Julianne Moore photo: Marie Claire

I had my hair cut properly yesterday, in a very cool salon, in central London; a rare occurrence but it was a birthday present from my son, says Elaine Kingett.  I hate all that faffing around with products and implements. It’s one of the reasons my hair is long – I’m a low-maintenance woman whose hair and face has to shut-up and look after itself. But it’s not the main reason.

Elaine’s haircut selfie

I’m like Samson, cut off my hair and I lose my power. It’s my security blanket, something to hide behind and fill in the gaps between my ears and shoulders. As a Baby Boomer, I admit my hair is a bit of a hippie statement, a reference to liberality, creativity and an avant-garde lifestyle. A couple of years ago, feeling insecure about my image as a 60-something and imagining the need to be taken more seriously, I succumbed to the Old Wives’ Tale that women of a certain age should not have hair below their shoulders and that short hair makes you look younger; I went for the chop. It was a disaster. I felt de-feminised, stripped of my sexuality and all my clothes looked wrong. I rarely wear dresses or heels and realised that, however pathetically, I needed the security of my mane to mark me as a woman. Nowadays of course, long hair, especially long grey, is fashionable and aspirational for older women.

kinfolk_grace-of-gray_4, Pam Lucas
Pam Lucas photo: Kinfolk

The pixie cut with its photo-fit silhouette is most definitely not the only option, even if the lovely James at George Northwood salon, who did such a brilliant job with my long hair, still gets it requested. We need to give ourselves permission to look how we want to look, the way that suits our lifestyle and our personality. We have no more need to conform to society’s assumptions now, than at any age.

Elaine Kingett runs writing workshops at Write It Down!

80 thoughts on “Cut the Crop: long hair forever

  1. Yes we should wear our hair as we please.But i do not understand how it makes toi feel mess of a woman when your hair was short.Your hair should not define who you are or should your age.

  2. Yaaas Elaine.

    I’m 68…have long hair….about your length…..men love it….and most importantly I love it.
    I’m low maintenance too…and people don’t realize long hair is low maintenance.

    Also, that short hair thing on older women is a myth….so often it takes a woman’s sexuality away. Unless you have the greatest short styled hair..such as the beauty Helen Mirren or the French Finance Minister, Michel Sapin……most women I see with short hair. in America …seemed to have just cut it with no style….

    Yes…it is your hair….but be careful when you cut it…..make sure you keep your sexy in it.

    …And I am not a superficial woman….but a women should enjoy being a woman….Make sure that ..that mane matches the brilliance of your brain.

  3. My hair is also long, and it’s so much easier to maintain than all of the various short styles I’ve had. I also trim it myself when I think it needs it. However, I also wear it up pretty much all the time as I love the look. Way less expensive than trims every 6-8 weeks. For a lot of women short or medium length hair is a choice because their hair is fine, thin or both and longer hair just doesn’t work. Love seeing “older” ( however that’s defined) women with long hair – one of my grandmothers kept her long hair her whole life, wearing it in a topknot until she died at 96.

    NY Times Design magazine recently had a great article on women wearing “nest” like hairstyles and I immediately felt instant kinship.

  4. Oh, I so totally understand Elaine’s feelings on chopping off her hair. Here I am almost 82 years of age and impatiently waiting for mine to grow out after a very short cut several years ago. Although I received compliments on the short style it just wasn’t me. Also, long hair is so much easier to manage and a softer look for this older face.

  5. I’m 60, have only had my hair cut short once, which when I was about 10 years old and I hated it because I was often mistaken for a boy! Now I’m trying to pluck up the courage to have it cut and donated to a cancer charity next summer – apparently grey wigs are much in demand – not sure if I have the balls to do it though.

  6. Im wondering when it became the ‘norm’ for older women to cut their hair short. In all fairytales, the older grandmothers all wear their grey hair long and in a bun. When did it change? The worst is when older women get their hair cut short and then feel the need to get that short hair permed!!! What’s going on there?? I guess getting the hair cut is almost a symbollic reference to de-sexualising, in this context.
    The only thing I can see as I get older and my hair is showing some grey is that the grey hair is more wiry and also my hair seems to be thinning. But this is not a reason to get it cut short!

