How to Style Your "Dreads" (Dreadlocks) for Your Work
By Roger on 16 June 2009
THS' (not-so-serious) guide to hairstyles for careers. We look specifically at dreadlocks and, if you get 'em, the kinds of work you might find yourself doing. If you've already got dreads, we've got some dreadlock styling and maintenance tips for you too.
Hairstyles and Careers?
Roger wearing Lenny
It's true: how you dress for work- especially your hair- plays a big part in your success. There are so many self-help guides all over the Web explaining how neat and tidy clothing and certain hair care basics will put you one step closer to landing that big pay check. So I was thinking it might be a great idea to let you in on a few of these tips; for example, did you know that matching your hairstyle to your glasses is an important consideration?
But you know what? Hairstyling for career success requires a lot of foresight: you need to seriously think through things such as, "Where do I want my career to be in 5 years?" and you need to develop a styling routine and image to suit these goals. Who can be bothered doing that?
With this in mind I decided to tell you something else too; I want to give you an easier suggestion. It's this: get a hairstyle that will choose your career for you. "What kind of hairstyle?" you may be wondering. It's easy: dreadlocks.
Styling Tips for Work
Roger wearing Jamie
Styling tips for work usually ask you to consider what the dress code is like in your industry (in other words, what are your peers wearing and what do they expect their co-workers to wear?). It then recommends you basically dress the same, but as if you were going to give an important presentation (this guarantees that you're dressing with just a little more consideration- which is good). Something I also read somewhere once was never dress better than your boss because that's a sure-fire way to annoy them.
Identifying industry dress codes also means considering what's appropriate for the kind of work you're going to be doing; for example, if you meet clients you need a suit (but if the clients are young arty-types, you need something equivalent- maybe just a jacket and the latest retro Nikes); or if you work in a lab, you need comfortable clothes etc.
Nine times out of ten though, "style gurus" recommend your hair always remains "controlled"- in other words, quite conservative. They say wear your hair up; or if it's long make sure you don't have to keep flicking it off your face. For guys, they say keep your hair short and neat and choose a conservative hairstyle: forget textured spikes and Beckham's trendsetting Mohawks.
Dreadlocks are Easy
Roger wearing James
Reading these tips makes me think how time consuming, stressful, and boring it can be planning out your career goals and making sure they suit your style (and vice-versa). If you think so too, then why not turn it all around with a hairstyle change to dreadlocks? A dreadlocks hairstyle does everything for you; I mean, with dreadlocks you can sit back, relax and let your career unfold in front of you. Why? Because if you've got dreadlocks there's probably a few jobs you'll just end up doing.
Sure, you can have dreads and work successfully in a corporate environment. There are tips about that online too: in a nutshell, make sure your dreadlocks don't distract attention away from you, they're clean, neat and tidy and (if long) tied back. The rule of thumb for dreadlocks and any other hairstyle is this: noticeable is okay, but distracting isn't (and to stop your hair being distracting, keep it neat and together).
But really, dreads aren't about the corporate world, they're about signing up for a paradigm shift. There's no doubt dreadlocks equal a certain lifestyle. Lauryn Hill and Lenny Kravitz are perfect examples. Take Lenny Kravitz: without those dreads swaying in time with his struts (I'm thinking particularly of the cover of his 1992 CD Mama Said) he just wouldn't be the same cool and old-school rock god. My advice is get dreads, sign up for a new lifestyle, and the careers will come to you.
Dreadlocks and Careers: A Short "How to Style" Guide
Before I explain the career options banging down the doors of people with dreadlocks, it's important that you understand a bit more about them. When you get dreadlocks, what you're actually doing is "locking" your hair into thicker strands (or "dreads"). Depending on your hair type, you can let your hair lock naturally, but I'd recommend getting a hair consultation first to get the ball rolling (a professional will tell you if dreadlocks are the right hairstyle for your hair type and texture; then they might wool rub, back comb or twist your hair- or possibly suggest extensions).
In terms of dreadlock maintenance, an important thing to remember is they require regular care just like any other hairstyle (the same "healthy hair secrets" apply!). You need to wash them and condition them like a "regular hairstyle"- wash them the same way you would a sponge, rinsing and squeezing- and you also need to massage your scalp to stimulate the flow of oil and healthy hair growth. Regular maintenance is really important for dreadlocks- particularly in order to make sure that your new hair locks together at the root. To do this, try using a latch hook (a tool used to make a rug that's similar to a needle), a technique called palm rubbing, or twisting (on wet hair only).
With beautiful healthy dreadlocks wrapped up, clipped back, styled with a tam or headband, you're ready to let that new career happen. Dreadlocks take the work out of planning a career because once you get those dreads happening, you'll have a whole bunch of exciting new jobs simply offered to you. Before you know it you'll just find yourself running an art-deco/used furniture shop in a quaint tourist village, making coffee somewhere trendy (with healthy summer hair), or perhaps even DJing at a rave party deep in Japan's countryside.
It's that easy: 1. Get dreads; 2. Choose your career. Getting ahead in the workplace can be a frustrating, time consuming and stressful balancing act that's all about using your clothes and hairstyle to satisfy conservative expectations while somehow pushing the envelope ever so slightly. Now, if you don't want a piece of that stress, get dreadlocks. I'm not saying that dreadlocks don't work in conservative work environments- no way!- but I am saying that dreadlocks are unique in that they can fast-track you into a new and exciting niche career.