / am blonde and my hair is going white, instead of grey. So I just look "blonder" :)
I love it and living in Buenos Aires, where all females have long hair, I walk around every day with past my shoulders long white blonde hair.
Regardless of style. I learned a while back that what is "stylish" for one, is not stylish for me.
And long hair is so easy.
I have this wonderful photo of my husband with Carmen and another model.. he was the photographer but then ended up in a photo.
She never looks bad.

Anonymous said...

Forget the discussion about hair... concentrate on the bra! Penelope Fillon's poor shape makes her look old. Hoist them up a little Penelope.

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