16 Sep 2015

The Updo And The Don’t Do

linda rodin and her fabulous hair, photographed by gabor jurina, vickiarcher.com

Do you wear an updo?

Is it ageing or elegant?

The whole going grey has thrown me for a loop. Some days I have the confidence of Hercules and others, well let’s say I steer very clear of the mirror.

I have not given in and as I write I have no intention of, but never say never.

This going grey makes me nervous about the updo.

When I look at the stunning Linda Rodin, with her French roll and greying streaked hair, all I see is superb style and a woman who knows who she is and what she likes.

When I grow up, I want to be just like her.

Wait, I am so grown up.  So what’s the problem?

I have this ridiculous association that an updo is for old women. When I was a child that is how it went. Old ladies with long hair wore buns that sat on the back of their heads or on top, like a cottage loaf. Chic buns or ponytails at the nape of the neck didn’t feature much in my world and if my mother ever wore a French roll it was for a very special occasion. A French roll with much lacquer and a million pins was a very elaborate affair and planned for in advance.

Whenever I tie my hair back I feel as if I am not well groomed, as if it is bad hair day or I am being lazy. I don’t have the right accessories. I’m feeling this is silly and if well styled an updo could work very well. Remember those 60’s birds nests, teased like skyscrapers, that worked alongside the big hoop earrings.

Maybe I want one of those?

I am never ageist and never feel compelled to “not do” something because of my age so if I am going to wear the hair long I need to find an updo that works for me. Every day cannot be “wearing down” day.

My problem is the combination of long, grey and updo; slightly confrontational don’t you think? xv

I’m Going To Need These For The Updo

ghd professional styler //  ***mrs president & co french barrette  //  ***l. ericson pearl bobby pins

image linda rodin

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Vicki, I went gracefully grey some time ago. My most recent incarnation, I posted on my own blog not so long back. I am fortunately, totally pale silver, which I’m very happy with. I don’t think I could possibly give you any hints on being well groomed, but can I offer this? I think with hair, as with any other part of our style persona, you have to find your own thing. I used to toy with French rolls, both sleek and messy. Now, as an Aussie woman living in the tropics, I rather favour the messy bun on curly ‘second days’, and a low side ponytail or high ballet bun on sleek and smooth ‘second days’. I’ve also tried all manner of hair ornaments and find that my favourite is a thin wisp of satin or velvet ribbon. Not that I imagine myself to be any sort of Audrey Hepburn ingénue, but because I like it and it makes me feel more polished. Failing that, and some days I don’t feel ribbon-ish, I use a thick strand of my own hair, wrapped around bun or ponytail and find it does the trick too. This is now part of my own style and I’m comfortable with it, in a way that I was not with a chignon or low ponytail or any manner of other ‘do’s. I’ve admired your impeccable style for years. I’m sure you’ll find a few new tricks to teach us all. With admiration, Mimi xxx

sharon santoni

I often wear my hair up Vicki, and I like it when I manage to achieve that relaxed chignon look, with a few bits trailing … however I am like you, there are days I think, yes this is working, and others when I catch a glimpse of myself and groan to see how old it makes me look .. tricky one

Mimi Gregor

Having had my hair cut short recently, I cannot wear an updo anymore. I used to do them occasionally, but they were never that stiff, every-hair-in-place do. It would always be a French Twist, and always when my hair was just too oily or whatever to wear long. I have read that “women of a certain age” should avoid them, as the connote “old”. Yeah, well… I’ve read a lot of things that one “shouldn’t” do when older, and I’ve disregarded most of them.

“They” also say not to:

Wear eye makeup (liner, shadow, mascara) under your eyes, as it highlights wrinkles. Well, I don’t have wrinkles — only a few fine lines. And it actually seems to draw attention away from them when I wear makeup under my eyes. Plus, it makes my eyes look bigger, which is always “youthifying”.

Wear red lipstick. I’ve read that pink is more flattering. Um… again: NO! Light lipstick makes me look washed-out. My lips are still full and smooth. Yes, I’m starting to get “marionette lines”, but as with the eye makeup thingy, I think that the red lips attract attention away from the minor lines next to them. And they’re just plain sexy.

