Locks of Love

Locks of Love is not what most people think it is. No, it is not a scam, as many people are claiming on the internet. But it also is not what most people expect it to be.

First of all, Locks of Love is not an organization for child cancer patients. The organization exists for children sustain permanent hair loss. Some have lost hair through severe burns, trauma, accidents involving scalp loss. Most have an autoimmune disorder called alopecia areata, which causes total permanent hair loss. The wigs created through Locks of Love are of extremely high quality and are fitted to each individual child’s scalp. These are so carefully crafted that a child with one of these wigs is able to do almost anything wearing it (swimming, for instance) that most wigs are not capable of. What this also means is that their audience is selective for a reason. They are only capable of making several hundred wigs a year. The rest of the hair they collect (that is, of the hair they collect that is chemically untarnished, of proper length, and suitable for wigs) is sold to other wig-making companies. Less than eighty per cent of the hair donated to Locks of Love is actually used by the organization. The profits they receive, however, help pay for overhead costs (wigs cost money, even when the hair is free), price reductions for needy families (Locks of Love sells their wigs, but they do so at a fraction of the market value), and creating grants for research on alopecia areata, their primary area of interest.

So, what if you want your hair to be used in wigs? Pantene Beautiful Lengths is one an excellent option. They produce wigs — this is normal wigs, mind you, the kind you can’t swim in — for children and adults who have gone through chemotherapy. Because they are less specialized, they are able to make several thousand wigs a year and thus use a great deal more of the hair they receive. Also, because these are not highly customized wigs, they do not charge chemo patients anything for the wigs they distribute. Moreover, if your hair is too short for Locks of Love’s ten-inch minimum length, you may be able to donate to Pantene. Their minimum length requirement is only eight inches. As with Locks of Love, there are conditions on the quality of the hair. This is the information provided on their website, for those that are interested.

  • Donated hair must be a minimum of 8 inches long (measure hair from just above the elastic band of the ponytail to the ends).
  • Wavy/curly hair texture is fine—you may straighten hair to measure.
  • Hair should be freshly washed and completely dry, without any styling products.
  • Hair may be colored with vegetable dyes, rinses and semi-permanent dyes. It cannot be bleached, permanently colored or chemically treated.
  • Hair may not be more than 5% grey
They also explain why these restrictions are so important, in the wig-making process:
  • It takes at least six ponytails to make a Pantene Beautiful Lengths wig; in general, each ponytail comes from a different person and is a different color. Even though some hair colors may look similar, including gray hair, each is completely unique.
  • For a realistic-looking wig that has consistent color throughout, donated ponytails must be processed and then dyed to the same shade. It is critical for each ponytail to absorb dyes at the same rate in order to create wigs of consistent, natural-looking color.
  • Gray hair, as well as some chemically-treated or permanently-colored hair, does not absorb dye at the same rate as other types of hair. It is much harder to color and, once colored, fades more quickly.
  • Most permanently-colored hair, once it is processed and re-colored, is too fragile and breakable under the rigorous processing required during the production of a Pantene Beautiful Lengths wig.
But for those of you longhairs who have taken immaculate care of your hair, there may be a third option. Check out the Hair Trader and related websites to sell your tresses to wig-makers, directly. This last option is especially appealing, in today’s troubled economy. I have only done some very preliminary research, but I believe I may be able to get more than $800 for the hair I cut off. That would allow me to give to whatever charity I wanted and still have plenty left over for ‘stimulating the economy’ (to be fair, it would probably go to my wedding fund, but only because I haven’t bothered to get a driver’s license, yet).
I’ll make sure to let you know how it goes! In the meantime, I think it is fair to warn you that my hair is cut and it looks amazing. Sky made me promise not to put it online until he saw it in person, but I should be posting ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots, complete with trophy shots of the (ca. 18 inches of) glorious tresses I’ll be selling! This is so exciting. I was entirely ready, and I’m coming out of this stronger than ever.


Tomorrow is a big day, for me. Tomorrow, I will be cutting my hair shorter than it has ever been cut, before. Currently, my hair falls to mid-buttocks. And I intend to cut it above the shoulder. Luckily, I have virgin hair, which means that I can proudly donate the remainder of my truncated tresses to Locks of Love.

This was a difficult decision, for me. The style I would like to have involves 17th-century sausage curls and a modern asymmetrical bang. The problem with that decision is that it is so spectacular a haircut that pulling it off would require serious makeup, every single day, to keep my eyes wide, bright, and otherwise commanding. As you can see, it is also necessary to keep a bona fide historical look from seeming . . . well, dated. . . .

But here I sit, at the one end of my makeover, with very little makeup, equipment, or experience. So, sorry, hair! Not gonna happen. Eventually, I’ll earn my right to keep you kempt. But in the mean time, I shall take on a more modern approach to curly hair — the latest realm of studied neglegée.

This is an awesome hairstyle to land a job in. It’s a beautiful bob, and my hair has the right sort of wavy texture to pull it off without much of a fuss. My hair is, of course, much thicker than that of the women pictured here (what with blondes tending to have higher hair density, my not putting harsh chemicals on my hair, and a strong splash of genetics, in my favor). The women pictured with bobs here are clearly much older than I am, but I think my round cheeks and open face will complement the style and keep it from looking ‘too old’ for me.

