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Style & Beauty

Expensive hair & understated clothes. WTF is it?

280 replies

follyfeet · 04/10/2022 18:59

Was just reading an old S&B thread about 'looking well put together,' not flashy or designer, just everyday casual yet decent clothes. Apart from the stereotypical claptrap concerning Barbour jackets and dog hair, it was a fascinating read!

What I can't get my head around is 'expensive' hair. Wtf is it exactly? Most of us can't help the way our hair grows (thickness, texture, porosity) so how can one alter that? I always imagine this is all quite subjective anyway, but for the sake of sticking to the theme, my very own blonde version of Kate Bush or Helena Bonham Carter (a bit mad, kinky and wild) wouldn't make the cut, lol.

It's all fashion isn't it at the end of the day? Today's preferred expensive hair is most likely Kate Middleton's, but that wasn't always the sought after style.

So what is expensive hair, in your opinion?

And then there's the clothes! Where are these 'well put together' peeps MN'ers speak of buying their togs? I like the idea of understated, which is mentioned often, but no one ever mentions the actual shops. Where are these lovely exquisite chunky knits and other understated items hiding? Most of the higher end high street sucks imo.

Some comments mention wealth or class, but having been surrounded with well off arty types throughout my career I only noticed a lack of make up and a lot of frizz. No one seemed to care.

I am in my early 40's, work in art (painter) and science (geologist), and love yoga, theatre, hiking and architecture, and I dress quite boringly, I think. I spend £150 per year on my hair and buy most of my clothes from superdry or white company (i suit their colour scheme). I don't seem to have a clue about style tbh, but I would like to learn more. Clue me in Mumsnet! I can never find shops with nice things that aren't either country casuals or overpriced cheap rubbish.

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azimuth299 · 04/10/2022 22:33

follyfeet · 04/10/2022 22:21

And sorry I meant to say I have the worlds most frizzy hair! No amount of health or money can intervene probably because I don't really care enough.

I have naturally frizzy hair too, there is plenty you can do to de-frizz (obviously only if you want to though) and frizzy hair doesn't look 'expensive'. Letting your frizz run wild and taming down your frizz are both perfectly acceptable things to do, but one will look more 'expensive' than the other.

If you want tips - deep condition (try a leave in conditioner), don't scrub your hair with a towel to dry and get a silk pillowcase or satin bonnet.

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follyfeet · 04/10/2022 22:35

faretheewell · 04/10/2022 22:32

Pics attached of a few peoples hair improvements after they’ve started using properly curly styling methods, I think they look a lot more “expensive” and “done”.

I just think they look different, one is curly, one is what people now seem to describe as frizzy. Different hair are products and methodology are used. I actually like both. Years ago people didn't really seem to bother about frizzy hair. Mine was straight and flat, I actually aspired to a bit of what would be seen as frizzy now and used to purposely create it by going to bed with my hair up.

Yes, no one avoided fluffy big hair in the 70's, 80's, and who are we to say this is dated? It isn't. Time is irrelevant, only trends change. There is nothing inherently 'wrong' with the before images. They look more natural and polished, to me.
The after images look over done, more party styled. Not everyday relaxed or confident.

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AnnaMagnani · 04/10/2022 22:37

If you cared enough you would fix your frizzy hair. Totally OK not to give a stuff but if you really thought this was an important deal in your life, you would fix it.

I also have curly hair and alternate between not giving a stuff and full on love my curls styling. Personally I think curls are far easier than a blow dry! Plus even my super fine hair can hold a style for>1 day without frizz with the aid of conditioner and gel. Insane amount of conditioner, gel, grab hair into random sections and twirl. Leave to dry or aim a diffuser at it. This is not a skilled task.

Just needs a quick refresh by fluffing it with wet hands on Day 2 and it's good to go again.

I haven't brushed my hair since about 1990. Brushing is the mortal enemy of curls.

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RosesAndHellebores · 04/10/2022 22:37

I'm more an Ash blonde version of Camilla's hairstyle. Am in my 60s and it costs £150pcm. All it needs in the morning is a little persuasion with a hot brush.

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MrsMorrisey · 04/10/2022 22:38

Yes curly hair in the 90's was more shaggy as was the trend.
The key to curly hair is to never brush it, just comb in the shower with conditioner.

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MurderAtTheBeautyPageant · 04/10/2022 22:39

Raddix · 04/10/2022 19:07

For the times? The Princess of Wales is Catherine.

I'm afraid it will probably take a while for people to disconnect the name Diana from the title Princess of Wales. I never referred to her by her last title so I'm not sure this new one will stick.

