I'm often asked if I look at the hair of other people everywhere I go and imagine what I would do differently with it. The answer is, "it depends". I'm typically focused on my own agenda, but there are things that will draw me out of my own thoughts and inspire me. If someone is out running errands in their comfy clothes and ponytail, it doesn't draw me out of my own head. But If the person is dressed to be seen, then it increases the chances of the stylist part of me emerging and I start examining their look.


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There's a difference between attributing value on the person based on her fashion choices and seeing ways to bring the look they started at home into completion. It makes me think of the scene in Zoolander where Derek gives Miranda complexion advice and fixes her hair as she's leaving his apartment. (If you want to see it, click here and jump to minute 1:50.) It's not about approving or disapproving of someone's look. It's about connecting with the message she's trying to send and helping her send it.


As a stylist, I don't try to recreate a person with their hair style, mainly because I know they'll migrate back to their comfort zone and not maintain it. I examine the hair to see what it wants to do, what it's able to do, and what my potential client is able and willing to do with it. It boils down to a combination of their hair's natural tendency and their ability. A stylist chooses from several viable options for your hair based on those two things narrowed down by your overall wishes for your hair. It's a lot for a professional to consider, so it's important to find someone who is passionate, experienced, and able to confidently and clearly communicate with you. 


When you go to the salon to have a stylist create a look for you, especially for a consultation, go in your best "everyday" version of yourself. Style your hair the best you can and wear something that shows off the look you're trying to pull off. I've had people come in for consultations with wet hair, un-styled "natural state" hair, or any other version of "I don't actually wear my hair like this" because they want me to see what they're dealing with. What they don't know is that everybody has something they're dealing with, so the stylist needs to gauge your skill level when it comes to dealing with your own hair. If you can get a frizzy mess to look smooth and silky, then it will let your stylist know that she can give you a style that requires that level of skill. If you come in looking like you would never look, she's going to create a look based on that. You risk her underestimating your ability and giving you something that doesn't represent you and that you would never wear. 


When I'm out in public and I see someone with the confident swagger of knowing she looks good, that's when they stylist emerges. If there are minor tweaks or spaces for improvement, they're more obvious to me then. I can see what she's trying to do and I have the vision and skill to help her polish it. These are things that only she and I would notice because nobody else would pick her apart like she picks herself apart, and it's my job to break down the structure of a look. I'm more objective than she is about herself and I have the experience it takes to have a mental warehouse of options and solutions. This is why it's important to bring your best version of yourself to the salon.