Wardrobe Architect 8: Hair, Makeup, & Beauty

Hair, makeup, and beauty are a bit of an odd topic for me, I must admit. For one thing, I don’t wear makeup. And while I do have hair, it’s pretty well always under a kerchief (unless I haven’t got dressed yet). Mind you, the hair has still been changing, it’s just that no one saw it but me and the Caped Gooseberry.

Model in head wrap
Some years ago I had a sudden change in the length of my hair, from long enough to sit on, to short. But while it was fun for a while (I even stopped wearing kerchiefs all the time for a bit), it was quite high-maintenance compared to long hair, to my surprise. The reason being that I hate having hair in my face or on my neck, and short hair needs frequent trims to ensure this remains the case.

I wasn’t particularly fussed with the results I got from hairdressers, considering the price, even one who billed herself as a curly-hair specialist. Then my multi-talented mother taught my husband how to cut my hair, which solved the expense problem but did burn through a lot of time and energy. (It turns out there are downsides to being a detail-oriented person with CFS.)

After experimenting with various looks, I’ve decided the kerchief/headwrap is what I like best and feel me-est in, and it’s easier to achieve a neat result without short hair trying to escape in all directions. Plus having a bun gives you something to ram hatpins into without injuring yourself – always a plus.

Hatpins: not just for hats.
So now I’m growing my hair out again. It’s not quite long enough to plait yet, but in time I will have the practical, collected look I’m aiming for. Of course, at some point, I will need the Caped Gooseberry to give me a trim, but I’d like a bit more length before I go sacrificing any. What seems like an insignificant subtraction when your hair is three feet long is another story altogether when it’s less than a third of that.

In the original Colette post, the question is raised as to how much hair/beauty/makeup ‘stuff’ you want to have, and my answer is definitely As Little As Possible. Shampoo, conditioner, untinted lip balm, dusting powder, perfume. “How much bathroom clutter are you ok with?” she asks. I’ve found it’s possibly more a question of how much bathroom clutter my house is ok with, although of my list of toiletries above, only the hair stuff is kept in the bathroom itself.

Whatever I do use, I aim for eco-friendly products which – and this is important – do not contain anything ammonia-related. It was remarkable how quickly I noticed the window-cleaner smell of most shampoos, conditioners, soaps etc once I stopped having them on or about my person all the time. Never again! I have no wish to smell like something Mrs Bennet would call for whenever she feels faint.

Boilly L'effet du mélodrame
Quick! My smelling-salts! I feel my faintness coming upon me!
That’s hair and makeup covered – but what about beauty? Clearly, it’s not just talking about makeup, or it would be a redundant repetition. Where does your beauty come from? While I aim for the inner beauty praised by Peter (the buddy of Jesus) and Roald Dahl, I also have a strong sense of aesthetics and like to look aesthetically pleasing.

The way I do this is to stick to wearing colours that flatter my face: warm, deep, muted colours, such as the ones I listed in May. I avoid colours which are bright, cool, or pastel, because no matter how aesthetically pleasing they are in themselves, they won’t have the same effect on me.

As for the invisible aesthetic of scent, most days, I wear perfume of some sort. Not from a position of correction – I bathe regularly and I don’t think I stink – but because it’s nice to have a pleasant scent wafting about you all day.

Side note: not every culture is pro-perfume. Here’s a snippet from a fascinating book called The Secret History of the Mongol Queens (by Jack Weatherford): “A Mongol’s scent was a part of personal identity, and perfumes confusingly made everyone smell like flowers and fruits, which proved more appealing to flies and mosquitoes than to other Mongols.”

Djengiz Khân et les envoyés chinois
We three kings should have brought something other than frankincense and myrrh this time.
I like rose scents, but I don’t like anything too sweet. Spicy is nice (black pepper and nutmeg are two of my favourite aromas), and perhaps something green and fresh-smelling for summer, but not too sharp. I don’t like the chemical smell of a lot of perfumes (yes, I know, everything is made of chemicals, but you still know what I mean, don’t you?), and I mostly wear solid perfumes from Pacific Perfumes, or homemade products scented with essential oils (e.g. dusting powder – better for you than talc, it turns out).

But this is the Wardrobe Architect, I hear you say. How does all this relate to your wardrobe? It all ties in to your visual identity, the way you present yourself to the world. Pop back to month 2, and have a look at the words you chose to encapsulate your style. How do your preferences in hair, makeup and beauty echo them? Neat, practical, and simplicity are common themes I see in mine. But if you don’t see any commonality – perhaps it’s time for a change?

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