can you have blue hair at a job interview?

A reader writes:

I’m in the middle of applying for a job at a very large company, where I would do a fair amount of client-facing work. It’s a big deal for me. I’ve been a huge fan of this company for years.

I haven’t even submitted my application yet, so I don’t know that I’ll get an interview, but I do feel that I’m a strong candidate. I also know that if they do like me, it will be a pretty quick hiring process right now. They’re hiring a bunch of people for this position, the next starting date is May, and they’re making it clear on the site that if you’re applying right now, you should expect to start in May if you’re successful.

At the same time… I’m getting married very soon. Next week, in fact. And I’ve been planning for my “something blue” to be my hair. (Right now it’s pink, and my current job doesn’t mind at all, even when I go to conferences — hooray for tech startups.) I would be happy to dye it to a natural color after the blue, but doing that and actually having it look natural would probably require a couple weeks of fade time. So I would almost certainly be going to interviews with blue hair.

As I said, it’s not certain I’ll even get an interview, but I will probably have a similar problem the next time I look for a job too (it’s actually been joked about at my current work that they’ll know I’m looking elsewhere if my hair turns brown). Should I mention it in the interview, like “My current workplace is very casual/it went blue for an event, and I’d be happy to dye it to something ‘normal’ if I’m offered this job”? For the job I’m applying for now, a lot of the other applicants will be straight out of college (or still in it), so I expect they see some stuff like this, but … I don’t want to rely on that.

I also don’t want to dye it natural colors for my wedding just on the off-chance, and I don’t want to spook my current workplace. I’m not irreplaceable there, but my leaving would definitely be a big blow, so I really don’t want them to know I’m even looking.

Blue hair is going to be a deal-breaker in a lot of industries, and not an issue in others. So you really, really need to know your own industry on this. In the design or fashion world, for instance, it might be totally fine. In banking, no.

And you might be surprised by where it’s not okay. I spent many years working in advocacy nonprofits, and candidates often assumed that because we worked on “cool” issues, we’d be okay with non-mainstream appearances (blue hair, mohawks, facial piercings, long hair on men.). But we categorically were not — those things were banned on our staff, because we wanted the public’s focus (and reporters’ and legislators’ focus) to be on our message, not on the messenger. And even though you might think that it would only matter for positions that dealt with the public, it mattered for everyone. We didn’t want a reporter to be in our office one day, see a blue-haired I.T. person walk by, and include that detail in their story, because it played into perceptions that our issue was outside the mainstream, while we were working to mainstream the issue with grandparents, clergy, and conservative legislators.

On the other hand, there are businesses that you might expect to be more conservative about appearance that are actually more relaxed about it … but you can’t always tell from the outside. (And simply having a lot of recently graduated applicants doesn’t mean anything either way.)

So you really, really need to know your industry, and what’s generally accepted. And if your industry doesn’t embrace non-mainstream looks, and you want a particular job in it, then yeah, you probably need to adjust your hair to accommodate that.

You certainly shouldn’t alter your plans for your hair for your wedding though. But if you’re interviewing for a job before it’s had a chance to return to a natural color, and you’re not in a field known to be friendly to non-mainstream looks (again, fashion and design are the best known for this; some parts of tech too, but few others), then I’d address it up-front. Because otherwise you risk getting rejected when you otherwise wouldn’t.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 222 comments… read them below }

  1. Juni*

    No, seriously, wear a wig to your interview if you’re not sure if the blue hair is going to work. Don’t compromise your dream wedding, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot unnecessarily. You can get a decent wig for under $100. As the store clerk to help you find something natural-looking.

    1. Katie*

      +1 on the wig.

      You can get an inexpensive wig from ebay.

      Also, I have a feeling this OP will have fun with wigs.

      1. some1*

        I wouldn’t recommend buying a wig on ebay or online at all, unless the LW has a lot of experience wearing wigs and she knows how certain sizes fit her.

      2. OP*

        I totally would have fun with wigs! If I had the space and money, I would probably have a big collection of funky wigs.

        At the moment, though… I’ve never worn a wig that actually had to look that realistic, and I’m sure I’d just be worrying constantly about my hair falling off, or being crooked, or some blue poking through somewhere, when what I ought to be worrying about would be giving a good example of my problem-solving skills.

    2. Xay*


      I know a lot of women with “non–mainstream” styles, in my case natural African-American hair, who use wigs or weaves for job interviews. I haven’t had problems getting hired with dreadlocks, but if I ever did work in a more conservative field, I would buy a wig.

        1. EnnVeeEl*

          I wore my natural hair to an interview and I’m sure it was fine. I have no intentions of buying any wigs. I think there is a difference between natural hair and a color like blue – my curls are my curls, but no one has naturally blue hair. I think in the case of wild colors, it helps to be conservative.

          1. Eric*

            Oh, I agree. But I don’t doubt that there are still some employers that would look down on an African-American woman just for having natural hair.

            1. EnnVeeEl*

              Oh, I don’t want to work for those people. At all. If you don’t want to hire me because of my hair, please screen me out. Please and thank you.

              I came into my current position with relaxed hair. I big chopped and waltzed into work. Right now, my huge afro is pulled into a huge puff.

              I hope my work speaks for itself and my hair…is just my hair.

      1. Legal Eagle*

        I would be careful with that assumption. Many employers love well done natural hair. I am an African American woman in a conservative field, and the partners at my firm gave me tons of compliments on my natural hair.

        If you were worried about you locs, pull them back into a bun. But don’t hide them.

        1. Eric*

          Well, I was responding to Xay, who said that she knows women who use weaves or wigs for job interviews.

          I am neither African-American nor a woman, so I don’t have any first-hand experience with this.

        2. Xay*

          Like I said, I haven’t had to and I’ve interviewed with all stages of locs, afro, braids, etc. I don’t anticipate working in a field where I felt I needed to. But unfortunately, there are still places where locs are viewed as unprofessional.

    3. Liz T*

      You can get a good-looking wig for $30! You never know what’s going to look best on any given person. (A really good salesperson once fetched me and my actor a cheaper wig than the one we were almost setted on, and it was PERFECT.) If you’re in new york go to Wigs Plus on 14th street.

    4. Mary Sue*

      +1 wig.

      I present as female, and right now I’m bald (because I shaved my hair to raise money for pediatric cancer research, I do this every two years or so). I’m also interviewing, and I wear a wig to interviews because it’s a huuuuuge distraction in my industry (healthcare), and plenty of times people assume I’m going through chemo myself. I look at the wig in the same way I wear long sleeves to cover my arm tattoos- necessary so they judge me based on my merits and not my baldy mcbalditude.