  7. I too had my hair cut very short 4 years ago. It was very stylish but I hated it. I hated the feel of the bristly hedgehog living on the back of my head, it was painful when I laid in bed. I felt stripped of my femininity. Strange as I’ve never been a person for fashion, make-up etc. to any great degree.

    Now my hair is shoulder length and I love running my fingers through it. I can’t wear any sort of band or clip as putting it up or back gives me a headache so I’ll just have to let my locks flow down my back!

  8. I’m 57 and my hair looks pretty much like the pam lucas pic…….it’s shiny, soft, silver with a little brown, no color put in….i get so many compliments, I never got compliments like that when I paid 200 bucks every couple months for color, highlights all that. Of course I take meticulous care of my skin and enjoy the power of makeup.

  9. Your new ‘do looks great, Elaine. I do admire so many mature women looking great with long hair, & have enjoyed reading the comments above from the long-locked.

    However, at 62 I am one of those who just can’t bear to wear my hair long, so keep it pixie-ish. My overall style is tailored/garconne & my short hair feels like me. I also wear specs, so the glasses+short hair is kind of my “trademark”, if you will. I do often get compliments, so I think it suits me (though…would keep it like this even if no compliments, as I like it!). In terms of sexiness…I’m very busty, with an hourglass figure, so I don’t have to wear my hair long to signal “WOMAN”.

    My hairstyle also feels low maintenance, despite the needed trims ( I go to a local Super Cuts, where cut + nice tip = $20). When I’ve grown out my wayward, wavy ginger hair (last time was in my 40s), I was always lashing it down with combs, bands, clips, etc. Made me realize I was trying to make it feel short…easier just to hack it off!

  10. Elaine’s hair looks wonderful! I have wavy, silver hair past my shoulders. I’m 53 with no plans to ever cut it short!

  11. When I was very young I had cropped hair yet looked ultra feminine with my young and “delicate” face. However, after I reached 50, I realized I actually looked better and more womanly with longer hair. (I had stopped cutting it to save money!)

    Some older women do look great with really short cuts… like Jamie Lee Curtis, Judi Dench and Joan Baez. (Each of these women look very different actually and don’t have the same hair texture either. Why is that?)

    Anyway, I love it that we now have more and more choices, because what works for one, doesn’t for another.

    Clearly Elaine has fabulous hair, for any age… lots of body and some natural wave. What a sweetheart of a son to treat her.

  12. Lovely cut Elaine. I only cut my hair short when I fancy a change, my age has zero to do with it. Although before I started HRT I thought I may have to cut it short to give the appearance of it being thicker. So much was my menopausal hair loss!
    I’m happy to discover that has now reduced by at least half the amount in only 3 weeks.
    So the length stays. For now.

  13. But Theresa, Michel Sapin is bald as a cue ball !
    Never mind. I prefer long hair – especially because you can pin it up a number of ways – but what are those of us with thin, lifeless hair to do but cut it off ?

  14. I have always had short, gamine hairstyles but never felt it detracted from my femininity in any way. Recently, now aged 55 I decided to try and grow it as I felt that maybe I couldn’t pull off the pixie look any longer. My hair is so fine and thin these days though that I am at my wits end with it! It has taken me so long to grow it into a chin length bob, so I’m reluctant to give up now, but I just don’t know if I can be bothered persevering with it any longer. I feel so tempted to just get it cut off again, but I’m worried I’ll regret it as soon as it’s done! Maybe I just need to accept that short hair is more “me” and go for it?

  15. For Jeanne…I say longer thin hair is still better than short thin hair. Take really good care of it, focus on your face, brows, eyes. I have fine hair but lots of it, can’t hold a curl to save my life. I like it long and straight and silky. No such thing as “lifeless” hair. I would rather have thin hair than big fluffy hair, I found that whenever I tried to have a “big hair” look it made my face look fatter and older. And I hate it when hair dressers think they have to make it as full as possible and try to curl it.