The pictures on the lower left corner of this inspiration board show how I want to wear my hair, as it is growing out. I like the movement of the hair about the face and the playful way it frames the face. Her name is Aly, apparently. My sister (the modern one) referred her to me, as she is one of very few celebrities whose face has similar features to mine. By using the updo, I can retain a level of continuity while I practice my makeup skills — at least until my hair is long enough for me to pull off the hairstyle I love above all others:

So long, sausage-locks! But then, I shall see you in a year or so, ma chère.

Silhouette System

The premise of this makeover is based around the concept that by creating coherent silhouettes, one can solidify and control one’s image to a specific set of flattering ‘looks’ that keep a person (namely me) from putting pieces of clothing together that do nothing, whatsoever, for each other (for example, wearing palazzo pants with long blouses).

At the present time of writing, I have devised four separate silhouettes. Some are quite simple and readily recognizable. Silhouette A is an a-line silhouette, relying on high-rise bohemian ‘maxi’ skirts, and gaucho & palazzo trousers paired with structured, fitted tops. Look at any collection of vintage patterns (and at Vogue patterns, in particular) to see this ‘look’ of full display. Likewise, Silhouette C, which pairs big billowy shirts and mini-dresses with big shoes and fitted pants, has been an absolute staple of modern couture.

But being me, the other two silhouettes fare into distinctly different territories. One is completely devoted to creating a workable look for pantaloons and long artsy vests. The other takes takes fairly routine women’s business suiting and explores the subtle application of corsets, bodices, fancy hats, and mild-mannered steampunk elements, resulting in a subdued, professional, edgy look that I have neither seen nor put to use, before.

Silhouette-oriented makeovers suit my purposes because they control style, which is less a matter of what clothes one wears and more a matter of how they are put together. Carefully orchestrated silhouettes create a balanced look with a framing device and a focal point. Keep in mind that these need not be the same article of clothing. Silhouette A is framed by the expansion of the trousers and skirts, at the bottom, but the focal point here is clearly the blouse, which appeals to the eye through bright color, structural detail, and possible asymmetry.

If this kind of approach appeals to you, start by looking through your closet (or any magazine) for the sorts of clothing that appeal to you. If you have a few favorite one-pieces, you may want to start with the silhouette and break it down into its possible component parts. But if you are drawn to specific knock-out pieces in your wardrobe – say, a statement jacket or a type of pant – do an image search for that style of clothing and see what others are wearing with it and how different pairings create different statements. Find a pairing that speaks to you and begin extrapolating, from there.

There are so many different types of clothing, but silhouettes are what make those pieces pop. So think like an artist! What inspires the looks you love, and where do they draw your eye? Once you establish those basic principles, you are well on your way to creating (and controlling) striking looks that flatter your body and create a sense of coherence to any wardrobe.

Happy hunting!

Unsocial Butterfly

It is worth mentioning my high school fashion sensibilities before I get too far afield. They remain a central component of my overall wardrobe and continue to impact my present needs for personal expression.

Several things have changed since then. For one thing, I was entirely socially disinterested at the time that I first began making my own wardrobe decisions. I have since been diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome, though looking back at my adolescence and even my more recent adulthood I see more signs of Schizoid personality than of true classical Aspergers (both of which are problematically primarily diagnosed in boys and men, making women like me part of the most subaltern psychosocial category imaginable). Social complications aside, the impact this had on my fashion sense was fairly straightforward.

I did not dress for others. I dressed for myself. What that meant, primarily, was clothing that felt comfortable and was every bit as pleasant to the touch as to the eye. My solution was a faux exotic chic particular to the Seattle area, comprised of beautiful unstructured garments in richly colored light-weight rayon batiks, silk brocades, and the occasional winter-time velvet. The cuts were elegant but simple, and if most of the articles in my closet were handwash only, at least there was nothing lined up for the dry-cleaners.

The impracticality of such a wardrobe for my current purposes is probably apparent. Not only are the vivid colors inappropriate for most commonplace work environments, but yards upon yards of unchecked billowing cloth can lead to a sense of drowning in my own clothing. Both these (but especially the latter) can and will be ammended by the silhouette system I am putting into place. But in the meantime, an ode for the eyes to the style decisions that have brought me thus far.

Shellean Ragtime

This blog originates at a very particular turning point in my life. At age twenty-two, I am a recent college graduate facing formal employment for the first time in my life! After seven-and-half gruelling years of year-round schooling (I first entered college at the ripe old age of 15) and a cum laude degree with departmental honors in the Comparative History of Ideas (plus minors in Sanskrit and Anthropology), I know myself to be ready for the marketplace of ideas. But it takes more than mere intellect, raw talent, and a vice-like grip on the English language to represent oneself for hire — especially in today’s brutal economy. One need also look one’s personal and professional best.

I am not, as the Kinks might say, a ‘dedicated follower of fashion’. I do not draw; I do not design. So consider this the personal exploration of the burgeoning wardrobe collections of an unconventional woman only just now reaching for the fullest and most adult expressions of her fashion sensibilities. The sketches will be crude and the photos amateur — but the concepts will be solid and all intentions pure.

Your feedback and constructive criticism are of course most welcome!