Wigs are in. At least, that's what some fashion magazines are saying. Even supermodels such as Paulina Porizkova and Naomi Campbell are collecting them. They're being touted as the new fashion accessory, like belts or different colored panty hose.
If the trend has hit Ventura County, I never noticed it. So I called a few local wig store owners to find out. "Wigs were popular in the '60s and early '70s and then kind of phased out, but they're definitely back," said Debra Bulman, owner of Debra's Wig Fashions In Oxnard. "Just yesterday a teen-ager came in with hair to her shoulders. She wanted hair to her waist."
Rosie Wedermann, owner of the Oaks Wigs store in Thousand Oaks, said she's also seen an increase in sales, particularly to women in their 20s and 30s who want a different color or style. "Just in the last few months, we've been selling a lot more," she said.
I didn't want to be left out in the fashion cold, so I told Rosie I wanted to try a different look too. From the rows of wigs on the wall, I pointed to several light brown versions not unlike my own straight, shoulder-length hair.
Rosie shook her head. "How are you going to know what it feels like to be someone else if you keep looking like you?" she asked. This, I thought, was a valid point. So I summoned my pinprick of an adventurous spirit and pointed to three others.
"You might as well stand on a street corner with that one," she said as I tried on a long blond wig. "That one makes you look old," she said about a short brown wig. "That one makes you look washed out," she said about a fiery red one.
Rosie pulled a shoulder-length, auburn-colored wig off a Styrofoam head and helped me put it on. "You'd pay $150 for a perm like that," she said. "Believe me, men like this one." I felt like Rosanne Rosannadanna on a bad day. But Rosie told me to trust her. For some reason, I did.
With her help, I made two other selections and then left with my purchases in a paper bag. One--a blond pageboy wig similar to the one Julia Roberts wore in the movie "Pretty Woman"--was on my head.
Was everyone really looking at me strangely? Would my husband like me better this way? Would the Santa Ana winds make me die of embarrassment? Would I ever get the courage to wear this to work?
Filled with questions, I arrived at my children's day-care center. My youngest son flattened himself against a wall and looked at me accusingly. "You're not my mom," he said.
Rosie was right. Yesterday I wore a light brown fall and no one noticed a thing. Basically, it was the same old me. So today I put on the permed auburn wig and wore it to work. I looked as if I just got out of bed--after not brushing my hair for a year.
All through the morning, men in the office told me how much they liked it. They didn't have a clue. "It makes you look wild," one said with a wink. "I think I'm in love," another said.
The women were savvier. Most suspected immediately that the locks weren't my own. One said she didn't remember my hair being long enough to reach my shoulders. Another wondered where I'd had it done. Most salons, she noted, don't color and perm your hair the same day.
By the middle of the afternoon, I wanted it off. It was hot. It itched. The novelty of being called "Wild Woman" was wearing thin. How, I wondered, did British barristers stand it?
I spent all day yesterday lying or giving evasive answers about my hair, so showing up for work today in the short blond "Pretty Woman" wig was actually a relief. The gig was definitely up. Unfortunately, most co-workers weren't reminded of Julia Roberts. Donna Reed was more like it.
I asked several men how they felt about women wearing wigs. Surprisingly, none of them saw anything deceitful about it. If they found out that a woman they'd been dating had been wearing one, they said, it wouldn't matter that much.
At home, after my wig was safely back on its Styrofoam head, I asked my husband how he would have felt if I'd worn a wig when we first met. He mumbled something husbandly about being attracted to me and not my hair. But when I persisted, he finally broke down and told me a story.
In his bachelor days, he said, he met a woman with waist-length blond hair at a nightclub. He asked her out. When he went to her house the next evening, she had dark, close-cropped hair. His feelings instantly changed.
"Because she deceived you?" I asked, anticipating his indignation.
"No," he said, looking rather sheepish. "Because she didn't have waist-length blond hair."
As I got ready for bed, I thought about how something as superficial as hair could change the way people perceive who you are. But then, I suppose, the chance to look like someone else is probably a wig's greatest appeal.
Personally, though, I think I'll pass on this particular fad.
Wigs may be the hot new fashion accessory, but there's nothing inherently dishonest about a belt.
Ventura County is teeming with the fashionable and not so fashionable. There are trend-makers and trend-breakers. There are those with style--personal and off the rack--and those making fashion statements better left unsaid. Twice a month, we'll take a look at fashion in Ventura County--trends, styles and ideas--and ask you what you think. If you have a fashion problem, sighting or suggestion; if you know a fashion success or a fashion victim, let us know. We want to hear from you.