As one who’s experienced limited hair loss I can empathise. The topic of wig-wearing is always a sensitive one.
Here, in Scotland, the NHS will provide free wigs via a network of outlets who work with the authorities. For the last 40 years or so we’ve also provided a bespoke wig service for clients giving wider choices including real-hair options instead of synthetic.
In this column our client – and my close friend – Dr Tessa Hartmann CBE, founder of the Scottish Fashion Awards and media guru, agreed to talk about her personal experience relating to the wig question when she faced her own fight with breast cancer.
IMPACT AND SOLUTION
Tessa said: “There is nothing that prepares you for the loss of your hair. It’s a bizarre concept but once off it’s off. I work in fashion so I’m well aware how often we use wigs and their incredible versatility so I knew that getting a good wig wasn’t going to be a problem.
“I immediately turned to Anne at Taylor Ferguson as I remember the great wig they made for us when we did a Chanel photoshoot a few years ago so knew they would get ‘my look’.
“I have short hair so I wanted something that would replicate my own look which they did brilliantly. Interestingly once I got the wig, I wore it a few times but somehow felt more at ease with my scarves. So I ended up using both scarves and the wig. I had collected an abundance of scarves over the years so there was no shortage. It’s about how you wear your scarf. There is so much you can do. I got a great bejeweled beanie too from Scottish designer William Chambers which I love. It’s all about attitude – I am where I am right now, nothing can change that so I might as well embrace it and ride it out in style.”
WIG WAS RIGHT THING FOR RIGHT TIME
In conversation about wig-wearing I asked Tessa if she felt there were times the wig worked better than the scarf option?
Tessa said: “I wore my wig to several business meetings as somehow I felt the corporate culture would cope better with a wig than a scarf. Also I hate people feeling sorry for me and, while my friends know that, the business community doesn’t so people automatically want to treat you softer and that’s not me or what I’m about.
“So by wearing a wig in my business role – and most people didn’t even notice it was a wig – it’s great for getting on with work life as normal. I also wore the wig to some events and it looked great – one lady even said she couldn’t believe my hair had grown back so quickly. She was astounded when I told her it was a wig.”
So when it came to wig versus scarf was it an easy choice? Tessa said: “It’s all about options, versatility and how you feel at any given moment. The wig is a reminder of the ‘old you’, the ‘you with hair’ – some days that’s great and does wonders and on other days it doesn’t. But that’s the joy of a wig – you have the choice and that’s the important thing.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT IN SELECTING A WIG?
The choice of a wig is always key. Creating a hair image that was as close to what you had before your illness or creating a different look is the big choice. Tessa is clear: “I wanted to recreate me – my look so no one would notice the difference. The first outing with the wig was a bit of fun. You’re very conscious of the wig and think everyone is staring but the reality is no one cares. As I said, people thought it was my own hair which is amazing. The wig made me feel far more confident. Models and actresses wear wigs all the time. It’s really a part of fashion that we shouldn’t be frightened about. We should embrace it and have fun with it, that’s what fashion is all about.”
Choosing the right wig is key. Having it sized or resized and styled – cut in a bespoke manner – to suit your head shape is very important too. We’ve seen many clients whose lives have been turned upside down by a health crisis. We offer a private room to give them the right environment in which they can feel as relaxed as possible during the wig appointment. For so many they arrive scarf in situ and leave with new wig in place, styled to suit and with head high almost skipping out of the salon, confidence boosted and self-esteem enhanced. It can be one of the most rewarding moments for our team.
We’ve seen many clients whose lives have been turned upside down by a health crisis