26 Feb 2018

Going Grey: How To Wear It

Going Grey: How To Style It on vickiarcher.com

How to wear the grey hair?

We have talked the long and the short decision through before and I think it’s simple. Grey hair can be any length you love and any style you want. It is more about personal preference and what suits than anything else. Once the grey is in it’s not entirely set and forget. Grey requires maintenance; not as much as highlights or an all over colour but regular looking after.

My grey is long and I wear it longer now because it is practical for me. It’s past my shoulders and where it will stop I am not sure but it’s enough to tie back, clip up or wear out. I think I have finally reached the point where I am committed to staying grey. It took a few years and even now I still feel somewhat shocked when I see myself in the mirror. That’s probably about more than the grey hair!

What I do want to find are ways to wear the longer length without looking matronly and without looking ridiculous. Hair accessories are more difficult and where once I loved a headband, I am not at all sure now. Too much embellishment in the hair can be a danger zone to tread. Hats and what the English call Fascinators are an entirely different story; those I love.

How to wear the grey?

I remember well the most elegant woman who would visit my fashion shop. ( Many, many years ago before family and life in Europe I had a clothing boutique in Sydney.) She was early 50’s when we first met and I can still see her beautiful hair in my mind. It was mid shoulder length, grey and always clipped back in an immaculate pony tail. I would say to myself when I am older I want to look exactly like her. She had a beautiful style about her, never fussy or complicated but always superbly groomed. Reflecting, I suppose she adopted a French way of thinking when it came to fashion and beauty. Her choices were spare but always of the best quality and she knew exactly what worked for her. In the years I knew her she never changed her hair style.

My routine style is a smooth finish and blunt cut. Leaving it loose is an easy option but I do tire of it sometimes. Lately I have been experimenting with a less than straight look but I’m not sure. I don’t mean curls exactly, more like waves from the chin line down. It’s ok, a little softer and maybe more fashionable, but sometimes it seems to me I look like I haven’t done my hair at all.

I wear a twisted ponytail on top much of the time, so I can see what I am doing, but I wouldn’t say that’s for public consumption. I want to find a style for longer grey hair that works and looks groomed without looking like I’m ageing ahead of my time. My mother always wore a “French Roll” and I loved that but she wasn’t grey. A bun at the nape of my neck doesn’t suit a round face or ageing neckline. I’ve been pinning some up at the sides and leaving the length at the back but my daughter said I look like Suzie Menkes. Was that a compliment or not?

A plait perhaps? I always wore a plait back in the old days but I’m not sure now and although fancy braids are all the fashion in hair right now, I think they are for my girls.

What’s your favourite style for longer grey locks? Do you wear it up or let it down? Are layers the answer? Should we find one style that suits and stay put forever? Let’s talk grey. xv

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50 shades of grey and more  ||  the art of ageing ||  how long is too long

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Taste of France

One of the most elegant women I know has perfectly white hair, worn in an Anna Wintour bob. It frames her face and makes the most of her hair.
Another friend has magnificently thick hair and wears it like the Claire Underwood character. Short in the back, long in the front. It works on her because her hair is so gorgeous.
Helen Mirren’s hair always looks beautiful, even though she doesn’t seem to have thick hair.


I agree, a bob with thick hair is a great look, whatever the colour. Helen Mirren does do good hair… always smart and short really suits her very well. She is one good looking Dame ;)


Good morning Vicki!

I have struggled over the last few years with my BLACK hair which now has a few grays on the sides. I struggle however, not with the gray but with the straightness of my hair. Like this model in the photos and like what you describe, I feel that the long hair look on older women works best when they have beautiful relaxed waves. The tousled hair look gives that impression of the relaxed, no-fuss style which is desirable. My straight hair requires a neater appearance and if I let it be “tousled” it only looks as if I have not groomed myself properly!

Oh, the conundrum continues. But for now, I have it short and it works.


I like the long hair worn straight, Anita and I think it would suit you beautifully… Try it with small changes… that’s the best… inch by inch :)
Isn’t it funny, I wanted straight hair all my life… and now I am still drying it straight as often as possible!