      My wig was about $60, it’s not the best but it’ll do.

      1. TheSnarkyB*

        +1 and more kudos to you for saying “I present as female” – language we should all get used to using
        -for another cause :)

        1. khilde*

          “present as a female”
          Could you explain that? I have never heard that phrase before and am curious what it means. I have a guess, but just want to confirm. Thanks!

      2. Tinker*

        I have kind of a vaguely similar thing going on. I present as nominally female but very obviously masculine, and at the moment I’m hovering around between a #1 and #3 buzz cut. Oddly enough, it’s a bit more feminine than the styles I was wearing when it was longer (in the vicinity of #4 on the sides, ~1″ razor cut on top), and even more oddly (relative to me) I kind of like that. However, it’s definitely a bit more unconventional.

        Probably could get away with a wig, but I think it’d look so removed from my current style that it would give people the entirely wrong impression of how I operate, which is definitely not something I want to do in an interview.

        Very glad I work in tech and live in Colorado.

        1. Lisa*

          Oh hai, fellow Coloradan tech industry person!

          I really enjoyed a nervous guy with sleeve tats who came in obviously uncomfortable in a sport coat for an interview, was escorted into the conference room, and just about collapsed in excitement when he saw his interviewer’s American Classic full sleeves.

          This state is fun.

      3. T*

        ” I look at the wig in the same way I wear long sleeves to cover my arm tattoos- necessary so they judge me based on my merits and not my baldy mcbalditude. ”

        +1 for baldy mcbalditude!

    5. Lindsay*

      I was just coming in to suggest this. I’ve had friends at all sorts of jobs with dress-codes wear wigs to get around the natural looking hair requirements.

  2. Jane Doe*

    If you end up getting an interview, could you dye it something darker than your natural color, but something still “found in nature” like a blue black?

    Alternately, is it possible to have a professional strip the blue out and re-dye it a darker color? I know that’s probably not all that good for hair, though, so it would probably depend knowing a lot about how your hair handles rough treatment.

    1. Lynn*

      I tried that once. The “stripping” rendered my hair completely impermeable to dyes and other liquids. You know how your hair looks darker when it’s wet? Mine didn’t. I was stuck with a trashy-looking bleached blonde look until it grew out. Definitely try with a small area first before stripping the whole thing.

    2. Anne*

      Stripping the color can have unexpected results. I bleached my hair and dyed it blue one summer(if you’re going for a true blue and not platinum blonde, the bleach is necessary) and my mother was insistent that it be back to brown for the school year. I went to a salon, they tried to strip it out and I ended up with a light silvery-blue color. After several weeks it faded enough to dye brown, but not before school pictures.

    3. OP*

      I splashed out on a full bleach and primer with my hairdresser for this, and while doing it she did say that with about a day’s notice, she should be able to lift the blue and get me back to brown. She hasn’t seen just how intensely I dyed it when I got home, though! (Dye packets often say to leave it in for a half hour – pffffft. I sleep in it.)

      So it might be do-able, but yeah, I think it would be very damaging. Even for my hair, which has survived a lot of abuse!

  3. Sascha*

    I would probably just dye it black instead of trying to go for brown or something like that. Black is a bit harsh, but it’s a natural hair color. And there are natural blue-blacks like some of the other commenters have said, which will work better when put on top of blue.

    Also, how blue are you talking? Like vibrant, electric blue? Or really dark blue? I’m super jealous, by the way. I’ve always wanted to do purple, and my boss told me it was okay, but I’m still leery. :)

    1. Jamie*

      Ymmv but there are many people’s colorings where black wouldn’t look any more natural than blue. If I did that you would never think it grew out of my head that way…just that I was either a very old goth or a huge Morticia Adams fangirl.

      I think the wig is a good idea. It’s not just the more formal industries that would find that off putting. I would be taken aback if someone came in for a professional position sporting blue hair and we’re pretty casual.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Can I sidetrack this thread to note how very annoyed I am that as a redhead I really can’t color my hair, because when the roots grew back in it would look terrible to have a strip of flaming red down the center of my head? Very annoying.

        I don’t want to go blue, but I would like the option of trying out more natural colors.

        1. Jamie*

          Mine is a med/dark auburn and I still recall my shock in highschool when my attempt to go blonde came put somewhere between Reba McEntire and Lucille Ball. Highlights come out copper, which is great since they are hard to find unless you go professional.

          I was the redhead at work until we hired someone with fabulous perfect red hair (think Alison) and I accepted my demotion…and now one of the blondes went shocking red so I’m just background now. :)

          I need a change – expect a hair discussion in tomorrow’s open thread!

          1. Job seeker*

            Jamie, I know what you mean about change. I have never had a hairstyle or color that does not look natural. But, even if I am middle-age if I was in my 20’s again I might try some different colors just for fun. Nothing too wild, but when I went back to school a young girl sitting next to me had purple streaks of color a few places. Kinda cool. I like my hair though. It is long (shoulder-length) and brunette and shiny and healthy. I do not have any gray hair (thank you to my hairdresser) and do not ever intend to. But, I can see where change can be fun. I think though in a workplace I would stick to mainstream conservative.

            1. Jamie*

              I am somewhat shocked that you’re a brunette. In my head you’ve always looked like a young Blythe Danner…very blonde and always elegant.

              Weird how we form pictures in our head.

              1. Job seeker*

                Jamie, you are so sweet. That was a very sweet compliment. No, I am not a blonde. I bet your med/auburn hair coloring is beautiful. I always pictured you as having long hair. Mine is long too but more Jacklyn Smith style. Dark brunette and same hairstyle.

            2. Laura*

              FWIW, I did the blue tips I mention below last year, so I was 39 (and still have them at 40). And I do crazy nail art all the time, just because it’s fun. I’ve never had a bad or weird reaction to either, professionally or personally. But, I did have this job when I started doing both and knew that both would be acceptable here. I wouldn’t do either at a new office or for an interview (the hair I’d hide, the nails I’d leave bare or wear very conservative polish).

              1. Job seeker*

                The more I think about this the conservative me thinks maybe not. To dye your hair for your something blue is original. Maybe, if I was 20 again I might think about a few strands of color here and there for a short time. I don’t really think I could have that for long though. As far as manicures, I like french manicures because they are very clean and professional. Also, very conservative polish. I don’t think I could go with crazy nail art though. I am not a wild person at all but conservative by nature.

          2. Anonymous*

            I’m a redhead who is going naturally gray. I’m very lucky in that it looks like I’ve had my hair professionally done with dramatic blond streaks, but the catch is this:

            No one knows I’m a redhead any more. They think I’m a blonde.

