Bangs Or Not : From Ellen Barkin to Donald Trump

This is a post that could have probably stayed in draft mode forever. But it didn’t.

Yesterday evening I decided is was hair salon time. It’s always salon “annekata”, because I don’t like proper haircuts, which I’ve talked about before.

I think haircuts are a lot like shoes in the sense that one is always on the lookout for the perfect pair. One that will be comfortable and stylish at the same time and go with everything from jeans to summer dresses. However, the perfect pair doesn’t exist and that’s why I own many shoes, most of which lead a totally sedentary life in my closet.

With hair, it’s much the same. I’m always looking for the “perfect cut”. The one that fits my face, reflects how I feel and is unfussy. I’ve been wearing some kind of a bob since my 20’s, but now it is more layered and not the Louise Brooks type that I favored at the time. But even with layers, I’m afraid that a bob might be a too childish haircut for me, especially with my greys coming in.

Here’s the question: Shall I grow out the bangs, will grey bangs look cool, or just plain ridiculous? Should I dip dye them green when the time comes?

Getting older has its challenges and there seems to be two ways of going about it. First there is the “I ignore my age and dress and style myself the exact way I did when I was 30″ or “I re-invent myself and dress myself entirely different to reflect the older me”. I guess I’m somewhere in between.

Have you ever changed your hair style dramatically and has your age something to do with it? Do you wear bangs now and haven’t before? Bangs are supposed to make one look younger, isn’t that true?

Isn’t it interesting how much hair has to do with how we feel? After all,  graying hair make us aware of the passing of time. And besides, one can think perfectly well about the world economy in the morning and wonder about (grey) bangs in the evening.

Of course, the French are exempt from getting old, I think they become timeless and seamlessly transition to icons of style. Look at Isabelle Huppert on the left, without and with bangs. I think she’s in her late 50’s in these images. Same for Ellen Barkin, who is not French, but whose wonderfully crooked smile I’ve loved ever since “Diner“. I’d say no to bangs for either of them.
Women seem to constantly change their hair style, even if just a little. They part their hair right, left or in the middle. Last year, Radiolab broadcast an interesting episode “Desperately Seeking Symmetry“. It included the feature  “Mirror Mirror” about mirror images and right handed and left handed molecules. A sweet man named John Walter explains how changing the part in his hair subsequently changed his life. It was intriguing and prompted me for the first time in my adult life to change the part in my hair from left to right for three months. My life didn’t change, so I changed it back.

Men don’t seem to experiment much with their hair except maybe Brad Pitt and Donald Trump. Most of them seem to adopt a hairstyle and then keep it for the rest of their lives (until it falls out).

What do you think? Bangs or no bangs or long bangs, that is the question (but only for today).

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14 Responses to “Bangs Or Not : From Ellen Barkin to Donald Trump”

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  1. Vicki says:

    This is a tough one. Neither of those ladies are really suited to bangs, I’d have to agree. But it can look really good! I can’t wear them, unfortunately, because of my over-exaggerated cowlicks. And I’ve been rockin’ the bob off and on since my freshman year of college. I’ve gone from mid-back waves to a full-on pixie cut probably 3 times in between. The process of the grow-out is kind of fun! But I’ve had a layered bob for a couple years now and feel like I’m settling in to it for a while. I don’t think it’s too young… and I’m coming up on 45 this summer. It makes me feel French/classy/timeless – even when it’s messy! and I can dress it up silent film star-ish for dressy occassions.

    The best thing about hair – it just keeps growing. So – I think – try bangs! If you hate them, make a nice new hat! (Not the Alabama bucket one. *shudder*) heehee!

    Good luck.

  2. frifris says:

    Oh, this is an interesting post (well, hair – I guess this will always be an interesting topic for women).

    For some strange reason I’ve let my hair grow for the past half a year – it hasn’t been this long in nearly 20 years. Now it’s almost a bob… I usually wear a pixie, twice a year cut at a proper hairdresser’s, the rest of the year I used to cut it myself (as soon as I felt wearing a cap might be necessary on a daily basis). Boy, I never got so many so completely contradictory opinions (unasked for) on my hair before than in the past half year. Obviously an emotional topic for others as well :)
    Well, it must have to do something with age, I’ve never felt the need to let it grow in the past twenty years at all, and actually I believe it looks much better on me short (I’ve got a lot of hair, and I’m very short – my hair looks like something that even the Beatles wouldn’t have wanted to wear). I’m suspicious there might be thoughts of the “this is the one and only time I’m ever going to wear it longer again – I better do it now, it’ll look ridiculous soon” – kind involved. Well, I guess I’ll turn forty with this longer hair now.
    After more than twenty years I recently found three High School friends again that I hadn’t been in contact with since then, and my hair now looks nearly exactly the way it did then. We exchanged old and new photos, and the fact of the hair actually made me laugh.
    Strange: I’ve always parted my daughters’ hair in the middle (not a straight line, just the way it was brushed), and my sons hair on his right – not really consciously. I wonder why? And will this determine the course of their lives?

