No Friend of Mine
Ponytail salvation ... Rooney Mara's blunt pony. Photo: Getty Images
You know that rule about never going to the supermarket hungry? May I submit to you another: never go to the hair salon tired - especially if it's one you've never been to before. If you're a little lethargic, as I was three weeks ago, you're not on your game and therefore highly susceptible to whatever the hairdresser wants to suggest. If you're tired, you don't notice that your colourist is the same person cutting your hair - rookie mistake.
When I ventured into this new salon - a reputable salon! - and the hairdresser asked me how much I wanted cut off, I made a weak gesture with my thumb and forefinger; it was no more than two centimetres wide. She blithely ignored me. When it was over, it was all I could do not to slam down my half-drunk champagne flute, jerk my hand away from the woman massaging it with expensive cream and wail over the hypnotic beats of remixed urban jazz, "My life is a tragedy!"
I now have Jennifer Aniston hair - from when she was in Friends. It's neither long nor short. Dear reader, it is "meh" length. I don't even want to talk about the colour.
Deeply ashamed, I sought the advice of acclaimed hair stylist Kevin Murphy. I mean, the man invented the "beach look". He has his own line of phenomenal hair products, too - which smell like a rich person on holiday. When we met, I was wearing my hair up in a ponytail - it's become my new style - a "shame style", if you will. Kevin provided wise counsel.
Of course, I couldn't go back in time - Kevin urged me repeatedly to "reach acceptance". But he did offer advice on how to style my shorter hair - and it worked. The proof? The next day I wore it down, and my editor (herself a "long hair" person) complemented me on it.
How to get a good haircut
• If you can book into a salon in less than a week, you should be concerned. Says hair stylist Kevin Murphy, "The best hairdressers are booked out for about a month or so in advance."
• The person who colours your hair should not be the person who cuts it. "I don't even colour hair because I'm not an expert," he says.
• Choose a hairdresser who has similar hair to you. "Stylists with long hair understand long hair and won't cut it, but short likes short and straight doesn't always understand curly."
• Further to that, choose a stylist who looks a bit like you. "If they have their hair styled in the same way and have the same length or facial features, they are going to have the same aesthetic as you." When Kevin told me this,
I nodded vigorously, remembering that the last woman who styled my hair made it look exactly like her own!
• If you can't find one who looks like you, choose a man. "I don't want to sound sexist, but ... [men] either want the woman to look hot or if they're gay, they want to look like the woman."
• Consult. Consult. Consult. "Consult properly with [your stylist] before you have your hair done," says Kevin. "If it's obvious they're not listening to you, pretend you have another place to be and leave!"
• Bring a photo - it's a little quaint but it still does the trick. "I know it sounds daggy, but bringing a photo of a celebrity or another person's style to show what you want is actually a great idea."