Oh, hair. We can’t live with it, and we can’t shave it all off like Britney because we’d probably regret it later. If you’re like me, the idea of spending an hour blow-drying and heat-styling your hair first thing in the morning is just a big bag of ridiculousness, so you generally rock a ponytail and deal with the resulting hair-crease later. It happens, Fledglings, and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
Of course, after a while we all get tired of the ponytail and we want to mix it up, or we have a big presentation/meeting/interview where we need to look good and we’re thinking the ponytail is cool and all, but can we take it up a notch?
Yes, yes you can. Let’s improve our lives with some office-ready hair that doesn’t require heat styling. First, let’s get some rules down for making sure your hair looks professional, and then we’ll apply those to some actual styles.
- Keep it out of your face. When you’re at work, no matter what you do, you want people to trust you. It turns out, covering your face is interpreted by Westerners as ‘You have something to hide’ – think about any cartoon bandit or movie bad guy ever. Also, hair in your face is distracting to you and to your audience. Tying it back, at least partly, simplifies your look and lets people focus on your face, and by extension the words coming out of it. If you’re doing any kind of public speaking or leading a meeting or training, your hair should be back.
- Keep it low-maintenance. If your hair needs frequent attention all day, because it’s falling out of its ‘do or needing scrunching or getting tangled in your phone headset, you’re gonna look like you don’t have your act together work-wise, and nobody wants to come off like that. Instead, give a new style a trial run on the weekend, to see if it holds up to regular activity or if you’re having to fix it all the time. Don’t get me wrong, popping into the bathroom on your break to fix some flyaways or redo a bobby pin is no big deal, but if you’re constantly having to mess with it, you may want to find a style with more staying power.
- Keep it simple. We all want to get creative with our hair – it’s one of life’s many joys. But again, you’re at work to work, and you want to be taken seriously. This means keeping your hair looking nice, maybe even trendy, but not shocking. Unless your work environment is SUPER funky and it’s encouraged, avoid the various crayola-inspired hair trends going around. When I worked in management at a place where crazy hair color and visible tattoos were allowed, I looked around and realized that nobody in management had either of those things, and neither did anybody who was training for management. It was pretty clear that, no matter what the rules said, people with outlandish hair colors did not promote at that company. Right or wrong, that’s the reality at a lot of companies, and Fledglings, you gotta prioritize – do you want to promote, or do you want sunset hair? The choice is yours, and the only wrong one is the one that doesn’t get you what you want. Feel free to say ‘Damn The Man’ and rock your galaxy/unicorn/oil-slick hair if it gives you joy, but be aware of the trade-offs there – if you’re wanting to promote, you could be getting in your own way by looking like a snow cone.
- Keep it clean. Yeah, yeah, washing your hair is a pain, and doing it when you’re tired is even more of one. But if you’re prone to oily hair, or if you work out during the week, you’re gonna have to get that grease under control so that you don’t look poorly-groomed or like you have bad hygiene. Itchy scalp? Not profesh. Set aside time to properly wash, condition, and detangle your hair, so that it’s ready for styling and looks clean for work. If all else fails: dry shampoo.
So we need some simple, low-maintenance ways of keeping your hair back while you’re at work. If you have short hair, you’re pretty much set – just make sure it’s clean and styled in a way that you like and that will hold up through the day. But if you have medium-length or long hair, you’re gonna have to tame that beast, and here are some good ways to do it, including bonus pictures of yours truly!
- Side Braid – A go-to favorite of mine. You can also braid it straight down your back if you want, but I think the side braid looks a little more fun while still looking professional.
- Low Ponytail – Yeah, this is the one you do every day, but you can mix it up a little as well. Do a small French braid across the front of your head that goes back into the tail, or tease your hair to give it some volume before you ponytail. You can also take a lock of hair in the ponytail and wrap it around the holder to cover it up. Secure it with a bobby pin, and it looks polished but is definitely still a ponytail.
- Buns – Yet another go-to for me. You can do a high ballerina bun or something less dramatic, but it’s a good option if your hair is greasy, or if it’s really windy out. Just be sure that, however you secure it, it’s going to stay up all day.
- Half-up – If you want to show off your long hair or keep your neck warm, just pull the top half back and clip or pin it into place. It takes less than a minute, and your hair is off your face so you don’t have to mess with it while you work. This is a softer look, for those who think the all-back hairstyles look a little severe.
All of these styles can be made more elaborate by adding braids, teasing for volume, or curling/straightening your hair beforehand. There are approximately one million YouTube tutorials out there, so pick a style you like and start practicing! It may take you a while to master that sock bun, but you’ll get there, and you’ll be proud of yourself when you make it happen in time for work.
Next week, we complete your awesome work look with some accessories. Office work is pretty jewelry-friendly, but there are some things to consider in order to stay comfortable and get your work done without hassle. Enjoy your weekend, Fledglings!