8 Sep 2020

The Grey Diaries: Finding The Right Length

The Grey Diaries: Finding The Right Length on vickiarcher.com

It’s hard enough making the decision to wear the grey and then what about the length?

Recently I did what I promised myself not to do – I went against my instinct and better judgement. After lockdown, in my excitement to see a hairdresser, I cut my hair. It was certainly not a disaster and the haircut was perfectly fine but it was too short. My fault. The hairdresser who knows me well wasn’t convinced it was a good idea and he didn’t cut it as short as I wanted. Thankfully. 

I must be very sensitive when it comes to my hair.

It was a great cut, it wasn’t different but it simply didn’t work for me. My hair was very long over lockdown and I think what happened was as it “grew” I liked it. I chopped it shorter than it’s been for years and became aware of all the problems with a length that doesn’t work. Somehow the length didn’t sit well and was difficult to tie up, with wisps falling out of the ponytail all over the place. I have it permanently tied up as I still don’t love the length, even though a month has passed and it’s better. My hair is thick and fast growing – that’s lucky – so it is hardly the end of the world.  I haven’t had my hair as short for years and I probably won’t again.

The wrong length or style really does make a difference and even though it’s not a problem in any important sense, for me when my hair fails me I don’t feel good. It doesn’t matter if everyone in your world says it’s fabulous; if it’s not you, it’s not you. I’m not suggesting don’t change styles; what I am thinking is know what length works before you chop it without consideration.

I have just had my hair “done” and I still don’t like it. There is really nothing not to like and it’s not much different but somehow it’s not as flattering, smart or working as it did before.

The truth about grey hair is it does need work.

Time is required to transition from colour to natural and time is needed to make sure the length and style are flattering. Grey hair can be very ageing if it is not in the best condition and not cut to suit us. The theory with my hair is I like to mix up the tradition. Once upon a day, grey-haired women had short-cropped hair and the two went hand in hand. Today all-ages rock the grey in any length or style and the colour is about the individual and not their age.

A pixie cut looks fantastic on the right face, as does an angular bob. Layers mid-length work with the right texture of hair; the art is in knowing what length allows us the most confidence. It doesn’t matter what I say or your BFF if you don’t like the way your hair looks, we can’t make it right.

So I am back to growing out my grey.

A couple more inches will make all the difference – and it will be the length I want. Even what I wear changes with a new hair length.  I’m looking for a light turtleneck to wear with my cargo pants – don’t laugh, but that will make my hair look longer ;) ;) xv

One Way For A Longer Length

michael stars rib knit turtleneck   ||  splendid rib knit turtleneck   || bottega veneta jersey top


high waist cargo pants  ||  crop cuff cargo pants

this feature contains affiliate links

image, dame judi dench for empire

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In This Post:



Sharon Ann

My hair is pretty long and very straight. I am still mostly brown with reddish tints but the gray is moving in. I like the option to put my hair up with a clip. I had thought about cutting it to my shoulders but for me this is so daring! Hair does grow back but….


I’m probably at least 6 months away from where I want to be… anyway… the moral of the story… trust your instincts! The other option is to cut in stages… a little bit and then more… not like me… always have to be all or nothing!!


I know exactly how you feel..I recently chopped off about five inches of my grey hair. I really hated it–I mean, really hated it. No one could convince me otherwise. But then an interesting thing happened. It took about three plus weeks but one day I realized that what I really hated was dealing with the change. I had become stuck with one image of myself and even though I am one who quite likes to try new things for some reason I had–without realizing it–become stuck seeing myself as this one thing, something I promised myself I’d never do.
Do I love my new hair? No, but I love the feelings that are emerging of new opportunities to try tweaking it a bit because what I do love is getting myself to change again. Yes, other people LOVED my old hair but I never want to be someone who can only see myself one way–and that others can only see one way.
This may not be your plight at all but thought worth sharing.