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follyfeet · 04/10/2022 22:39

azimuth299 · 04/10/2022 22:33

I have naturally frizzy hair too, there is plenty you can do to de-frizz (obviously only if you want to though) and frizzy hair doesn't look 'expensive'. Letting your frizz run wild and taming down your frizz are both perfectly acceptable things to do, but one will look more 'expensive' than the other.

If you want tips - deep condition (try a leave in conditioner), don't scrub your hair with a towel to dry and get a silk pillowcase or satin bonnet.

I take good care of my hair, and do most of the things you mention. It wants to be frizzy. The day I accept this and work with it, I imagine I will project more confidence.
We don't need solutions to what nature gave us. But I see your point in terms of what is currently trending. I have spent a lot of money in the past trying to de-frizz. It works sometimes, and then it doesn't. My hair changes every day. That is it's character. It's speciality Grin

I do have dreadful straggles when I grow it long though, so somewhere just past my shoulders it begins to look stringy. I know that chopping it back is best, but I often cling on. No amount of health or money will reduce that, I don't think, and extensions are too much faff and money.

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TabithaTittlemouse · 04/10/2022 22:42

I would love a bit of frizz. Mine just hangs.

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TabithaTittlemouse · 04/10/2022 22:44

I want to be Helena Bonham-Carter. She is to me the absolute most beautiful stylish woman.

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ZealAndArdour · 04/10/2022 22:44

follyfeet · 04/10/2022 22:27

But all of these understated clothes, the 'dont have to try' kind of clothes, where do they come form? What shops or brands? I feel that I am aware of most brands but never quite like them.

I think that’s about being able to select the best fabrics and cuts from almost anywhere. Knowing what garments to put back on the rack when you check the fabric composition, and what is worth picking up even if you happen to be finding it in Primark or Sainsburys. Heavy, high thread count linen, cashmere, wools, densely woven 100% cotton (so it’s not see through), stiff cotton velvets rather than synthetic stretchy velvets, avoiding fabrics that pill and thus look worn and aged rapidly, etc. Having an eye for the proportions and cut of the garment, what fabrics need the benefit of a lining, what your body requires from clothes to look it’s best; where a skirt needs to hit your leg, whether your legs look better in a slight flare or a straight leg, whether your shape looks better in a thin modal t-shirt or if you need a more firm ribbed cotton, etc.

These are not necessarily disgusting rich women who pull this off, they’re just women who have either an innate or learned understanding of textiles and garment construction and an interest in fashion and looking their best. However effortless they may look, they are not the woman who hasn’t stepped foot in a clothes shop or browsed online in the last five years. The perfect long-line white shirt or pair of jeans took effort and research to find, it is almost never a serendipitous accident that they’ve stumbled upon all of their perfect clothes in one or two posh lady shops. It’s a painstakingly studious illusion of indifference, it’s curation.

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ZealAndArdour · 04/10/2022 22:48

ZealAndArdour · 04/10/2022 22:44

I think that’s about being able to select the best fabrics and cuts from almost anywhere. Knowing what garments to put back on the rack when you check the fabric composition, and what is worth picking up even if you happen to be finding it in Primark or Sainsburys. Heavy, high thread count linen, cashmere, wools, densely woven 100% cotton (so it’s not see through), stiff cotton velvets rather than synthetic stretchy velvets, avoiding fabrics that pill and thus look worn and aged rapidly, etc. Having an eye for the proportions and cut of the garment, what fabrics need the benefit of a lining, what your body requires from clothes to look it’s best; where a skirt needs to hit your leg, whether your legs look better in a slight flare or a straight leg, whether your shape looks better in a thin modal t-shirt or if you need a more firm ribbed cotton, etc.

These are not necessarily disgusting rich women who pull this off, they’re just women who have either an innate or learned understanding of textiles and garment construction and an interest in fashion and looking their best. However effortless they may look, they are not the woman who hasn’t stepped foot in a clothes shop or browsed online in the last five years. The perfect long-line white shirt or pair of jeans took effort and research to find, it is almost never a serendipitous accident that they’ve stumbled upon all of their perfect clothes in one or two posh lady shops. It’s a painstakingly studious illusion of indifference, it’s curation.