  16. Your cut looks fabulous.

    I’d love to have longer hair, but mine is very thin and baby fine, and just goes lank once it’s longer than my chin. There’s no one-cut-fits-all solution, but I think it’s always best to work with the texture/thickness you’ve got, and don’t go overboard trying to perm or style your hair into something it isn’t.

  17. Nice cut! My hair doesn’t have enough texture to keep that style without a lot of fussing with products, a blowdryer, and probably a curling iron, too; layers just lay limp and flat in my hair. So I’ve always liked my hair either super-short, in a boyish pixie cut, or very long, so that it’s easy to put in a variety of braids and buns. At 60, my medium brown is about 30% silver gray with the occasional wiry strand, and I’ve been keeping it very long — between waist-length and hip-length — for the last few years, and really enjoying it; it’s kind of become my signature. When life was super-busy, in my 30s and 40s, my super-short pixie was my signature — that style was truly wash-and-go for me, with the wash only taking a minute. Now that my hair isn’t so oily and I can get away with washing it just twice a week, and I’m not working full-time while raising a child, I don’t mind spending a little time on deep-conditioning it with coconut oil and making sure it dries properly, so that it doesn’t try to turn itself into a giant puffball (it’s only very slightly wavy, but definitely has the frizz potential of curly hair). What I definitely have learned over the years is to work with my hair’s own texture, rather than trying to fight it to achieve a certain style. Really any of the cuts that involve layers that I’ve tried over the years have never worked out well for me! I’m lucky that my gray is coming in fine and silver (it almost looks like highlights, lol) and that the thinning has confined itself mostly to the gray patches, where it’s not really noticeable unless you look for it; I’m happy to avoid the trouble and expense of coloring my hair.

    Where the crazy ‘rule’ that women should cut their hair short after a certain age (40? 50? 60?) came from I don’t know, but it must have been invented in the last hundred years, probably in the last sixty or seventy. It feels like a rule that belongs to the era of weekly beauty-parlor visits, when virtually everyone had a perm and went in to get it set every week. Short hair that’s thin is hard to style in a way that looks good unless it has some curl or texture to it. Of course you can make it stand up with some paste or pomade, but I don’t think that’s the kind of style envisioned by the rule-spouters.

  18. I completely relate to Elaine’s story! Cut mine into a short bob over a year ago. Within a week I pinned it up into a sort of wad in the back until it grew out to an acceptable length. I also feel the loss of femininity with short hair (although I see many women over 50 that look so great with short cool cuts). I think as one ages, short hair looks best on a small face with fine features. Whatever, I’m happy now with my long hair. Learned my lesson!

  19. I’ve had my thin, straight, fine hair short now since I was about 35. I did grow it out once at about 40 but it was lifeless and refused to be styled into the pageboy I coveted, and when I had it cut again everyone said it looked much better and it’s been like that for over 20 years. A good hairdresser, highlights (no grey yet) and a lot of mousse is my answer! Caro, go for whatever makes you feel good.

  20. I have had short hair since I chopped it all off at age 22 in 1981. Funny how short hair is an act of subversion when you’re young, and now women are trying to position long hair as an act of subversion when you’re older.

  21. Hairdressers that cut short hair on mature/older women often create a very precisely formed cut. Nothing soft about it. Run your hands through and it spikes. I,too, am growing my hair out. It’s almost chin length now. I want a softer look that frames my face. I want to be able to run my fingers through and have my naturally wavy hair fall into place softly around my face. Low maintenance is also a high priority. Ability to pull it all back or put it behind my ears when preferred is also key Your new cut is soft and it can be pulled back, placed behind the ears or be worn with a headband. I’d try a few different styles. Seems flexible.
    I bet you can run your fingers through and it all falls nicely into place. This is my ultimate test. Susan

  22. I can’t wear long hair as my hair is so fine and just one puff of wind makes me look like I’ve been through a hedge backwards! Also I have small features and I am petite so long hair drags my features down and ‘drowns’ me. At the moment, I have a jaw length softly layered bob with an angled long side fridge which I can style in various ways; I love showing off my earrings with hair either brushed off my face or tucked behind my ears. My hair is blond but beginning to go grey. Each to their own!

