Wednesday, May 11, 2011

When Women Change, so does their Appearance

T had long, middle-parted hair for years, but about 3 months ago, she cut most of it off. The new 'do includes bangs and fringey side pieces. Not only that, but I could see she has new tattoos, big ones, and brightly colored. She's taken on new responsibilities, so she needed a new, assertive look. The haircut and new tats were the result.

When a classmate of ours saw us recently, she did a double take and told me, "You always wore your hair in a bun!" No, I told her it was a ponytail; I had it for seven years, and I cut it off 3 long years ago. I told her - she also has Alice-length hair - it's only hair! T said: yes, chop it off, 'cause it grows right back, besides, the weather's hot today! Still, Alice-hair classmate is young, and not open to a radical hair change.

Since the ponytail days, my hair has been down past my shoulder blades - but I didn't go back to the 'tail! - and up to my chin. It's been one length, or many.

My reality is that I've had at least 5 jobs in as many years. I admit that part of preparing to start work in a new environment for me is taking a look at what I can wear: what is practical, and what would be acceptable. But here's what I notice about the women I work with after a while:
  • They start to wear makeup - or more of it. One I worked with closely started to wear brighter colors.
  • They do their nails when they never did before. Two out of three are doing so.
  • They put on dangly earrings. I told one of my supervisors they look great on her!
Perhaps this is the "oshare" effect? The translation for that Japanese word is "stylish", but as I grew up it meant that you made the effort to dress or groom rather than not. The day you see me without makeup or nails is the one when I am merely taking a walk around my neighborhood, or just running to the supermarket for last-minute provisions! My hair is not always perfect, but I try to keep up with nails and some spackle. This is NOT for anyone else, it's for ME. 

I do admire women for whom less is fine - this shows confidence in what they basically look like. I go the extra distance, as I feel I need help in those areas. Again, I'm not high maintenance, and do not pay for more than a good haircut every few months, and a routine pedicure because my nail tech does a much better job than I would, which is worth every penny.

What about clothing? In Hawaii, we need to dress for the weather as well as the climate. It can be pouring rain in the morning, which means boots to walk down the street or across the parking lot. Then you step into an air-conditioned office that's like a meat locker by noon. So, a sweater, wrap or jacket. My coworker was wearing TWO jackets yesterday at 3 pm! But if you stepped out at noon, it would be broiling or humid, so you may even want to change and wear less! Otherwise, it is 80 degrees and 75% humidity for 300+ days of the year!

Back to change and appearance. I work in a conservative setting, so started out with neutral eyeliner, shadow and nail colors. Today, I'm wearing fuchsia on my toes and "Not A Shrinking Violet" on my fingers. And blue eyeliner. This doesn't mean I'm wearing spandex and leather. Yesterday, I wore leggings that look like denim, a burgundy knit top, suede booties and a denim jacket and colorful wrap. After seven weeks at work, I don't need to look bland and "safe". 

Do you change your look in response to changes in your life or responsibilities?

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