            After fifty+ years of being a redhead, I have completely lost my redhead mojo. I don’t mind getting older, but I mind that.

            And I know I could dye it, but it wouldn’t be the same. I’d never match the color.

        2. The IT Manager*

          In a case of “the grass is always greener,” so many women I know wish for and dye their hair a color that come to you naturally. I always go for a shade of red when I color, but I don’t think I can pull of true red naturally so don’t go for real redhead.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I always get told that, but you have no idea how tired one gets of being blinded by one’s own hair color every time you look in a mirror! I would like a nice subdued color for a change.

            1. AMG*

              You get exactly zero sympathy for having beautiful red hair that some people pay a fortune for. :)

                1. Original Dan*

                  Hair…I remember when I had hair….

                  Anyway I think Redheads rock all the way!

                  Exactly what I was thinking :-)

                  Also, as The IT Manager said, the grass is always greener. I used to have curly hair and I always withed it was straight.

            2. Kay*

              Wait another five years? ;) My copper-red super-bright hair has been getting less flaming bright and more blonde as I go through my 30s, I expect before I finally go grey the only people who knew me as anything other than a strawberry blonde will be from two jobs ago or college.

              1. Ask a Manager* Post author

                I am 39! You’d think it would have started by now. But that’s interesting to hear — I’m always wondering what it will do as I age.

                1. T*

                  My mom was a redhead, and it started fading to a light brown in her late 40s. But my uncle (also a redhead) stayed ginger until he greyed.

                2. Tasha*

                  My aunt has bright red hair that fades to a muted auburn after a few weeks spent outside in bright sunlight. Perhaps you could take up hiking if you want to experiment with other colors…

                3. Suz*

                  My mother-in-law had a similar shade of red and it never did go grey. It kept getting browner the older she got. 80 years old and still not grey hair.

                4. Julie K*

                  My great aunt was nicknamed “Bricky” partly because of her beautiful red hair.

                  I dyed my hair red for 20 years or so, so when I found out my cousin’s daughter had been dyeing her beautiful red hair brown, I thought, “what is wrong with that child!?” but then I realized she was in high school at the time and probably wanted to look like everyone else. Now that she’s older, she’s back to red. (Yay!)

                  And unfortunately for me, the red is not covering the gray well enough any more, so I had to switch to a dark brown, but the color still turned out to have a reddish tone to it, which I’m happy with!

            3. Rana*

              Just wait until you go grey. ;)

              (Actually, going grey naturally is a rather interesting process. My original hair was a very dark brown with reddish highlights, and is now about 50% grey, most of that in streaks of nearly pure white alternating with a largely dark mixture. Although I’ve had to adjust my wardrobe to compensate for the cooler shade, pretty much everyone thinks the grey-white streaking is amazing; I’ve even been asked if I had it done that way. Nope, just me.)

              1. Jessica (the celt)*

                That’s interesting about your hair color changing. All the older redheads I’ve known have ended up with gorgeous white hair (not that steely gray). My grandmother had auburn hair and when it began to “turn,” it went white. She had the most beautiful, soft, silky white hair. We grandkids would pet her hair when we were younger. I was always wishing I had auburn or red hair in the hopes that it would turn white as I got older. (I have red highlights in the sun, but not enough that I think I’ll get the gorgeous white. :-( So sad about that.)

        3. Rob Bird*

          Don’t feel to bad; I have seen many a time when a blonde has died their roots black. It’s such a shame…..:)

        4. Kelly O*

          +1 to the whole issue of dying hair that is a more-red color naturally. I’m strawberry blonde, and one of the reasons I’ve never colored mine is the concern about growing it out, and the actual results I would get.

          1. Laura*

            I have borderline-auburn hair and was very blond for awhile — they used an ash color (almost green on the swatch) and it would come up honey blond. The roots always appeared as just a dark brown/black. If you go within just a couple shades lighter or darker like my boss does, the roots are barely noticeable.

        5. EnnVeeEl*

          Can I sidetrack that I love red hair? It’s pretty. And you can always tell a natural red hair from a person who dyed their hair red. It’s NOT the same!

          1. fake redhead*

            Actually, I have been coloring my hair red for 14 years and lots of people think it’s real. “You must be Irish with that red hair”

            1. Min*

              I used to dye my hair a completely unnatural RED red and I still had a couple of co-workers who thought it was my natural color. There’s something about red hair that seems to confuse people.

              And count me in for the love of naturally red hair. I’m envious.

        6. Natalie*

          You might want to consider a (subtly done) ombre, where the color changes gradually from roots to tip.

            1. flora_fairford*

              Wow, I think your bright hair is lovely! I’ve always wanted red hair instead of my muddy blonde that highlights badly…

            2. Jamie*

              Gorgeous! And SEA LIONS! I don’t know what makes me more jealous.

              And whomever on here mentioned Downton Abbey – I love you so much! I remembered it was discussed here while on-demand is offering all seasons free this week I thought I would give it a shot. It has rendered me very happy and completely useless the last two days.

              1. Jazzy Red*

                That’s how I feel about the Walking Dead-athon this week. I’m biting my nails over Andrea’s fate…

              2. khilde*

                Yes! No one else in my life watched DA and I was desperate to talk to anyone about it. There were a few fellow fans here. When the next season starts up for us in the US next year (!) we should totally have some conversations on the LinkedIn group.

                1. Jamie*

                  It will be it’s own thread and I will not shut up. We do have a television thread over there now and there is nothing wrong with discussing past seasons. And my husband is hooked if you can believe it – YAY! But he doesn’t care as deeply as I do – hasn’t cried once.

                  If it were possible I would ex-pat right back to England just for the TV. I am positive that my family line that got on the boat in 1620 would never have left England if they’d known it would be the home of Downton Abbey, As Time Goes By, and Ricky Gervais. I never liked the pilgrims and this is why…leaves me at the mercy of PBS and BBC America.

                2. khilde*

                  I’m strangely attracted to British TV, as well. When I was in high school my mom always watched those old British sitcoms that aired in the evenings on PBS (As Time Goes By, Keeping Up Appearances, etc.). I always thought she was so lame….but now I want to watch them too.

                  I haven’t been on the LinkedIn group for a while but DUH! of course we can talk about past seasons. I shall make an appearance and you and I can burn up the message board with our dissection of DA.

                3. Jessica (the celt)*


                  As Time Goes By… I wish that show had gone on and on and on and on. My husband and I love both DA and As Time Goes By as well as a few others from BBC or ITV that we Netflix. I’m just glad our PBS carries a bunch of the older, silly British shows, too!