It’s funny, I do exactly the same. My hair is naturally wavy (in directions I don’t like) and inclined to be very frizzy at the seaside or in hot steamy weather. So I pull hard to straighten it. At the hairdresser I usually ask for dead straight too as it looks sleeker and neater for me. Because I have a very full head of fine hair my hairdressers say that drying it puts muscles into their arms and shoulders. But my brilliant hairdresser at the local salon in Paris near where we spend a month every year sometimes suggests I have it with “movement” which has a bit of an irregular but controlled waves from about three quarter length. The way he does it I really like it – but can’t seem to manage it when drying it myself. My hair is now way past my shoulders and I’m older than many of your readers probably but amazingly it’s still not grey, though there’s a lot of white hair near my ears (covered by other layers). I don’t like it up much or pulled back except when I’m working at home as the hair falling beside my cheeks seems to slim my face – or probably more correctly to hide some of the fullness of my round cheeks and unsound jawline. Once when spending a few days in Singapore the stylist at the hotel salon gave me almost ringlet corkscrews – on long hair. The staff were so kind and so nice and so admiring I didn’t like to say how appalled I was. So I rushed back to my room and brushed it out as much as I could. It might have been OK for a young girl in the 19th century but was definitely hideous for me at my age. I felt like some old mad creature from Dickens. Not even our grand-daughters would wear sausage curls. They’d say “it’s not cool, Nonna”.
By the way Vicki, in those pictures recently where you were trying to take your daughter’s dog for a walk you looked great. The long silver hair is fabulous for you. Don’t be persuaded otherwise. Best wishes, Pamela

Mimi Gregor

Although I dye my hair, I have seen women with grey hair who looked amazing. (I must say here that the pics you posted the other day — although I did not like the tracksuit, I loved your hair! It’s beautiful!)

One woman I remember seeing as I was driving along was walking her dog. She was obviously an artsy type, dressed in a completely bohemian look… and with long grey dreadlocks. I know that may sound awful, but she looked amazing! Of course, she was tall and thin, which goes a long way toward pulling off an unusual look like that.

The second woman was someone I ran into at my local farm market and just had to compliment her hair. It was white, cut absolutely evenly straight across, styled absolutely straight, and came to mid-neck. She was slightly heavier than the first woman, and much shorter, and dressed in a casual way. Again, she looked amazing, although her look was completely different.

The commonality here is that they both had longer hair and it went with their overall look and lifestyle (I’m assuming here).

I’ve been lightening my hair to a dark ash blonde, and it shows the roots much less, so I don’t have to dye it as often. I’ve also been growing it longer, and am getting long layers cut into it, which help my hair look fuller, and also helps hide the roots.


Thanks Mimi…
I wasn’t wearing a tracksuit in those shots but jeans or tailored black pants… but I would have liked to!!
Mostly my tracksuit, like the topknot is for at home… And if it does venture out, it is most definitely covered… ;) Probably why I still love the trench coat after all these years… it’s a mighty good coverup. :)


Mimi, I always enjoy and concur with your comments.

Meanwhile, tomorrow I’m set to have my hair color lightened back to a shade of blonde, to better camouflage that non-color which shall not be named. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to embrace it, but the blonde color will enable me to envision it more realistically. Cheers to all.


P.S. I have to report back on my stylist’s entertaining feedback about the prospect of going natural. It turns out that my hair is near white at the top, marbled at the back, with some kooky cheshire cat pattern on one side. There are no gorgeous, compliment-generating grey locks in my [near] future. Sigh. So warm blond it is, and so far I like it.

Linda Boardman Kerr

I wear my rapidly going grey (mid back length) hair in multiple ways, depending on the weather and the state of my hair. I will wear it up in a bun, twisted with a stick or pencil (if I am at work) in it, partially up, single braid to the side, or even two braids. Straight or natural. The only stipulation is that I must have some height in the front part. I use a little Gorilla whatever-it’s-called stuff to keep it up. My facebook page has tons of pics….


I will be going over and looking Linda… and that’s a great idea to use volume in front… thank you :)


I think the long hair in the model pictures are for those with absolutely stunning thin features. I think the “bob” in the bottom row far right is the chic to die for and the one where I notice being the most beautiful. I always compliment a woman in grey or whit hair with that classic cut. The others look either (in real life) messy or just not cared for 90% of the time, whereas the bob is so much more chic, classy, casual or dressed up.

