Sunday, February 26, 2017

Going Gray the Right Way

Do you remember the days of the well-dressed Church Ladies?  I do.  You’d see them every Sunday morning dressed in their finest in honor of the Man Upstairs. 


Courtesy of Loralie Designs

By and large I suppose we humans have been more of a disappointment than a joy to Him over the centuries, but I can’t help thinking that the Church Ladies always brought a smile to his face.  And who knows?  At those moments when He was just so fed up with us that He thought about pulling the plug, maybe, just maybe, He said to Himself, “Hmm, Miss Agnes just bought herself a new Sunday hat.  Maybe I’ll wait to see how she looks in it.” 


I’ve read some recent studies on church attendance in the US – some say it’s up, some say it’s down – but whether there are more of us or less of us in church these days, there’s no denying the fact that few of us “dress up” any more for the occasion. 

So, imagine my delight last Sunday to see a whole pew taken up with what was clearly three generations of a family all beautifully turned out for the occasion; but the member of the family who really caught my eye was the family’s well-dressed doyenne holding her granddaughter’s hand. 


Courtesy of The Hedonist

Suddenly, I was transported to Angélina, the chic salon de thé on the rue de Rivoli, and it brought back so many fond memories.  On a Saturday afternoon, after a day’s shopping, you will see the Parisiennes in all their glory lined up in the foyer waiting for a table – the Bobo, the Artiste, the Intello, the Femme d’un certain âge, etc., etc.. 


Angélina - Vintage Photo

At the head of the line is a woman of indeterminate age (probably in her seventies) holding her granddaughter’s hand as they patiently wait for a table while the little girl dreams of the hot cup of chocolat that awaits her.  Like the lady in church, this Parisian Mamie is wearing a beautifully tailored suit, also of indeterminate age, (i.e., timeless), with a silk scarf tied just so.  Like the lady in church, her grey hair is impeccably coiffed.  And, like the lady in church, her hair has a healthy, youthful shine to it.  And that, ladies, is the key to going gray the right way. 

Courtesy of The Right Hairstyles

Many of us who color our hair will one day make the decision to stop doing so.  Mme Mère colored her hair until her late eighties, at which point she just got tired of doing it.  It turned out she had a beautiful head of shiny, silver hair that was perfect for her coloring.  She was delighted. 

If you do make the decision to go gray, remember that going gray the right way depends on three things. 

1)  The Right Cut;

    2)  The Right Shade;

    3)  A Healthy Shine. 



Courtesy of The Right Hairstyles

Dull hair will drain the life out of a great shade even with a great cut.  Shiny hair makes you look youthful and healthy, especially if you go gray. 

I’m still a redhead, no longer by nature but by design, and every two or three months or so I have my hairdresser use a semi-permanent glaze to lock in the color and the shine, because I know the importance of healthy, shiny hair no matter the color. 

In between, if I feel my hair needs a little boost, I’ll use a product like Bed Head’s Motor Mouth, which is supposed to add volume and shine.  I’m not sure about the volume, which I don’t really need, but it does add a nice shine.  The only drawback for me is the strong blueberry smell, which, fortunately, dissipates by the following day. 

I don’t use hairspray very often, but when I do, I use Aussie’s Sun-Touched Shine.  It adds hold and a lovely shine to your hair. 

There are so many hair products available to us today that were not available to our Mamies, from wash-in to leave-in to spray-on.  Whether or not you have made the decision to “go gray” or have just noticed that your hair color looks a little dull, talk to your hairdresser about what he/she recommends and don’t be afraid to experiment with products on your own. 

Remember…..beautiful hair at any age depends on the right cut, the right shade and a healthy, youthful shine. 

Next time, we’ll talk about shimmer and shine, where we want it and where we don’t. 



  1. I so agree. Grey hair is coarser and had a tendency to go dull quite quickly. I always use a purple coloured shampoo to stop mine go brassy.

    1. You are so right, Josephine, about the coarser quality of grey hair. Even those of us who color our grey hair can tell the difference in texture the greyer we get. It needs special care to keep it soft and shiny.

      You look absolutely smashing with your grey hair. Thanks for the shampoo advice.

      Cheers, M-T

  2. Hi M-T,

    I had a few great aunts who were slender and dressed beautifully, so I remember well!

    Once my hair goes totally grey, I don't know what I will do about the length, but I'll worry about it then. As it is now, I still wear my hair long and straight. In another era, I'd have to either cut short it by now, or I'd have to wear it up so as not to scandalize myself in society. The reason I continue to wear it long and straight is, it's less work to style than when I have short hair. With long hair, I don't need hair products to keep it in place. I can go natural. I recommend a mild shampoo and Pantene's Beautiful Lengths as a conditioner - to get shine and smooth away any frizz. Plus a good blow dryer. That's it. 5 minutes of syle-drying and you're ready to walk out the door!

    1. You have plenty of time to worry about gray hair, Debra. At your age I wore my hair long (almost to the waist) and left it naturally curly, because I didn't have to do anything to it. It was so easy. In my early fifties I went a little shorter and layered it. Now in my sixties, it's shoulder length and layered, which I find a very versatile length. I can wear it in a chignon or down.

      You will know when, or even if, you want to gradually shorten your hair. What works for one does not work for all.

      Always appreciate your insightful comments, Debra.

      Cheers, M-T

  3. The following comment was sent to me by my dear friend Anna and published with her permission:

    "Liked the blog. Still feel sorry for not having stood in line at Angelina's. And we were walking by every day we were there. Definitely missed something good.
    My mother colored her hair until she died at age 99. My aunt who turned 102 this past December is still coloring hers. She also likes to dress and uses makeup.
    French women are famous for always looking elegant. A scarf does wonders! And they just know how to put themselves together.

