Unleash your inner sexpot… with a wig: It’s the trendy way to beat bad hair days – and change your life
20:48 GMT, 4 April 2012
00:58 GMT, 5 April 2012
Going natural: Frances' usual look
From Rapunzel to the Duchess of Cambridge, women down the ages have known the power of a great head of hair. In terms of sex appeal, there’s simply nothing to beat it. It is our crowning glory.
Which is all very well for the lucky chosen few, with their abundant manes of shiny, swingy tresses. But what about the rest of us, with our frizzy, greying mops
Personally, my hair is a wretched nuisance: it’s lank, poker-straight and sprouting grey like Japanese knotweed. Every three months I sit in the salon having a trim and blonde highlights woven throughout. I confess, I haven’t changed my hair’s colour or style for 15 years.
I long for a complete revamp — perhaps a sharp, sassy Mary Quant bob or a pixie crop — but I’m worried the reality won’t match up to the image I’ve conjured in my head (I’m picturing the delicate beauty of Emma Watson’s gamine style). In short, I’m scared of getting the chop.
But then it dawns on me that I don’t actually have to. Popstar Adele recently admitted she routinely wears a wig, and Katy Perry and Beyonce wear them too from time-to-time. According to those in the know, Cheryl Cole, Victoria Beckham and a host of other celebs also routinely wear wigs or three-quarter head hair pieces. It is not a new trend. In the Sixties, women routinely donned wigs.
‘Ladies wore them as part of a special outfit, and they often had two or three,’ says Joanne Foster of specialist wig-makers, the Shepperton Wig Company in Middlesex. ‘Fashion wigs fell out of favour in the 1980s and 90s, but now that glamour is back and women want to look groomed, we’ve seen an increase in demand.’
Inspired, I make my way to the London branch of Trendco (trendco.co.uk) a national chain that supplies both ready-to-wear and made-to-order wigs. Louise, the salon manager, produces a couple of short pixie-cut wigs for me to try on, and I can barely wait to see myself morph from school-run mum to stylish sophisticate.
But first I must suffer the indignity of having a fishnet pop sock squashed down over my hair. No one looks their best wearing tights on their head, and I’m no exception — but in Louise’s expert hands my own hair is soon tucked away under the stocking cap and a short dark wig pulled over my scalp. I’m literally itching to see what I look like.
Oh dear. Let’s just say I’m glad this is a temporary re-style. Instead of the elfin look of which I’d dreamed, the lady with the pixie crop that stares back at me in the mirror is less Emma Watson and more Miss Jones, my old school maths teacher. I look old and cross. I’m hoping this is an aberration and the blonde wig in the same style will somehow make me look Mia Farrow, but if anything, it looks even worse.
Sensing my disappointment, Louise is quick to pull out the ‘Erin’ (all Trendco wigs have names), the Mary Quant look I’d requested. Placed on a styrofoam model head, the Erin (197) looks sophisticated. But on my head, Erin looks lop-sided. In fact, Erin looks like what it is. A wig. ‘Cody’, a brown bob with low-lights, makes me resemble a dowdy housewife. All I need to complete the look is a pair of elasticated jogging bottoms.
Flirting with wigs: Frances goes from brown, to blonde…
… to black… before settling on auburn to bring out her inner vamp
The wigs I’m trying on are all synthetic, which means they’ll last for four months if they’re worn every day, longer if worn only occasionally. Wigs made from natural hair can last up to ten months, but they starting at 320 for off-the-shelf natural creations and go up to 2,000 for a custom-made one. As a fashion accessory, Louise believes that synthetic wigs are fine. If the wig is to cover hair loss, then she recommends a wig made of human hair, which can be washed, brushed and styled just like your own hair.
Quite frankly, I’m depressed about how I’ve looked in all the wigs so far, so I don’t have the energy to object when Louise produces the ‘Miranda’ — a long, red wig which costs 215. She pulls it onto my head, where it fits snugly. (The wig bases are elasticated, so they fit tightly to most people’s scalps.)
Staring at myself in the mirror, I feel my spirits lift. This one actually looks pretty good. Tentatively, I toss my head — and the wig stays put. I can flick my mane of luscious locks with abandon. The fringe is a bit long, but that’s no problem.
All Trendco salons employ stylists to shape wigs once they’ve been fitted. Will, the stylist, snips away and the fringe falls into shape. The Miranda is growing on me by the minute. Interestingly, I’ve never considered long hair, as I’d thought it was ageing, but wearing this wig I feel sexy and confident. ‘You look ten years younger,’ the photographer tells me.
'I want to know if this wig really makes
me look younger,’ I say coquettishly. The Rita Hayworth hair is doing
something to my personality. I’m flirting with a taxi driver called
I step out of the salon wearing Miranda. There’s a stiff breeze, and for one awful minute I think my wig might take off — but it doesn’t, of course. I catch sight of myself in a shop window, long red hair snaking down my back. I like what I see. This must be what it feels like to be Christina Hendricks (well, minus the enormous bosom).
Hailing a cab, I step in. ‘Been anywhere nice’ the cabbie asks. I tell him I’ve been to the hairdresser. ‘Looks lovely,’ says the cabbie, obviously a gent. I confess my gorgeous hair isn’t actually my own. ‘I’d never have guessed — it looks great,’ he tells me. Paying, I throw caution to the wind. ‘How old do you think I am Now, don’t try to flatter me. I want to know if this wig really makes me look younger,’ I say coquettishly. The Rita Hayworth hair is doing something to my personality. I’m flirting with a taxi driver called Terry.
Terry looks understandably terrified. ‘Mid-40s,’ he hazards. He doesn’t get a tip. When I get home, I simply have to brush it and spray it with a special spray to keep it from matting. In the morning, I’m surprised at how easy it is to slip on. I shove my stocking cap on, pull my Miranda over it, and — hey presto! — I’ve got perfect hair. I don’t even have to bother with a comb.
I float past our builder Neil in the hall. He’s doing something manly with a mallet. ‘Hello, want a cup of tea’ I ask chirpily. It’s astonishing what a good mood I’m in, all because I haven’t had to pluck out any grey hair this morning. He stops mid-bash. ‘Blimey! I didn’t recognise you wearing that ginger wig,’ he chortles.
‘Actually, it’s auburn,’ I say loftily, and retire to the kitchen, where I don’t bother with the tea but I do eat a large chocolate eclair before painting my nails scarlet. Miranda has not only given me a brand new look, she’s also transformed me into the sort of woman who eats cake for breakfast.
That’s the thing about wigs. They give you a break from yourself, and it’s fun while it lasts. By mid-afternoon, my wig is back in its box and I’m on the school run. Admittedly, my mummy hair looks rather dull compared to Miranda’s locks. She’ll definitely be taken out for an airing once in a while — but the rest of the time, I don’t really mind being me.