  23. I am 51 and my hair length has varied all my life between ears and shoulders. However, I found maintenance of longer hair very difficult, as I do not like any tails or knots. Most women I know with longer hair wear it only one in ten times open. As all of them admire my short hair I asked them, why they wear longer hair, and all of them told me because of maintenance, not because of feminity.
    In fact I feel more modern, more woman and more visible and different with shorter hair – it’s no matter of age, but of personality.

  24. After twelve years with a blonde chin length bob, I am now silver and spikey. I loved the bob and I love the pixie……sometimes it’s just time for a change. I’ve never had really long hair…..it just doesn’t do it for me, but I think the most important thing to remember is that whatever style you choose, it should make you feel really good. The idea that certain styles or colours should be worn by certain age groups no longer seems relevant to the lives we live now……..do your own thing ladies. Incidentally I’ve always fancied long red curly hair…. a bit like a Burne-Jones portrait, but in my case it’s a little like longing to be tall and willowy when you stopped growing at 5ft 3ins!!! It just doesn’t work!

  25. I now want to see photos of all of you!
    I have shoulder length hair and my indulgence is going to a very trendy Brick Lane hairdresser to get it cut and coloured. Hair, eye-brows (threaded) and teeth (whitened professionally) are the three beauty things that have the power to take years off you, imo, without resorting to injections or worse.

  26. I am 62 years old with very curly hair…I usually keep it chin length, but decided for a change and started to grow it out… I am battling thinning hair and all the things that come with that past 60 thing… But you know what … I am loving it! .I wear it frizzy, curly or straight and in a ponytail, my hair now reminds me of my younger self when in college and my friends called likened me to Angela Davis. I have a little more pep in my step…My hair doesn’t define me…I define my hair it’s all about the attitude… Your hair looks wonderful by the way…

  27. Jeanne,

    I’m hysterical here…I cut and pasted because I wasn’t sure of spelling of her French name…cut and pasted without realizing.
    Yikes..thanks so much…..I meant Christine Lagarde.
    Both might not like my error.

  28. I’m with you Elaine, love your cut and length. I’m 66, have fine blonde hair but since I was 55 have spent a fortune having extensions to thicken up my hair, I get comments often, I love it and its so easy to maintain!

  29. Hmmm, always love reading articulate comments from women at my age (58 1/2). I too have spent much of my life catering to my petite, delicate frame and features, and having easy, short, precision-cut hair. And 6 months ago, I realised how much I wanted to run my fingers through my hair, and feel length and texture and softness and, for me, femininity. Haven’t made it terribly far in my quest; however, my growing-out style (probably 60% grey now) has received the most compliments I’ve ever had with regard to my hair!! I’m loving it — I feel decidedly feminine, so very comfortable in how I look, and the feeling of this hair is amazing… My only piece of advice: do what makes you feel the best YOU.

  30. I have very short afro hair. I loved the idea of long hair when I was little, (put a towel on my head to swish about in). I got extensions in my 30’s and the first thing I did was to tie the damn stuff back………..it drove me mad!
    The very perkiest and sexiest I feel is when I get a number 2 clipper cut………….I don’t know why, everything is exposed, I can’t hide anything, but I always feel so
    confident and sassy, (it does help that I have a decent shaped head).
    I take care of my hair, but I don’t have the whole salon, expensive hair products, lengthy preparation experience. The most time I’ve spent on my hair is when I was a student and I used to go to the training school at Vidal Sassons (?) in Leeds. The students had to do a black (afro) hair module and loved me because I never did anything to it, no relaxer/straighteners/chemicals……….so I got a superb scissor cut that took up to 2 hours, then a tutor would come and rub my head to make sure it was the same length all over……….hands down the best hair cuts I’ve ever had.
    Now I go to mens barbers because they are used to using clippers…………no glam saloon for me, when I was it, it’s dried in about 5 minutes and I don’t have to think about it!

  31. At 57, I’ve now been growing my hair now for 18 months, I did have short hair/pixie cut for 30 years !! I’m enjoying trying some different hairstyles, some silvery highlights sprinkled through. I say do what pleases you, regardless of your age.