*disgustingly rich women

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follyfeet · 04/10/2022 22:52

ZealAndArdour · 04/10/2022 22:44

I think that’s about being able to select the best fabrics and cuts from almost anywhere. Knowing what garments to put back on the rack when you check the fabric composition, and what is worth picking up even if you happen to be finding it in Primark or Sainsburys. Heavy, high thread count linen, cashmere, wools, densely woven 100% cotton (so it’s not see through), stiff cotton velvets rather than synthetic stretchy velvets, avoiding fabrics that pill and thus look worn and aged rapidly, etc. Having an eye for the proportions and cut of the garment, what fabrics need the benefit of a lining, what your body requires from clothes to look it’s best; where a skirt needs to hit your leg, whether your legs look better in a slight flare or a straight leg, whether your shape looks better in a thin modal t-shirt or if you need a more firm ribbed cotton, etc.

These are not necessarily disgusting rich women who pull this off, they’re just women who have either an innate or learned understanding of textiles and garment construction and an interest in fashion and looking their best. However effortless they may look, they are not the woman who hasn’t stepped foot in a clothes shop or browsed online in the last five years. The perfect long-line white shirt or pair of jeans took effort and research to find, it is almost never a serendipitous accident that they’ve stumbled upon all of their perfect clothes in one or two posh lady shops. It’s a painstakingly studious illusion of indifference, it’s curation.

Thank you for such a well thought out reply! I am often baffled as no one ever mentions where, or how.

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Eeksteek · 04/10/2022 22:59

I’m probably not remotely qualified to comment, having taken to chopping my own firstly in covid, and now due to extreme financial necessity. I really like it, but it does look awfully middle aged somehow, although not too cheap. I suspect cheap is easier to define, because of poor dye jobs or just not cutting and split ends etc.

I mostly wanted to agree with you about fashion. Most of it is absolutely AWFUL. I have very classic (probably incredibly dull) taste but the things I see popping up on ads here - pink ruffles I would have laughed at and flatly refused to wear age 7. And the strange brown furry creations I keep seeing? WTAF?! They look like Rod, Jane Freddy dressing up as Bungle!!!! I keep trying to remember to get a screenshot, but I’m too aghast anyone would even consider wearing it! I’ll stick with my Boden, Celtic sheepskin and Audrey Hepburn inspired home sewing, thanks. Cheap maybe, and a bit amateur (I’m still learning) but at least I don’t look like a fucking cartoon character!

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antelopevalley · 04/10/2022 23:01

Raddix · 04/10/2022 19:02

Expensive hair is natural looking and not over styled. No colours that look obviously fake. No shaved bits or weird styles. Just plain healthy hair in your natural style. Think like the Princess of Wales.

My hair is natural. It does not look expensive hair.

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antelopevalley · 04/10/2022 23:03

Also Kate wears wiglets.

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sourcreampringle · 04/10/2022 23:19

Kate Middleton’s hair always looks very ‘done’ to me? Always very styled and blowdryed or curled. Also often looks like it is dyed- usually close to her natural colour like a brighter more chestnut brown or as it currently is with highlights through it, fairly subtle but clearly not the ‘natural’ colour.

Her makeup is quite heavy too- lots of black eyeliner but she pulls it off well!

None of this is critical btw she’s absolutely gorgeous

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MidnightMeltdown · 04/10/2022 23:24

I think expensive hair means well cut. Not very long and straggly.

However, certain hair types do look naturally more 'expensive' IMO. Thickness is key. It's very hard to make thin hair look expensive, but it can look good if short and well styled.

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Thighdentitycrisis · 04/10/2022 23:25

more expensive fabrics and brands often look so much better

today I wore fine wool flares from J Crew something like this
www.jcrew.com/uk/p/womens/categories/clothing/pants/flare/willa-full-length-flare-pant-in-italian-city-wool/BK267?display=standard&fit=Classic&color_name=black&colorProductCode=BK267

that are from a charity shop. They look and feel expensive and you just know a cheap version wouldn’t feel so good.

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follyfeet · 04/10/2022 23:32

I agree that most people's perceptions of expensive hair just look overly done.
I am used to a trombonist with mad frizz, an archeologist looking like her finger went into a plug socket. A lot of people really don't care, regardless of income or class.
The overly styled are a demographic in themselves, not exactly expensive, as the poorest of the lot can go the mile.
It might be about time we quit making financial distinctions about style. Why do we need someone to look down on?
We tend to gather in groups, not necessarily class, but like minds. People who share our tastes. I have a lot of friends who are not remotely like me, but we respect and adore each other. We are a mixed up, muddled up, wild bunch.

Those who share my deepest desires and beliefs are often nothing like me in dress or taste. Sometimes, viewing mumsnet, there's this weird sense that we must fit in to a group or taste. I think this is an insecurity; caring too much about trivial matters, which no one really actually cares about, in real life. If we are honest. And if we feel our social group DOES care about trivial things, then maybe we don't belong in it.