Thanks to your inspiration, I’m growing out my blonde highlights and going gray! Loving the change and can’t wait till it’s all out (probably another 1 1/2 years!).

My stylist always makes me wait for the next appointment if I’m thinking about a drastic change and it’s worked for me. Her motto is if it’s not short enough when you go home and style it yourself, you can always come back and have more taken off. It has served me well. Usually I find that a good trim is all I need. Many years ago when I was a college student, I studied in London for a semester. Princess Diana was all the rage. As a poor college student I couldn’t afford a haircut in London. When I got home to the U.S. I had all my hair chopped off into a Princess Di cut. Needless to say, it was not a good cut for my unruly, thick wavy hair. To make matters worse I then got a permanent, which was a second disaster! Anyway, good luck Ms. Vicki! It will be back to the length you want before you know it.

Jacki F.

What a timely post. Misery surely loves company. My friend and I both recently experienced, on different coasts, having our bobs cut way too short for our liking and we are miserable for it. She has the added angst of once again attempting to transition from overly processed blonde to her natural platinum white; I am finding that my underneath hair that has not been highlighted and now is visible– looks terrible, not to mention the itchy stubble at the neckline. Unfortunately cargo pants and a turtleneck are not my look at all and won’t help. Clipping it up seems to be the best solution for now! I am heading in for some corrective coloring this morning……hoping some blonde helps…..


Enjoy the blonde… I used to love the feeling afterwards.. when my hair was freshly coloured… nothing better! Now I have to be content with a blow dry ;)


Good morning Vicki! First of all, Dame Judy Dench is fabulous. She looks JUST LIKE my mother in law!

Her pixie cut works perfectly with her defined jaw line, plump lips, slight pixie nose and adventurous eyes. Here is where a really short cut works, not to mention the body in her hair.

Our hair really does “limit” or allow us to experiment with different styles. As you saw my recent selfie on IG, my hair is behaving; it’s still quite black with a few patches of not grey but “platinum” which I prefer. Wearing my diamond studs or a good pair of pure gold thick hoops keeps the authenticity of me all there. So, we find what works for us all.

I totally understand the feeling of those several inches. They are game changers. I have been cutting my own bangs for years (oh dear, this is embarrassing to reveal such a short-cut technique!) and sometimes I get it right but most of the time, I get it SO wrong and when those bangs are way too many inches above my brow, I suddenly look like my eight year old self….when the bangs are just right, I feel and even look good, like a well-coiffed throwback from the 60s.

Oh, we lasses and our locks. This challenge will keep us creative for the rest of our lives! (I know you will look fantastic in your turtleneck and cargo pants!)


I have never had a fringe… no that’s not true… once… so awful as I have a round face inclined to be a bit pudgy with eight on.. I need all the length I can get! It’s so true.. women and hair… a never-ending tale.. :)

Yours is fabulous, Anita, both longer and shorter… mine is best longer as it weighs down with a bit of length to hold it… it’s slightly curly so short is a problem for me..


After becoming ill, I started to worry more about simply surviving than what I realised was the daft vanity of dyeing my hair. And in the process was blessed to find that I was a true silver white. The Hubs loves it. My friends tell their hairdresser that they want my colour. So you never know just how lovely your own natural colour will be unless you try it. Just be prepared to change your makeup colours, and to some extent your clothing colours as your skin pales as you get older. We all get older but the trick is to do it with grace.


I would never go back to colour now Alexandra… I don’t know what I could even have unless I was very brave and did a bright red… which I am not… it’s only the length I’m changing … and yes, grace is the answer to many things…


My lovely hairdresser of 25 years has strict instructions never to implement those words ‘Take off a good 2 inches Mel’ no matter how insistent I am. I’m hearing you girlfriend xx

Linda B

Thank you so much for sharing this cautionary tale! I still have not had a haircut–doesn’t seem safe enough yet here. The pandemic is not so bad actually where we have been staying since the start of August, in a lovely part of Oregon–but I also don’t have a stylist here. (I did go a few times last summer here to my daughter’s stylist–she was okay, not great.)