    I’m getting carried away here… you asked about YOUR hair.
    I don’t think a bob only looks good on younger people or that it looks childish. No way.
    Bangs – hm. I guess I don’t like bangs all that much, but I don’t even now why… Then with kids, I like kids’ hair better with bangs.
    I’ll have to wear bangs eventually, because it’s very obvious I must be frowning a lot (unfortunately, this is out of my control ;) Most of the wrinkles I have are all on my forehead, very strange.

    I think with grey hair it depends a lot – if it grows in larger strands, it looks really nice whatever the haircut. With single hairs – no haircut will make a difference ;) So, not to worry. Grey looks sophisticated, matches a lot more colors and looks nicer than dyed hair (I think). Well, easy for me to say.

    Chop it off if you feel like it, it’ll always grow back!

  3. Laura says:

    About the bob, I don’t think it is a childish choice at all! As with anything, it depends on how it’s done and how you carry yourself. I think that as people’s personalities subtly shift over the years, so does their sense of style, so no complete makeover is really necessary, within reason of course.

    And as for the greys, as a 19-year old with grey hair coming in, I would say ignore the fact that you have it! My mother greyed early like me, and she gets compliments on her (fully) grey hair all the time.

  4. Thoma says:

    I had different lengths, sometimes with bangs, sometimes without.
    When I was a little child my hair was very short and in addition with the kneelong “Lederhosen” I was wearing I could make one of my grandmothers no more unhappier than by saying “I’m a boy!” :) when she dreamed of the propper little girls outfit.
    I let it grow till one night as a little schoolgirl I decided it was time to try to cut it by myself. Thinking about the best way to do it even, I made a horstail, made sure it was sitting proper in the middle with all hairs into my hand and then “Cut” – without a mirror of course. After that I went to said grandmother and my mother. The older one nearly fainted, my mother decided she had to do some additional corrections for eqilazation.

    Later in my teens with long hair again I did Judo and struggled with the length of my hair, because it was always in the way while doing fights with the partner. And because of safety instructions you only were allowed of a hair srunchie, no clips to keep the shorter hairs in their place, which made proper looking impossible and with this proper training.
    Some day I decided to cut 20 or 25 cm. Went to the hairdresser, was astonished as one of the girls asked if she could have that cut afterwards and off it went.
    I didn’t have a problem with it, but the world around was very astonished for a moment of shock. I was sad perhaps, because I liked the long hair a lot, but in the comparison which would be more practical the short look won. Later one of my friend’s neighbours thought I was her boyfriend, because I’m 1,83 m, which was long for a girl in those times and with the new short hair…

    So do as you like, you’re never too old for something. I would try it and look if it is my style, if it fits to my features. If it does – super. If not, change it again. If your hair grows good, no problem at all. It’s your head and your life.
    If the change fits to your mood, but not to your features, well that’s another problem.

    By the way, dyeing might offend your healthy hair and might be very unhealthy depending on the type of coulours you use. That’s why they forbid some of the chemicals here in Germany.

  5. I have to laugh about Vicki’s bucket hat comment!
    Except for a little perm action in the 70s and 80s, I have worn bangs most of my life. I recently grew them out to get them out of my face while I dance. My hair is straight and just hangs down. My choices are ponytail or straight down.
    I was a streaky blonde until ten years ago, or so. At that point my blonde darkened and invited grey for an unattractive, mousy mix. I am still a streaky blonde. At 59 years I suppose I should give it up and go grey, but to me, the blonde is still working. (It had better be working, in two hours I have an appointment to have the blonde retouched.)
    Your hair is full of body. You have lots of options. I like the last photo of you with your bangs pulled back.

  6. terif says:

    I’m a fan of short hair, though I alternate through long and short. I think a good short cut looks great on all ages.

    Bangs is another story. Some women, those with very high foreheads, really need them. I think a long, sideswept bang is the most flattering, sort of like the first ellen barkin photo you have up. They work best for people whose hair is not too curly and not too fine, I think.

  7. monika says:

    I think a bob looks fab, no matter your age and I have at one time brought one of your pix to my hair dresser hoping to have what you’ve got… well.. my hair is different, so that didn’t work out.. (how is that for a bit of fan-mail – grins)…

    From a strictly visual standpoint, I think bangs can look good, but it all depends on the rest of your face. Hiding the forehead, it depends how the rest of your features are. I wear glasses and have prominent lips, so I need to open up a bit of skin above the eyebrows to create a balanced picture. In addition, I don’t like hair touching my face, forehead included. However, if you cut bangs, you can always wear a headband to hold them back (try the cut off part of a t-shirt sleeve – they work great ).

