Privilege Blog

Can You Wear Long Gray Hair And Flared Jeans?

Clean, hair, no makeup. In the mirror. Oh, what we do for the sake of logical arguments.

I’ve been thinking about long gray hair. In particular, long gray hair with flared jeans. Should the combination unsettle us?

Let’s address the pants first. As one does. Flared jeans create controversy. Are they dated or modern? Trendy or delusional? In any case, these days they appear to make a non-classic statement. Some people like them, some people hate them, reasonable people can disagree. But they are clearly Out There, even if we don’t locate There exactly.

Long gray hair creates controversy in oh so many ways. If I sum up my current conjecture, I’d say it’s because we are OK with gray hair on women if aligned with expectations for midlife, i.e. cropped short and no-nonsense to enable more time in the garden, or cut to a precise chin-length bob for all things corporate. Visibly long gray hair, in a pony tail, or, heaven forfend, down one’s back, tests boundaries. Implies that women may, possibly, even as they age, still be Women. That we might still have some bounce in our flounce.

Today, however, it’s the nexus of flared jeans and gray that we will consider, a conjunction in which gray plays the provocative role of Madame Letting Herself Go, flares the villain, Questionable Style. This particular episode we shall entitle, Respect In The Office. And thank you all in advance for your stellar comment contributions to a previous post, including this comment from Prep West.

“Now that we are on the subject of hair color, have you ever considered the statement that a combination of hair color and clothing style might make? Could it possibly be that some people might think either consciously or subconsciously that a person with grey hair was wearing “Disco” flared jeans because they wanted to live in the past? Would that thought even occur if the person had a different hair color? Might they then think that that person’s ideas were not current and therefore that person should not be listened to? So, perhaps one or the other, but not both?”

(I ask that we please do not put Prep West in the stocks here. You are all so nice, and might leap to my defense, and while I appreciate your warmth more than I can say, this time I want to discuss ideas without regard to my feelings. I value all civil contrary opinions.)

When I requested clarification on the impact of gray hair, Prep West answered,

“The situation is one of impressions, if your hair is colored skillfully to the true range that it once was it most likely would give the impression that you still care about your appearance, if it is noticed at all. The greater issue is what the impression will be if you do not. Will some people think that you have decided to, “Let yourself go” because it is the norm for most women to be very attentive to their hair?”

Let’s deconstruct. To test our hypothesis, we change some of the variables and see if the outcome shifts. For example, if I had gone back to work at an investment bank in New York City, could I keep the gray? Could I wear flared jeans?

The flares in question. Note that I do not recommend this outfit itself, just showing the jeans’ shape.

A big no to the jeans, but it’s the denim rather than the flare that raises eyebrows. As for the gray, while I’d probably have to dig my heels in harder, I think I’d be on the same path. I hope that had I been suited to investment banking back when, i.e., had I been able to both count and fight, that by now I’d be valuable enough to be allowed to do whatever the heck I wanted with my hair.

Let’s also test the hypothesis by taking it to extremes. Could I wear long gray hair, if I let it go altogether? No. Could I wear flared jeans, if I decorated them with a Bedazzler? No. So we’re talking about moderation. Does this nexus work in a world of moderation?

I think yes.

You see, I do not feel my long gray as is says, “She’s letting herself go.” At least not in any way that indicates weakness, or decay. Yes, one can interpret “Letting oneself go” to mean giving up, ceasing the effort required to stay engaged in a competitive world. In that model, if one lets go, one falls.

One could also, however interpret “letting oneself go,”  to mean letting oneself go – forward.

That’s how it feels to me. As though very little of my emotional and cognitive bandwidth is now used in restraint, or pretense. That at 55 I am who I am, for better or worse.

I don’t mind looking 55, not one bit, as long as I’m the boss of what 55 means.

Back to the question of flared jeans. No matter the era or environment, I have shown up in wider-legged pants, whether beige Armani or denim 7 for All Mankind. They look better on me. Let’s say it’s my style hallmark. There’s room in this world for repeating oneself over the years, for sticking, all resolute and eccentric, to a certain shape, size, or color.

In summary,

  • Because I don’t think my hair says I’m letting myself go
  • Because I don’t think flared jeans mean Disco
  • And  besides, nobody should be wearing flared jeans with rhinestone studs, oh wait I digress
  • Therefore I do not believe the nexus of grey hair and conservative flared jeans compromises my authority in the workplace.

Here, gray hair and flared jeans mean pretty much the opposite of giving up and living in the past. But if I thought that my pants, or my hair, posed problems, they’d be replaced in an instant. Work clothes are about function, and leadership requires biting all kinds of bullets. I reiterate that all perspectives are useful, in our shared project of social anthropology and style. The question was well-worth considering. The conclusion might have been otherwise drawn.