Marta Martin

Mine is half and half right now and it falls below my shoulders. I believe that if you take care of your skin and the condition of your hair, you can go a little longer. But its all about taking care of the canvas.


I am always intrigued by your “grey hair” posts and so admire the models’ lovely silver locks. I suppose my hair is as grey as yours, underneath the dye. After spending January in Charleston tending to my daughter’s newborn and two year old, I had quite the skunk stripe on the top of my head. Upon returning home and to my salon, my hair stylist was adamant that I NOT let the color grow off. She says it will put ten years on me. (She is a friend and does not need my money, so that is not her motivation.) Yikes! A scary thought! I need to grow a backbone and bite the bullet.


It’s a tough one Rhonda and it’s rough before it gets better. I was always blondish and never tinted so it was easier for me to let it all fade along and out… When you are ready you will know.
I think I also let my hair go grey before it was expected and that’s kind of a good way to do it too. Surprise everyone!


Like Vicki says Rhonda, when you are ready you will know! It took me 3 attempts to be happy with my gray hair, which is snow white in the front and medium gray in the back. Like you, I was also told that grey hair would age me, having just reached my 50’s. However, I just felt like I didn’t want to miss out on any of the experiences this life has to offer, including going grey. Too many don’t live to see their grey hair come in.


Vicki: I love that you are asking this question. And, as a “woman of a certain age” with board straight and very fine hair, I am going to say for me, the critical thing is a great cut. My hair can go from “Oh, my” to great with a good cut.

The other critical item is something to camouflage what appears, in many pictures of mature women, the enlarging forehead. I think something less severe works for most of us.

The final item is that we adjust our make-up ever so slightly and possibly even the color palette of our clothing. What was fabulous as we were younger can be to harsh as we change. If anyone has any doubt, try on wigs – the contrast with the make-up we are comfortable with as a blonde, brunette, grey or red head may look too little or way too much if we change our hair color. Plus, not changing makes us look dated.

We are still fabulous – just with a slightly different look.
Hugs to all!


I have an appointment this week to go in for a cut & highlights/lowlights. My pursuit of grey or white hair failed. Instead, my hair has changed from mostly blonde to a mousy brown with a sprinkling of silver. Not pretty! I’ll try again when I hit 70 in six years.
I have a friend, who is nine years older, with grey hair that she wears up in a simple knot. She always looks so elegant. That is the picture I carry in my head for my future look.
Good luck in your search for the perfect go-to look for your new longer, grey hair that will give you confidence.


I love this endless talk about gray because I have no one to speak with about it. thank you! I fight with the texture of my incoming whitish-gray hair more than anything. I want to love my white hair if only it would behave. My mother always used to say long hair was not attractive on an older woman, but now that I’m almost 58, my hair is longer than it’s been is years and I’m loving it. Why are our stylists and colorists so opposed to letting us go completely white? I’m currently mixing up my incoming white with some whitish-blonde highlights, but I know I’ve got more work to do, more decisions to make! Keep up this conversation. I will need some more support!


My hair is the same length as yours Vicki although I still can’t live without my 6 weekly blonde foils. I mostly wear it down but often wear a messy bun, chignon or ponytail. There’s heaps of inspiration on Pinterest, the reality is though you know when it suits you and when it doesn’t!!


Hi Vicki, Hair is on the brain… no pun intended! My blog this week is about the small hairpiece I bought to cover the top of my head where my ever-widening landing strips and bald spots take center stage. I think about going grey, but am not sure it would be flattering. I’d still have to have a hairpiece on top, but the real issue for me is my softening and rounding face. I’m afraid I’d look matronly. Since the grey/don’t go grey has been the topic of conversation, I’ve been making mental notes about the grey-haired women I see. Not all of us will look like the striking models with grey hair. Some of us… me included, may look better without grey hair. Brenda

Ellen Shook

I really LIKE that you keep talking about grey hair! There is a photo of a gorgeous woman on your email blurb that does not seem to be on this actual post. Her hair is long and wavy and loose and free. That look is what I strive for on good weather days. My silver grey hair is now just below the bra-line in back, and my husband loves it. I might add that I have a much younger husband, if that makes any difference. 😉 The rest of the time it is in a loose topknot or I use a clip on hairpiece with my own hair tucked under it. (No one ever knows because they all match perfectly.) I cannot tell you how much this has simplified my life and how much time and money I have saved not dealing with my hair! At my age that is a very good thing — time to pursue things more interesting than my hair.


