On the Topic of Hair Dye

I’ve been thinking a lot about Nicole Richie’s hair, which has been oscillating on a color palette between purple and vaguely white for at least the last month. Sometimes the hair hangs at her shoulders, paired with leather pants and a blazer. Other times, it’s brushed and pulled back to compliment whatever gala-gown she might be wearing. For the most part (pun intended! Pun super intended!), it looks great, and every time I look at her, I think to myself: could I pull off purple hair? Do I want to pull off purple hair?

A friend of mine who owns a restaurant in Soho and I were discussing tattoos yesterday. He was wearing a printed black spider in his inner left arm and I asked if it was new ink, to which he quickly retorted, “God no, I’m not elegant enough to have a tattoo.”

He went on to explain that if he were the kind of man who didn’t wear dirty white t-shirts and ill-fit jeans daily, and instead was regularly provided the opportunity to step into and out of a well-tailored suit, one not unlike the kind Tom Ford cuts, things would be different.

“What’s cooler than a man in a sharp suit, with a huge tattoo peeking out from his collar?” He’s asked.

And he’s right; understanding that disconnect — one side of a spectrum, which in this case is the prototypically grungy, held up against another end of the same spectrum, boasting the splendor and grace that comes with a fancy piece of clothing — makes him so.

I maintain a similar point of view in regard to hair dye. I’m just not elegant enough. There was a time in 2010 when I thought about figuratively-but-literally frosting my tips (as in, turning them blue) but I never went through with it. I’d have wanted to commit to a whole new style of dress and self-maintenance. Gone would be the weeks sans shower to perfect my contrived messy bed head. I might prefer a plain white poplin boatneck dress to my usual ripped jeans. And sneakers — would I ever want to wear sneakers? I don’t know. Maybe I should try it.

Would you?

— Leandra Medine

  • I SO would, but probably just the tip (hehe). I’ve dyed random streaks with purple/pink but not a whole section. I really like it on Kylie Jenner.

  • Jeri

    I have black to purple ombre in my hair, and I LOVE IT! I personally think it depends on your field. I’m in the music business so outrageous hair/tattoos/piercings are accepted. I think it goes the same for the fashion industry. As you already know, fashion is very accepting of taboo styles, even on the runway! My mantra is, if you want it, you can flaunt it. Don’t think you’re not “elegant enough.” Trust me I’m not elegant at all, and I still love my colored hair. Go for it girl!

  • Dancingcheektocheek


    • cinsiddy

      you sound fun.

  • Aubrey Green

    I love it. I think you should.

  • Kaitlin Corr

    I had black & pink hair back in 2003/2004, but back then colored hair wasn’t necessarily as chic as it is now. I recently had ombre with a little pale blue mixed in, but I’ve been VERY tempted to go all blue or purple.

  • Martis G. Pérez

    YES !! I wish I had the courage to dye my hair pink !!

  • yes!!!! I plan on getting a half shave + dye if i get into my dream dental school next spring.

  • Amelia Diamond

    Eighth grade (I’m on the left) w my Manic Panic Hot Hot pink NO!mbre hair

  • Emily

    Hard to say, your hair color is already so gorgeous and getting it back might be difficult. I think it seems easier for a blonde do go bold, as it’s easier to return back to their natural color by wish. Personally I’ve always been jealous of people who can pull of gray/lilac hair!

  • Emma

    By the way: you’re my hairspiration. Was considering chopping my locks, saw a picture of you and went right ahead! Seriously envious of your hair

  • I can’t due to my job, but I really think I could rock a head of hot pink streaks – not the whole head…more like pink “highlights.” When I was a teenager (back in the olden times of the late 90s), I was so jealous of one of my friends who dyed her hair fire-engine red. It looked amazing…that is, until she got suspended from school for it. Oh, zero-tolerance policies…you were such a buzzkill.

    I also think this is a young person’s fad – there aren’t too many people outside their 20s who can pull it off without looking like they’re trying too hard. We can’t all be Nicole Richie cool.

  • Quinn Halman

    I feel like if you dyed all of your hair a bright colour then your outfits would have to mach it and certain colours that you might want to wear would clash

  • My hair has been all sorts of colors! That’s actually my favorite part about having light blonde hair — I don’t have to bleach it! I’ve done turquoise, violet, pink, and my little pony mix, which ultimately turned grey after a few weeks. Loved it! Been my regular blonde for more than two years now, but I have been considering dying it again. So easy to do when bored or you have a free minute. Just dpi hands in, and boom, a new outlook.

    • Charlotte Fassler

      I would definitely be on that train if I had super light hair but the thought of bleaching my hair to then enjoy some temporary color is YIIIIKEEEES

      • Yes bleaching seems like such a damaging/daunting process. I actually really love the way white-blonde hair looks on certain folks (Emily Weiss, etc), but I am so scared to do anything that permanent to my hair.

        I actually think I would be far more comfortable getting a tattoo.

  • Ana González

    Is that.. Kelly Osbourne? She looks so skinny! Such a lovely trend, but am still afraid to dye my hair and look like a clown.