88 Responses

  1. It’s funny, but I often think that the whole “cut your hair off because you’re 5x or 6x years old” actually appears to be more along the lines of “giving up” than long hair such as yours. Whether long or short, I think it’s the attention one pays to one’s hair–a stylish pixie, or long hair with a pretty clip, still show attention, and, more importantly, personality.

    Flared jeans with a cashmere pullover says neither “dated” nor “trying too hard to look trendy.” Again, I think it’s in the way you mix the elements. It all adds up to a complete picture.

    And while I’m not so naive to believe that clothes don’t matter in the workplace, I think attitude and effectiveness trump clothing every day. I’ve worked with plenty of people who looked “right” but were complete duds.

  2. “…it is the norm for most women to be very attentive to their hair…”

    I think that really depends on your definition of “attentive.” While I decided when I first began to go gray (and, honestly, for someone 22 days short of their 49th birthday, I have little gray in proportion to the actual amount of hair, which is considerable) that I would not color it – I agree with your statement “I don’t mind looking 55, not one bit, as long as I’m the boss of what 55 means” wholeheartedly. However, in the last six months I’ve begun caring for my increasingly dry, frizzy locks in a rather unconventional manner; a manner that would make many throw their hands up in horror. But it works, and my hair, which is about the same length as yours, is now glossy, smooth and healthier than it’s been in many a year.

    1. No ‘poo, Jan? I tried it, and it was a disaster for me, but then my hair is fine and straight. Do tell, in any case . . .

  3. I like the long gray hair with the flared jeans (although I prefer this style pant with a long tee under short fitted jacket and a shoe with a higher heel).

    Everything works with long gray hair – it’s fabulous! I’m 67 and on my third and final transition to gray. I’m so jealous when I see the LGH: I believe it’s incredibly chic. The wearer reveals confidence to be envied in a society fixated on looking “young” at the expense of looking normal.

    You have flare in your jeans and in your style – to borrow an old phrase, “right on!”

  4. My current boss (a woman in her mid-fifties) is a very staunch believer in the older you get, the shorter your hair must be cut. She recently told me that (at 28) I can only “get away with” my long hair (6 inches past my shoulders) for another couple years.

    I disagree with her. Long hair isn’t about “trying to stay young”, it’s a personal preference on how I wish to look. I’d think the same for another else, regardless of age. If you like how you look with long hair, have at it, business or otherwise. I have yet to have someone respect me less in business due to my hair length, and cannot imagine someone older than myself being treated differently for the same reason.

  5. Lisa I am seeing everything (as in style of pant) out there! You are always so pulled together and I think a flared pant with you long hair is fabulous!!

    Plus you look amazing even without makeup!

    Please Come and enter the 1st of Twelve Days of Holiday giveaways! It is stunning!

    Art by Karena

  6. I would suggest that it very much depends on the industry in which you work, the culture of the company/corporation and the general dress code (because there usually is one spoken or implied) ranging from the very creative industries where just about anything goes to the more conservative firms ie accountancy, law etc. Having said that location will also have a bearing on any style decisions. Finally what image and values do you want to express and who are you seeking to influence. When all of these questions have been addressed the final question would be. Does grey hair and/or flared trousers work for the environment I am in and the image I wish to project. I don’t think there are any hard and fast rules any more just are the choices I am making creating the results that I want.
    Interesting debate.

  7. I have grown my hair too but have not stopped having it coloured.
    I think our hair is a very personal affair and that there are no hard and fast rules.
    “Letting yourself go” is not, in my opinion, even on your radar Lisa!

    If you did it would probably involve a bejeweller and a T shirt with a message on it…but I digress…

    Is that a cashmere top?

  8. Hair is in the air! I don’t know, if you ever wear the hair open or as a ponytail at work? My usual hairstyle used to be the ponytail. That’s why I decided to chop’em off today. Because I want my hair to move and – first and foremost – a noticable haircut.

    Flared Jeans?
    I loved the miniskirt I tailored out of the legs of my fathers olive green 70’s corduroy trousers, when I was 16. It takes flared toursers to get a skirt out of ONE leg. :-)

    To me it’s all about the balance and how the whole shape of the body appears. When the bottom part is not showing the body’s shape, I like the upper part to be form-fitting. The cable-knit with the tailored trousers would be on my list. But a simple white short, form-fitted, definitely!

    Coming back to a comment, where a reader asked the question if someone might take you for being old-fashioned, because you combine grey hair with flared jeans. Excentric – yes. But old-fashioned?

    Thank you for your smile in the mirror!

