Recently, I dyed my hair blue.
I first thought about dying my hair a bright color during college. It was the eighties, the era of Cyndi Lauper and Boy George. People in my dorm had bright hair, and I thought it might be fun to have it too—if I were a completely different type of person. Blue, I thought. I’d go for blue. If I were someone more bold, more interesting, more unusual.
But someone like me should stick with brown.
And I more or less did (with some occasional periods of highlights) until this year.
The Hat Project gave me the courage to wear the fabulous hats I’d been collecting for years, and wearing the hats turned out to be more fun that I would have predicted. So I decided to fulfil another longtime dream and dye my hair a bright color. I started with some pink streaks. First, my hair stylist gave me highlights, then we experimented with a couple of pinks, gilding my hair all over with a reddish-pink glow.
The effect was fun, but subtle—bright for a week or two, then little hints here and there. A couple of times, in a middle of a conversation, a person I hadn’t seen for a while would say “Ann, you have pink in your hair!” It wasn’t something that was always immediately noticeable.
I put in the pink off and on for several months. (If you look carefully, you can see it the picture of the Giant, Glamorous Black Hat.) I always thought, “Maybe this is the last time, then I’ll go back to my natural hair.” But then I decided that before I quit, I would go blue, as I had always wanted to.
Forty years after college, I was finally a bolder person.
The blue was quite a contrast to my usual color. It was both darker and brighter than the pink, and initially the dye turned the unhighlighted parts of my hair almost black. The effect was like how comic artists draw dark hair with blue highlights. I had superhero hair!
I loved it immediately.
But I also discovered that my darker, intensely colorful hair affected how my hats looked. Some benefited from the extra contrast, some looked worse, and some just looked different.
For example, this yellow ring hat really pops against the blue.
Not better or worse, just a different look, with a bit more emphasis on the hat.
This white ring hat also seems brighter on the blue hair:
In the original picture, the golds of the necklace and scarf match the hair color and give the pallet harmony and sophistication. With the blue hair the white hat seems stark against the black, even with the hint of blue necklace. The veil becomes more prominent. Add in the red polka-dot sunglasses, and the look becomes accidentally patriotic. Now I know what hat to wear on the Fourth of July, assuming my hair is still blue then!
The hair color doesn't make these hats better or worse, just different--with more pop and less subtlety.
Stay tuned for the next post, where i will show some hats that blue hair improves and others that blue hair worsens!
Ann Hillesland writes fiction and nonfiction and collects hats. In this blog she vows to wear (not just model, but wear out of the house) every one of her hats, blogging about their histories and their meanings for her.