I am not particularly stylish. My shoes tend to be practical, and I don’t have a closet full. I have little knowledge regarding fashion designers, unless Eddie counts (as in Eddie Bauer). Accent jewelry requires too much effort. I don’t recall painting my nails since my wedding day. Clear polish did the trick. Mary Kay skin-care products can be ordered from a friend. Any drug-store mascara and lip gloss suits me fine. I don’t intent to change my habits now.
Uncharacteristically, I have consistently fixated on my hair. As an adolescent I wore my medium brown hair short, a pixie cut. Obsessively, I scotch-taped the pointed sideburns on each side of my face at night so they would lie flat the next morning. No matter that I showed up at middle school with tape marks on my cheeks. During high school, a trendy hairstylist, Carlos, set up shop in our hometown. A few of my friends and I felt so hip in our shag haircuts.
By the time I graduated high school I commuted one hour and fifteen minutes to a city salon called Your Father’s Mustache. The stylists appeared more chic than our small-town beauticians. The vibe of the salon even felt more sophisticated. I clearly recall listening to Stevie Wonder sing “Isn’t She Lovely?” on their sound system. That salon saw me through several perms and a Dorothy Hamill bob.
Becoming a mother put a stop to distant hair care. Luckily, in the eighties another young mother returned to our area as a stylist. She wore her own hair short and spiky, a cosmopolitan look that I wanted to emulate. I became her client as did many of my friends and most of my family. She gave me great haircuts for almost thirty years. When a change in her venue conflicted with my requirements I struggled with guilt before I transferred to another salon. I felt like a traitor to someone who had become just as much my friend as my stylist.
Cut and Color
I already knew where to turn next. I booked a hair appointment with the proprietor of Artistic Dimensions. Lisa, young enough to be my daughter, boosted my confidence as I faced an empty nest. She gave me a trendy asymmetrical cut and covered my gray with multiple highlights. Never in my life did I receive so many hair compliments wherever I went. Lisa kept my hairdo current and I mentored with advice: “Don’t stress over cleaning your house.” “You deserve outings with girlfriends.” “Having a career makes you a superb role model to your daughters.” I often saw some of myself in her. Such an ebullient young lady, I’m sure all her clients feel her magnetism. After I relocated, I tried driving the six hours every couple months to have my hair done. Sadly, winter blizzards soon convinced me to find a stylist in my new region.
While browsing in the Duty Free shop at the Canadian border, which I cross regularly traveling to my son’s house, a clerk complimented my hairstyle.
“Thanks, I owe it to my stylist,” I replied. “I drive six hours to have my hair done.”
“You should try Rapunzel in Gananoque,” she said with certainty.
I knew the shop. It sat on King Street in the center of my son’s town. I called for an appointment.
Once again I met a young stylist who feels like a favorite niece. She has a son who is near the age of my two granddaughters. We have no common knowledge of local people or gossip (which I find refreshing), so we discuss five-year-olds, education, local activities, and life in the abstract. I find her well-informed and thoughtful. Melissa has a great sense of understated style. She listens carefully to my needs, and suggests ways to enhance my hair color and cut. She proposed red highlights, which I approved. Compliments abound. And Melissa pointed out to me, “It is really a relationship,” a truism regarding client and stylist. My own hair history supports that theory.
Only last week I learned of a dynamic woman, Iris Adfel, age 96, a renowned interior designer who emerged as a style icon in her eighties and nineties. She adorns herself with what some might perceive as outlandish costumes and layers of accessories. She basically transforms herself into a piece of art. Yet, she advocates each individual find her own personal style. Iris wisely stated, “Confidence is the best accessory.” When I heard that statement I clearly understood that my hair had always been, and continues to be, my best confidence accessory.