Hairstyles, Hair Care & Fashion

Clothes to Wear as a Hair Stylist

Q: What are the best clothes to wear as a (female) hair stylist? I work in a major hair salon and our boss makes us wear rather boring uniforms. I’m opening my own salon later this year and I would like to wear normal fashionable clothes instead of a uniform. Can you give me some tips on what to buy and what to wear? I’m not a dress person. I prefer trousers and some sort of top. I live in a cold climate. Is it ok to wear a turtleneck once in a while or would I leave a better impression with buttoned blouses?
 
A: The dress code of a salon is determined by various factors, but we can discuss the main ones.
 
Firstly, one of the main reasons that commercial chain hairdressing groups have their employees wear uniforms is to protect their clothing. This is rather obvious and quite practical. You’re working with chemicals and water all day long, so your clothes are bound to stain. Salon uniforms are usually made of a smooth material, so that hair, cotton etc. doesn’t cling to it.
 
Hair stylist wearing smooth and shiny black clothes

 
The junior staff are usually the ones who have to wear these uniforms at all times, as they’re the ones doing the dirty work. Most salons let their senior staff wear what they want, as long as they’re bringing in enough money and a large client base.
 
Secondly, a certain dress code gives the salon a specific atmosphere. Major hair salons prefer uniforms to ensure that the staff looks presentable, neat and ... well, uniform. A lot of salons prefer to individualize their look. I worked for years at a salon in a large and busy city with only female staff. We wore relatively tight high-waisted black skirts with white blouses.
 
The material of the skirt was silky smooth, so no hair could cling to it. This was our “uniform”, yet it didn’t feel like it. We often went out together after work, and could do so without even changing. The atmosphere of that salon was young, fast and vibey. The salon attracted mostly young, modern girls and very rich older women. It was one of the best places I’ve worked so far.
 
A few years ago I also worked for a short period at a local salon in a small rural town. We had to wear stuffy, old fashioned proper black uniforms that were stifling hot. I detested those uniforms, but the salon attracted mostly older ladies from the town, and they seemed to like the uniforms.
 
Do you see what I’m getting at? You can choose whatever you like to wear, as long as it is practical. A wool turtleneck sweater is going to make hair cling to you like a magnet, which will probably gross your customers out. Your dress code determines your salon’s atmosphere to a large extent. And the atmosphere determines the type of clientele that you’ll attract. If you wear your trousers and a cute top, you’ll probably attract young people that like a nice haircut but couldn’t be bothered a lot with cutting-edge fashion. This is a nice enough crowd to attract, just remember that they don’t usually have a lot of cash to spend on their hair.
 
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