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stayathomer · 04/10/2022 23:32

Ps I’d say look at people like Olivia palermo as an example

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follyfeet · 04/10/2022 23:36

Thighdentitycrisis · 04/10/2022 23:25

more expensive fabrics and brands often look so much better

today I wore fine wool flares from J Crew something like this
www.jcrew.com/uk/p/womens/categories/clothing/pants/flare/willa-full-length-flare-pant-in-italian-city-wool/BK267?display=standard&fit=Classic&color_name=black&colorProductCode=BK267

that are from a charity shop. They look and feel expensive and you just know a cheap version wouldn’t feel so good.

Cheap clothes don't feel good, i agree.
Yet our market is littered with cheap crap, because to keep the price of clothing down, manufacturers cut corners and use inferior materials to create clothes. This gives the impression that inflation never happened, to fool those who have less into thinking they have more.

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Redfrangipani · 05/10/2022 00:49

I asked my hairdresser how you go about having ‘expensive hair’ and she said the first thing is to have healthy and thick shiny hair hair genes, (so I’m not going to have expensive hair) but that I could approximate it by very regular trims, blow dry/styling after each wash and something else that I’ve forgotten because I wasn’t going to do the first couple of things. Also my grey hair would need a mixture of blonde low lights and down lights apparently (she said for me to think Sarah Jessica Parker’s hair in ‘and just like that’ only shorter in my case. My hair can’t grow past my shoulders without looking more bedraggled). Also, she said an expensive hairstyle probably isn’t going to look expensive all day without little tweaks and touch ups and smoothing down. Like is done with makeup - those regular touch ups during the day.

I have asked my sister about the well styled clothes look (she’s a person that always looks styled beautifully - in this regard we couldn’t be more different). She said expensive looking ladies are, at the moment, often doing the all one colour thing in clothing - same shirt colour as trousers (or skirt) with a slightly deeper shade of that colour in shoe wear. Also, silk & cashmere and fine cotton is big, as is suede for shoes. It’s all got to be well cut and sewn (straight lines). Colours are often vibrant jewel tones too, now. No need to break up all that one colour (although slightly varying tones of same colour can work) if the colours are rich and suit you. Apparently.

Also, the expensive look is often reliant on the wearer not having to carry a handbag, (too rich to need one) or if carrying one it’s a Birkin or Dior etc, or a very good leather one, very well stitched and regularly attended to with leather cream or something(not sure what she meant by last bit).

No very big pieces of jewellery. Lots of delicate pieces. Thin gold neck chain or chains pl,, small tasteful pendant. Or single string pearls. Thin gold rings. One big stone surrounded by diamonds ring never dated - think Diana’s engagement ring. Little earrings -gold, diamond or pearl.

My sister achieves this look on a budget by buying cheaper clothes but being a slave to her iron - must all be well pressed. She changes cheaper buttons for more expensive ones on her shirts/coats. When she is ready to dispose of old clothing she cuts off the good buttons and will reuse when appropriate. Shoes are always polished, or if suede they are brushed before wearing. She has two good handbags, each of which she empties after use and stuffs with paper after each wear.

Every morning hair and makeup are done. Her makeup is barely noticeable (but takes a lot of time to apply).

In summer it’s fresh cottons and lots of linen (in my case My skin is very sensitive and linen sends me into a meltdown - it itches me. Although probably the very very expensive linen would not - I’m unlikely to find that out). Then it’s natural colours - whites, shades of beige/cream etc. The Hamptons Grandma look it’s called, or something like that.

(I did laugh when I saw one of the fashion trends on the runways this season was creased clothing. A no iron look. Maybe we are about to see a push back on the ‘expensive look.’)

Oh, nails always well manicured and moisturised. Feet too.

Probably a whole lot of other upkeep needed. Personally, I just don’t have the energy for it all. My sister does and is no slouch in other things either - she works, studies (and has bought up a family) and socialises with friends regularly. She’s witty, has a quirky, dirty sense of humour. Not sure when she has time to sleep. And yes, she is real.

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Cheeselog · 05/10/2022 01:03

Remember, frizz is a texture, it is not a sign of ill health or poor care. We have decided we don't like it!

Mine frizzes upon brushing, but later calms down to a nice enough shine

This is your hair. Mine is absolutely frizzy due to poor care - it doesn’t brush down to a shine, I brush out ringlets and end up like Hagrid. Frizz is curls that don’t have definition. To look good I need to use curl jelly on non-wash days and stop using a brush but brushing has been deeply ingrained in me by my mother (who has straight hair).

