Reader Request: How Does Your Hairstyle Interact With Your Outfit?

how hairstyle impacts outfit

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Reader Andrea had this request:

I would be interested in a post on how different hairstyles interact with outfits. How much does wearing hair down vs. in a bun affect the formality of an outfit? How much can the hairstyle you wear with an outfit change the overall look? I always seem to wear my hair the same way with the same pieces, and I’m not sure why I only ever visualize those things with those hairstyles. (I’m also contemplating a major hair change right now, so hair is on my mind a lot recently.)

When my hair was longer, I had the same experience: Certain outfits definitely called out for an updo, while others looked better with hair worn down. And even now with supershort locks, I occasionally wear something that looks slightly off with messy waves and much better blown dry.

I asked Wendy Nguyen of Wendy’s Lookbook to let me use some of her photos to illustrate how hairstyle impacts outfits. As you’ll see balance, formality, structure, and genre all play in. Let’s take a peek:

hairstyle volume outfit

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Here are two outfits in which hairstyle is a factor in enhancing or balancing volume within the outfit. On the left, the volume within Wendy’s outfit is all toward the top, mostly from the waist up. Her hair, worn down, adds yet more volume but also works organically with the loose layers. On the left, the orange sweater is the only voluminous piece. With her hair in a high bun, she avoids adding more volume to her top half.

hairstyle formal casual

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Here are two decidedly formal looks. Some updos and buns can read as casual, but paired with outfits that already give off a dressy vibe, they generally add yet more formality. Definitely the case with the bun Wendy did with her black dress, although the addition of the headband keeps her hairstyle from being formal to the point of stuffiness. The green dress outfit has a much more relaxed vibe. Although the dress itself and structured clutch are quite fancy, the open-toed shoes and loose wavy hairstyle overtake them to create a dressy but not formal look. Switch the hairstyles and the black dress outfit would be more “night on the town” and the green dress outfit would be more “black-tie affair.”

hairstyle structure

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Structure within the outfit is at play in nearly all of these examples. You can see how updos often align with structured looks, and hair worn down aligns with unstructured ones. But here are two more great outfits that show how you can juxtapose structure and looseness using your hairstyle. Wendy’s cropped trench and pencil skirt are decidedly structured, but wearing her hair down adds some soft, flowy lines. Her white trapeeze top is loose and breezy, but her headband and bun balance it out.

hairstyle genre

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Finally certain hairstyles lend themselves to certain genres. At left, Wendy has on a preppy/classic look that could’ve come direct from the J.Crew catalog, and has chosen a bun/headband combo to match. The middle outfit has both Boho and preppy elements to it, and the loose ponytail complements them both. For the beachy outfit on the right, Wendy wore her hair down and loose to match.

Hope this was helpful! And thanks again to Wendy for use of her gorgeous photos.

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6 Responses to “Reader Request: How Does Your Hairstyle Interact With Your Outfit?”

  1. walkercreative

    This was a great and interesting article! I have many times wondered the same thing, and tend to wear the same hairstyle with certain pieces. Let’s also not forget about color and contrast with your hair. My hair is very dark and prominent. Whenever I wear black my hair goes up (otherwise all the dark casts shadows on my face), however EVERY time i wear white my hair is down for lovely contrast.

    • calikancab

      I noticed the color contrast in the pale outfit above. Dark hair and not-quite-as-dark clutch accented the rest of the outfit.

  2. karabooiloveyou

    Very interesting and some styling advice I hadn’t really considered before. I have short hair now and have had for a couple of years, but this makes me want to play around more with different ways of styling it to compliment my outfits better.

  3. Accidental Icon

    What a creative and innovative post, I have not seen anything like this before. I always kept the same hairstyle no matter what I was wearing. Since becoming a blogger I have had to think more about my hair, how it can support the style and mood I am trying to create and address the challenge of styling limitations related to short hair. I would recommend you experiment with some of these suggestions, I have been so surprised and a bonus is that it is a lot of fun.

    Accidental Icon
    http://www.accidentalicon.com