There’s a whole gamut of things that these “experts” say one should do or avoid as one ages. I ALWAYS question “authority”, try both ways myself, and see what works for me. Yes, some women look like Grandma Walton with their grey hair in a bun. Others are the epitome of chic. Just try it, take a picture of yourself, and compare it to your usual look. What do YOU think? YOU are the final arbiter of your own style!


It is just an old fashioned idea. Pay attention to the hairstyles of young women .. they pile their long hair up on their heads, twist it, roll it .. hair styles are not so much about age anymore.. a 60 year old woman can wear a pony tail .. it looks great.
I recently cut my very long hair, it is shoulder length and I look forward to it being longer again.
And remember, you are only as old as you feel. Your hair has nothing to do with it.


I can’t. I just can’t. Even when the small strips of silver begin to show I am checking the calendar for my next appointment at the salon.
My hair does not perform well when it needs to be coloured. Maybe it’s the roots in revolt lying down begging for the rich tone of my ‘natural’ brunette self. And my DIY up-do’s look great sans the silver wisps framing my face.

Mimi Gregor

Katherine, I can identify! Fortunately, I color my hair at home, because as fast as it grows, if I had to go to a salon, I’d be living on the street. Only with GREAT hair. Every three weeks, I color it. It’s not like there’s some wide discrepancy between the box color and my roots. But seeing that swath of grey in the mirror depresses the hell out of me. If I went totally grey, I probably would have to be either scraped off a train track somewhere or committed. Seriously… it depresses me. I’ve seen women with grey hair whom I consider very chic and glamourous. *Shakes head* But on ME… it just does not have the same effect.


My hair is now a grey/white/ little bit of dark mix, and I ALWAYS wear it up. In my humble opinion, it looks much neater, and it seems to give my whole persona a lift. I do not have the time to blow and style and torture my longer hair into a sleek fashion perfect look. Anyway, it is very fine, and now it is not as thick as it used to be. Don’t even get me started on all those wispy fly-aways that appeared along with the greys. Wearing my hair up is not a new thing for me — I think it has always looked better pulled up with most of the fullness on the crown. Wearing it hanging loose around my face and shoulders is dandy for the bedroom, messy looking everywhere else. This is what works for me, but it is something to think about. The model looks fabulous.


Hello, Vicki–I love starting my day with you here in California! Check out the Maximus clip by Ficcare. I’ve had mine for over ten years and it grips just as well as the day I bought it. xo Maria


I agree, the updo is suddenly aging with silver hair. New rule of thumb is that flowing, moving length (and that’s best at the shoulder break or shorter) is much younger. Silver hair has drama, and it needs to be smooth(few curls, straight is best), long lengths (no layering) to reflect the light and kept shiny clean. Then it’s a gift. So much better than a dyed cap of hair!


My hair is turning white and I couldn’t be happier. My normal color is a mousy brown so now with the white streaks it looks beautiful. I will be 65 on Saturday and I can’t wait. I have already out lived my mother, my sister and my brother. There is an old saying – Don’t complain about getting older, many have been denied the privilege. I am enjoying the privilege.

Mary in Napa Valley

Hi Vicki,
You are so fun to read! Always having topics that touch so many of us. I can’t imagine what I would do if I couldn’t wear my hair “up”. I swim in our pool and am busy in the garden and like to just “dash” out at the last minute, so being able to take my unruly hair and quickly put it “up” makes me look put-together in minutes! Once you get used to it, you will love it.


Personally, I prefer a messy updo, wispy pieces allowed to escape. It gives a much softer look than the traditional updos of the mature women. Grey? Not ready yet.


Vicki I am so ready to do this, go silver, as a brunette it is going to be a challenge. I love the updo personal as well as a ponytail!

The Arts by Karena
Featuring India Hicks!


I receive tons of compliments when I pull my hair up, allowing tendrils to fall next to my face and on my neck! Tons! I never looked back when I stopped coloring my hair. 74 this Friday.

cindy hattersley

Hi Vicki
I went gray several years ago and am very happy to have done it. I do agree with some of the commenters that it is not for everyone. I think Daphne and Linda Rodin are very fortunate that they can pull the up do off without looking Granny. I fear that is what would happen to me!


