27 Sep 2011

Gwyneth Paltrow: Poker Straight

gwyneth paltrow and her poker straight hair, vickiarcher.com

And I don’t mean ‘four of a kind’ or ‘straight flush’ poker straight. I am thinking about the hair kind that seems to be in all the magazines this season…… The very straight, no kinks, waves or curls, kind of hair that hangs curtain-like without movement or volume. Think Gwyneth Paltrow style locks.

I did love this style of ‘hair’ and the truth is I have spent my life straightening, binding, pulling, ironing, ghd-ing my naturally wavy locks into submission….I have lived in ‘hair prison’ for as long as I care to remember and will no doubt continue to do so….I like groomed hair and I don’t feel ‘dressed’ without it… A professional blow-dry is the best value of all for me… forget that it takes an hour out of the day or that it costs… it is worth every penny to have my locks tamed and looking reasonable. If the hair is looking good then all is well with the world.

That’s my mantra.

But I have noticed a little bend, a little volume, a little movement has found it’s way back into my hair. Age has dealt me a cruel blow….poker straight doesn’t work for me anymore…. poker straight makes me look like a drowned rat, a sad sack, a horror….I need the softness and the luxury of hair around my not-30-something-year-old face….. I still wear it straight but it can’t be so straight that I look like I am wearing some kind of swimming cap with hair extensions… I have become one of those women who seek ‘volume’…. just writing it gives me a fright, puts me in a veritable crise.

How did this happen?

My mother and her pals were the ‘volume’ seekers… the added roller here and there to up the ante….. a big night out meant an extra lift, a round of teasing….. Hair nets were the hair saviours of their generation….Have I become my mother? I guess so….we all do…and I am happy about that…but it just seems to have happened without me realising….Maybe there is such a thing as the law of hair physics….a proportional relationship…..as the face descends the hair rises….Heaven help me in ten years.

What do you wear? Can you play that poker straight hair? xv

image of gwyneth paltrow from the huffington post

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In This Post:



Something Gorgeous

I know how you feel, my hair has a life of its own. So I spend time everyday straightening the life out of it. But to be honest I don't know what else to do with it? Leaving it to fall naturally looks too untidy for me!

Sarah (Snippets of Thyme)

I had to chuckle here. The grass is always greener! I have always wanted wavy romantic curly carefree hair. I had poker straight hair. But! as I rolled from 30's to 40's my hair suddenly waved right up. It was amazing. I am enjoying these waves and curls immensely. Your wavy hair is probably the envy of so many women!


Straight hair has actually been out for the last couple of years (thank God!). Most people do not look good with straight hair unless you're under the age of 25. It makes your face look drawn & older. Personally, I think Gywneth would look much prettier with a little wave (or curl) in her hair. Work with your waves! I bet they're beautiful- naturally!


My hair is already poker straight – I am not a 'curly' person and alas, I don't really even style it differently daily. I do have layers around my face thogh…I gave up the Aniston 'do in high school! I don't think straight hair parted in the middle is a great look for older women unless you look like…Paltrow or Aniston! ;-)


I still use a flat iron, but my hair is much shorter now and has a slight curve at the ends. A small compromise to old age.

Karen in CT

Hi Vicki .. I look at 20 somethings who iron their hair completely straight and think same thing "drowned rat" look … if one has a HUGE amount of hair, that look can work, but it's rare, regardless of the age.

Think what Kate would look like if her hair was stick straight? It's just too harsh looking, even on GP.

Middle ground is the best, a bit of bounce is always attractive and vibrant. Flat hair is just flat, even on my 3 year old niece.

Best … (fun post) … keep us updated on your iPad adventures.


How many volumizing products do I own….too many to count. I was asking myself this questions this morning Vicki as I pulled apart my cupboards looking for a can of mousse. Never thought I would be looking for that again!

Jeanne xx

A Gift Wrapped Life

Oh, don't get me started! One thing to age, quite another to be handed a whole new head of hair too. I had piles and piles of it…………sigh.
But on the subject of your hair Vicki, it looks gorgeous with that soft little flip. Remember? I kept bugging you all night about how good it looked-lol!
Much love XO

Lost in Provence

Sadly, my days of poker straight hair are over as well which is frustrating as I loved it. I have had very curly hair all of my life and so to have a "brushing" was such a change. If my curly hair were healthier, I wouldn't complain but with age my ringlets have gone coarse and strange!