    1. Anna, Angélina is still there and has been there for more than 100 years. You have time to stop by when you are next in Paris.

      I would have loved your mother and happy belated birthday wishes to your aunt. She sounds fabulous.

      Always love your comments, ma chère.


  4. I so wish I could stop coloring my hair, but I don't have enough silver yet, so it would not be a nice color. I envy women who have beautiful silver hair that is wavy enough to be worn naturally. And when I hear those women whining that they want straight hair, I feel like slapping them around! (But, so far, I've restrained myself) :-)

    1. Rita, I always love your comments. In my case, I am almost completely gray, according to my hairdresser, and it's a nice color, but it won't work with my coloring. It's actually too silvery and I need something warmer. So, at least for the moment, I'm locked into fighting the good fight to keep my red hair.

      I had to laugh at you having to restrain yourself from slapping around the "I wish I had straight hair" women. My hairdresser can give me straight hair with the right blow out when I want to have a little change, but I have long ago embraced my head of curls. We always want what we don't have.

      As always, thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

  5. I have been missing for awhile, not posting anything on my own blog & not reading any of my favourite blogs,my time is being spent house hunting, which is not easy. My mind is in a turmoil, dreaming about houses or not sleeping well, So what a joy this morning when after not sleeping I decided to get up and switch on my laptop and saw your recent post. I loved reading about the ladies of a certain age, as this I fit into that slot. I decided to stop colouring my hair a few years ago & i'm really happy being grey, still a bit salt & peppery but I love it. It does look a bit dull on some days, so on those days I use some sort of sheen product to give it shine. Still experimenting with different products, why do they have to include strong sweet smelling additives, I just want my hair to look shiny, not smell of vanilla or blueberry. Any suggestions would be greatly received.

    1. How wonderful to hear from you again, Barbara. I have wondered what you've been up to. Oh hunting is such a daunting task. The last time I did it was 14 years ago, and I can still remember the stress, turmoil and sleepless nights. I swore I would never do it again.

      I love the fact that you have gone gray the right way, with attention to a healthy shine. I'll do a little further research on products for you, but would love to know what you've used so far and liked. I'm sure my readers would love to know.

      Welcome back, dear Barbara, and good luck w/the house hunt.

      Cheers, M-T

  6. I was delighted to discover pretty silver hair when I stopped coloring two years ago. I had no idea what I was going to get. I like your advice about the shine and the right cut, so true. My hair is a little longer than the short pixie I got when I was trying to cut off the last of the blonde, and I'm still fiddling with finding just the right cut. Thanks for the advice about shine-adding products. I will try some. I do use the purple shampoo occasionally, but learned the hard way not to overdo it!!
    I do so like to dress up when I go to church, but sometimes feel out of place. Some people come in what looks like their gardening clothes! I don't ever want to appear hoity-toity, but come on people! It's a sign of respect.
    And oh, dressing for a visit to a special tea shop, love it. Let's bring beautiful and elegant back!
    Hats? Yes, wish hats and gloves were still de rigueur. So elegant. xo Deborah
    ps a friend and I just got season tickets to Friday mornings at the symphony next year. She is not one to dress up, and I don't want to look like I'm one-upping her, not my intent at all. I just love to dress up for events such as these, but don't want her to feel badly. Any advice??

    1. I do love to "dress up," which is what we used to call just getting dressed. What I see around me on most days has nothing to do w/the term "dressing" either up or down. It's just throwing on clothes -- a whole different thing altogether. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could, indeed, bring back every day elegance? I LOVE hats and gloves and find every excuse to wear them.

      About your friend, I do have some advice, which comes from my many years as an image consultant. You cannot make someone want to dress up. You can teach them how to do it, but they have to want to. That said, it would be totally inauthentic of you to change the way you dress for fear of her reaction. She is your friend and already knows that you take great care with how you look, especially on special occasions. Who knows? That may inspire her to make little changes in the way she dresses. If you exchange gifts at the holidays or on birthdays, you might get her something that could point her in the right direction.

      Bottom line, Deborah, is that if she is happy w/the way she looks and so are you, that's all that really matters.

      If you'd like to discuss this a bit further, send me an email at

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

  7. ps don't respond on my blog please! She reads that!

    1. No worries, Deborah. If you'd like to discuss this further, I'm always available by email ( It's an interesting topic I'd love to explore w/you.

      Cheers, M-T

  8. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Oh, the nostalgia in this post of yours! I still can picture my Mom in her many hats that I've known over the years and yes, women did really dress up on Sundays. Beautiful tailored deux-pièces or in winter beautiful winter coats.
    My entire life I've had my hair au naturelle and surprisingly I'm having more curls as I age. Now I prefer to have it shorter as it frames the face better. It is by far not as thick as it used to be, that's another reason for having it cut shorter and in layers. Yes, it gets coarser and the color can be a bit funny but I don't mind!
    We should aim for softness, that's important.
    It is true that our deux-pièces remain more on the hanger than on on our bodies... Things have changed and we are looking for more comfort but how did our Mamies manage to keep it up for so long?!
    Sending you hugs,

    1. Dearest Mariette,

      I do get nostalgic when I see a well-dressed Mamie. How did they keep it up so long? Well, I think it was just such a part of who they were that to stop doing it would be "impensable."

      Things do, indeed, change as we age, but the art of aging well depends on making concessions and adjustments to our changing bodies, which, as you know so well, can be done w/out throwing in the towel.

      Always wonderful to read your comments, ma chère amie.

      Gros Bisous, M-T

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