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follyfeet · 05/10/2022 01:05

Redfrangipani · 05/10/2022 00:49

I asked my hairdresser how you go about having ‘expensive hair’ and she said the first thing is to have healthy and thick shiny hair hair genes, (so I’m not going to have expensive hair) but that I could approximate it by very regular trims, blow dry/styling after each wash and something else that I’ve forgotten because I wasn’t going to do the first couple of things. Also my grey hair would need a mixture of blonde low lights and down lights apparently (she said for me to think Sarah Jessica Parker’s hair in ‘and just like that’ only shorter in my case. My hair can’t grow past my shoulders without looking more bedraggled). Also, she said an expensive hairstyle probably isn’t going to look expensive all day without little tweaks and touch ups and smoothing down. Like is done with makeup - those regular touch ups during the day.

I have asked my sister about the well styled clothes look (she’s a person that always looks styled beautifully - in this regard we couldn’t be more different). She said expensive looking ladies are, at the moment, often doing the all one colour thing in clothing - same shirt colour as trousers (or skirt) with a slightly deeper shade of that colour in shoe wear. Also, silk & cashmere and fine cotton is big, as is suede for shoes. It’s all got to be well cut and sewn (straight lines). Colours are often vibrant jewel tones too, now. No need to break up all that one colour (although slightly varying tones of same colour can work) if the colours are rich and suit you. Apparently.

Also, the expensive look is often reliant on the wearer not having to carry a handbag, (too rich to need one) or if carrying one it’s a Birkin or Dior etc, or a very good leather one, very well stitched and regularly attended to with leather cream or something(not sure what she meant by last bit).

No very big pieces of jewellery. Lots of delicate pieces. Thin gold neck chain or chains pl,, small tasteful pendant. Or single string pearls. Thin gold rings. One big stone surrounded by diamonds ring never dated - think Diana’s engagement ring. Little earrings -gold, diamond or pearl.

My sister achieves this look on a budget by buying cheaper clothes but being a slave to her iron - must all be well pressed. She changes cheaper buttons for more expensive ones on her shirts/coats. When she is ready to dispose of old clothing she cuts off the good buttons and will reuse when appropriate. Shoes are always polished, or if suede they are brushed before wearing. She has two good handbags, each of which she empties after use and stuffs with paper after each wear.

Every morning hair and makeup are done. Her makeup is barely noticeable (but takes a lot of time to apply).

In summer it’s fresh cottons and lots of linen (in my case My skin is very sensitive and linen sends me into a meltdown - it itches me. Although probably the very very expensive linen would not - I’m unlikely to find that out). Then it’s natural colours - whites, shades of beige/cream etc. The Hamptons Grandma look it’s called, or something like that.

(I did laugh when I saw one of the fashion trends on the runways this season was creased clothing. A no iron look. Maybe we are about to see a push back on the ‘expensive look.’)

Oh, nails always well manicured and moisturised. Feet too.

Probably a whole lot of other upkeep needed. Personally, I just don’t have the energy for it all. My sister does and is no slouch in other things either - she works, studies (and has bought up a family) and socialises with friends regularly. She’s witty, has a quirky, dirty sense of humour. Not sure when she has time to sleep. And yes, she is real.

I wonder if this level of dedication actually makes one's life better. Like why do we associate this with looking put together. This is all well and good if it is your passion, if you enjoy it, then nobody has a right to criticise it.

The cashmere thing intrigues me. It seems to fall to shit so quickly, considering the expense, and i have, previously, purchased high quality cashmere. I love the softness, but the goddamn upkeep.....aargh! I wonder what the attraction is. I much prefer merino, or wool. Acrylic is useless as there's no warmth, so one might as well purchase a tshirt.

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follyfeet · 05/10/2022 01:06

Cheeselog · 05/10/2022 01:03

Remember, frizz is a texture, it is not a sign of ill health or poor care. We have decided we don't like it!

Mine frizzes upon brushing, but later calms down to a nice enough shine

This is your hair. Mine is absolutely frizzy due to poor care - it doesn’t brush down to a shine, I brush out ringlets and end up like Hagrid. Frizz is curls that don’t have definition. To look good I need to use curl jelly on non-wash days and stop using a brush but brushing has been deeply ingrained in me by my mother (who has straight hair).

But is your natural texture 'bad'? If so, who decided? Who told you that the hair you were born with was inferior?

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