Scrunchies and other "Should I stills"

If anyone hasn't seen the series of Hillary Tumblr Texts, it is here, and a hoot.

But back to scrunchies, the most divisive hair issue among women since Sinead shaved.

Cyndi Lauper, 2012
I don't have to make the fraught decision, but if I had another ten or twelve inches to hold back, a wad of elasticated fabric would not be my choice. Like leggings worn as pants, nameplate necklaces or one-shoulder tees, scrunchies shone when Girls Just Wan(ted) to Have Fun. We still wanna, but even Cyndi has changed her accessories.

I'll hear from devoted scrunchettes. Fine! I have my own affection for things not exactly à la mode: Blundstones, Hermès carrés, and (some have charged) pearls.

I propose, when we find ourselves clinging to dependable but perhaps passé items:

1. We are defensive about our style holdouts. Be curious about why, then, if this is your deep identity, just stop defending. No only-to-garden, no bad-hair-day; no not-in-public, just "Do Whatcha Wanna, hang on the cor-nah", as they say in New Orleans.

Tapering off
2. Break the habit. Put it away for 21 days; find an alternative. If it still exerts a magnetic pull after the three-week furlough, see #1.

To taper off: the rope ponytail holder; for a bigger departure, try a thick coated elastic, perhaps with a discreet accent like this tortoise model.

Cold turkey

3. Think of your style beacons; ask if they would wear it today. You are not imitating, just learning from stellar examples. Mine is Jane Birkin; I've seen her with chopsticks and small tortoise clips, no scrunchie. If the answer is "No, she wouldn't and I don't care", see #1.

4. Keep your friends out of it. Unless into a bottle of Pinot Noir, those who love you won't say "Give it up, honey", and if they blurt the truth once it's emptied, you'll write it off.

A woman at this level of public service is a target for micro-examination and projection, but I'll add my assessment: even if I didn't know who this was, I'd say Hillz looks of-the-moment in her glasses, soft black ensemble and bold jewelry. She can appear bland and stiff, but here, she's chic. Once again, the power of a good pair of bipartisan shades! 

And if she were wearing the same thing with a scrunchie, not so current.


Jill Ann said…
I don't have a strong opinion about scrunchies...but I don't have long hair. I do admit to judging when I see a woman wearing one, so I guess I'm in the "don't do it" camp.

But what I do have a strong opinion about is that last photo! Love Hillz, love Rachel Maddow, and, as a mother of teenage daughters, love Girl Power! My 17 year old is studying the 1960s era in history class (yeah, I know). She came home last week & asked me if I knew who Phyllis Schlafly was; I used some impolite terms in explaining that woman's claim to fame. Then last night she told me they had studied Betty Friedan and "the problem with no name". It's hard for kids her age to comprehend that women had so few choices back in the day. What she finds worrisome is that she has two close friends, very bright girls, whose ambitions seem to extend to getting through college as quickly as possible so they can get married and stay home raising kids. No expectations of an interesting, exciting career from those two. My kid told me, "thanks for raising me feminist, Mom!". I'm so proud!
rb said…
I don't love the big floppy scrunchies from the 80s but I am fine with those having a small amount of fabric covering the elastic. My hairdresser noticed I had a line where I was wearing hair elastics and suggested either using claw clips or scrunchies instead. And my hairdresser is a young, hip guy.

I mostly go for the claw clips now when I need my hair out of the way, but I would wear a scrunchie. Probably not to work, but out and about running errands? Sure.

I worry that as soon as women of a certain age declare something "out", it has actually been out so long it's back in.

Case in point, here are some scrunchies from F21.
SewingLibrarian said…
No scrunchies, but I've made my peace with Hermes carres. One day I said, "So what if I look like a middle-aged or older bourgeoise? I AM one!"
PS Am I the only one having increasing difficulty with Blogger's letter verification? I swear I can't figure out what some of those letters are meant to be.
Duchesse said…
Jill Ann: There will always be some women whose desire to create and be at home with a family is the paramount value, and I do not fault that. What scares me, though, is women who do not prepare themselves to take care of themselves financially (and their children if needed), thinking a partner will always be there and take care of them.

rb: I'm aware of the young wearing them, but I am also aware of the irony in that gesture. An '80s staple looks entirely different on a 20-someting than it does on a 50-something.

SewingLibrarian: The carré will always have both its more conventional wearers (that's us) and its outliers like the young man I saw at the market, using one to support a broken arm. I'm also liking one draped over the back of a slipper chair. Sometimes I have to enter the word verification three times to get it right!
sisty said…
Hahaha, SewingLibrarian! I had exactly the same thought the other day. I AM a 55 year old woman, so it shouldn't surprise me when I look like one. Or, in the words of Gloria Steinem, "This is what 55looks like!"

My "should I still" is "Should I still go out without makeup on?" I hardly ever wear makeup, but I do think I look much better with it on, more polished and, yes, more "mature," but in the sense of being a grownup.
Rubiatonta said…
I've been wearing a lot of headbands of late, and I'm on the fence about them. Would like to find some that are more soigne.