  32. I have sticky out ears. My longish hair covers up that fact and so will stay. My sister has flat tiny ears and boasts a pixie like gamine cut. If she had my ears she wouldn’t do that. I’ve been short, long, dark, blonde over the years. At 51 mid length, mid blonde is where I feel good.

  33. I think the trend for “mature” women to cut their hair short came with the onset of perms. When I turn 40, my darling mother-in-law said to me “well it’s time for you to get your hair cut short now, no more long hair” I’ve had my hair cut short 3 times that I remember. I didn’t recognize myself, it wasn’t me. I’m 68 and I wear my long hair up in a clip, in a ponytail, or down. My hair, my time.

  34. I have very thick long hair smattered with a grey hair or two. I will not dye it, never have. I always get complimented on my hair but I have a love/hate relationship with it.

    I have no skills whatsoever when it comes to hair so it gets tied up a lot. This is where I wished I had short hair.

    But I don’t think I will ever chop it off. Maybe.

  35. Each to her own. The suggestion that short hair is somehow less ‘powerful’ or feminine is ridiculous and antiquated. Some women look and feel great with long hair; others prefer short. Some dye; some wear their grey with pride. We should all feel completely entitled to wear our hair the way that makes us feel best, regardless of what’s in fashion or considered appropriate.

    1. Oh Tiffany, you’ve said just what I attempted and wanted to say but with more brevity, elegance and style. Wouldn’t mind betting that goes for your personal style too. Thanks for saying what you did so well. End of …

  36. I had my hair cut short while making the transition to gray a few years back, which led to power struggles with various hairdressers until I got up the courage to cut it myself. Freedom!

    I do wonder if cutters simply don’t put as much thought into a style for an older customer – time after time I ended up with some version of a pixie (I now call it a damn-pixie) no matter what was discussed. I started growing out the white top into a recognisable shape, Sassoonish, and every once in a while bound it up in a hairband and buzz-cut the dark back to just over 1/2″. I trim the top frequently in small increments, so can’t go too wrong.

    I enjoyed my long hair but felt it said ‘saving money’. Now my hair is just me.

  37. I feel most sexy and womanly with short hair as I know it’s what suits me best and makes me feel confident. My husband also loves it. Bar a couple if flirtations with long it’s been short all my life and will probably stay that way.

    If long hair makes you feel Great then more power to you but please enough with the generalisations that long hair is this or short hair is that, I thought we’d moved past that!

  38. Any recommendations for a deep conditioning treatment as my hair is super dry? Philip Kingsley’s Elasticizer?

    1. One way I keep my below-waist-length hair moisturized is by using plain coconut oil from the grocery store as a pre-shampoo deep conditioner. I tie it up under a couple of plastic bags and leave it on for a couple of hours. I don’t have any difficulty washing it out, although I’ve heard some people have difficulty with that. Other good deep conditioners I use are Living Proof Night Cap (put it on the night before), or in-shower I use Living Proof Recovery Restore Mask Treatment or L’Oreal Oleo Therapy Deep Recovery Mask. None of these products are silicone-based as for some reason silicones seem to act as dust magnets on my hair. I haven’t tried the Philip Kingsley product you mention.

  39. My hair was kept short by my mother when I was a child. As a teenager I grew it and then experimented with henna, perms and all kinds of craziness. My worst moment was after applying henna with tinfoil on top of a Barbra Streisand perm which resulted in me looking as though I was about to audition for the title role of ‘Annie’ for the next 6 months! Luckily, I was a scrub nurse in theatre at the time, so could hide under a theatre mob cap in daylight hours!
    Hormones have always been the bane of my life, and all my lustrous locks fell out post baby no1. Cue the urchin look, a gamine crop that I have returned to in moments of rebellion ever since, the last time whilst touring South Island New Zealand in a motorhome; the daily hair wash was so much easier with 2″ hair!!
    Now, I am growing up (61) and grey, with baby-fine hair, but loving having the length that allows me to wear it loose, or up in a ponytail/bun. I know the importance of keeping it well cut, and maintain this on a monthly basis, usually at home in the bathroom….and to have my cock-ups remedied by Denise my faithful hairdresser every 4 months!
    My hair will never be as long and luxurious as yours Elaine, but it will be long(ish) and fun!