  9. Flared or bootcut jeans are not new or trendy. What they are is MODERN. I belive women of a certain age, with gray hair or without, have more presence and authority when they are dressed in a modern style.

    On a personal note, Lisa you are never anything less than elegantly polished. I would imagine in the workplace that you are the type of professional woman that I admired when I first started out in my career.

  10. I have a lovely pair of slimline orange flared jeans to wear in summer, but I’m not here to shock the office staff, I’m here to say the top photo of you is absolutely lovely – you look youthful, lovely and, for once, totally free of anxiety.

  11. When I read this post and all the comments, I’m so grateful that I’ve always been in an art related field, where none of this matters. I don’t think I could have conformed, an actually for an artist, I think people feel I dress not eccentrically enough?
    Lisa – you look stunning in that first photo – so gorgeous with no makeup and your hair down – WOW!!!!
    Curious if you ever wear it down, for work or going out?

  12. This is the first time I have commented on your blog posts although I have been reading them for over a year now.
    I like your long hair even at 55. I think the length of hair on a woman should depend more on their face shape then their age.
    I think your hair would look so much better if you had the color all grey/silver instead of dishwater blonde and grey mixed. A good hair stylist would be able to color your hair the same color grey as your roots. Good hair conditioner and products makes all the difference in the world.
    About the jeans, why not wear flared jeans they look good on you. Although, I think you wear your clothes too loose for your frame. You have a great figure and you should not hide it. The long sweater with the flared jeans is all wrong. A shorter cashmere shell with maybe a fitted harringbone jacket would look great with the flared jeans.
    Your skin looks great without makeup but why are you not wearing makeup?
    So that is my two cents. I hope to hear from you.
    North End Boston

  13. I love long grey hair, I think it’s terribly elegant and I too will be sporting it one day though I’ll take my present mop up to my shoulders. It’s about grooming not the colour.

  14. LOVE IT. You look modern and urban hip to me, not “living in the disco era.” Understated, clean lines, and the kind of urban/sporty vibe that does not say “old lady.”

    I love your long gray hair. It is beautiful and suits tall, slim, fair, preppy you very well – and of course you are too wise to let it grow into the “old hippy wiccan priestess” look that requires twigs and leaves throughout and a strong aroma of incense and patchouli. Totally different beast that should not discourage groomed long hair.

  15. “letting myself go forward,” I love that. You’ve really framed this discussion so eloquently, as always. And the long grey hair, flared jeans? On you, Perfection.

  16. I think I agree with Marty–the jeans look fine, but the sweater looks just too baggy with them. Something more form-fitting would look great on you. And if you’re going to go all silver, do consult with a colorist about getting rid of the remaining yellow in your hair–now, THAT would be defiant. And awesome.

    (I finally went through with it. I decided, two weeks ago, that I was finally going to get rid of my colorless mop of muddy light brown-grey hair. I just was not graying gracefully. I didn’t want to go blond–it’s not in my genes. Instead, I went a dark, flaming red and realized that, with my green eyes and pale skin and Celtic ancestry, I should have been a redhead all along–even Mother Nature makes mistakes. Wow. But I’ll reevaluate in ten years–even natural redheads don’t stay red forever, of course.)

  17. I think that you are looking for a bit of validation about going gray and keeping the long hair. You are poised, beautiful and articulate. I think the hair makes you look much older then 55. I think a light color wash on your hair would brighten your stunning looks and figure. All of my friends, went back to color after they realized that coworkers thought that they were much older and ready to retire.Sad but true.Gray hair and glasses equates to granny in the US cultural society.Be true but be aware of perception. The pants, who cares!

  18. I love your long gray hair and I don’t think it makes you look old at all. Of course, I am predjudice because I am 55 and my hair is as long as yours and just as gray. Love the flair pants too. I think the only people who have a problem with long gray hair are those who are insecure about their own looks!

  19. This is always a topic that brings a comment from me because I will be 60 in a few months and have–you guessed it–long gray/white hair. For me, it’s not a case of letting myself go. It is a case of I think it looks better than dying my hair. Most of my friends dye their hair and I do NOT think it makes them look younger. At all. I am on my way to my hairdresser in about an hour and he will be coloring my non gray/white hair to blend with my hair that has already turned white. If I don’t do this, I have the Cruella DeVille look, which is not what I am aiming for.

    I got the impression that you usually wear makeup and the no makeup look was just for this particular photo. Am I correct?

    I don’t have an opinion about flared jeans. They are not the style that looks best on me, so I don’t wear them. I have no objection to them, however.

    One more thing–I have consulted my hairdresser about the length of my hair. He encourages me to leave it long (well trimmed of course) because he think the length goes best with my face shape.

