Every spring the e-mails pour in from soon-to-be-graduated women, “Is my hair too long?” they ask. Usually, a mother, an aunt or a friend has pointed out that they’re “teenager hair” needs to go if they expect to be taken seriously. So I’m here to tackle this follicular conundrum for all the ladies who like long hair, but don’t want to look too young or unprofessional.
My take? If your hair is longer than your body strap on your bra, it’s time for a haircut. For me, that’s the southern limit. This doesn’t mean that I think you must cut your hair to shoulder length in order to be taken seriously. (Mine is longer than that.)
Also, unlike many professional women, I don’t think straight hair is more professional than curly hair. I think that as long as the hair is styled and well-kept, curly or straight is no matter.
As for dying your hair, I find over processed hair to be a distraction, so I caution against it, but it’s not a hard line stance. For example, the chunky highlights that were so big in the late 90s are overkill. I once had an intern who dyed her hair platinum, almost-white blonde, and some took her hair color to mean she was high maintenance. And obviously, colors like purple, blue and the jet black can lead people to think that you spend your weekends going to raves. Natural-looking is usually better.
Beyond hair that’s too long or dyed purple, the only hair situation that I consider a serious, almost unforgivable faux pas is dirty, greasy hair. One of my old staff assistants used to come in with hair that hadn’t been washed in three or four days. It made me insane. So however you choose to wear your hair, at the bare minimum, keep it clean. Dry shampoo is your friend.
So what do you think ladies, are there any hairstyles that strike you as completely faux pas for a professional office? Leave your thoughts in the comments.