  40. At the elevated age of 59 I am growing my hair for the first time ever. I have had every style in the book – hyper short, bobs, spiky, shaggy etc. and I am sick of the hair battle. I no longer suit floppy hair all around my face (I tend to look like I have escaped the asylum) and so I am growing my (growing in grey) hair long so that I can hopefully do elegant, messy up-do’s. Natural colour, natural style – let’s home my master plan works out!

    Little Brown Bird: I have success with coconut oil – not very chi-chi but it works.

  41. Long hair suits some women, whether they’re 16 or 60 plus… short hair suits some women, whether they are 16 or 60 plus. I’ve worn mine both ways since turning 50 two decades ago. My only word of warning for older women with long hair is ‘beware the hag look’, but long locks do suit some well.

  42. We should have our hair the way it suits us, regardless of age. I could never wear my hair short, the one time I did I hated it. I have seen women with short cuts that looked really good, a chin length bob on straight silvery hair is very chic, and still feminine.
    I now keep my grey hair about collar-bone length, my husband cuts it, after my local hairdresser closed his salon, and I’m very happy with it, in fact it’s much better than when it was professionaly cut ! And it’s free !
    But never give in to be “sensible ” and cut our hair short after a certain age, most women actually look older when they do, only those with a great bone structure look good. Having said that, if mine starts to grow to my shoulders it doesn’t feel quite right.

  43. Little Brown Bird,

    The best advice I ever read about dry hair is…and I do it and it works.
    It was in some book about tips after 50..
    Anyway, I wash my hair every two or three days. I used to wash it daily…a big mistake.
    So now when I wash it every 2 or 3 days…I towel it dry for just 2 minutes…and wait another 3 minutes.
    Then I get my spritzer bottle…bought empty one at some discount store or wherever, filled it with lukewarm water…and mix a few drops of olive oil….shake the bottle and lightly spray it over my whole head of hair…let it dry….wonders. The bottle of water and oil
    can be used for as long as you want to..until you refresh it…You will begin to know the ratio that is needed for hair…..Hair is hardly ever as that dry it used to be….and Olive Oil is natural. Hope this helps.

  44. of course! everybody should wear their hair as they please or as it suits them / their hair.
    sadly, those things don’t always see eye to eye. i see lots of women with ‘feminin’ long hair that just looks terrible: plain dowdy, dyed to death, way too thin, forever restrained into a silly bun or girlish ponytail etc. etc.. long hair may seem to be low maintenance, but usually it needs some grooming to look good.
    and yes, many (older) women with short hair look as if they’ve just given up on themselves, or lack the power to stand up against their over-zealous hairdresser. a real pity, that.
    i’ve always been a low-maintenance hairlength yoyo-er myself: i like pixiecuts, i like a nostalgic bob, i like long hair – and i love a drastic change every now and then. because that’s the wonderful thing about hair: it grows back! though i must admit that, at 59, my hair is getting rather too thin to wear it long. i’d love to have a pam lucas-like plait some day, but i don’t think that’s in the cards for me anymore. sigh…
    ah well, whatever the length, a good haircut is a great pick-me-up.

    1. I have shoulder length hair but like the look of Hersheson’s clip in ponytails, some of which can be plaited. It’ll give the look of very long hair without the faff of actually having it.

  45. Linda, thanks. I agree with your take on big hair. But all hairdressers, all my life, agree that my face wants short hair. Maybe after I stop dyeing and go naturally gray…

  46. You look great! I have longish hair as well and am low maintenance. However, I can’t stand to have my hair in my face so I almost always wear it pulled back which sometimes makes me think I should just cut it. Then I think about bangs – maybe that’s the answer. This is just another post in support of getting rid of those “What to wear at this age” stories in mags and blogs written by 25 year olds that I hate every time I see them. Rapunzel-on!