    I’m all for dong what makes me happy when it comes to my appearance. IF I thought I would look better with dyed hair that was shorter, I would do it in a minute!

  20. Can’t think of a better combination! Keep the hair and keep the flair! I was on a date a couple of weekends ago, and we were at the bar waiting to get seated. The bartender had on a teeny tiny skirt. My date noted it and asked if I would wear a skirt that short. Not now, I replied. I am too old. However, I added without stopping for air, if I’m 60 and still have legs enough (with tights mind you) I’d wear it for sure! I think dressing your age went out the same window as white jeans being only a summer thing. My white jeans still get worn albeit I’ve traded the Jack Rogers for black boots and dark sweaters.

  21. Style, clothes, beauty – it’s all subjective isn’t it?

    In our quest for direction we aim for resolute, but in this arena it is self defined.
    We have the option to meander and we should embrace it. I’m so pleased you did.

  22. The only reason I still color my hair is because I have a small amount of gray mixed with a lot of drab formerly blond blah. My dad and both of my grandmothers grayed beautifully, so I am hoping for white/silver locks within the next ten years. I am tired of coloring my hair. It’s a pain in the neck. I like your hair. I especially like that you haven’t cut it short and permed it into Mom Hair.

  23. “I don’t mind looking 55, not one bit, as long as I’m the boss of what 55 means.”

    That’s the best reason to keep your hair long and gray– and your jeans flared [and blessedly non-bejewelled]. I think woman overthink the meanings associated with what they wear and how they look.

    How could you possibly ever go wrong if you’re just being who you are– with style?

  24. BECAUSE platinum hair is stunning and natural
    BECAUSE flared jeans look great with certain shoes, regardless of age or gender
    AND BESIDES, nobody should dictate what another individual chooses to look like, wear or express, not to mention the chemistry of hair color is nasty and disgusting
    THEREFORE I do believe you are spot on, look gorgeous, are an inspiration and can push me around in the work place anyday. If I were still in the workplace. Gods forbid.

  25. Dear Lisa (and all of you who feel like friends, I’ve been reading for such a long time),

    I’m going to stir things up a bit. They say when the student is ready, the teacher appears. This happened at the start of my own voyage to une femme d’un certain age in the form of this book staring up at me at my local bookshop one day a few months ago. Have a look:

    This little gem has been so liberating in terms of fashion, style, self-esteem
    I can’t recommend it highly enough.

    Lisa, my background is similar to yours and I always found the “trad” clothes of our kin to be so androgynous (in the un-sexy way). When I needed to break out I found Inge’s book and am emerging from my cocoon! I’m also assembling a blog “The Accidental Dilettante” and will post when it’s live!

    Big hearts, Babette

    P.S. One opinion about grown-up women’s hair of any color: UP. Even if messy: UP!

  26. I think your hair is beautiful. And you look lovely. And I have an observation about proportion.
    The roughly one to one ratio of top to pants is not as flattering on you as a shorter top would be with those jeans. Or the top with a narrower bottom such as a straight skirt or straight cut pants. To my eye anyway. It’s hard to tell from a photograph. Your bone structure is fine, and you have narrow hips.You don’t need to balance your hips visually with a wider pant leg. Do you like wide legged pants for comfort, balancing shoulders or something else? You say they look better on you and I don’t know you in person. It has struck me that in other photographs your pants look like they have more volume than I would think suits your slender frame. It feels risky to me to even offer such feedback-might be perceived as rude or overly personal. I do it with the best of intentions and some trepidation.

    1. I feel similar with the flared jeans, but not with the flared camel colored trousers Lisa had in another foto (with black cashmere). Perhaps too much of dark color at the bottom while she seems so bright and fine boned? Grey hair looks great, keep it!

  27. Think it is an attitude of mind and how you put these things together and your confidence of which you have loads. You look fab. And when I was in Paris recently I saw many women of a certain age with grey hair – and not one had cropped “sensible” style grey!! Go Lisa! X

  28. Alright, that’s it.

    The hair and I are going to have a CTJ meeting first of the year. Time’s up.

    Meanwhile, conjure images of Jane Fonda, camera loves her, she’s young and hot. Do the same with Julie Christie: camera + young + hot. That’s YOU at age 55!

    That + smartest person in the room = I give up, I submit.

  29. Hi Lisa. You could wear anything you want to and look great. You are a beautiful woman, so go for it.

  30. I love the idea of letting oneself go forward, and I always think of you of the boss of your style, not at all constrained by other interpretations of what it ought to be. I love your gray hair and the way you dress for work looks to me like you mean business in a friendly way. Approachable. That has to be good.