Why is it, though, that scarves tied in my hair look cool?
Duchesse said…
sisty: There is the no makeup *look* and there is actually, no makeup. A little lip colour and mascara looks more polished, and if your hair is grey, that plus no makeup can look drab. But it's also a matter of where and how you live. Every woman finds her makeup tolerance; for me it is light indeed- I don't own foundation. You might enjoy this:

Rubi: Another Hillary hair accessory! I dislike the hard plastic band, they're for little girls. Like the broad fabric headbands that women wear almost like a scarf with their hair up or in a low bun. Indian-style, across the forehead: for functional use
(e.g. tennis) only.
Jill Ann said…
Duchesse: i am currently a stay-at-home mom myself, but I worked for many years, including when my kids were small. I always found it reassuring to earn my own income. Since I've been "at home", I find it much less stressful, but pretty dull and boring. I'm sure many other women love being at home, but it's not really my thing. But preferences aside, I still feel it is critically important for women to be able to earn their own way. I offer as evidence my mother-in-law, who didn't graduate from high school, but married at 20 and dutifully bore seven children, two with major handicaps. It would have worked out fine, except that her husband dropped dead at age 47, leaving her with 3 kids still at home, no insurance, no savings, and no job skills.

Flash forward some 15 years later: my sister-in-law, the youngest of those 3 kids left at home, did manage to graduate from college (not an easy process for her) and find a good job. Which was fortunate when her husband, at age 39, succumbed to depression and killed himself, leaving her with three children under the age of 6.

So from where I sit, ladies, you better not depend on a man to take care of you. He may not leave you for a hot 25 year old, but he might just drop dead, and leave you quite unprepared to support yourself and your kids. Opting for the housewife mode, regardless of whether or not you find that challenging and interesting, is cery risky unless you are wealthy and well insured.

And I, too, find those word verification words very difficult to read!
Jill Ann said…
That's "very risky". Damn iPad keyboard. Certainly not my typing skills.
SewingLibrarian said…
Jill Ann, my great-grandfather was a proto-feminist, I guess, because he insisted his three daughters train for some kind of work. He had seen too many women slide into poverty when their husbands died or were killed in mining accidents (in the Sciottish lowlands). My grandmother trained in "domestic science." I presume she could have managed a household staff in a "big house" if necessary. My mother still has my grandma's notebooks with recipes and instructions. She also has her sample mending needlework pieces that are amazing.
Susan said…
I use thick stretchy bands but don't like scrunchies. My should I still is skirt lengths - in winter I mostly wear woollen dresses with woolly tights and boots, and most of the dresses are above my knee level (I'm 55). Because I am covered in wool it still feels OK (and it lovely and warm too), though I would not wear anything that short in summer with bare legs! But each year when I get the winter wardrobe out I find myself questioning it. One year I will end up getting rid of them.
sisty said…
Thanks, Duchesse -- I loved the article, and also the comments. To wear or not-to-wear makeup is really a touchy issue for a lot of women.

My hair is still 95% dark brown, so for now I've made it a habit to wear lipstick and sunscreen and sometimes a touch of YSL touche eclat. I don't like the way most foundations feel, but I do have a powder foundation for touchups, but I rarely use it.
I haven't worn a scrunchie since the late 80s, and don't intend to, ever again - not even in the shower.
barbara said…
I have to admit, that I still wear scrunchies, but only at home, for sports and gardening.
At almost 63 my silver/gray hair is long (similar to LPC) and for me it's a daily must to wear the minimalist make up you described.
I don't like foundations, but I do love Avène's Fluid foundation corrector in "natural" which leaves just a hint of color at your skin.
LPC said…
I suppose you mean me? Scrunchies are a trope, a meme, a metaphor. An example of that to which one clings for comfort. Also a very convenient want to hold one's long hair out of one's face. I don't care for the floppy 80s ones either. But I feel there are no absolutes, in clothing, only better or worse ways to implement various strategies.
barbara said…
Yes, Lisa, I meant you.
And yes, I see it the same way like you.
LPC said…
Oh hi Barbara! Sorry I wasn't clear. The question was for Duchesse:). I knew you meant me, even though I did think I ought to change my online profile to say Lisa everywhere, now that I'm out from behind the bloggin curtain. And I saw some medium velvet scrunchies on France Luxe that look to be just the thing! Also, don't you find even the word, scrunchie, kind of fun and comical?
Mardel said…
For me, when I felt the need to pull my hair off my face all the time I knew it was time to chop it off. But people can wear what they like, whether it works seems to depends more on the whole picture than the individual item.

I'm coming back to Hermes carres after a bit of an absence perhaps that transitional period between youth and middle age was the hardest to navigate.

I agree that everyone should be capable of supporting themselves and their family should it come to that. I've nothing against women or men staying home, I just think they are incredibly naive if they believe they don't need the ability to be self-sufficient.
Duchesse said…
Jill Ann and sewinglibrarian: We need to out these examples and stories in front of girls and young women as well as share them with each other!