            3. Ask a Manager* Post author

              This photo was supposed to make you all recoil from the brightness (as it did me) — it doesn’t normally look that neon (because I am normally inside).

              1. Jamie*

                Sun has a different effect on red and reddish hair than other colors. I have pictures from me as a kid from inside and its like Debra Messing’s color. Same day pics taken outside and its Danny Bonaduce. It’s a strange phenomenon.

              2. Jessa*

                Sorry, not recoiling. And OMG sea lions. Wow. And your hair is gorgeous. But that aside I totally understand you wanting to do something different sometime and what a pain that can be.

            4. Ash*

              You look awesome and your hair color is great, shut up (in a nice way)! ;) I was the same growing up having very curly hair. I hated it and hated it more whenever anyone said they wished they had my hair (and it was a lot of people). Now that I’m older and know how to style my hair and wear it, I love my curls!

            5. Natalie*

              OK, so that is really bright, but I bet a skilled colorist could ombre that for you. It would obviously be a risk, but hopefully if you did a little asking around you could find someone that would give you a realistic idea of how possible it is.

              And I feel your pain! I have really curly hair. I’m not especially fashion forward so the volume of wistful comments I’ve gotten on my hair really stand out, including requests to “sproing” one of the ringlets. But I find my hair to be a huge PITA , since I can’t just brush it into a something-or-other style if I’m running late, or having a bad hair day.

              When it’s good, it’s good, but when it’s bad it looks like I stuck a fork in an electric outlet.

            6. ThursdaysGeek*

              Wow, that’s a beautiful color!

              Have you noticed how a lot of women don’t like something about their hair? Too straight, too curly, too dark, too light, too thick, too thin: I wish I had hair like yours! I wish mine was thicker and not so dead flat, and it’s odd that it matches my kind of hazel eyes, but I’ve grown attached to it. (The hair doesn’t have a greenish tint, but my eyes are certainly not brown either.)

              1. Rana*

                Excellent point! The curly want it straight, the straight want curls, and so on. It’s taken me about 40 years to like my hair as it is, and even then, I have relapses (especially when it grows out and puts all of the worst traits on full display).

            7. Cruella DaBoss*

              Wow….you have really pretty skin too! I love the freckles.

              I’m so jealous. You know EVERYONE remembers the redhead. Me, plain ole boring blend-into-the-background brown here.

              1. Another Ginger*

                Not really. I’ve been a natural redhead all my life, and although the elderly seem to be quite fond of it, I’m forgotten fairly frequently. Most of the time, we’re just thought of as fitting into specific stereotypes (similar to if we’d dyed our hair unnatural colours, funnily enough).

              1. Jessa*

                I am with you on this. Also with you in name, there seem to be two of us, although you’re a Jess with a last name A? I presume? And I’m a Jessa short for Jessica. :-)

        7. Diane*

          You can have a good colorist weave in browns or blondes, so it changes the tone of your hair without shocking growout. It looks more natural too.

          1. Adele*

            I, too, am a natural red head. In the days of yore (read: high school), I really wanted to dye it. Much to my chagrin I discovered that red hair is chemically different than other hair colors, so it doesn’t respond as predictably to hair dyes.

            All said, I’m more at peace with my hair color now, but there are many times when I wish I had a less striking color. It would be nice not to be asked on a weekly or more basis if this is “my natural color”. When I was younger, I got asked that almost every day.

            On the other hand, it’s easy to “stand out” in interviews, so maybe it’s not all bad.

        8. QualityControlFreak*

          Hee hee! I am a person who had black hair when young. Now it’s mostly silver on top, black underneath. I’d love to go back to solid black, but couldn’t face the prospect of looking like Pepe Le Pew when the roots grew out. Sigh.

          1. Rana*

            That’s so funny! My own hair did the opposite as I started to go grey: dark on top, with these hidden surprise streaks. (And I hear you on the impracticality of coloring it at this point.)

        9. Emily*

          My hair’s about as red as yours, and I’ve died it colours definitely not found in nature, then, when it was starting to grow out, had a colour-wash put on that was nearly my natural colour – much cheaper than dying, and by the time that faded, my last dregs of colour were gone and it looked normal. Might be worth a try?

        10. not really a job hopper*

          I LOVE redheads, I think it’s such a gorgeous color!

          I think both redheaded Donnas (pinciotti and paulson) are hot <3

      2. Sascha*

        True, it’s not more “natural” looking but I think it’s more in the realm of “acceptable” hair colors. I have seen plenty of women with shades of red that are definitely not natural (for anyone), but for many that’s more acceptable than blue, pink, or purple. I think it’s more about acceptable hair colors than natural ones.

        There would be some people put off by black as well, for the very reason you mentioned. A wig is a good idea, but it’s gotta be a REALLY good wig – I’d rather see non-natural hair than a bad wig.

        1. Julie K*

          I used to think it wouldn’t matter to me if I used a color that wasn’t found in nature, but I had never tried it. Then one time I accidentally chose a burgundy red instead of a coppery red, and I felt so conspicuous having a hair color that was clearly not natural. I am shy, so it really made me uncomfortable. I found a better color right away and re-dyed it.

  4. AMG*

    I worked in a place where anything at all pierced other than 1 (and only 1) set of earrings was too much, and a college intern was reprimanded for having maroon tips on her nails. Wear the wig.

    This hits home because I was considering a very discreet nose piercing and am in a moderately open industry and was met with a resounding no. Go with the wig, and good luck!

    1. Lillie Lane*

      Some places will not allow *any* nail polish, even clear. I don’t quite understand that, unless the product interfered with your job in some way (and I can’t think of a single situation like that).

      As an person with extremely conservative piercing views, I love discreet nose piercings on some girls. And dread locks. I wouldn’t do it, myself, but am a secret admirer of some non-traditional body and hair expression.

      1. -X-*

        ” I don’t quite understand that, unless the product interfered with your job in some way (and I can’t think of a single situation like that).”

        Some people like to exert control.

        1. Wannabe Biostatistician*

          In California, if you work in food manufacturing (and really in general in the U.S. food industry, regulations prohibit wearing nailpolish, make-up, perfume, and jewelry when inside the plant or warehouse.
          One if the things I hate most about my job is having to take off my wedding band for work.

      2. Jane Doe*

        My guess is that nail polish bans are either about outdated and ultraconservative views about the kinds of women who wear nail polish, or about attempting to control the way people look – I’ve seen some people get bizarrely judgemental about chipped nail polish, like we’re all supposed to arrive looking like Corporate Barbie just out of the box every day.