  31. A few thoughts: your hair is a lovely (dare I say modern?) shade of grey that looks very good. Many others (my own mummy perhaps?) have this sort of mouse-y grey that has bizarre undertones and should be covered immediately. Another thought: those pants are banana republic flared not studio 54 flared. They look fantastic on you and you wear them well. Muffy approves on all counts.

  32. Originally, I did not like Prep West’s comments at all. They seemed overly pedantic to me. But I like the discussion they have sparked.

    So if we’re all being honest here, I have to add my voice to the others to say I think that sweater would be better with something else. I’d personally like it with a fitted knee length black skirt, black tights and black shoes, but the black isn’t the important part. The proportion is.

    I disagree that flared pants are throwback. They are quite current, and in the industry you work in, perfectly work appropriate.

    On the gray hair, because most women in our culture dye their hair at your age, you will probably be mistaken for someone older than 55. You have to be OK with that – I probably will not be as brave.

  33. I think flared jeans look a lot more modern now than ultra-skinny jeans which have been done to death. Just as long as the cut of the denim isn’t like the SNL mom jeans. And I always loved Renata Adler’s long gray hair.

  34. I just have to chime in first, to say I love your blog and I think you are awesome. Second, to say your hair looks clean, shiny, well-kept, and I bet it smells good too. In short, no matter the color of your hair, it is beautiful.

    I think why some people perhaps shy away from gray is that it can be a reminder of those elderly folks who don’t keep up with their hair-care (I wanted to say “hygiene”, but I thought that sounded unfair/mean).

  35. Long time reader, first time commenter. Love your outfits, you have an enviable figure, and your hair always looks well groomed too! Wear what you are comfortable with is my motto. But I do think your hair would look better if it was shorter, say shoulder length. Currently I think it dominates you, and others do not necessiarily see your clothes.

  36. I think that your hair is beautiful and as long as it is polished, properly taken care of, there is no certain standard long that you should follow.
    There is a saying in spanish ” de la moda, lo que acomoda” , which means, from fashion, wears what suits you , except, it rhymes.
    I would say if you like flared jeans, and you feel comfortable, plus they are adequate for the places you need to go it is OK. I believe we look our best when we feel most comfortable.
    Regarding the white hair, I only have a *problem* (and this only applies to myself) with the dark and white mixed look that gives an impression of not taken care of, so I will have to figure out how to do the transition (that is, I guess I will have to prepare a budget for coloring my hair regularly) but once the hair is all white, I think it is beautiful.

  37. Maybe I need to go back and re-read what you’ve written, but your photos confuse me. You’ve shown us long grey hair and no make-up (you have nice skin) in one, wide legged jeans in another. You haven’t actually shown us long grey hair and flared jeans in the same photo, which is what your title implies; hair pulled back and contained is much the same a cut short, in this presentation. I think each of those (long grey hair worn loose and flared jeans) is a style statement which, individually, works well. Together, I don’t think they do look very good, in the same way that baggy tops and flared trousers are not a good look (I’m afraid I don’t care for your sweater with those jeans), or too much texture on a petite person, or mixing winter tweeds with a straw hat in winter. I think you can rebel against the expectations for a middle aged woman up to a point and gain people’s respect. I believe if you push those boundaries too far, you’ll look credibility, particularly if yours is a serious work place. Just my opinion; you’ll know your own environment best.

  38. I’m in my 40s and the main reason I’ve cut my hair (to a bob, not a pixie) is because over the years it’s gotten thinner. Cutting it released some of the weight and made it look less stringy. I went from waist-length in my 20s, to shoulder-length in more recent years, and this year I cut off a couple more inches.

    So that’s a style change necessitated by my aging, but still I can’t think of any reason why age alone should dictate one’s hair length.

    And I would totally wear it down regardless of the length. As long as it looks like you made an effort to style it, it won’t look sloppy or unprofessional.

    As for your outfit, I think the jeans look good but I’d go down a size. Or I’d wear a more fitted top to balance out the volume.

    I’ve been graying since my teens. I think my hair is now naturally mostly white. But I continue to color it, because my face is very youthful-looking and I don’t wish to “age” myself unnecessarily. I may well become one of those little old ladies who wears black hair just for the heck of it.

  39. Have you seen Cindy Joseph? She’s 60, a model with her own line of cosmetics, and she is gorgeous. Her long gray hair is part of her look. I like flared jeans, you can wear them longer than the tight legged jeans, and they make one’s legs appear longer. And they look good with cowboy boots.

  40. Hmmm… I think I agree with one poster. Can we see another photo of you with your hair down and wearing the flared jeans? I think you would look great.

  41. Understated confidence appears to me the defining feature of your style, which seems to be overlooked by the commenter. Well done, Lisa.