  47. Your hair is beautiful. I will keep my hair longish (ie just below shoulder) as long as possible. Love long hair on women and men, of all ages.

  48. long hair can be lovely–at any age. I wear mine extremely short because it’s so thick and unruly. I also quit dyeing my hair when I was about 56–it’s completely silver.

  49. Cut my long hair at age 13, shaved it for four years (during what my mum called the ‘rebellious years’), tried growing it past my shoulders again since then and not been able to, my hair seems to get to just above shoulder length and – stop. Whether I go to have it trimmed regularly or not. So, I alternate between a short bob and a crop. Like them both and they seem to suit my petite features. I also have both masculine and feminine clothes and with the short hair I still feel feminine in both styles.

  50. Wow! A woman’s hair is obviously a hot button issue with all the comments offered. Not in a negative way, mind you, yet it illustrates how important a woman’s hair is to her. Mostly I find within the comments is how it defines her femininity. Men are the same, I suppose. I am sure for them it must define their virility as they hate going bald and except for a very few go to great lengths (no pun intended) to hide it. I would love to see an in depth musing about hair both historically, psychologically and philosophically with some wit and charm mixed in.

  51. I wear my hair short and love it. I’ve tried to grow it out but feel it drags me down. So for myself, a short style is best. I believe a small, feminine face is what helps me pull off this look so successfully. I love to play with different styles and shapes with gentle highlights. When my hair is totally silver/grey, I will go natural. Having said that, long hair better suits many ladies. As we are not a one size fits all society, nor is our hair.

  52. The ‘older, shorter’ rule is an ancient one. Hair is a secondary sexual characteristic and long, lustrous locks are a sign of burgeoning fertility. Stands to reason then, that until relatively recently, in many societies including ours, the convention for older women (and nuns!) was to either cut their hair or keep it neat in rolls and buns. Well thankfully, we’ve moved on from all that. Nothing to stop us flaunting a thick and glossy mane now……except 50+ hair isn’t always that. Once oestrogen leaves the house, hair literally loses weight – each strand becomes thinner. Then there’s the awful fear of hair loss through illness, medication or stress for example. It does seem unfair that at a time when we might feel our femininity is on the line, our crowning glory – one of the first thing people notice when they see us – bloody lets us down. Personally, I think it’s best to keep skinny hair relatively short: it’s bouncier and less likely to show gaps and patches. A great cut beats draggy, straggly, give-away hair any day of the week. And it’s easier to control. Having said all that, Elaine’s look has made me seriously envious. Long may it remain lustrous! By the way, I’ve recently been hitting the hair powder to give mine a bit of a bouff. Rahua (one of those Rain Forest brands) do a really fine one that doesn’t make hair dull.

  53. @sford @sharon I can really relate to both your comments! I too cut my extremely long hair when I was about the same age as you…after all I was a punk. But I have never been able to grow it long again since. Like you it gets to a certain length and just seems to stop! I also love Vidal Sassoon cuts. The salon I go to these days is not too far from Leeds (Circle of Friends in Hebden Bridge). All the stylists are VS trained and met when they worked together. Eventually they opened their own salon and so bring all that styling expertise….it often takes around an hour and a half to cut my hair. Reading everyone’s comments has just about convinced me to go short again; I am petite with a small face and have always been told it suits me.

  54. One hairstyle consideration often overlooked: body shape. In the hairdresser’s chair, we’re seen only only from the chest up. Yet a hairstyle should work with in total silhouette, too. I often see women who, like me, have thickened with age and choose a pixie cut. It looks cute in the salon mirror but overall gives an unfortunate pinhead effect. Best to study in a full-length mirror when choosing longer or shorter. I always ask my stylist to consider my hair while I stand in street clothes, then I put on a robe. Too easy to get carried away with the scissors in the chair.

  55. I have found all the comments illuminating as to about how our hair is so important to our basic self. I am short, just over 5 feet and usually size 8 or under, my hair is grey almost white, I’m 72 and keep my hair short and sharp but change the style within that remit. I have it cut every three weeks and by the time for that cut arrives I’m starting to feel old on looking in the mirror, I am not me. The great thing is that we are not all the same nor should we be ~ most of my friends colour their hair and why should they not ~ a few of my friends have long hair and why should they not. The main thing is go for a cut that suits your style, personality, life style and most importantly who you are and blow everyone else. My husband has just said the style you choose reflects who you are or maybe reflects who would like to be ~ aspirational perhaps. He could be right!

