I thought it high time my grandma styled my hair. My grandmother is a lady who always puts visible effort into her aesthetic. So As a child, I would often stay over at my grandparents' house; and during the morning afterwards, my grandma would brush my hair and transform it from an unruly bird's nest into a prim, classic style.
As a "grown up" of sorts who works from home, I only make an effort with my hair these days when I'm going somewhere special. So when my grandma sees me during the week and my hair is looking like a cross between a cockatoo and a yellow hedge, I get the vibe that she either wishes I made more of an effort with myself or that she wishes she could get her hands on my mane. It's not that she's judging me for being "unkempt" or hoping I could be more ladylike. It's just that back in her time, things were different. Women always had to look made-up and dress as well as they were able to. And she's carried that pride in her appearance with her.
So for all of the times I've showed up on my grandma's doorstep looking like a walking haystack, I decided I owed her one. I let my grandma do my hair, and here's what happened.
When I arrived at my grandparents' house, I was wearing my hair down with a clip in the back in order to keep it off my face. I was very excited as to what my grandma would do to my long, blonde locks.
Step 1: Heated Rollers
My grandma had expressed a desire that we start by curling my hair, since she wanted to create a glamorous curled coif. We turned on the heated rollers and waited for them to get to their optimal temperature. While we waited, we discussed how when she was younger — she is now almost 80 years old — the trend was to copy the hairstyles of movie stars.
My great-grandmother was a fantastic self-taught seamstress, and she loved to recreate dresses worn in films of the day for my grandma. While wearing these amazing dresses, my grandma liked to style her hair in the exact same way the starlet had worn hers, so her whole look was silver screen inspired.
However, my grandma mentioned that with her hair being naturally curly, it was often difficult to perfectly emulate the starlet's hairstyle to match the dress. She was excited to play with my straight strands and create some kind of Marilyn Monroe ringlet look.
Step 2: A Revised Updo
When the rollers had done their job, we took them out and I was left with curly locks. My grandma tried to continue with the style she had planned, but she was foiled by the thickness of my hair. She was very surprised at how "heavy" it was and realized that the plan she had in mind would not work. Thinking on her feet, she came up with an alternative: A sleek updo.
Step 3: Adding Braids
As I was sat in front of a mirror, I had a rough idea of what my grandma was doing, although I had no clue as to the detail that she was adding into my hairstyle. I did, however, get a small hint when I felt her begin to braid my hair at the nape of my neck. I love braids, so I was really looking forward to seeing the end result.
Step 4: The Finished Bun
After the braiding was complete, we had a quick break while she went to fetch something to add to my new 'do.
I was super impressed with the attention to detail and the generally elegant aesthetic she had created.
I felt like I was ready for anything life wanted to throw at me; whether that be a party, a wedding, or a date with my fiancé.
Step 5: A Stylish Accessory
My grandma came back with a gorgeous, nautical inspired scarf that she proceeded to fold. She instructed me to sit back down again and tied it around my new hairstyle.
I loved how the scarf went seamlessly with my hairstyle. I was very impressed at her quick thinking that led to her coming up with this elaborate 'do, complete with a complementary accessory. It was very different to the initial style she had planned, but it was glorious.
I'm sure it's quite apparent by my cheeky grin that I loved this style. I felt like a blonde, modern-day Audrey Hepburn and I was really impressed with my grandma's creative flair and her ability to come up with a whole new style on the spot. Plus, taking the time to let my grandma style me led to some great conversations about how the times have changed, and what her own styling preferences were like back in the day. As a lover of all things vintage and retro, I enjoyed the history lesson to no end.
I will definitely be asking my grandma to do my hair again. Her hairstyling skills are head and shoulders above my humble talents.
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Images: Phoebe Waller