  • moggiecat

    hair is for FUN! you can always color over it if you don’t like it.

  • Marnie Thao Nguyen

    I am seriously considering dying mine pastel blue, but something’s been pulling me back on the decision that I can’t really pinpoint.

    You are just on point. I’m just not elegant enough. I’d look like an unattractive middle school punk instead.

  • gina
  • Melissa

    I did fuschia colored (darker than pink but not true red) streaks on and off for a few years, and surprisingly got away with it in my conservative office, but I am too cheap to have it professionally done and I couldn’t find any dye with enough staying power to do it myself all the time. It was lasting a week and a half at most and ain’t nobody got time fo that.

  • Anais

    I have ombre hair like an amethyst, from purple to lavender grey and its pretty awesome i love it but its a pain in the ass maintain the color from fade.

  • Gré Tee

    you are so elegant enough!!!!

  • TheRanta

    Yes. I’ve been wanting to chop my long, very-dark-brown hair off for two years and double- (or maybe triple-) process it fuchsia. But 1) I’m at a weight where my face is a little too round (not enough sharp angles to support the short cut), and 2) I work with fairly young children on a regular basis and have to pretend to look respectable.

    I’m thinking that keeping it long and going with electric blue tips might be the way to go, so I can pull it back when I deal with the younguns, and so that I don’t look like post-hair-chopping Anne Hathaway in the movie of Les Miz.

  • Linda Kenyon

    Readers, I did! Last year I had a red violet color going on. I liked it. Now I’m edging to (saving up for) platinum.

  • smplblooms

    How à propos…I just chalked my hair today http://instagram.com/p/ngiQSBnMqV/

  • Kate Wilson

    Nicole Richie looks amazing at the moment! She can pull off any hair style x


  • Lea

    I’m absolutely obsessed with my hair and its color, however, when it comes to dying it, having dark-colored hair sucks so badly. Lately, I’ve been considering chopping my looong hair (still hesitant about it- have been growing it for so long just to enjoy its length that my mother wouldn’t allow me to when I was young since she’d cut it off every time it grew an inch.) and dying it too, but the thought of ruining it- sorry, bleaching it- is awful.
    I think your fabulous self could totally rock a hair dye.

    • Alex

      DO NOT CUT IT. At least not too short. Ive never met a person who had super long hair, then chopped it really short, who didn’t regret it a month later. Stay within the 5 inch rule. Go short in stages, is basically what im saying. Bleaching your hair is okay if it isn’t already over processed, you just have to buy good masks and deep conditioning treatments. But since you already have dark hair, go green it will look awesome!

      • Sara

        I am afraid to tell you that you are wrong hahahaha earlier this year I chopped my super long hair into a mid long bob and I still think it was the best thing I ever did in a long time

  • Alex

    I went a steel blue color last year and i would still have it if it wasn’t so much work to keep up the color!

  • loulee

    Your friend is right. I lasted about two weeks with lavender hair. It looked great when my attire was sharp and my accessories were abundant. BUT my dress is very casual with minimal accessories most days and it looked more “attention seeker” than “super stylish”. With your style, you could easily pull it off. You have the elegance!

  • Maricruz L. Armenta

    I just love Kelly hair color, in some way it looks so “natural” on her. Also Nicole looks amazing with lilac hair xx


  • pterridactyl

    I’ve experimented with the whole colour spectrum over the past few years and as much as loved it, it made a huge difference to my sartorial choices. I used to wear a lot of colour (maybe too much) but it felt a little OTT with fuchsia hair. I found my wardrobe palette becoming more and more subdued, with a minimalist aesthetic. The fun hair colour may have faded but thankfully the outfits remain. Sometimes it just takes a passing trend to help you define your signature style.

  • Gene

    Wait until you need a trim, then get a stylist you trust to lift the colour on the ends and then dye that a crazy colour. I’ve been going with magenta for a couple months now, but since it feels like Barbie hair down there I think its finally time for that trim.

    • Gene

      By Barbie hair I mean dry and plastic-y, not sick of the colour, far from it.

  • C Lang

    Try KoolAid! I have really dark brown hair and I have dyed it with blue Koolaid twice now. It gives my locks a green, iridescent shimmer to which I am now addicted. At least it’s cheap.
    heh heh

  • sueweil

    I am a grandmother who is covering my gray hair with soft lavender and I get many compliments on my hair. I say go for it.

  • Madeline Zappala
  • Kendall Marie

    Coming from someone who has been told since birth to NEVER color her hair, this is the one color trend I am dying (pun intended) to try out! The girls in London at BLEACH Salon have been using really cool colors for ages, both bright colors & pastels. If anyone’s in the UK, they are definitely worth a second look if color is what you’re looking for! They’ve just colored Sienna Miller’s hair for the British Fashion Awards!

  • Luna

    I love this post!

    I have been thinking about dying my latin locks for a while now…but! I always stop short because I never know what would look good on my skin tone…

    I am wondering, have you seen any awesome dye jobs on ladies of color?