  42. Lisa,
    I LOVE your grey hair, it looks so good on you.
    Your skin is fabulous, make-up or none.

    As for the pants… whatever makes you comfortable. Remember it was Chanel who said “fashion changes.. style is constant”
    You have loads of style!

  43. You are the furthest from letting yourself go that I can conjure! There is, despite how wonderful it is on you, though, a voice within me that says, Not grey. I look tired-my grey is not pale enough to be dramatic-and my husband calls me his “belle rousse”. Sometimes haircolour gives us a more lustrous, interesting shade than nature did, and I say, Thank you.

    And flared jeans are terrific. Whatever our figures, a straight leg, boot or flare makes a dark jean work in many offices (but not all).

  44. I think your hair is terrific. I wear bootleg pants including denim because they balance out my not boyish hips. The sweater above is perhaps throwing people off because the proportions are off with those particular pants. A fitted jacket would be much more flattering as would a fitted shirt and I don’t think anyone would be thinking that you are trying to relive your youth.

  45. Once I read the caption to the picture that noted that the baggy sweater wasn’t supposed to be part of the example I felt better about the flared pants.

  46. If you’re happy with it, that’s all that matters…but I can’t help but think how much more polished you would look with a shoulder length cut. I’m thinking Lauren Bacall in her mid-fifties. Do we like Hilary’s latest look?
    When I first started graying I think I kidded myself into thinking that the gray strands were “highlights.” Then I realized how much older these “highlights” made me look! Gray is not blonde, though we may at that early stage be susceptible to the thought.

  47. Because I’m rather short and round I finally opted for short hair (boy short) as it went grayer. It’s texture is becoming coarse where it was very fine before, and it’s thick and hard to control. For me it was a no-brainer since I can’t stand hair in my face or glasses! I’ve seen women who are probably my age (57) with long hair in the same dubious brownish/blonde/gray shade as mine–some get away with, some don’t. I don’t! Yours is a least a pretty shade, that helps a lot. Oh, and short means no flared pants either,no, no, no!

  48. Louise – In full fellowship:).

    Arachna – Oh, thank you! How interesting that I can post something without any effort to look beautiful, only to show my hair to its best advantage, and that you like it. I am learning so much in this process.

    priscilla – I have the same feelings as you – I think your reaction is very thoughtful. Including your view on the workplace. In the end it has to be about what you do first and foremost.

    Jan – I knew immediately that you meant the no shampoo revolution:). Here’s to having lots of hair!

    miss mindless – Thank you very much.

    Lynn – 67? That is fabulous. Go you. And I completely agree about these jeans and their best getup. The photo here was just one I hadn’t posted before, precisely because I saw that it wasn’t blogworthy as an outfit per se, but did show the pants’ shape.

  49. Sarah – I cut my hair short in my early 40s, thinking as your boss does. I had no idea that when I got to 55 I’d have this perspective. Good thing life holds surprises, huh? Confidence and consistency can allow one to get away with all sorts of things.

    Karena – Well thank you! I saw a young woman in flared pants yesterday, and, of course, I thought she looked amazing:).

    chicatanyage – I completely agree with you. Business dress rules are completely contextual. Time, place, industry, company culture, etc. I confess to sometimes posing rhetorical questions for the sake of argument.

    Hostess – Bwahahaha. You are so right. My long descent will begin with excessive rhinestones. And no, it’s an American Apparel cotton knit top. I was looking for a fisherman sweater, found this one, tried it, and haven’t worn it since to work….

    Paula – 4/5 times I wear a ponytail. The 1/5 will be up. And I generally follow the same rule, fitted top, loose bottom, or the other way around. Happy to smile for you wonderful people, most any day.

    Jen – MODERN! I love that. And I so appreciate what you say about my type of professional woman. We are the sort who almost didn’t make it, because we were thin-skinned, but persevered. So we really like to hear that we’ve done some good or provided some kind of model of use.

  50. Mise – ORANGE! And it’s possible that what registers as anxiety is only self-consciousness, and it’s hard to be self-conscious when one is making no effort whatsoever;).

    Kathy – I wear my hair down for date night. As one does. And I will never forget my first stint in corporate land. Yikes! Got easier, over time, as the rewards of competency accelerate.

    Marilyn – Who knows! These things happen! I am finally starting to feel better, thank you.

    Marty – Thank you for commenting. It is lovely to hear from you. I agree with all your points, too, with a caveat here and there. Yes, certainly, I look forward to my hair growing all the way out of the dyed blonde. Making progress, and the blonde doesn’t show so much in a ponytail. Having stopped the coloring bit, I find myself very disinclined to start it up again. Sturdy Gals don’t like that much fussing with their heads:). And the no-makeup look was just to make a point. I wear makeup every single day to work, and enjoy putting it on too. Again, thank you.