Great post and great question and love all the comments too. I think I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that, rather like wearing a hat, really carrying off your hairstyle is as much or more about attitude than anything else. For me this comes through so powerfully in your beautiful pic of Linda Rodin – her defiant attitude burns through the lens; she owns her look. So experiment, have fun, find what you like and rock it.



Hi Vicki,

I just turned 60 in July and am letting my hair go it’s own way as far as the grey is concerned. I have very light blonde hair and so far no one us noticing. My hair which is long has been my security blanket for years. Now that I have the wrinkles awarded to someone who, with fair skin, baked on California beaches I use my hair to hide my neck and take the focus off my face. Ergo, no up dos.


Oh Vicki, Vicki, Vicki!! The Updo is fabulous and fun! Sweeping hair up exposes the back of the neck ( so sexy pexy whatever your age!) makes scarves, collars etc sit so well! I find it highlights your face, your statement lip and your earrings! Chanel your inner Grace Kelly and Catherine Deneuve. I love the grey thing and look forward to it- currently a highlighted blonde but not scared of grey! Speak to a good hairdresser about maybe some white highlights through your newly greying hair? Just a thought! Check out Mimco hair ties- stretchy metallic- understated and go with anything. They also have some sparkly ones too- just for fun! I always look at what Chanel is doing for hair accessories too.

Nancy Brantley

Interesting article and comments to read. I think it depends on the persons own security. I have worn grey hair with mix of brown (natural) for many years now and I love it. I think color is harsh to your face the older you get and the roots growing out grey against dark hair is so ugly. Now if you high light with light color it don’t look as bad. Just be Classic…….


Hi Vicki,
I started going grey at 26 and at 48 still dye my hair, I’m about 70% grey but not enough to go grey just yet.
I have decided to continue to dye my hair but have switched to a lighter color with just a ‘touch’ of red. A lighter, warmer shade softens my features and creates the illusion of light under my eyes. I love updos and with my kinky curly hair, it’s so very easy, the curly texture holds the hair in place, I only need a few strategically-placed bobby pins to hold things in place. I’ve also discovered (to my absolute joy) that an undo creates the illusion of ‘lifting’ the features, a sort of inexpensive face lift. I’m certainly not complaining about that!


I have shorter hair now as I got older it developed a tendency to go into ringlets! At 62 I have decided to go grey and forget the coloured foils to ‘blend’ with the grey. Much to my surprise since my shorter hairstyle my hair is coming through silver, lucky me! I agree with other comments that you just have to try different upstyles until you find a ‘look’ for you and one that doesn’t take an age to do. I was always hopeless at doing any kind of upstyle and in the end the ringlets and long and loose was just way too much in a Sydney (Australia) summer.

Lesley Hughes

Once you get over thinking of the old ladies in our past with grey hair who were “old” at even 40 and look at the beautifully presented women around you it will help with your dilemma over grey. If that doesn’t help get a colour. It will grow out if you don’t like it. You have to be truly happy with your decision and this does not seem to be so with you. Best wishes.


I am on a similar page as you Vicki. I have never dyed my hair, so by the age of 40 I was already a lovely grey and wouldn’t dream of dying it. I get so many compliments on my colour and I think it suits ageing faces. Nothing looks as bad as older women still dying their hair dark brown, or worse, that nasty light orangy beige which blends with their skin tone. Then they wonder why they are invisible! My great dilemma is not the colour but the length. I absolutely adore an elegant updo. Linda Rodin is perfection, and by the way, I adore her Olio Lusso which is the only product that controls my acne! I have perfect skin using this miracle oil. My problem is that I feel that my longer grey hair left out looks rather tatty and witchy and I give up before I can get it to the length for an updo. I am persevering at the moment but I am not even at shoulder length and it is looking terrible. Great dilemma. Thanks for your post on this difficult topic.

Wendy Shippee

To me, the thing about Linda Rodin is that her hair may be silver/ grey, but she remains true to her style. She wears cool, fashionable glasses, red lips, her skin is lovely (no doubt due to her incredible oils) and she dresses very stylish with out looking like “mutton dressed as lamb”.
I am positive you pull off your own fabulous personal style with or without your silver/ grey hair.
I think as long as your look is classis but current ( age appropriate), you can wear your hair up, down or sideways and you will look amazing as long as you do it with confidence. The model called Carmen looks stunning with her white hair too.

