TRESS CODE

Thirty used to be the cut-off age, but now the fash­ion crowd is chang­ing the rules on length

The Weekend Australian - Life - - STYLE - HAR­RIET WALKER

Some peo­ple do it af­ter univer­sity, oth­ers when they start their first job. Maybe you made it to 30 or per­haps you held out un­til 40. I’m talk­ing about the rite-of-pas­sage sa­lon book­ing; the sev­ered pony­tail on the floor; the un­mis­take­able sense of hav­ing fi­nally reached adult­hood.

Un­til re­cently, long hair was some­thing best left be­hind in one’s 20s, along with leather trousers and un­suit­able boyfriends. How­ever, hav­ing suc­cess­fully re­claimed the trousers (you can keep the bad boyfriends, thanks very much), grown women are now grow­ing their crops, bobs and mid-lengths into ver­i­ta­ble manes. Long hair on women over the age of 50 once may have brought out the duck­ing stool and pitch­forks, but the likes of Demi Moore, 53, Elle Macpher­son, 51, and Ju­lianne Moore, 55, are proof that the mut­ton-lamb axis is a fal­lacy when it comes to mod­ern coif­fure.

“It’s more youth­ful to have longer hair when you’re older and shorter hair when you’re younger,” says hair­dresser Luke Her­sh­e­son. “You don’t have to cut it short now — that’s what your mum did.”

Wit­ness the Iden­tikit news­reader hel­mets of the 1990s and how tastes and so­cial or­der have soft­ened since then; as 50 be­comes the new 30, the mo­ti­vat­ing fac­tors be­hind re­quest­ing a Lady Di cut feel less pro­nounced, less ur­gent. You no longer need to cut your hair to get a proper job.

Not only that, but long hair is now longer than ever. Ten years ago, any­thing be­low the shoul­der used to feel pos­i­tively Ra­pun­zel-es­que, but in fash- ion­able cir­cles be­low-the-bust tresses are in­creas­ingly nor­mal. Tro­phy hair no longer comes from a glossy blow-dry or the must-have cut of the sea­son but from how lit­tle it looks like you’ve had done to it.

By that to­ken, grow­ing it to ex­treme length is the ul­ti­mate style state­ment, es­pe­cially given the cur­rent fetish for dress­ing down to an al­most as­cetic de­gree.

Model Laura Bai­ley, 43, is no­tice­able for her longer-length, au na­turel locks and flaxen rope of a pony­tail on the front row. Parisian stylist Caro­line de Mai­gret, 41, has made an art form of turn­ing up to shows with still-damp curls hang­ing down her back. More street-stylers have a thick cur­tain of hair to pose be­hind than don’t, while for some hair has be­come an ac­ces­sory in its own right.

Bri­tish Vogue’s fash­ion fea­tures di­rec­tor Sarah Har­ris, 36, is known for a mane of sil­ver hair that reaches al­most to her waist. “I like the ver­sa­til­ity,” she says. “I love older women who wear their hair long, but it’s easy to get stuck in a rut.

“Keep­ing the same style from 20 to 60 doesn’t of­ten work, but I think the rule about turn­ing 40 and chop­ping your hair off has com­pletely changed.”

Be­yond the minimalist fash­ion crowd, there’s the glossy posse of women for whom su­per-long hair is glam­orous and sen­sual.

Amal Clooney, 38, and Vic­to­ria Beck­ham, 41, for ex­am­ple, have also toned down the bouncy blow­dries of yes­ter­year to some­thing less overtly styled, but their hair still comes with the sort of high shine and sleek­ness only a sa­lon visit can bestow. To them,

long hair is as much a sta­tus sym­bol as an it bag — with al­most as much in­vest­ment hav­ing gone into it.

Syd­ney hair stylist Brad Ngata of Brad Ngata Hair Di­rec­tion is a fan of longer hair for all ages of women, with a cou­ple of caveats.

“It all de­pends on the qual­ity of the ends,” says Ngata. In terms of longer styles, “I’m par­tial to one­length, beau­ti­ful, glossy hair, it just needs to be trimmed reg­u­larly and kept fresh. When hair starts to look brassy or yel­low or split, that’s when it be­comes age­ing.” Ngata says all hair com­pa­nies now have age-ap­pro­pri­ate prod­ucts that fo­cus in par­tic­u­lar on the mi­dlengths to ends be­cause this hair is so much older than hair closer to the scalp. “Th­ese sham­poos are de­signed for time-weak­ened hair, so it builds a scaf­fold around the hair and makes it feel stronger, there­fore the ends look hap­pier and health­ier.”

He cites Sch­warzkopf Pro­fes­sional’s Q10 BC Time Re­store sham­poo ($26.95, beau­ty­heaven.com.au). He also sug­gests a nu­tri­tional sup­ple­ment, such as sil­ica, or those by Bri­tish hair­dresser Philip Kings­ley (avail­able at net-a-porter.com).

Mod­els swear by Vivis­cal’s hair-growth tablets ($179 for a three-month sup­ply; vivis­cal.com.au) to fix dam­aged, dis­tressed, overly styled and coloured hair be­tween sea­sons, and the brand has just launched a “den­si­fy­ing” sham­poo, con­di­tioner and elixir, too (from $19.95).

How­ever, if your ef­forts at long hair are frus­trated by an in­abil­ity to grow it be­yond your shoul­der, this may well be a cross you have to bear. Some clin­ics have warned against ex­ten­sions; many tri­chol­o­gists be­lieve they can weigh down hair and cause trac­tion alope­cia.

Mean­while, those with early-morn­ing starts, grabby-handed chil­dren and lit­tle time for deep con­di­tion­ing treat­ments also may find that the trend for ex­tra­long hair is one re­spon­si­bil­ity too many.

It’s more youth­ful to have longer hair when you’re older and shorter hair when you’re younger. You don’t have to cut it short now — that’s what your mum did

Hol­ly­wood A-lis­ter Ju­lianne Moore (above); Bri­tish model Laura Bai­ley (above right).

Clock­wise from main: Ni­cole Kid­man leads the post-40 long-haired posse, which in­cludes Caro­line de Mai­gret, su­per­model Cindy Craw­ford, de­signer Vera Wang and hu­man rights lawyer Amal Clooney.

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