    Tabitha – I take that as quite an endorsement, oh glam one. Thank you.

  51. MJ – Well thank you. I will put down the twigs I was holding:). Oh, and I’m not very tall. 5 foot 6 inches, give or take a fraction. Just for accuracy’s sake, even though I should just have said thank you.

    Deja – xoxox.

    Staircase Witch, I agree, the sweater didn’t work. And red! I have a red-haired daughter. I enjoyed the experience, vicariously. I bet it looks great.

    Lewellyn – Well thank you for so many kind words. I suppose I was looking to make sure I hadn’t missed some logic in my thinking. In fact, I’ve always looked younger than my age. In real life I think the gray just catches me up to 55. But, of course, I could be wrong. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Ann – Solidarity. Marketers really ought to seek us out as a segment, don’t you think? Hmm. Let’s just be glad they don’t.

    TB – Thank you! And hello!

  52. Wendy – Thank you so very much.

    Susan – Your hair is just gorgeous. And I’m with you. I’ve actually gone gray because I think it looks better. Vanity is a powerful motivator. Speaking of which, yes, I do usually wear makeup….

    Jessica – There is a certain liberty, coming out of the 40s. Now I’m clearly not trying to pass as younger. And white jeans in the winter are about my favorite thing.

    Fuji – Style, clothes and beauty are subjective, and also part of our societal contract. That’s what makes it all so fascinating, no?

    The gold digger – Yeah, I’ve got a Mom soul, so let’s leave the hair alone…

    Ally Bean – It’s the societal contract that raises its head, and causes issues. Vague contracts, with many parties, always do.

  53. Rose – Ha! Love your argument. And I try not to push people around, although I admit to impatience being my greatest workplace flaw…

    Babette – Oh, I look forward to reading your blog. Do let me know when it’s up. And I’ve read about Ines’ book, but haven’t picked up the book itself. How fortunate that the season of present-giving is coming up.

    Cat – Well, with this proportion idea in my mind, I have just bought a cropped jacket:). I wear the flares because a) they balance my shoulders b) they treat my upper thighs well. But do I tend to buy my pants big? Yes. I don’t know why exactly, but I believe it’s in part because I had bad sciatica for a while, and tight pants made it hurt. I am now systematically taking my clothes to the tailor. You are absolutely welcome to offer feedback. I am always happy to hear reasoned, polite ideas. I may not agree, of course, but that’s the joy of civilization, isn’t it?

    Crissa – I think the black sweater I wear with the camel trousers is much smaller and neater, so it works better. Thank you. How nice to say I seem fine boned.

    Sarah – Well if the Parisennes are doing it, I’m in:). Confidence. Took decades.

    Flo – Ha! You do crack me up! But thank you.

  54. Wally – Thank you sir.

    QBS – Said in inimitable QBS style! Thank you.

    Susan – I absolutely want to look approachable, and constrained only by our social contract of corporate culture.

    Parnassus – Thank you. Intention and style I believe I can just about manage.

    Muffy – Not Studio 54 flared! Perfect! I never went in the 70s. Wasn’t brave enough. So if it were to reopen, I’d have to try and go:).

    rb – OK. I will hunt up that outfit! I really don’t mind being mistaken for someone older than 55 as long as that person is reasonably attractive to those I want to attract, and projects competency in all I want to accomplish.

  55. WendyB – Oh thank you! I love to hear the voice of stylish Manhattan designers weighing in with everyone!

    loopyloo – Aren’t you so nice! Thank you! Awesome is such a great term. I use a John Masters conditioner these days that does, if I say so myself, smell pretty good:).

    Janey – Well, hello! So nice to meet you. Thank you for speaking up. I agree that if I wore my hair down to work it would be too much. But up, or in a ponytail, it doesn’t feel that it dominates me. Perhaps I am just smaller than I feel:).

    Amanda – I like that saying, de la moda, lo que acomoda. Very nice. Thank you so much.

    Shelley – To be clear, I showed the photos just for logical simplicity. Perhaps it was too abstract of an approach. That happens when I am trying very hard to think clearly. I don’t wear my hair loose at work except very occasionally, briefly, when I take it down from an updo. The previous post, the one to which I refer, was the look I am talking about. Perhaps that makes more sense now? And my workplace is serious, but not formal. So yes, you are completely correct, and I have just been confusing in how I present the argument.

  56. Ms. M – Thanks to you and the others here, I am taking almost all my pants to be tailored. I think little old ladies, black hair or otherwise, are a wonderful phenomenon.

