One of the primary pieces of advice my grandmother imparted on me...was that one should always leave the house looking the best they can. I realize this might sound a little old-fashioned and possibly even oppressive — I Exist As More Than A Decorative Object, thankyouverymuch — but I took it to heart nonetheless because I know she didn’t mean high heels and rollers, but mostly that looking more with it than you might actually feel sometimes can trick you too.
Dressing (by which I mean putting oneself together, including hair, makeup and clothing) doesn't only influence how you feel about yourself and your situation, as my favorite food blogger points out. Dressing is also one of the most important means at your disposal to influence how others approach you. Nonverbal communication, in general, is understood to be far, far more potent than the words we use. Most people have no problem discussing posture or handshakes as important skills to develop, while many seem uncomfortable tackling the issue of how someone's get-up can affect their interpersonal relationships. Both personally and professionally, it seems shallow to focus on the effect of our outward appearance. Yet that appearance plays a huge role in likability, especially for women, and at the same time there is very little guidance and attention given to helping us make optimal dressing choices (optimal in that they earn you the precise reaction you want!)
Hair stylists have an important role in this area. A lot of women don't have personal shoppers and many spend very little time and attention designing their wardrobes. Every woman, however, gets her hair cut. My business partner describes our staff dress code as simply, "look like you have an opinion," because the most important thing to us is that every stylist in our store is conscious of the statements he or she is making. We dress ourselves to inspire other women to express their true selves more clearly. I literally do dorky things like making mood boards to plan my wardrobe. Collaging with Pinterest boards is a must before I start shopping each season.
There is always, of course, the woman who says, "that's great for you to care about fashion and putting yourself together, but I have other priorities." Name me a priority that couldn't be advanced faster if you looked sharp and got your message across more quickly! Dressing is really a sign of respect and a signal of authority, and it can help put others at ease by conveying that you not only know what you're doing, but you know who you are.
Dressing doesn't have to be about every latest trend and it doesn't have to cost a fortune. I am fairly no-nonsense and classic. I don't like fussy clothing just like I don't like fussy anything else. I only wear trends that flatter my shape and show off my favorite features.
Recently, I moved into a new apartment and downsized from a roomy walk-in to a small hall closet. Partly to save space and partly to save money (unfortunately, my favorite stress relievers are baking tarts and shopping), I downloaded the Stylebook app and used it to organize my wardrobe. Seeing all of my items laid out in photos helped me realize where I had redundancies and holes. I sold or gave away everything I didn't actively look forward to wearing. I basically applied the KonMari decluttering method to my closet. The result is nowhere near a capsule wardrobe of 40 items, but it has reigned me in tremendously. I now only buy new items when I'm willing to give up something old, or when it will massively expand my styling combinations. I have fewer decisions to make each morning, and look more like my true self more of the time.
Another thing that helped me pinpoint my style was when a friend found the perfect celebrity inspiration for me a few years ago - actress Jean Seberg. I prefer to seek inspiration from historic icons, instead of copying what the Kardashians are doing this week. When I have a girl crush from 1960 informing my dressing decisions as I shop and style in 2016, I feel like I'm creating something fresh compared to the women around me. If I go aimlessly into my favorite stores with only modern-day celebrities on my mind, I feel less creative as I make selections. That's just my personal taste creeping in...the point is to find and then exhibit your own. Like all things in life, a little pre-planning and a lot of soul-searching are necessary to mastering this art!
Now please just take a second and admire Miss Seberg with me... <3 <3 <3
Less Hair, More Face
Many women sit in my chair for the first time hoping I can help them cover what they see as their flaws. They bring photos of the pretty hair and pretty faces of others, but their focus when we are looking in the mirror is on minimizing themselves. My hope is that by the end of the appointment, they think in terms of emphasis.
The second tenet of my philosophy is that hairdressing isn't really about hair.
It's about eyes.
Believe it or not, other people want to see you. They aren't looking for flaws; they are looking for integrity. They are hoping your actions and words align with your body language and your style. They are seeking your eyes to determine whether you can be trusted, and if you are going to be interesting. If your cut, color and style all accentuate your cheekbones, and if weight lines and color placement act like arrows to your eyes, it's a lot easier to appear open and approachable - and a lot easier for people to respond to you positively. If your look is unflattering or overpowers your features, what people will notice and think about is your hair, not you. Even if your hair is beautifully styled, when it overtakes your face, people will not feel fully at ease in your presence.
I recently visited "Eye Pop: The Celebrity Gaze" at the National Portrait Gallery. This exhibit struck me as being all about the humanizing effect of eye contact (and therefore, powerful facial framing.) I could have spent hours staring into the eyes of these celebrities because each artist captured something unique and honest about his or her subject. Stylists should design like these artists - not just appraising someone's face shape and coloring in a clinical way, but to bring out the true person.
.A hairdresser has a much different job than a painter or a photographer, though. Our canvas moves and grows and is attached to someone physically and emotionally. Such high stakes!
This is why the consultation is everything. A thorough consultation
You know what my pet peeves are in architecture? Extraneous embellishment. Shutters that have no intention of covering windows, pillars that provide no structural support, and frilly molding that overpowers a stunning view of the outside world.
People want to see you. The part of your hair that is visible, the part that has left your skin, is dead matter. Shape and enhance your hair, but don't cling to it. Definitely don't hang your femininity on it. It's really your gaze we're after.
PR at Partners hosted the PR Awards Show at State Theater in Falls Church last night. One of my guests from outside the industry said, "your company parties make mine seem like a funeral luncheon."
I love my company for hosting this event; all the artists who came together to put on a solid show; all the product lines who support our education and sponsored segments; all the winners who got recognized for their hard work throughout the year (pretty sure my store, Tysons, placed in every category - so so proud of my team); and also my lovely model Sarah for trusting me with her hair.
Sarah first sat in my chair as a color correction last year, after her poor hair had been badly over processed at another salon. Last night she was a bright and shiny example of the PR at Partners brand experience, and what a consistent experience does to a woman's look over time. PR stands for Perfect Relationships, and we teach that there are 5 main conversations stylists need to have at every visit in order to build those relationships:
1. Rebook (maintenance schedule)
2. Recreate (at-home care and the ability to recreate the look in between salon visits)
3. Reinvent (looking with fresh eyes every time, constantly learning about techniques and trends, and applying that knowledge to improve your hair and keep it current)
4. Review (actively seeking feedback and a willingness to grow from critique)
5. Referral (asking for help growing our business organically)
Hairdressing is a social art. In order to push my artistic vision into reality from behind my chair, I have to be an effective communicator in all 5 of the areas above. My canvas is a human being, so my art requires that I build trust and excitement with my client. Sarah and I truly did Rebook, Recreate, and Reinvent her hair back to health and onto the stage last night. I'm no platform artist, and my passion is real hair for real people, so I was proud to showcase a fine-hair model who could stand up next to heads filled with extensions and very thick-haired ladies, and look stunning. Sarah was a testament to the 5 R's.
It was a good night all around and a reminder of all the things I love most about my job. More than anything else, I love working with such enthusiastic, dedicated artists, who never stop learning and always make time to take others with them.