My hair has always been straight. I mean STRAIGHT. If I try to curl it with mousse or jell, rollers, pin curls, or hairspray, after a few minutes it returns to its natural state – strait.
I have come to the conclusion that what ever texture or color your natural hair is, it is probably the most complimentary to your face.
I've given up. I embrace the straight – you should embrace the curls.


As the owner of thick, wavy long hair I have learnt NEVER to fight the natural beauty of my locks. Straight hair that has been tortured into submission always LOOKS like it has been tortured. the picture above demonstrates the ravages of processing – there is no shine, no bounce, and the ends look uneven and fried. Looking healthy makes you look beautiful. the essence of "Frenchiness" is ease and comfort with your own natural state of beauty. That is not to say that one should not do oneself up – heavens I simply won't leave the house without makeup – but it never looks like I have tried to force my features or hair into something that it is not.

– Linda <3

I Dream Of

Oh Vicki, my hair is so poker straight, it refuses to take curl — I get blow outs because they at least ad the slightest bit of volume! It's funny, my best friend has lush, thick curly hair, and wants my stick-straight locks, where I would love to have her curls… isn't that just the way it goes?

Annette Piper

No, I can't wear poker straight although I did try when I was younger, I always had a little curl right at the bottom. As my hair has got older and more grey (even though I dye it) it is more coarse and also developed more wave. As you've found, its actually a little more flattering to have it softer around my face.


I think you are a bit over-worried about it. Of course our looks change a bit over the years, but I always had straight hair and had to deal with it. I used to get perms for over $100 to add some body; now I know it is not worth it. I don't mind adding a bit of volume with a brush and blow dryer; sometimes I even add a bit of volumizing mousse. It is not that bad!

MJH Design Arts

Hmmmm. Great post. I used to have super thick, very strait hair (and hated it); now I, too, have more waves–and I like it (except when I don't) (My hair will NEVER look like my mother's). Thanks and have a wonderful semi, almost strait hair week. Mary


Hmmmm. Great post. I used to have super thick, very strait hair (and hated it); now I, too, have more waves–and I like it (except when I don't) (My hair will NEVER look like my mother's). Thanks and have a wonderful semi, almost strait hair week. Mary


I too have coveted poker straight hair all my life and have have always had a hate hate relationship with my curly/wavy hair. But this summer, the humidity was brutal where I live and I just couldn't fight it. It was impossible. So I got a cut that looks pretty good and am learning to live with the curls. But I still hate them. Its simply a matter of stress relief! I still covet straight hair!!! I am after all, a child of the 60's!

peggy braswell

I gave up the fight where hair is concerned a number of years ago! + I am so grateful for my Short, Curly,(lots of volume)hair. Thank you God. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

Karen T.

I've never liked what I call the "bone straight" look for myself. I prefer a softer, fuller look (though not ridiculously exaggerated), and fortunately I have wavy hair. I have seen other ladies, however, who really pull this look off well. Like you, I've noticed that the older I get the more I love a flattering but low maintenance hairstyle. I just don't want to spend a lot of time fussing with my hair. Good post.


My hair only does poker-straight when I want it to curl. I swear.

I've learned to never, ever plan on how I will wear my hair on any given day. I just wake up and go with how it's feeling. (And some days are better than others…)


I continue to flat iron my hair in an attempt to make it more manageable as I have more hair than I know what to do with and letting it go natural might end up looking like a "fro". I do try and get away with pulling it back as much as possible, though. Every photo I have seen of your hair makes it look like you have struck the perfect balance to me, Vicki! xo


You have written the definitive treatise on what happens to women and their hair as they age. I would love to sport the straight tresses I did in the 60s and 70s … alas, I am now 70 and Emmy Lou Harris is my idol.


Dear Vicki,
I love the straight iron! It makes my "mop" silky and feels so clean:) but my husband has no problem telling me how much he DOES NOT like it. My hair is naturally curly and long…too much hair!


Did I write this post? ha. Even though I'm late 50's I still love my longish hair. I pretty much let Mother Nature have her way now just straightening my bangs a bit. Seems to work…for now. xoR


That's my natural hair, I curl mine until it sizzles but today I've left it like that and I hate, it I feel so ugly. I love curls and volume but my fairy godmother didn't bless me.

