As February is the month of romance, with Valentine’s Day only round the corner, I thought a look at what a bride-to-be could wear for her big day, might be an idea. Being as we like to discuss all things headwear this article looks at creating a bridal headpiece for our stunning bride, (who happens to have Alopecia). We hope it inspires you!
Of course, if you’re one of those who feel best suited to wigs, then the answer is simple. You could have your wig styled just as anybody else would have their hair attended to, or even buy a special new style for the occasion. But, as fabulous as many wigs are nowadays, I’ve never felt comfortable in them, so for me the idea of swapping my usual headscarves and caps for one was never on the cards.
My quest didn’t start well. The bridal magazines I bought were stuffed with tips for wedding day hair, touting it as an integral part of the ‘perfect’ bridal look. So where did that leave me? When these magazines presented photoshoots on so-called ‘bridal headwear’, they really meant hair ornaments, hairbands or fascinators. Even the internet – a veritable goldmine of information and advice concerning alopecia – was uncharacteristically unhelpful on the subject of alopecia wedding wear. I could find no-one who made off-the-peg headwear specifically for women like me – only those very brides asking ‘but what am I going to wear on my head?!’ on numerous forums and message boards. They weren’t the only ones wondering.
It’s hard, too, to ignore the expectations of those around you. I’m known amongst my friends and family for my varied repertoire of headwear, so it was totally natural that the question on their lips was: “so what kind of hat will you wear?” - and whilst I loved their enthusiasm, I could feel the pressure mounting. To top it all off, in line with tradition, I just didn’t want my choice revealed to my fiancé – the person whose judgement on my headwear I trust the most in the world – before the wedding.
I was absolutely certain of one thing: I didn’t want to just wear an ‘everyday’ head covering translated into white. This option was certainly open to me, even if it didn’t explicitly call itself ‘bridal headwear’. I could have bought a close-fitting, 20s-style sleep cap in ivory or cream direct from the internet and perhaps pinned an applique flower to it. Or bought a silk scarf in a shade that matched my dress and worn it low around my head. I could even have plumped for a light-shade Buff and accessorised that. But as much of a foot-stamping Bridezilla this makes me sound, none of these options felt special enough for my wedding day, or worthy of matching the beautiful empire-line dress in ivory satin I’d bought.
At this point, I realised I was totally ignoring the one great strength those of us with alopecia possess: adaptability. We co-opt scarves meant for our necks to decorate our heads, or use everyday makeup to fool the rest of the world into thinking we never lost our eyebrows and eyelashes. So if the web wasn’t going to be of service with ‘alopecia bridal wear’ per se, I was determined to use it to the fullest when it came to visual inspiration. I personally loved the chic, close-fitting caps of the 20s and 30s, and how women of that era wore headpieces not to conceal, but to flaunt and to celebrate. Moreover, I knew this look suited me and that I’d feel comfortable wearing it on the day .
Confronted with the lack of choice out there, and determined to feel good on my wedding day, I decided to have a headpiece made for me. I loved the retro-style caps available from Suburban Turban, so Nicky Zip was my first choice for the design of my wedding headpiece. I showed her my dress so that she could colour-match the cap, and I showed her a selection of images illustrating what I was looking for. The end result had to be chic, wearable, long-lasting (I wanted to be dancing the night away unconcerned about my headwear) and totally comfortable – as well as providing the kind of coverage I needed to feel happy in my own skin.
Unexpectedly, for someone who likes to think of herself as reasonably adventurous, the one sticking point in the creative process was my own reluctance to ‘let go’. Nicky assured me that from her designer’s viewpoint and years of experience, this headpiece needed a sense of drama, if it was to rise above being a mere head ‘covering’ and become a perfect part of my wedding ensemble. Yet to my surprise, the idea of an eye-catching, attention-demanding headpiece was suddenly worrying me – wasn’t I just advertising the fact that I didn’t look like a ‘normal’ bride, and drawing all eyes to the fact that I’d lost my hair?
The answer was, of course: no. With sensitivity and tact, Nicky managed to persuade me that a sense of occasion was entirely appropriate , and I trusted her enough to know what she was talking about. When she handed me the hat to try on for the first time, I knew she’d been right all along: I’d got my perfect Thirties cap, complete with stylised 30s-inspired fabric rosettes matching the tone and style of my dress perfectly and doing things for my cheekbones I’d never seen before.
The chief joy of having my headpiece made was, appropriately, the very adaptability we women with alopecia pride ourselves on. I was torn between having a long veil cascading over my shoulders, and a chic birdcage veil pinned in 1950s fashion across my face – so, we decided, why not do both? Nicky fitted a series of discreet fastenings to the back of the headpiece to which I could attach either type of veil, allowing me to decide which one I wanted to wear on the day. And on the day I was in ‘a birdcage veil kind of a mood’; a wonderful bit of flexibility and spontaneity which reminded me that my wedding day was supposed to be fun, too.
When I look back at my wedding photos now, and how happy I look in every single one of them, it’s hard to believe I was quite so worried about how I’d look on my wedding day. As much as I loved my dress, my headpiece was the star – not only in my eyes, but for everyone who was there, too, including my now-husband. So, my advice for all the brides-to-be with alopecia out there: decide what you definitely don’t want, and what suits you best. Accept the challenge ahead and adapt to it. And above all, feeling comfortable in your own skin is paramount – but don’t be afraid to flirt with a little fun.
Carly blogs about hair-loss beauty as EyelineHer (http://eyelineher.blogspot.com/)