    Allison – Yes, I know Cindy Joseph. I hope even we regular looking folks can follow her example:). Cowboy boots. Fun…

    Susan – I am thinking that this, from Trust Your Style, would count?

    Latha – Thank you very much.

    Sandra – Thanks! I see your lovely face in the avatar, and looks like you are gray too?

    Duchesse – I love your red. How much fun to be able to carry it off, and have your husband such a fan too.

  57. Jane Doh – Fitted jacket on the way:). I wore that sweater only once with the jeans, and I did swim in it a bit. Thanks for the comment.

    RoseAG – I went and changed the caption to make that clear, once I saw how distracting the sweater was.

    Wilhelmina – It’s quite possible I will change my mind. But to get straight hair I have to blow it very, very dry, and Sturdy Gals hate having heated heads:).

    Ruth – I have been tempted to cut my hair Annie Lennox short, a couple of time. Never quite had the temerity.

  58. um LOVE the look. And as someone who’s hair has recently shown signs of grey hair popping up randomly in weird places on my head : I LOVE that your hair is all evenly gray. It looks amazingly sophisticated and edgy at the same time.

    Good for you!

  59. um LOVE the look. And as someone who’s hair has recently shown signs of grey hair popping up randomly in weird places on my head : I LOVE that your hair is all evenly gray. It looks amazingly sophisticated and edgy at the same time.
    Good for you!

  60. You are very brave to ask. Of course you can’t wear long grey hair with flared jeans! You knew that or you wouldn’t ask. You need tight-int-the-thigh slim or straight cut jeans with a plain dark wash and a fitted sweater. With heels and a scarf you can wear that to work. With boots you can wear it hiking. It isn’t about the hair.
    Being beautiful, as you are, you can wear many things effortlessly that less gifted women have to work hard at. But you will not look sophisticated in baggy sweaters these days, much less loose jeans with flats.
    I admire your willingness to invite comments.

  61. I think your hot! Jeans need to be more faded though. Then barefoot on the beach at sunset, white sweater with sandals in hand and your phone turned off, while leaving yourself plenty of time to make your dinner reservation. That’s how I could see you showing off your pure natural beauty. bye…..

  62. In 2013, my hair will be at the fold of my knees.
    Since I will be turning 45 that year, and already sporting some full-length silvers, I claim very minor long grey status. The rest is red, the same as I was born with.
    Sure, I wear it up, 99 percent of the time. The occasional braid, maybe, maybe a ponytail. A half up by partner request.

    Oh, and I wear glasses. And boot cut jeans.

    Did I mention people usually take me for early 30s?

    Rock your silver with flair and flare!
    And grow it out. :-)

  63. Tomorrow I am having hip-length gray (to match my hair) extensions put iin. I proudly wear – not only flares – but full-on elephant bells! We are beautiful when we feel beautiful. I revel in looking outrageous if only to fight the mainstream look.

  64. My first time visiting your site and loving it. I think you look lovely with your hair long and no makeup. I am 56 and have been coloring my hair since college. A natural-born redhead, I’ve been every other color except black, and it’s time to let it go and go natural. That’s how I found your site…reading about other women reveling in their beautiful gray manes. As far as the flared jeans…go for it. I wear them, especially with cowboy boots and a fitted shirt. You have a great bod…you should show it off.

  65. I have decided not to cut or color my graying hair anymore. (I will get the ends trimmed but no more cuts!)

  66. I just found this post – I love it, and the comments.

    There may be some people who are blinded by the natural color (gray) hair and have trouble seeing what else, but truly some of us see take eyes to look and see things like the fashion, the care that has been taken with the body, its posture and grace in movement, the look of face itself as skin care it has received, appropriate for age, or cosmetics. There is so much more that goes into the picture of a person, how they have kept up themselves, the state of their mind, their relevance, than simply a hair color. The style of the gray hair itself and the apparent care it has received.

    And one thing many women who stop coloring their hair notice is that it has not been aging that has caused hair thinning. When they let it go natural, they often find so many new baby hairs coming up and in a couple of months a much thicker head of hair, which is a youthful and healthy message of appearance. The scalp can recover when no longer subjected to the monthly chemicals assault of root touchups and so on. Hair colored darker or brighter than its natural lightening of age, when combined with time’s changes of the face, and in thinness contrasting against the scalp, can be quite aging and also kind of sad.

  67. I am very pleased to be a little signpost in the Internet, saying Gray, This Way:).

  68. Just found this post via a friend. I like your ideas very much, but I don’t consider your hair to be long. I am 56, very grey, and can sit on mine when it is down. I don’t wear it down often because it gets into everything, but I do wear whatever I feel like wearing no matter whether it is up, down, or somewhere in between – today is a braid, turtleneck, and boot-cut jeans.

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