  56. We’re all different. Long hair didn’t suit me when I was 18, it most certainly wouldn’t now. My hair is very thick and is now silver, I like the elegance and stylishness of a precision cut on me, just as much as I like long hair on other women. Yesterday I had lunch with a friend who has a pixie cut and is currently growing out the dye that veils her snow white hair. Her white crew cut is going to look stunning.

    I think Mr Jennifer is spot on. We should all wear whatever suits us and makes us feel good and to hell with what anyone else thinks. I hate prescriptive views that try to dictate what other people should do.

  57. Has anyone any advice on what to do about hair loss? My hair was my best feature when I was younger but now I’ve reached my 60s it is getting very thin on top. My mother had same problem and i used to dread inheriting that gene and it looks like I have. I find it terribly demoralising. I love to keep reasonably stylish (I think!) and take care of my skin and makeup. But this just makes me feel defeated. I especially hate it when I see myself with lighting from above – as often found in the ladies of restaurants etc. It makes the thinness very obvious – I can see my scalp. I think this is the most upsetting part of aging for me – worse than the thickening waistline even! When I see older women with even less hair I hate to contemplate what might be like in a few years.

    1. I’m not sure if it’s possible but I’d ask my GP for a referral to a trichologist, for a proper investigation of what’s causing it and some appropriate treatment, as it’s obviously of concern to you or perhaps try the Institute of Trichologists to find an appropriate specialist.


      1. Thanks for suggestion. I don’t think my GP would be particularly useful. Sympathetic probably but these days there are limits on what conditions they can refer for and I’m sure this wouldn’t be seen as a priority. I’ll look into seeing someone independently though. I’ve started using Regaine but apparently it takes three months of assiduous daily use to start to see if it’s having any impact. Fingers crossed.

      2. What about Rogaine (Minoxidal I think is the drug’s name ) for women? It’s otc now.
        I’m thinking of it myself for just the same top thinness you describe here.
        A friend with severe overall genetic hair-loss has been using it for years.
        No ill effects and it resored her hairline. Not exactly bouncy waves but good solid hair growth that makes quite a difference in how she looks.

  58. I think we need some new ideas for what constitutes post-menopausal femininity. If long hair and generally looking like you can still bear a child is it, count me out. I’ve got other things to do with the rest of my time.

  59. Wow, so many comments! I am 57 and also low-maintenance (cut it myself, let the natural silver highlights alone) so love to see other women who share my predilection for simplicity and radical acceptance!

  60. To Alex, I am having the same issue with thinning hair. Mine is totally genetic. I’ve tried lots of products. After much research, I don’t think there is anything to reverse this genetic issue. Yes, it’s a major bummer! I’ve lost sleep over it. Like you, I dread overhead lighting! Hair is such an important part of our appearance. First step is to find someone who will work with you to find a flattering hairstyle. A good hairstyle is essential. And it’s unlikely to be a long style. For me, it’s an ultra short pixie. I have found that this cut is flattering for my face shape and features and it minimizes the appearance of thin hair. My hair is mostly grey, and the greyer it gets, the less contrast there is with my scalp, so it looks thicker than when dying it my former dark brown. For me, this works well. I see lots of women with very thin hair and I find that the ones who look best wear clothes and accessories that draw the eye to their face, for example by wearing colors that compliment their eye color, brighter lipstick, open necklines with turned up collar. The eye immediately goes to other lovely aspects of their appearance, whether it’s a pair of earrings or a great shade of lipstick. Hold your head high (confidence is a big part of beauty) and good luck!

  61. I just cut my hair and love it, but like you I found many of my clothes suddenly was wrong. It seems I have steared away from feminine pieces with my long hair trying to look å little more edgy and less classy. With my hair short I found that i can pulk off all sorts of laces etc. without looking to sweet.

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