        1. Kelly O*

          In some health care professions, nail polish is frowned upon, and I have known those who worked in lab environments who did not wear it for cleanliness reasons.

          And, if I’m being honest, chipped nail polish is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, and one of the many reasons I normally just buff my natural nails and don’t wear polish.

          I don’t think anyone expects “Corporate Barbie” but I always take the time to dry my hair fully and style it in some way (even if it’s just brushed smooth) and put on a bit of makeup (my personal preference, but if you don’t wear makeup at least wash your face) as well as making sure my nails are filed neatly and are clean and chip-free (again, why I don’t normally wear polish.)

          A bit of a tangent, but while I understand that your physical appearance doesn’t make a difference in the way you do your work, and that it shouldn’t matter in making decisions about hiring, promotions, etc, I do find that I feel more put-together and ready to handle the day when I’m dressed and ready. And we all make tiny judgments about each other, whether we want to admit it or not.

          I’m sure it sounds quite superficial to many people, but I want the way I present myself – hair, makeup/skin, clothing, nails, etc – to show someone who cares about the impression others are getting. Because I DO care, even when I want to say I don’t. I want to look like I have my stuff together, even when I most decidedly do NOT have my stuff together.

          I may not be Corporate Barbie, but I like to think I’m ready for whoever I might meet during the day. That’s just me. Clearly others mileage will vary.

          1. Jamie*

            This. I am not nearly as diligent as Kelly since its not unheard of for me to come into a crisis and forget to get to the ladies room to do my makeup till lunch. And my hair has more than once been brushed and piled back and forgotten. But I agree 100% in theory, my own laziness notwithstanding.

            And ITA with the chipped nails pet peeve. Not wearing polish is totally fine, I don’t think it’s required but if you’re going to do it it needs to be maintained. Few things look worse IMO than chipped polish. I’m also in full curmudgeon mode, but I do think there’s something less than professional about wild polish colors after a certain age.

            I’ve officially turned into my mother.

            1. ThursdaysGeek*

              What about socks that don’t match? (They are usually pretty bright, and they don’t show.) I am most definitely after a certain age.

              1. Jamie*

                Ugh – huge pet peeve of mine. Not on others – I wouldn’t notice – but my daughter has adopted this habit and I now have 42 single socks (a ridiculously high percentage of them hk) in my basket.

                People who do this should not borrow socks from others unless they borrow them in pairs. And one day when Alison accepts questions for non-work related problems I will write in to ask if its legal. Because it shouldn’t be.

                1. Anonymously Anonymous*

                  Ha! Matching socks on laundry day is a must for me so much so that I have pillowcase filled with abandoned mates! I cant throw them away–what if the other one returns one day. Oh the decision I struggle with.
                  My kids now on to the craze. Now the lonely abandoned socks are back in use. I love the idea behind –I actually purchased a few pairs for my girls and then they started going through the pillowcase to mismatch sock out it–though my heart–er OCD still wish the sock mates are reunited.

              2. Rana*

                That would make me twitch. Not because I think they’re inappropriate, but because paired things that are asymmetrical and non-matching bother me.

              3. I wear mismatched socks, too.*

                Used to have people in middle school yell at me and hit me in gym class for it. Now everyone’s doing it and I can’t help but just feel spiteful. xD
                Not spiteful enough to find matching socks, but still.

          2. Jane Doe*

            I definitely think appearance is important, and my problem isn’t with people who value looking put-together and appropriate, and like you have your stuff together. My problem is with the minority of people I’ve come across who think appearance is everything, and seriously question other people’s judgement when they aren’t perfectly polished all the time.

            I’m no slob, and I do take time to make sure my clothes and body are neat, clean and presentable.

            I think there are probably different aspects of appearance that irritate people differently – I typically don’t notice things like chipped nail polish or scuffed shoes on other people, but obviously ill-fitting clothing bugs me a lot.

          3. Health Care Professions*

            If you’re in health care, nail polish is definitely a no-no. Especially gel polishes. Nail polish is basically a breeding ground for all the things that you don’t want in a sterile field.

        2. Just a Reader*

          Does my weekly mani make me Corporate Barbie? I try really hard to look perfectly polished and put together every day.

          Some days are more successful than others, especially now that I am limited to the horrors of maternity clothes.

          1. Lily in NYC*

            I doubt it! I don’t think it’s an issue in the vast majority of workplaces. In my office (a bunch of rich New Yorkers), it’s more unusual NOT to have a manicure than to have one.

      3. EnnVeeEl*

        See…I love nail polish. I will do Conservative Ballet Slippers Pink for interviews…and then bust out the maroons after I get hired. Unless you work in a lab or a health environment…It shouldn’t matter.

      4. Clerk I*

        “Some places will not allow *any* nail polish, even clear. I don’t quite understand that, unless the product interfered with your job in some way (and I can’t think of a single situation like that).”

        Baking. My friend works as a baker and even though she wears gloves, she cannot wear nail polish at all because there is a chance that it will chip and end up in the baked goods.

        1. Lillie Lane*

          Ah, yes. This was the type of example I was looking for. Don’t think I’d want to find a chip of red polish in my cupcake.

          1. T*

            I know some types of sales jobs in luxury stores/fashion chains only allow nude/clear/pale pink nailpolish, if at all. I think that’s reasonable because the store is going for a “brand” look for all of their storefront employees.

            …in a normal office though, no nailpolish rules sound obnoxious

        2. Tasha*

          That makes sense. I was thinking that most situations (like research labs) where nail polish could contaminate something important would also be situations where gloves were required.

      5. Elizabeth*

        AORN standards are that in the operating room or post-anesthesia environment, nails must be no longer than fingertip & without polish. It isn’t always completely random or arbitrary when someone has restrictions on personal appearance.

        1. Lillie Lane*

          No, this makes sense. I just couldn’t think of any situations off the top of my head.

      6. Elizabeth*

        Another situation where nail polish doesn’t work is some scientific labs. When I was in college, we cleaned the glassware in organic chem lab with soap and water, then gave it a final rinse with a squeeze bottle of acetone to help get rid of any other impurities. Since acetone is the main ingredient in many nail polish removers, you couldn’t keep nail polish on there… though that’s less of a policy and more of a physical reality!

      7. Lindsay*

        Food service it interferes with your job because it might chip off into somebody’s food. I have a feeling you’re talking about office type jobs though where the only reason I can find is someone in the company being a control freak.

      8. Jessa*

        Actually a number of nurses are told not to wear polish because if it chips off inside a patient when they are not gloved (or the glove breaks,) for some reason, it can be a problem. There are a lot of places where a glove break could cause polish to get into the works of something. So in a lot of sterile environment jobs they don’t allow polish. They also often insist on shorter nails too and no acrylic or gel nails either. In a lot of cases this is just “very old practises that really don’t have a valid reason anymore,” but they still do it.