Jacqueline @ HOME

Dear Vicki,
I have had poker straight hair all of my life and the length of Gwyneths. I am now the big 60 and it's still the same. I have asked everyone if it's still ok for me to wear it that long at my age and they all say that it's fine. I can't think how I would have it otherwise. It is so easy as well. Wash, condition and dry it with the hairdryer and I'm good to go. It only takes about 10 minutes. As much as I love to have long curly locks, I have always been pleased that my hair is the way it is. It's not always IN fashion but it's always fashionable. Whenever some of the celebrities have their long locks cut ( eg Jennifer Aniston ) they nearly always grow it back. I can't bear putting products in my hair apart from lots of conditioner. I do wonder if I will have it cut in a few years….maybe a long bob ?
I think that, if I do have it cut, I will have to have tranquilizers and a psychiatrist standing by !! haha. XXXX

hostess of the humble bungalow

I love the straight look but I have thick curly hair that tends to be frizzy so I am always buying products to make it shine and tame those wayward strands of hair. We are never happy with our own hair and it seems to me that we always want what we can't have …
Giving into what we are born with sounds like the most satisfying solution…good for you Vicki!

alison bariteau

Yes, we definitely have to adapt as we grow older. What used to work no longer does and it creeps on us so gradually that it can take a while to realise. I think it's so important to not let so-called fashion dictates blind our thinking and to try and be objective in front of the mirror, taking time to work out what suits us and what doesn't anymore. So nice to be "growing older" together with you. Thanks for your openness and shared experience – it makes the journey far more pleasant! xx


Is it any wonder that our hair is referred to as our 'crowning glory'. It is true that if your hair is out of place you feel – messy, ugly, under-dressed, self-conscious.
Our hormones seem to assist with many changes in a woman's body, our hair being one of them. Do not think the gentlemen are left out…….just look around and some of the shiny heads.


Hilarious and honest! I've always had stick straight hair, but I love waves and will continue to set my hair with large rollers when I go out. My problem is that my gorgeous thick hair is falling out! It's not medical and it doesn't seem to be hereditary. Gawwwwd. Maybe it's being 50. I'm trying not to panic, but in the meantime, everyone should wear their hair as it best suits them. I think a lot of the time beautiful models are made ugly (well, given unattractive hair) with extreme styling.

à la parisienne

I was born with poker straight hair, and throughout all of the hair trends, I must say straight hair has been nice and easy(except for the 80s…I never really fit in to that era). It's funny you posted this today. I had my husband photograph me yesterday in one of my favorite outfits and the part I loved most was that I had soft curly hair. I am somewhat sick of straight hair, trendy or not. Maybe I've been watching too much of Mad Men, but I'd really like to see a return of vintage hairstyles…soft curls and waves and perhaps coquette little hats…and gloves. I'm not asking too much…



Dear Twin Sister of the Perfect Hair this post just confirms that we were separated at birth. I will be blow drying & ironing my hair until my last breath. I look shocking with any sort of of wavy/curly thing going on. The inventor of the ghd's should receive some sort of sainthood.
Millie xx


What a timely post! I'm with Helen (above comment). Emmy Lou Harris has the hair I want at my age. Softly silver, long and lush, smooth at the top but softly curling at the ends. That's me in six months! I agree that the dead straight look is not for we more mature ladies. A bit of softness is flattering. That said, my curls are not that flattering in my current salt and pepper shade and I remain determined to rule supreme as gloriously grey! So a little smoothing for me, is a good thing…it's far more elegant on grey tresses.

Looking Glass

My sister looks wonderful with dead straight hair, but I don't like it on me. I always opt for a blow wave "with volume." It suits me better & I feel more glamorous with a little volume & a tousled look :-)

~ Clare x


I have worked for so long, so very long, to get my hair healthy and keep it fairly straight and unfrizzy. I do like just a little body or lift though, just a tad!


Art by Karena


Thank you for visiting me the other day…love your blog. Oh yes…I do have poker straight hair but I love curl…lots of it. We always like something we don't have….silly us.

Off to read some of your past post..so happy to have found you. xo

The Caledonian Mining Expedition Company

In the extended Baltimore summer with its unbearable humidity, I actually long for a sleek straight 'look'. Instead, I have to deal with a giant frizz-ball on top of my head – and it will not be tamed. Yesterday, with the humidity index at 100%, I was dealing with a mini afro by nightfall. Couldn't agree more, when the hair does not co-operate – I know it is going to be one of those days!! Phil xxx


I have fine blonde hair that is naturally dead straight, so I can't resist a bit of tousle and volume! I guess we all what what we don't have!

Pip xx


I love straight hair, with a little body. I arrived for holidays in North Queensland last week, with my GHD packed securely. After the first day, when my straight hair became 'tropical frizz' I decided for the hair up approach. Why fight a loosing battle!