    Recently I had a discussion with my husband about looking middle aged and hair styles (hubby is a graphic designer, so we discuss them visual things.. ) We both decided that getting a short cut in your forties will likely mean that you won’t grow your hair again, and if it is a short layered cut then you just automatically look older. I have found myself, that keeping my hair longer on the side of my face, yet above the shoulders makes me look younger.

    I have a beautiful neighbour in her mid sixties, a greek lady, that wears her straight fully grey hair below here shoulders and she looks stunning. It’s straight in the back, with just a few shorter layers in the back. I’ve got a lot of grey on top, especially right where I part my hair – in addition, my hair changed from my pride and joy naturally wavy locks through pregnancy to a much more frizzy style and even 8 years after giving birth, it has never fully retained its curls. Although seeing a wonderful hair stylist has done wonders in bringing some back. But now the grey hair. I’m lazy in dying it, and can’t afford monthly visits to the hair saloon. But when I do dye it, I always feel so much more attractive, younger, more lively, self-confident, etc. etc…. so I do dye it. I figure when I’m in my late 50’s, I’ll have plenty of time to become the older distinguished grey-headed lady…

    I’m with the others.. if you cut the bangs.. you can always grow them back.. Looking forward to seeing the pix with your decision…

  8. monika says:

    oops… sorry the last paragraph should read that ” she keeps a few shorter bits in the front around the face”..

  9. helen salo says:

    The best style is the one you feel the most comfortable with. I myself prefer bangs, (I think make me look younger and not so drawn) as for color, if one does dye it, I heard to try to get the color you were born with to look the most natural and younger. Even if your hair color has naturally changed over the years, i.e. born blonde, turned light brownish, dye it blonde. It all grows out eventually. Unfortunately hair seems to be something that when we grow tired of it, we generally want it changed, NOW! And then live with the consequences. ha!

  10. Debbie says:

    I quit getting my hair cut about a year and a half ago. One of the luxeries I decided I could do without, especially since I don’t like paying someone to do something that I wind up not liking anyway. I was just thinking yesterday that this is the first time in my life I haven’t had bangs. Well, at least since I was 2. I was very annoyed with hair in my face during the growing out, but now they are long enough to go into the pony tail, mostly. I think your hair will look best however you are most confident with it. Most people can carry off any look they want with self confidence and a nice personality.

  11. I think bangs are supposed to make one look younger just because it is fashionable.
    But just changing your hair cut makes you younger too.
    It works as well if you just part your hair from right to left or left to right. It changes your face.

    Changing makes you look younger.

  12. chris says:

    Turning 48 next week, and just cut longish heavy bangs into my long brunette hair (dyed grey hair). My teenage kids say I look much younger, my forehead can skip the Botox, and I’m feeling very Caroline De Maigret. I say go for it!

  13. edith says:

    It is strange… it was around May, and I see that all comments were written in that time, when I asked myself if I should go with bangs or if I should bite into the sour apple and let them grow out… which is really an unflattering experience as I remember from the past. Long bangs – still ok, and then they hang into my eyes, I put them to the right side, they fall back, I keep them on the other side, they don’t stay there either. I glue them with spray.
    My hair is really straight. Thin. It grows slow.
    Most of the hairdressers suggested that I should wear bangs, this is now — how long? More than 40 years. I am 52 now. I had bangs, no bangs, bangs, no bangs…. ok, you get the picture.

    I like symmetry and I think that bangs are looking good. I just had them for so long. I know the good times and the bad times, they don’t come with surprises. I do not want to look childish or younger and do not want to pretend.
    So, back in May I decided to cut bangs and layer the back.

    Today I found your blog and cannot else but laugh, I read through all the posts, and thank you for all the posts, I enjoyed reading them, however, this is the same dilemma: i am sitting here with my too long bangs, not looking good, too short to tuck behind the ear, too long to be chique …. have to choose again, bangs or no bangs. I look at the pictures of the ladies, and I do not feel convinced. I will try to grow them out, really hang in this time.. :)

  14. kathrin says:

    I am in the same boat right now. Bangs hanging in my eyes and not in the stylish chic way like Binoche or Alexa Chung would wear them, glossy and all. I wonder what to do with them and have wondered all my life. I think long bangs are best and I just read in the British Vogue that cutting your hair with kitchen scissors is not only OK, but “on vogue”. It gives the hair that “no-cut” look. I might be in style for the month of November, who knew? Thanks so much for your comment.

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