  5. Lora*

    Even other companies within one industry. Or organizations within a company.

    MegaPharma: Engineering, women had to wear not-quite-a-suit. Drug Discovery, we all practically wore uniforms of khakis and LL Bean sweaters and natural hair, no makeup ever.

    MediumPharma: Engineering, women have purple hair and business casual. Drug Discovery, again with the khakis and collared shirt thing. QA women dress very formally though, in almost-suits or suits. And site managers wear jeans!

    Startup: a sweatshirt or tee shirt with your college/grad school or past employer logo was de rigeur. Acceptable attire included Harvard, MIT and Stanford logos. My Tufts hoodie and MegaPharma tee shirt…not so much. You were also supposed to look like you just rolled out of bed, always. Finance people were the only ones who did their hair and wore suits or business casual.

    1. Lillie Lane*

      At my last position, we had a generally very casual dress code because most people did active work like meeting with farmers, school kids, etc. For annual organization-wide training events, though, the assistant director tried to institute a strict “business casual or better” dress code — specifically “no denim”. Someone decided to push the boundaries a bit and showed up in a full denim suit. The director had a cow and she changed the policy to “absolutely no denim, even if it is a suit”.

          1. Anonymously Anonymous*

            Haha.. my sister gifted me a very trendy denim suit back during that time 2000ish. While I loved the mermaid style skirt (cant believe im admiting this) with it crocheted details on the pockets and the bottom—the jacket when combined was denim overkill . Then it hung in my closet until around 2006 when I got onto the ebay frenzy. Sure enough someone paid me $25 for that horrific outfit!

          1. Sascha*

            I won’t post it because you’ll hate me, but one picture amongst the Canadian Tuxedo search was a guy who had cut the stomach out of a pair of overalls so his beer belly poked through. Klassy…

            1. Esra*

              Ha! I’m an awful friend and sent that picture to my friend last year when she was bemoaning the lack of selection re: maternity clothes.

              1. Natalie*

                An affordable and easy maternity solution! Unless you are pregnant during a Midwest winter.

        1. Just a Reader*

          I’m thinking that a denim suit for work must look like one of the dark wash denim pencil skirts–lightweight fabric–with a matching jacket.

          So much more fun to imagine a rhinestone cowboy situation

          1. Lillie Lane*

            A dark wash would be OK, but the woman showed up in a somewhat dated-looking light blue wash a la Justin T. No rhinestones, though.

            The somewhat stupid context of the “no denim” rule is that the organization always gave out denim shirts with our logo as prizes, employee anniversary gifts, etc. They wanted us to wear those all the time when dealing with the public.

      1. ThursdaysGeek*

        I had a former co-worker who acquired some 70’s suits. We talked him into wearing one to work on a Tie Tuesday: tan and fake leather, wide lapels, wide tie, wide pant bottoms. It was kind of disruptive because so many people had to come over to see and admire the incredible ugliness of the 70’s.

  6. CoffeeLover*

    Do you have to dye it all blue? My hair is purple underneath, but you can’t tell unless I have it up. Have you considered that? Or maybe just a blue streak underneath?

    I’m seconding the you would be surprised mentality. A lot of places are still REALLY conservative in terms of looks.

    1. Laura*

      I’ve got blue hair, but only the bottom three inches (I have past-shoulder length hair). My employer doesn’t mind, but it’s also super easy to twist it up in a bun or other moderately conservative style and hide the blue if necessary. And, if/when I get tired of it, I can just whack off the dyed portion and let it grow back out the natural color. No muss, no fuss. Might be an option, if you’ve got the length.

    2. Anonymous*

      I agree with this, I had the tips of my hair dyed deep purple for a long time while I was working a customer service job in an offbeat shop, and didn’t want to change it if I could avoid it when I went to an office job. So I just told the interviewer (before going in to interview), “Right now I have purple tips, but I’m totally willing to change this if it’s an issue,” and they said “Oh, that’s fine.” I would do some variation of that, regardless of how much you end up dying your hair. I’d mention it before the interview if possible, so the get the explanation first and can be prepared for it!

    3. OP*

      I really wasn’t going to compromise on that kind of thing for my wedding, I’m afraid. :)

      Plus, as I mentioned, it was already pink. I wasn’t dyeing it from brown, it was all an unnatural color already.

  7. JG*

    I disagree with the wig idea. Personally I think wigs are usually pretty uncomfortable (hot, itchy) and I would spend mental energy worrying about it when I should be focusing on the interview. I say keep the blue, but go out of your way to make the styling of your hair and your outfit more conservative. And if you get the feeling that your hair may be an issue, bring up the fact that you’re willing to change in a friendly sort of way while you’re making your case for why you’re ready to transition from a start-up to a larger company.

    1. Jamie*

      I don’t know that a conservative style would necessarily help. If its an environment where blue hair would be considered shocking I don’t think the fact that its in a sophisticated bob or paired with pearls and a pencil skirt will compensate for that.

  8. Rob Bird*

    The biggest thing to remember is to know the culture at that company/office. I know of large companies/organization where something is ok in one office, but off limits in another because of the culture in those offices.

    Best bet is to scope out that company and see what the norm is.

  9. perrik*

    I color my hair blue-black (hurray for Clairol Nice & Easy) to cover all the gray, but it looks natural because that was my childhood hair color. All these warm “soft” blacks look like crap on me – I am the Queen of Cool Tones! Bring me offerings of emerald green and teal! Er, anyway…

    How about a blue wig for the wedding? If you’re looking for a new position in general, it would be safer to return to brown until you get a better feel for the org culture at the places where you interview. The old saying “it is better to apologize than ask permission” doesn’t apply when job searching.

    1. fposte*

      I don’t want to bleach my hair to put color in, so I’m looking forward to completely graying out so that I can add some color. I’m planning to bring a new meaning to “blue-haired old lady.”

      1. CoffeeLover*

        My hair stylist told me that colouring grey hair is the hardest thing to do because colour pigments don’t want to stick to the strands (or something like that).

        1. Sascha*

          Yes, and just be aware that gray interacts with the dyes differently so the color will be different than what you are expecting. Although if you are an old lady by that time, I say go all out and have fun, color theory be damned!

        2. Jane Doe*

          I suppose this is why they haven’t invented a dye that colors just the greys but leaves the rest of your hair it’s natural color.

        3. fposte*

          My stylist is already on alert (actually we were talking about starting with a nice rose tone, because I’m leaning toward pink for a first go) so hopefully she’ll be ready to handle that problem.