I am the opposite of you at the moment–my hair is longer than it has been in decades! I actually rather like it, though the layers do need some trimming to work better. Perhaps when I am home in a month, I will get braver and go see my stylist for a little shaping, but I suspect I am going to stay with longer hair!


I find the longer so much easier and this mid-length.. well I just don’t love it. I have tried to wear it out today and it’s everywhere! Back in the twist and so much for the blow dry… ha ha… Try longer and let me know how you like it Linda. :)


This is such a useful cautionary tale, Vicky as I have an appointment for a trim on Thursday. I was going to get quite a bit cut off, but now, maybe not so much. My fringe is way over my eyebrows, so that has to be attended to for a start. But my hair never has been coloured, so there is no alarming sudden change. It’s now a lightish grey with many still ginger/honey coloured streaks, completely natural. Women tell my hairdresser they want that colour too. It is unusual.
Doesn’t Judy Dench look so fab in her pixie!! Best wishes, Pamela


Vicki, right now I’m the most untidy looking creature as I grow out to my natural shade of GREY! Ouch, sometimes it’s hard to even say that, and I know some people stare at the grocery store, however with the mask, sunnies, and oft times a cute hat, I feel I’m incognito. If the pandemic means anything positive for me personally, it’s becoming brave enough to give up my signature colored, shiny, red bob of so many years, and admit I’m now old enough to be a silver-haired great grannie, which I am!!!!! My stylist of 30-odd years will not strip the red which she says would ruin/break my hair which has thinned since having my thyroid removed 3 yrs. ago. The only way to go is grow it out with regular 5 week trims which I’ve agreed to. I’ve grown out my fringe too! Also, I’ve locked away all heated hair drying/styling tools, just let my hair dry naturally as I’ve discovered instead of having stick straight hair I now have ‘beachy’ waves and can style it with my fingers! I realize when looking in the mirror I’m a completely different looking woman than I was 6 months ago. I will not give up though after this long, and hope in another 6 months or so, I’ll have a head of silver hair which I can then grow a bit longer.
Meanwhile turtle and funnel necks are in my future – if we can ever get cooler weather here – along with jackets, coats (I love coats!), boots and scarves.
Yes, we gals have to have good hair – sometimes it just takes time. Good luck getting back to your favorite length – you always look great and have such beautiful thick hair.
Hugs, stay well.
Mary –


I went grey a few years back and it was awful. I had always had very dark brown hair. BUt with coloring,it was starting to look orange! another awful! So back to my fav hair guy and he mixed up a magic potion to go back to being a dark blonde and it will probably stay that way for good! Medium to short. Hair length and color is what a person is comfortable with.I would not more tell someone what I think they should do than fly on my broom!. THat just results in hurt feelings.Stay safe


Oh women and our hair! I am having to deal with having gone grey AND letting it curl – all pretty well together! I think the Covid lack of make up doesn’t help how I’m feeling about my looks either! I have been wondering if I could go to a wig shop to try out a very short cut – as opposed to my shortish bob! But short and layered is DRASTIC and if I didn’t like it, I’d never leave the house! My hair always looks better to me when I wear make up on a few occasions, so maybe makeup is the answer to hair!
Great post!


Yes Dee!
I like the idea of a correlation between hair and make-up… Maybe we should discuss that?? I find I’m wearing less make-up but care more about the finish..
I did wear my hair out last night for the first time since the cut.. can’t say I liked it .. but the extra inch it’s grown has helped!


