I feel small most of the time, Thumbelina small and shabby, and sore thumb out of place where I am. At work especially, which is exactly where I want to be. Here, there are very few titans — industry-shakers, fire-bearers — that I am calm enough to speak to without lisping and stuttering into strange sharp silence. Jane is one of them. Rodney Cutler is another.
Yesterday, Rodney walked his sunshiny self into the Time Inc. offices and I shot straight up to my full five foot four-ish inches when Marci pointed him out. He is one of the loveliest people I've ever met and that is why I haven't been to see him since January.
You see, I'm currently a bit of a slapdash wreck, top-of-the-head-wise. I'm growing out a mess of curls and I'm at the hedgehog stage that cornsilk straight-haired white girls never seem to struggle through. That is to say, all around my head I'm sprouting curls in patches. I am resolved to grow this mop out past my earlobes and this conviction necessitates several months during which I will not look polished or sleek like a Time Inc. editor wrapped in a bow and softly diffused with inner light.
A cursory glance at my spiky baby mullet and the words that come to mind are: “Dragon Ball Z Villain,” or “street urchin,” or “edgiest member of a shopping mall boy band.”
It's really quite tragic. (Google “pixie cut mullet stage” — which is almost exclusively white women so slap texture on top of their messes — if you don’t believe me.) It's really worlds away from how I'd like to look.
When I feel Thumbelina-small and want to shrink even smaller, down to such a size that my scuffed shoes and scruffy neck aren't visible, my first impulse is to be sullen. I'm not cool enough to not care — to skate through my days insouciant and indifferent — but sullen is a close second. (Sullen is the teenybopper little sister of cavalier. She pouts instead of scowls. She cannot waltz into work with a baby mullet.)
I can't not care because I work in a shiny citadel of an office. I can't sulk and throw gel at the problem and hope it sorts itself out.
This is so very much the long haul.
And, beyond practicality and career focus and camouflage, I suppose I want to feel beautiful. The last lines of “Reading a Science Article on the Airplane to JFK” from Bianca Stone's infinitely instagrammable Someone Else’s Wedding Vows is lit up inside me, earnestly in neon and bright beneath the sullen.
You get it.
I'm a sucker for aesthetics and I'm not ashamed to be unabashedly in love with prettiness especially since a dear poet friend of mine told me that a love of beauty is almost mystic in its purity and one ought not ever to feel shallow for an ardent devotion to adornment. It is the highest form of presence in the self.
And, in the natural progression of things, mysticism brings me to headbands!
As you can see — or maybe you can't, I'm not sure. I don't model well, even with the wonderful tripod Dan got us, and I think I'm not really emoting anything other than "face," and perhaps "vacant," but that's okay because I've done the accessories justice so ignore me and look at these headbands — headbands make me feel fucking cool.
Brain-freeze cool. Teeth-achingly cool. There is, I’m convinced, a style of headband to match any hairstyle a longhaired person could imagine. Headbands are about agency. With them, I am cultivating looks (which is my third favorite thing in the world to do) instead of just enduring my hair or having my hair happen to me.
There are three variations currently keeping my hedgehog spiky tufts tamped down. If you’re in the midst of pixie cut baby mullet desperation, embrace the headband. Worship at the altar of the headband. Start here.
The Almost-Head-Wrap Headband
This is my favorite headband style (and I probably should have saved it for last, but whatever, I didn’t.) because they require absolutely no effort and offer the most coverage. Slip it on and you’re good to go to work or “on holiday” or for a convertible ride along some coastline or anything effortlessly glamorous. They're an on-purpose look. They do not shout from above your ears, "I KNOW IT LOOKS LIKE I MAYBE HAVE MANGE BUT I PROMISE I DON'T HAVE MANGE!!!"
I especially love this batch from Anthropologie because they're all the same shape and once I find something I like, I dig in my heels and refuse to accept any kind of change (plus, my head is really large and a lot of headbands are just too small and they squeeze and make me feel claustrophobic in my skull).
The Subtle Jeweled Necklace-for-Your-Head Headband
Marci recently remarked, when I was wearing one of the Anthropologie almost-head-wrap headbands, that I looked ready to attend a sock hop. We were heading into a meeting — not a sock hop — and I came to understand that floral cloth is a bit too casual for most offices (but I’m wearing one today so whatever).
When you can’t go big, a thin-jeweled necklace-for-your-head headband — while not really obscuring awkward post-pixie side-growth — can interrupt the flow of your hair's jagged edges and make it appear less fluffy and haphazard.
Unlike the first style, you can’t just throw one of these on and rush out the door. They require a bit more patience — arranging the undergrowth of your once-pixie-cut just so — and "styling," but the overall effect is still significantly better than that of a band-less head.
The "Bow Down, I'm Making a Statement" Piece
If you are wearing a goddamn horn crown, no one is going to be looking at your rough edges. Everyone is going to look at your goddamn crown. This one by Pluie is probably more accurately categorized as a circlet, but any time you gild your brow with gold, you’re basically wearing a crown, right?
Pluie is one of my favorite, aspirational (read: as soon as my meager tax return comes through I’ll be buying one of these for keeps, but until then, I’m frantically adding everything for sale on their site to my Google Chrome bookmarks) hair accessories brands. I love an antler in brass, I love the embodiment of cervine, and I can’t wait until I have enough hair to sweep up into their clasps. Until then, there is the horn crown.
One might think (I certainly did) that in order to pull off a crown, you need enough hair for it to kind of nest in. This is not the case. In fact, I think shorter hair is ideal for this kind of look. With short hair, there’s nothing for the crown — forgive me, circlet — to get lost in. While the previous two styles are great for everyday wear, if you’re going out and want to step up your look, but can’t make an up-do happen, a crown is a perfectly elegant solution. I’d rather wear a crown than a chignon, wouldn’t you?