          I suspect that in the next few decades there’ll be an increasing market for color products that work with grey hair anyway–I’m not the only one who wants to play!

      2. Jazzy Red*

        Women used to use laundry blueing (made white cotton look white again) to keep their graying hair from looking yellowish. One of the older women that I worked with carried it to an extreme, and years later we would still fondly refer to her as Blue-Haired-Dorothy.

        My hair looked pretty mousy during my transition, so I colored it for several years. Ash Blonde, some auburn color not as pretty as Alison’s hair color, light brown, back and forth. Finally there was more white/gray than brown and I stopped. I still get a jolt sometimes when I look in the mirror. I keep expecting to see my original chestnut brown.

        1. Laura*

          Fun fact I learned in art school: The reason little old ladies often overcorrect the blue tones in their hair is because our eyes don’t process colors the same way when we age. Specifically, blue tones are less vibrant, which means in white hair, the yellow tones dominate. So to *them*, their hair looks perfectly white.

            1. Jazzy Red*

              Yup, it’s the same thing. Back the old days, they had laundry soap (not detergent), and nothing like Shout to take out stains. Also, no man-made fabrics – everything was cotton or wool. They used bleach and bluing to get the cottons white. My mother used to dip the collars and cuffs of my dad’s white dress shirts in a mixture of starch and water, so they would be stiff (really stiff) when she ironed them (poor Dad – they irritated his skin).

  10. Hmm*

    Can you dye it a more baby blue color? It’d take less time to fade before dying it again.

    Although, if you’re used to having odd (I’m using this endearingly) colored hair, as it seems like you are, I would encourage you to take a step back and consider if you’re comfortable working at a place that will “take that away from you.” There aren’t many places that will allow that – but you seem to have found one!

  11. VictoriaHR*

    My company hires people with funky hair colors, but they don’t respect those employees. We have a lot of college students, so we don’t mind that they go their own way, but if they ever wanted to move up into corporate, they wouldn’t be able to without becoming more conservative.

    I’d love to dye my hair purple, but as I’m pushing 40 I think the time has passed :(

    1. Mimi*

      Never! I recently saw a pic of Helen Mirren at the BAFTAs; she was rockin’ some gorgeous pink hair.

    2. saf*

      No it hasn’t.

      OK, maybe it has. Maybe I am just strange. I’m pushing 50 and rarely have “natural” color in my hair.

    3. Tasha*

      It can be done. I know a senior college administrator–she’s around 50–whose hair is currently very purple.

  12. Meg*

    Before my current job, I was a manager at a cell phone store (the red one that rhymes with “horizon”). I wore almost-suits daily to the point where I had more work clothes than casual clothes. I got reprimanded by my franchise owner for wearing a sweater/cardigan over to of my blouse while wearing a pencil skirt, panty hose, and heels. He said it wasn’t “professional.” I have multiple piercings (ears) but luckily he never saw them – I wore my hair pulled back in a way that covered my ears, or hair down. If he had, he would have complained. Unnaturally colored hair would have been a definite no-no.

    Before that, I was a manager at a big box mass retailer (the one with blue and khaki uniforms). While I thought “unnatural” hair was a no-no, I had to dye my hair for a calendar shoot (it was a friend’s college project for photography, pinup theme and do that kind of stuff) – black and white – white in the front, black in the back (my natural is a dirty blonde — medium brown in the winter, more blonde in the summer, very easy to color and strip without damaging the hair)

    So I went to work like that, and other managers (ones higher than me) complimented me on it! The store manager himself was like, “Wow Meg! Love your hair!” Very shocking… so I kept it that way until the roots started growing in.

    While a cell phone store manager, I interviewed with an “start-up tech” company for front-end developer. I was simply told it was a casual environment before the interview. I wore what I typically wore to work – not the suit, but nice professional clothes, but flats instead of heels. I was interviewing with the HR manager and the manager of my department who would be my supervisor. HR manager was wearing jeans, a nice blouse, and strappy sandals. My supervisor was wearing a Nintendo t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers. I felt overdressed.

    When I interviewed for my current job, since I’m federal contractor, I again assumed professional not-quite-suit attire. Nope. My contracting supervisor showed up wearing a sweater dress and Uggs. My on-site supervisor (fed contractor) was wearing cargo shorts, sneakers, and a casual polo. My on-site project manager (fed employee) was wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and socks with sandals. I asked about the dress code and office culture. It was described as “summer camp casual, hygiene optional but recommended.” I asked specifically about visible piercings, tattoos, and unnatural colored hair. Visible piercings are fine, visible tattoos are fine (few employees have some), and unnatural colored hair was fine (and another coworker apparently dyes her hair often). I asked if I showed up with a blue mohawk, what would happen. My supervisor said people will probably say “Wow, nice mohawk!” and ask how I get it stand up and if I have to mohawk it up every morning.

    I work as a front-end web developer for a federal agency. It really would depend on your industry, but I’m with the “you’d-be-surprised” mentality as well.

    1. fposte*

      “Hygiene optional” kills me.

      However, I’m sort of startled by “I wore almost-suits daily to the point where I had more work clothes than casual clothes.” I assume that most people do have more work clothes than casual clothes. Have I been an outlier without realizing it?

      1. KellyK*

        I haven’t actually counted, but I think I have more casual clothes than work clothes. It probably depends on how much overlap there is between your two wardrobes and whether you have any kind of specialized non-work wardrobe like a ton of workout clothes.

        1. Kelly L.*

          I have more casual clothes than work clothes because I work in a business casual office, and when something becomes too worn out to really look professional in the office, it “retires” and joins the ranks of my casual clothes, especially in tops. A lot of times a top will kind of lose its shape and not really look sharp anymore but still be fine to hang out in.

      2. Ellie H.*

        It might depend on how old one is. I’ve always been a bit of a “nice” dresser and my workplace is not extremely formal, so almost all the clothes I would wear to class in college (sweaters, plain-colored T-shirts, dresses, nice-ish skirts, corduroy pants etc.) I can also wear to work, so I don’t have a very sharp delineation between work and non-work clothes. However my summer wardrobe is all shorts and t-shirts and tank tops, and I also have some skirts and dresses that were OK for college but too short or unprofessional for the office. When I lived in Texas, I wore nothing but shorts and t-shirts so it would have been a major delineation if I had this job there. But in general I’d imagine that the longer you have been out of college, the more professional clothes overtake your wardrobe till you have more work than nonwork clothes.