Susan: That's it, one day something just shifts. I got rid of some long skirts, then they came in again but though they look cool on my 20-something hairdresser, they no longer do on me.

sisty: Glad you liked it, shows the range of approach and opinion. Sometimes I buy makeup and never wear it, so now I buy mostly drugstore stuff.

That's Not: A woman who knows her unscrunched mind!

barbara: Thanks for the tip, I'll try it as I love Avène products. Can't stand the feel of 'real' foundation.

LPC: Saw your post, then the Hillary Tumblr, and- voilà! To call a scrunchie a meme is giving it too much credit. Like tube socks or chains on eyeglasses, it is an accessory that's not going anywhere. Word is a nice little piece of naming.
Duchesse said…
Mardel: I had a tinge of angst a few years ago about the carré but I'm almost 64, so figure looing like an older femme bourgeoise is pretty much 'if the shoe fits'. Re being "taken care of", am wondering if young women (and girls) are naive or just engaging (pun intended) in magical thinking.

Have seen many cases of what Jill Ann describes.
Jill Ann said…
One more comment on the housewife-vs-career woman thing, which you can probably tell is a big deal with me....talking to my 17 year old daughter the other day. She is my daughter after all, so she's trying to get her class rank as high as possible (top 5% right now, yay!). And she's thinking seriously about which colleges to apply to, and trying to figure out what she'd like to major in that will offer her a good chance at a career. All good stuff.

But what concerns her is her two best girlfriends, who are both very bright and doing well in school, but whose main life goals are getting through college as quickly as possible so they can get married and have babies, at which point they will quit working entirely. She doesn't understand why her friends have no ambition, and I don't understand why it is so appealing to them to be totally dependent on a man, not to mention why they want to have such "small" lives. I don't mean to offend any stay-at-home moms, and I totally understand wanting to stay home while the kids are little, but if you never want to be out in the world at all, and have a chance to use your education....I just don't get it.
Duchesse said…
JillAnn: "Not getting it" suggests you probably have questions like, "What do they perceive as the downside to developing a marketable skill?", "What are their hopes, dreams and imaginations about the life of a SAHM"? (In other words, what is the story they are telling themselves about this life.) "Who are their models for this sort of life?", and of course, "Do they realize the risks of a life wholly dependent on the support of another person?"

The fact is, there *are* women who are wholly and happily supported by their partners (and who contribute through their work in the home), and it all works out. It's just when you see women destitute (not to mention heartbroken), as I have, that you want 17 year olds to realize it is not a sure thing.
Anonymous said…
No scrunchy for me, I go for the most obscure looking elastic possible (same color as hair and no decoration). As for the SAHM issue,I am one but I am also back in school (at 46 years old) while raising my 13 yr. old. I do plan on going back into the job market after receiving my B.A. but the problem is I'll be at least 50 (taking only 2 classes/semester) and because of my age am expecting a tough time finding a job, any job. With my daughter watching, quitting college is not an option.
Duchesse said…
Anonymous: Your results in the job market will depend on the skills your BA develops (which I assume you have considered when you chose your course of study), and good for you!
Duchesse said…
Anon: It's late and I mangled the syntax: "which you had considered".
Who is the dark-haired woman immediately above the last (black&white) pic of Hillary Clinton? I assume she is a newscaster. Actually I much prefer Hillary's current look - she was a bit helmet-haired and garish-trouser-suited before; she looks both more relaxed and more chic now.

I have never worn a scrunchie, even in the 1980s. I also seek out the plainest covered hair elastics possible - hard to find silver/grey ones though!

I think I do have what you call wide fabric headbands, though, only for practical hair-out-of-eyes-in-wind reasons.
Duchesse said…
lagatta: That's Rachel Maddow:
tinyjunco said…
Jill Ann said: ....not to mention why they want to have such "small" lives. I don't mean to offend any stay-at-home moms, and I totally understand wanting to stay home while the kids are little, but if you never want to be out in the world at all, and have a chance to use your education....I just don't get it."

Not to offend any career-people out there, but - people with some of the smallest lives i've ever seen have been single people using their degrees in very long hours at high pressure, demanding jobs. Always either working, commuting, or crashing to recuperate from the stress. No time for hobby, exercise, proper eating, political involvement.....barely even for family.

OTOH, one of the busiest people i know is a married lady with no job or kids, two dogs. Keeping bees, huge garden (including edibles) watered with a grey water system she designed, involved in community issues regarding pollution and the environment (they live near a refinery), cooks and bakes, slowly re-designing and redecorating her small house, has time for her hobby of paper-based crafts, researching keeping get the idea.

There's more than one way to use your brains and creativity to develop a 'big' life. Just sayin'. Steph
Duchesse said…
steph: Thanks for these examples. The "size" of a life is not determined by *where* it's spent, is it?

Jill Ann's point, aside from her own preferences is, "You better not depend on a man to take care of you"- wherever you land.

Whether she chooses to use her education for paid work or not, a woman who cannot support herself is taking a substantial risk. And because I've seen more than a few deadbeat dads (who actually had money), she might think about having to support any dependent children she has, too.

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