What’s the Best Hairstyle for Advisors (Women and Men)?
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As someone who is in contact with a ton of advisors each month, I’m constantly amazed at how so many of them will spend six thousand dollars on a Brioni suit to make them look successful and pay zero attention to their hair. Here are some suggestions for both men and women about how to put a little more style into your hair without breaking grooming rules.
Personal appearance is a sensitive topic, so let me start out with a couple of caveats. Implied in what I write below is the assumption that a certain appearance denotes success and that advisors should strive for this. You are entitled to reject that assumption. Second, while my recommendations are gender-specific, your gender is self-defined.
Basic grooming tips that apply to everyone
None of us are getting any younger.
That’s how I console myself every time I look in the mirror and notice how the silver streaks are creeping into my temples. I didn’t have a single gray hair until I had three kids in three years and right after my second one hit the Terrible Twos (the “T” is capitalized twice for a reason, by the way) they have been popping up in droves.
Try to look better, not younger – and do it in a natural way.
Dying your hair to block out all the gray can be very noticeable. Why not use a translucent color that will blend away some of it without looking like you overdosed on Clairol Nice ‘n Easy? You don’t have to cover all the gray; block it out entirely with a dramatic dye job means you run the risk of having to touch it up every five minutes to avoid your roots showing.
On that same note, contraptions such as toupees are artificial. That Trump comb-over is the worst. Would it be that bad just to “bic it” (shave your head)? My very handsome partner Antonio is an example of how bald is beautiful.
He’s mine, all mine!
How you part your hair
A side part is softer while a center part is for the more ambitious and bold. This is true for both men and women. Wearing your hair swept off your face with no part (or bangs) may come across as confident and not afraid of a little attention.
Also, think about how you are styling the part. Some hair parts are messy or jagged while others are precise. I’d go for a precise hair part for business. A deep part, one set way to the side, is a bit more trendy and casual. I’d keep it more in the middle, even if it’s a side part, as opposed to venturing way off to the side.
Avoiding hair stereotypes
Your appearance can reinforce negative stereotypes that the world believes about financial professionals. Take for example Gordon Gekko, the fictional antagonist with the signature slicked-back hair. I still see people with this haircut and when I do I can’t help but be reminded of what Wall Street is known for: greed.
Is your hair associating you with something negative?
Fragranced hair products
I once had a meeting with a client that ended with a hug. I’m not a “hugger” but somehow it happened. Anyways, in this end-of-the-meeting hug, my client says, “Your hair smells great, by the way!” as I’m pulling back.
I walked away from that interaction with a mental note to stop using fragranced hair gel. I didn’t think it was that obvious; but I do have a lot of hair. I can’t tell everyone to put the kibosh on all fragranced hair products but be aware that some people have a very keen sense of smell or may just get too close. At that moment your products may getting more attention that you realize, so the safest bet is to minimize fragrance.
A second mental note was that anytime someone in a business meeting tries to hug me, I’m going to make some excuse about how I just came down with a rash.
Hair tips for women
Hair down versus up
I recently ran a LinkedIn posting showing my followers a picture of me with my hair down and one with my hair up. I thought it would be unanimous that the “hair up” picture was going to be seen as better for business. To my surprise, that wasn’t the case at all. Several people said that I look more natural, feminine, and relaxed with my hair down and they liked it better!
It can seem like a nervous habit to be constantly adjusting your hair to brush it out of your eyes. This may irk some people. However you wear your hair – loose or tied back, styled to the max or free of product – just make sure that it doesn’t flop around too much.
Curly versus straight
Some may believe that curly hair is less conservative or serious than straight hair. The way that hair is styled determines its degree of professionalism. Whether curly or straight, pick a style that is flattering to your brand and appropriate for the clientele with whom you are working.
Asking a small favor, before all of you attack me on APViewpoint, can we leave any criticism of my curly hair out of this discussion?
For about a year now my hair has been constantly disheveled in my YouTube videos and the reason is that with three kids under four years old, nobody sleeps, especially me. I’m hot, I’m cold, I’m thirsty, my arm hurts, I want to eat water (yes, he says “eat water” despite all my efforts).
It’s gotten to the point that on numerous occasions I have contemplated sneaking out and checking myself into a hotel room at 2 AM (Hilton hotels, if you’re reading this, Tweet me an offer) because if I don’t then I’ll be checking into an insane asylum instead. So all of you who are ready to make some comment about how I don’t follow my own advice, you’re right. But can you let me off the hook on this one anyways?
Give a sleepless mother a break, por favor.
My best tip for incorporating some style
I don’t agree with many things Suze Orman says, but she does a nice job of using her hair to complement her brand. You may not care for the “bob” look, but you’ve got to admit the hairstyle is very nicely fitted to her facial shape. It makes her jaw line look great. It’s got some kick to it, yet it’s professional and warm at the same time.
There is no one hairstyle that works great on everyone, male or female. Facial shape is the key to what is going to be most flattering. Ask a professional hairstylist for a consultation if you feel your style could be doing more for you.
Hair tips for men
Most male advisors don’t seek to draw attention with their hair. There’s nothing wrong with a buzzcut, but what if you could set yourself apart with more style? The right style can make you appear more masculine and allow your jaw and eyes to be more commanding.
The trend that is popular right now for men is to have short sides and back and longer on the top. Take for example Ryan Seacrest. This is clean yet eye-catching, and the elevated top gives it some lift. This style is good for the office but can also be played up with some hair products for a social event after work.
If you’re taking a closer look at your professional image and want my opinion on your hair, send me a message on APViewpoint. As blunt and brutal as I am when I scold the whole industry about bad websites and clichés, I am sensitive to the fact that this is someone’s personal appearance we’re talking about. I’ll pretend I’m not an edgy New Yorkers and be nice.
Sara Grillo, CFA, is a top financial writer with a focus on marketing and branding for investment management, financial planning, and RIA firms. Prior to launching her own firm, she was a financial advisor and worked at Lehman Brothers. Sara graduated from Harvard with a degree in English literature and has an MBA from NYU Stern in Quantitative Finance.