The month of December sees our calendars full to the brim with special occasions and celebrations, from Christmas work dos to family gatherings. For those of us with curly hair, the way in which we choose to style our locks for these events can often be skewed by the desire to feel ‘put together’, ‘sexy’ or ‘beautiful’.
In previous years, if I had an event to attend, I would curl my hair with curling tongs to give myself bouncy, beautiful waves. I liked my hair to be smoothed down, chic and predictable. I felt at my best when my hair was styled in this way, and since deciding to embrace my natural curls on an everyday basis, I referred to this version of me as ‘special occasion Hannah’.
But why did I feel the need to tame my curls for any event that was a little more dressy than your average day? Why did ‘special occasion Hannah’ need to make an appearance at every night out, party or wedding I attended? Looking back over the last few years, I think it was a combination of people telling me my hair looked great when I straightened it (but not saying much when it was curly) and feeling like my curly hair was ‘a bit much’ to wear alongside fancy dresses. A friend even once naively asked me if I would be straightening my hair because my lace dress and heels were ‘a bit busy’ with curly hair. She didn’t mean it in a malicious way, most people don’t when they make comments or ask questions about our curly hair, but this doesn’t stop it from affecting the way we view our curls. Nevertheless, I straightened my hair on that occasion.
It was in May this year that I straightened/curled my hair for the last time. I’d been following the curly girl method for just under a year, and regularly embracing my natural curls for three years. I decided I didn’t need to style my hair with heat to feel dressed up anymore, and that my naturally curly hair didn’tclash with my fancy dresses. That was my natural hair, that is how I liked it and I wouldn’t let anyone tell me or make me feel differently. Including myself.
I had a summer full of weddings and engagement parties ahead of me, and I challenged myself to wear my hair naturally curly to all of them. Goodbye, special occasion Hannah! Fortunately, I can tell you that I rocked my natural curls at four out of five of the events (bridesmaid duties meant straightening my hair for one). Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that my hair turned out well for all of them or that I was happy with my results and felt at my best. In hindsight, I should have had my hair cut beforehand - it was flat and weighed down on the top, which meant all my volume disappeared as soon as I stepped out of the house.
But, the important thing is that I made that step and I wore my curls with confidence. And, guess what? I got a tonne of compliments on my hair from strangers and friends at pretty much all of the events.
Why did I get compliments on my curly hair? Here’s my theory - 1. because it was different to everyone else’s who had flattened and smoothed their hair for the occasion, and 2. because I wore it with confidence. I knew my hair could look so much better than it did; I knew it had gone flat and looked rubbish in all the photographs. But here’s the thing - I didn’t let it worry me. I went to the toilet, looked in the mirror at my hair and thought to myself ‘it is what it is, I can’t change it. I’m going to go and dance now’.
I’m not saying that I will never heat style my hair again, or that you should feel bad about styling your hair for a special occasion - it’s completely fine to do so. But, just know that embracing your curly hair and wearing it with your special occasion lace dress and heels is absolutely fine.
There is nothing more beautiful and sexy than you embracing the natural version of yourself and finding comfort and confidence in it.
How to wear curly hair to a special occasion
- Wash and style your curly hair with Bouclème’s Hydrating Hair Cleanser, Curl Conditioner, Curl Cream and Curl Defining Gel
- Put on your best special occasion outfit
- Put on your favourite shoes
- Grab your favourite bag
- Attend event
- Embrace your curls with confidence
By Hannah Cook - @hanzcurls