Image Makeover for Corporate Success: Part 1 – New Hair?

Until recently, my hair has always been on the short side. As a child, my mom loved to approve of the bowl cut, and eventually let me have hair a few inches past my shoulders. I was convinced my hair just wouldn’t grow longer than that, but in reality it was my hair dresser who refused to let it grow any further.

So I grew up with a complex about my hair, among other things, always admiring the other girls who had long, beautiful hair when mine would just not grow. As an adult, after chopping off my hair to chin-to-shoulder length for the ease of it during college and for a show I was in shortly after, I let my hair grow. I’ve had a few trims here and there, but basically I’ve been all about the long hair style. My boyfriend loves long hair on me, and even though I never know what to do with it, I admit it’s the more flattering for my round ball head than most other looks.
But with my new job and my dedication to creating a professional image for myself, I’m torn. Do I cut my hair off and look corporate slick, or keep the hair long the way I (and my boyfriend) like it and just wear a bun or something when I’m at the office. It’s not like I work in New York, and business casual around here is a little looser to define than in some other environments. However, if I’m going to be doing any world travel, the culture quickly changes, and I want to look like I mean business.
It’s kind of amazing how many powerful women have short haircuts. Just look at the list of Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women of 2009 and you’ll see what I mean. Granted, most of them are in their 40s and 50s when a short hair style makes more sense, but most of them have short, really manly hair styles. It doesn’t even look that good, but I guess it makes them less sexually desirable by men, so they could be taken seriously. It makes me sad to think that might be true, but why else would all these high-power women want a crop top? Just to limit prep time? I’m not so sure.
In addition to figuring out what hair style to get (likely I’ll just go for the trim this time around), I need to figure out how often to get my hair cut. Up until now I’ve lived by the two cuts a year rule. I think it’s silly to spend money getting any more hair cuts, really. I feel like it’s a huge conspiracy by the hair dressers who want you to pay them more often. That said, my hair probably could use to be cut more often than twice a year. And with this image makeover I’m doing for myself, getting a trim every 8 weeks won’t kill my budget, and may help a lot with my overall presentation.
What do you think? How often do you get your hair cut? What style do you wear and is it appropriate for your job?
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6 thoughts on “Image Makeover for Corporate Success: Part 1 – New Hair?”

  1. I don't get hair cuts, but I do get trims every 6 weeks. My split ends want to be divas and I cannot give them the limelight. On the most powerful women, I don't think that has much to do with their image in front of men as it is with their age. I think older women just don't want to deal with their hair so they cut it off. Ultimately, you should keep what you feel great with. If long hair makes you feel powerful (and sexy), then bring that to the office. Work with different styles such as all down, up, side swoop, etc. I am not a fan of women muting their styles just because they are in the workplace. Just let your fabulousness shine! But leave the fishnets at home!!

  2. I should get hair cuts more often than I do. Usually I go every 4-6 months (yes, months!). It's really time for me to get one now actually.I don't think it's a problem to have longer hair if you're keeping it neat and aren't playing with it. It's unprofessional to keep doing hair flips or tucking it behind your ears, etc.

  3. Hi! I'm a loooong time google reader subscriber but first time commenter. This post really struck a cord and I thought I might have something to add.I'm young-ish (just turned 28) with a distinguished MBA that I got right out of undergrad. I've been with my current company for the three years since I finished MBA school. I have a fairly high pressure marketing job (I'm on my third straight week of travel, doing training at our offshore office) and with the exception of HR, the entire senior staff at my company is what I like to call "40 year old white guys who golf". When I first started interviewing and working I was MENTAL about how to look in order to assert myself immediately as a star player on my team. (My office is very business casual. If anyone wears a tie, they get asked, "Are you interviewing somewhere else today?") Over the past three years, I've experimented with dressing very formally, with mirroring what my bosses wore (read: khakis and polo shirts), with always wearing a bun, with dressing younger, with dressing older, with participating in dress down days and not and I can 100% say that it doesn't matter (at least it hasn't for me). People have been way more interested in what I do and say and bring to the table than what I wear or what my hair is doing. (Right now, my hair is about bra strap length and super curly.)I think, as young, professional women, we get caught up in how to play the "game"; we read one too many interview guides that say not to wear red and only stack-heeled loafers. I honestly have not seen any of it matter at all. The most important thing to do is walk in with confidence, know your stuff, do an awesome job and let your work (not your hair) speak for itself.Sorry for the super long comment! Love the blog!

  4. I think long hair can look as professional if done right. I'm 21 and have shoulder length hair – I like it short (easy care) and tend to go with kind of bobbed styles. The lower maintenance, the better – I'm useless at doing my own hair. I used to love my long hair, but one day looking at photos I realised it didn't do me any favours – it got long, thin and stringy. Not hot.

  5. I would keep in mind that a lot of the women on this list are significantly older than you (and me, I'm 23). They probably entered the corporate world during a time when women did have to look like men to succeed (think 80s power suits) – it's reasonable to think that some of them still have this mentality. I wouldn't try to emulate them in terms of appearance – I think lots of their suits are unattractive and gender neutralizing too!

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