What timing! The past few weeks I’ve been struggling with my year long “embrassing the grey” hair as I’ve been ttrying to let it grow a bit more…but this weekend I almost cut it. Thankfully I didn’t. I love your hair although mine is still a “few colors”…I had some platinum highlights added to make it blend in more and look more natural but the lower half still turns brassy so I’ve been using an ash toner to it to help. My part seems to be changing as well and new baby fine hair is growing in at my bangs too and I just can’t seem to find a style. I have tried multiple products and those with keratin seems to help. Your posts about grey hair though gets me through my being impatient. =)


I started coloring my hair myself when I was in my late 30’s – started having it cut and colored professionally every 4 weeks for the last 20+ years. I did the math – I have spent over $20,000!! I recently let my hair grow into a shorter lightly layered bob. Having my hair longer on the sides is allowing me to not have it covered so frequently – also having full bangs helps around the hairline – I am going to try to start having my hair colored every 6 weeks and I think it will work – until I decide to go “au natural”! I just bought some of the spray hair color to be able to touch up any areas that may need a bit of help during those last few days before getting it colored.


I’m 60 and I love the grey hair posts. My hair is about 1/3 silver to 2/3 dark brown, and mid-chest length, with the grey grown out to my ear lobes after 1.5 years of not dyeing. It used to be very straight, but now has a wave from the ears down and is layered at the very ends. I wear it loose in the cool winter/spring and in a low pony tail or French braid in the hot summer/autumn.

Charlotte McDonald

Sorry, say what you want, almost everyone looks 10 years older with gray hair!
Great cuts, styles, whatever, gray hair washes out the face so you look old.
Dying our hair is one of the few “easy” ways to enjoy looking at ourselves in the mirror as we age.
Fresh color always brightens our look. Save money on therapist, clothes, but maintain that color!


Ah, but I respectfully disagree. I see so many women of a certain age whose colored hair does nothing to disguise their aging faces and in fact, can look unnatural and harsh, even when well done. I do think frequently that women who color their hair at a certain age think in their own minds that it makes them look younger, but not necessarily true at all.

Roumaine Muller

Vicki, I always chuckle when I get into a lift and there is a twenty something year old woman with gray hair. I have been totally gray for years. I am in my late fifties and love the fact , that I do not have to spend hours at the hairdresser I have found men compliment me on the gray. The times I have been asked why I do not colour my hair , has always been by a woman. I have long hair and am often asked by the younger generation what colour I use to get my shade of gray. Years of wisdom , is my answer.


After I remarried in my late fifties, I decided to start coloring my hair, which was showing more and more incoming grey strands. I kept coloring my hair for a few years until my son said, Mom, I think you would look great letting your natural grey come. I took his thoughts seriously and remember discussing with my stylist that I had decided to go “au natural”. There was discussion as to whether I could successfully dye all of my hair grey, but was soon talked out of trying that. The salon owner was summoned to give his input, and he was emphatic that in letting the grey come out, I needed to cut it short. Well, that advice I didn’t follow and have no regrets! While it took some time to adjust to the grey that was happening (especially the initial shock of concentrated grey at my temples) I am very pleased to be going grey even though it is still in the “salt and pepper” stage and often receive compliments from total strangers as to how they think my hair is so beautiful. In fact I am given more favorable comments now than in my pre-grey state…


My hair is naturally dark blonde and I’ve been getting (expensive!) blonder highlights for more years than I can count! Now in my early 50s, I am toying with going gray/white, although it’s not looking as fabulous as the hair on those lovely Instagram models (i.e. Yasmina Rossi and Roxanne Gould)! Plus, my stylish shorter cut suits my small face (received loads of nice compliments on the shorter cut) but, short + gray on me almost = matronly. My mother (now in her early 80s) has beautiful snow white hair and I remember admiring her salt and pepper hair when she stopped coloring it several years ago. I grow mine out for about five months and then cave in and run back to the colorist. Oh well. Time will tell. Thanks for keeping the conversation going and letting me muse about it here, Vicki!


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