Goldie Stetten

Rough Luxe did a wonderful post on “ageless beauty” this past August 16th. Linda looked amazing in all the photos. I was so impressed in the confidence in her own natural beauty. It fit my impression of a chic French women perfectly. I stopped coloring my tresses on my 60th, I’m now 64. I doubt my choice every week at least once but never more than when my weight has creeped up. If I keep it down it is so much easier to feel confident about all my choices. As far as the styling of hair, I think less coiffed is the essence of the French women of any age. A good cut and clean conditioned hair in a relaxed style in any length is magic. Hair is such a beautiful accessory to a women’s beauty and silver is a gorgeous color.

Anita Rivera

Oh I am so late….school days are early days these days!

I am not sure about this hairstyle. I was hoping I could wear my hair this way after I let it grow out long enough but I had enough of my long hair as it grew to shoulder length: I CUT IT OFF! I do admire however, a woman whose gray locks can be casually swept up, not slicked back….I think that’s it for me. The updo must be casual, soft and comfortable. Maybe one day for me!


Vicki, I also decided to go grey and had all the color cut out with a pixie and a very light streak put in where the most grey was growing out last year ato aget 44. I let my hair grow out from a pixie, but then didn’t know what to do with it besides curls. The humidity is so terrible where I live in the deep south of the US, I gave up. The second I put my hair into a ponytail holder I texted my stylist. I’m back to the pixie but people say I look ten years younger!

Joni Webb

some people have gorgeous gray hair and some don’t. it’s a hard decision. my daughter wants to dye her hair a gray blonde – grayish blonde. ok. it’s beautiful, but she is scared to go through with it.

Barb Bestone

I allowed my hair to be what it actually was almost four years ago, at the age of 62. At the time I had a short bob, but now I am letting it grow and is just past the shoulders, and my goal is to try another two inches longer to see ” how I feel” with it. I don’t consider myself ‘old’ as I don’t put those constraints on myself, I consider myself ‘me’. I don’t compare myself to anyone else, as I used to and I’ve found the freedom to be exactly who I am, right now. My hair is now in the best condition it’s ever been and I love my color –which is mostly white with a few dark hairs in the front and soft salt and pepper in the back. Everyday, I feel my hair is the highlight of any outfit that I am wearing. It’s actually become fun having silver/white hair, as everything has changed color-wise, from makeup, jewelry, scarves/hats and clothing. For me…it’s a new lease on life! I get to create a new me every single day and I’m having fun!

Catherine Lynn

Vicks having a 4 year old at the age of 53 presents its own challenges in terms of not looking like his grandmother when I started to stop colouring my hair. The silver white that came through in the front prompted other women to call me grandma thinking I was taking my grandson to the shops. When this happened 3 times I gave up! I am now a lovely blonde and do put my hair up which looks fresh on the dreaded day 2! Experiment and have a play with what suits your face and lifestyle and I am confident you will feel wonderful when those compliments start rolling in! Move from Catherine in Australia!

Teddee Grace

Well, I’m not gray, except for right around my face, and I tint my hair, but I’m just the opposite. I feel dragged down when my hair is not pulled back or up. I think back and up is very flattering to most faces


Hi there Vicki, I’m delighted to be a 64 year old woman & still high-light my hair. I also have white streaks in front which my hairstylist blends with a few of the highlights. Tried the going natural thing with white & mousy brown. It washed out my skin & made me appear drab. My lovely friend Catherine has the most gorgeous white & silver flowing hair that goes beautifully with her skin. Just goes to show you, it’s a personal preference. Decide what looks best on you and go with it. We all have our own beauty.

lori powell

Vicki….I love the updo! I’ve worn my hair in a french twist/roll for the past 35 years…everyday I put it up. I retired from the hospitality industry a few months as go and thought I would be lazy about it…but it’s such a part of me that I continue the routine. Maybe one day I’ll go back to a pixie that was forced on me as a child…but for now I’m still rebelling!


I remember my mum with a bun on the back of her neck. She was unhappy that her hair was streaky (grey and black) so she had a ‘Magic Silver White’ rinse, they used to be called the ‘blue rinse ladies’. Unfortunately (or not) my hair is completely white and as it was always very curly (frizzy) I keep it very short. I love the elegance of you pages. Beautiful.


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