During summer lockdown I watched YouTube videos and got up the nerve to cut and colored my own hair. Five months of long, thin straggly hair that had almost four inches of grey and I couldn’t stand it anymore! I didn’t do a bad job, but I’ve gone from J Lo’s stylist and colorist to DIY hair! A couple of my girlfriends have succumbed to the Dame Judy look and it is not flattering on them. One doesn’t care… she wants wash and wear hair… and the other friend thinks she looks great… She does no, but I will never say anything. Something about this lockdown has made them both let go of looking nice, for themselves, and it saddens me because I know there are a lot of women out there like them. Let’s not ever let go of our standards, ladies! xoxox, Brenda


Never Brenda!
Good on you for being brave enough to cut and colour… I would be useless .. had enough drama waxing my legs :) :)

The Pixie cut is a tough one.. I don’t have the face for it but I love it when it suits.. as for wash and wear hair… not in my lifetime ;)

I am trying to maintain my style, even if it is less tailored than my normal approach.


Re the pixie cut “thing”….
Just a thought. I think part of the reason “the pixie cut thing” is “a tough one” is that women have been conditioned to think that no matter what their age or the type of face and hair they have, they MUST have longer hair to be feminine. And I think too that–certainly the American culture– fails to value the individual character as a form of beauty. I believe the French consider that be the jolie laide and it isn’t considered ugly but beautiful in its own way. Frankly, I see more women wearing long hair that doesn’t do a thing for them than I do the opposite. There is something quite beautiful, I think, about someone owning the simplicity and truth of who they really are!

Angela in NZ

Haha….I just went into your archives to remind me of your hair length and found a post from 22 June 2012. Funny how our hair plays such a prominent part in our psyche. I’d love to be the person who has a signature hairstyle and sticks with it in the same way as their clothing style. To date this has not happened. Going through salon assisted transition to grey, it had been 8 months, until last week, since my last cut due to both lockdown and 4 hour sessions to gradually lighten my brunette locks. My hair was past my shoulders not seen since early my 20’s and I was beginning to like it; that is until I trawled through both my photos and those on Pinterest and made a decision to go for a serious chop. Described as a messy short shag (not a very complimentary description I’d thought) I’m so relieved to find I love it and best of all I can style it myself. All this going on while I’m trying to find my sweet spot clothing style. Hurtling towards 70 you’d like to believe I’d sorted that earlier but that section of the “with age comes wisdom” book of life is still unread.


Style is an evolution and must change with us… that’s what I love about it… an adventure we can all take
Your hair sounds gorgeous Angela and the right decision for you :)


When I saw the subject line, I thought, “she cut her hair”. Sure enough you did. And I did the same thing! I think we may have been more tired of the situation than tired of our hair. Oh well…back to biotin vitamins.


COVID-19 made me do it! I too decided in March, just before our lockdown in Melbourne, Aust. to have a really short cut, (almost as short as Judy Dench) with my regular Honey brown Colour! Well now we are in our second lockdown, State of Disaster & it has completely grown out several inches with a lot of grey coming through & I do not like what I’m seeing. So the opposite to you Vicki, I can’t stand the grey against my face & as for the style, there is none!! I can’t wait to be able to visit a hairdresser but it appears that’s possibly months away! Never thought I’d put the hairdresser above family & friends ;). I too now remember why I’ve not had such a short cut in a long time, curls & the growing out phase!
Please know I often admire grey hair on others & yours Vicki looks fabulous but just not for me. Would love to see a photo. Us gals & our crowning glory!


Oh, Maria!!
You do make me laugh when you say the hairdresser is above friends and family!! I’m still smiling.
It’s tough in Victoria and I am thinking so often of my fellow Australians…

just try and stay patient and do not resort to the scissors yourself!! I am so impetuous, I have been known to do that too…


Yep, covid made me do it too..haha I did not cut my hair short but had my hairdresser cut some feathering layers. YIKES! My white hair was so fly away and felt like prickly needles hitting my face. I always had thin fine hair and it is now course thin hair…3 months later she was able to fix it. Not doing it again…hmmm…that is what I say now;-)


I know exactly what you are talking about. I have long thick gray hair as well and can’t quite get my length just right either. My best length is similar to yours just long enough to tie up without the ends falling out of the pony. Too long and it drags the whole face down! Loved this article and I love the turtles you chose as I am writing an article on the turtleneck!


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