However it is just until I re-enter the city atmosphere…x

The enchanted home

This was funny and really resonated with me, I used to love stick straight hair (of course when I didn't have it) now my hair over time has gotten straighter and I am not such a fan anymore..figures! I like a little bounce and body, feel stick straight is meant for teenagers, even on Gwennie, it elongates her face and to me, makes her look older than when she sports other looks. Just an opinion. But the frizz I HATE and could do without!


My hair has a life all its own, but yes, when I want to wear my hair straight, I have to flat iron it…

Hugs Bella

Luciane at HomeBunch.com

Very interesting point! I have curly hair, but like everyone that has curly hair, I'd like to have straight hair! I use both… natural curls (when life gets too busy) and straight when I want to feel goooood. :-)

Thank you so much for your comment on my interview, Vicki. It's was really nice to read your comment!

Have a fantastic Tuesday!


Luciane at HomeBunch.com


Cute and funny post, Vicki. Your descriptions of Mother's hair labours, too much! It sounds like my hair is exactly like yours and I love straightening it. I bend the hair as I straighten it so it's not poker straight, but still sometimes loop it up at the back or put into a high ponytail to give some 'lift' to my cheeks. A hairdresser told me to start the straightening about one inch from the scalp and then the hair doesn't sit dead flat, it has a little natural lift. It does seem to help.


Slim Paley

How true is it that we always wish for the type of hair we don't have?!
And in my case, when I achieved super straight hair through "The Brazilian Method" (supposedly without harsh chemicals, which I find hard to believe) I wasn't happy either. Of course it lasted FOREVER because I didn't like it. If I'd been thrilled it probably would've washed out in a couple of weeks.
I keep telling myself 'this will be the last year I have hair this long' …

Auntie Bliss

You've struck a chord with everyone!
I have dry wavy hair with triple the amount a person should have LOL. Everybody wants me to see their hairstylist for help in making it silky which is what I've always wanted.
The other day though WOW, I saw a Dr. who had the most dry, red, wiry pile of stuff ever and I left thanking God I had what I had LOL!

Pamela Terry and Edward

Why do we always wish for what we don't have? I myself have had poker straight hair all my life and always wished for curly! I have found that if I twist it into a knot when I sleep, I wake up with waves. Best of both worlds for me.


I don't really have too much of a problem of staight vs curly, but this year I have decided to stop colouring my hair, and let the grey come through. I thought I'd try it over winter, and if I hated it come spring, I'd go back to colouring it.
As it happens, apart from the fact that it is signifying that I am definitely ageing (just turned 59), I really like the new colour tone of my skin. I'm having difficulty adjusting the colours in my wardrobe, but it's an adventure !
I'd love you to run a post on this topic, Vicki.
Love your Blog.

French Heart

My hair is blonde, straight, blunt cut. The same basic style I've had since age 4. The same I hope it to be at 94. Then, I'll cut it chin length and tuck it behind ears with extra large gold-roped pearl earrings. Simple, classic.

I admire others for their hair-as- accessory oft changing looks. That's just not me. For myself, I prefer everything to be simple, healthy/clean/organized as possible, and minimalist.

helen tilston

Hi Vicki

I have no doubt you always look beautiful and radiate joy where ever you go.
I have long straight hair, the underneath is curly and I use a straightening iron. I wash it every 4 days and use conditioner and morocco oil. My lifestyle is active, I run daily and paint outdoors, so my hair is usually braided beneath a straw hat or baseball cap. The less fuss with hair is my motto.
I do admire different hairstyles and I suppose we all know which style works best for us.

Helen xx

Blue Muse

"as the face descends the hair rises…" Oh, Vicki, I laughed and laughed over this – all the images of big haired women I conjure up in my mind and you just don't seem to mix! Thankfully.
I did the whole hair flat iron and it's a lot, lot of work. Before getting sick I gave up on all the fuss and would just throw my head upside down and scrunched product into my hair and quit working against the wavy, untamed hair I was born with. I got it cut to where it would work with this, and decided the beachy Brigitte Bardot was my new inspiration. …and then I would see someone with that sleek flat hair and pine away for it again…. grass is always greener!
xo isa


Hair should be touchable, healthy, and glossy. I don’t think texture should really matter; I’m 20 and I have a beachy, wavy curl to my hair and I personally think I look better if I leave it as natural as possible. Of course, I spent all of high school straightening my hair, only to look back at pictures and realize that I looked like a drowned rat with a bad case of split ends (not a cute look on anyone). I guess I’ve just gave up on fighting with my natural texture and it’s actually become easier to manage. Natural is beautiful, so step away from the flat iron and let your hair do its own thing.


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