        1. Meg*

          I’ve been out of college for 5 years now (or 5 years May, rather). I don’t typically overlap my wardrobe work clothes vs casual clothes, but I did pair a nice top with jeans often. I just never really wore my slacks and dress skirts casually, and then I realized I had like, two pairs of jeans and 50 pairs of slacks and dress skirts. It’s a little daunting to make plans to hang out casually, and have nothing to wear except your almost-suit and make everyone think it’s a super formal event.

          And for me, it can look a little out of place sometimes. I was the girl in college with pink hair, purple hair, black and white hair (twice), red hair currently, orange hair (like parking cone orange) in high school. I wear brightly colored or animal print skinny jeans (a staple in my casual wardrobe currently). Band and graphic tshirts. Hoodies. Combat boots. Skater shoes. Summer time, I dig out my pinup sundresses and heels. Half-sleeve tattoos.

          When I say I’ve got more professional clothes than casual clothes, my friends are like, “Okay, who are you and what have you done with Meg?”

    2. Victoria Nonprofit*

      This is off-topic, but I’ve often wondered about this: Why do people sometimes post details about their jobs that clearly identify the company but don’t name them? (Like the “rhymes with horizon” thing here.) If everybody knows what company you’re talking about, why not name it?

      … and I think I just realized the answer. Is it about Google alerts/searches?

  13. Anon*

    Instead of going full blown wig, have you thought about clip ins? Doesn’t damage the hair, as much, especially if you don’t get the semi-permanent kind. And even if you did, you could style it so they weren’t as visible. It would then be a cool accent (like a neat necklace) instead of “OMG, she has blue hair”.

    You could always do a combo of those and stragetically place the more permanent kind and then augment with the clip ins. That way it could be really blue for the wedding and then not as much for interviews.

    The summer after college I went from highlighting my naturally brown hair blonde to dying it a dark brown/red (my natural color). I had people not recognize me at all. It was pretty strange. Now I dye regularly to cover my grays.

  14. Heather*

    As a person who had blue hair when she was much younger: get a wig. Not a cheap one: a nice, preferably human-hair wig. Then you’ll have it to wear whenever something like this comes up.

    1. Tasha*

      Or maybe get a nice blue wig for the wedding, then wear your natural hair color to the interview.

  15. Hlx Hlx*

    I think I’ve seen temporary color products so that you could cover up the blue for the interview and wash out the product afterward. You may want to research these. For instance, I remember that Bumble & Bumble made a dry shampoo spray that had color in it.

    1. the gold digger*

      No! Temporary hair color is NOT temporary on hair that has any degree of processing in it!

      I tried a temporary purple years ago (it seemed like a good idea at the time) and I had lavender streaks (that replaced my Sun-In highlights) for weeks.

    2. Liza*

      I agree with the gold digger here, and I’ll add that the colors don’t always interact the way you’d expect. When my grandmother died I had interesting-colored hair (I think it was blue and purple right then) and I tried to dye it brown for the funeral. I ended up with my hair brown but mottled like autumn leaves. It was pretty, but not at all the natural look I was trying for.

        1. Waerloga*

          Meh.. It’s much more important that you ca do the darn job.

          Hair colour isn’t that important in a lot of places. Seen it in restaurants, in the air (small airline), in the hospitals… Better a Blue-haired lady who knows what she is doing, the the perfectly coif nitwit.

          1. Victoria Nonprofit*

            I’m totally on your side with this, but let’s not pretend that the options are “blue-haired genius” and “brown-haired idiot.” There are plenty of brown- (and blonde- and black- and red- and whatever-)haired geniuses out there.

  16. Joey*

    I think you already know the safest option. It comes down to which of the worst case scenarios you’ll regret less:

    1. Brown hair and you don’t get the job.
    2. Blue hair and you don’t get the job because of the blue hair.

    1. Tinker*

      There’s also 3) brown hair, and you do get the job but it turns out to be a bad fit for reasons that would have become apparent earlier had the hair been blue.

      That might be less of a risk here given that the position is noted as a “dream job”, but it wouldn’t be the first time that the curtains didn’t match the rug, so to speak.

  17. Vicki*

    Once again, I’m happy I work in the San Francisco / Silicon Valley Tech industry. I’ve had co-workers with blue hair, purple hair, and green stripes. I had a co-worker who regularly grew, modified, and shaved (parts of) his mustache/beard. I had a co-worker whose hair color varied sometimes day to day.

    We care about your product, not your looks.

    1. KimmieSue*

      Vicky – I’m with you. I once worked at a very large technology company in the Bay Area. The CTO had blue hair.

      I also started my technical recruiting in the software support call center environment. You can imagine that we say everything!!! Didn’t matter as long as those customers were taken care of well.

  18. anonoposter*

    I work in a “cool” industry: music. You’d be surprised to see how “normal” everyone looks (save for a fair amount of tattoos), especially as you move up in age and rank. So to me a very alternative look says youth and/or heavy interest in a subculture.

    I would never, ever discount someone for colorful hair or similar features (I’ve hired them!); rather, I’m very turned off when candidates come into interviews looking sloppy or too casually dressed for an interview. Yes, even though our only real requirement in the office is “clothed,” an interview is _formal_. But you’d be surprised how often this happens, as people assume the whole industry is casual: we’re a far cry from suit-and-tie, but, despite an almost non-existent dress code, all we dress relatively smart, which complements our tattoos and colorful hair quite nicely!

  19. Jackie*

    Why not check out theatrical colored hair spray? I’ve heard good things about Kryolan and Graftobian seems to be another big name. Kyrolan comes in a lot of colors, so you can probably find something to match your natural color. Or a natural color, at least.

  20. The B*

    It varies quite a bit! And age doesn’t matter. I know a lady who works in web development. She’s a grandma and rocks her hot pink hair.

    Places where I worked where people could wear almost anything: newspapers, video production company, ad agency. Also varies by location. I now live in a very laid-back area and everyone dresses super-casual. Before, I lived in a place where people wore coats, suits, the nine yards.

  21. Jen*

    Has nobody mentioned that this is your WEDDING!!! If you want to have blue hair for such a special and memorable occasion then you should go for it – and it sounds like such a cool idea. If you mention it in the interview that it was for your wedding or for a particular reason then you’re signalling and awareness of business culture and suggesting that you are happy to comply with their rules. As of now the only plan you have is your wedding; no application, interview or job offer. So treat it as such and see what happens with the job.

    Congratulations for your special day :)

    1. Anonymously Anonymous*

      While mentioning its for the wedding upfront is good and would be nice if the company simply allowed the hair to be grown out over time. But once you make one exception for one then soon other exceptions would be expected by others. You know someone will be keeping score.

  22. Ariana*

    If you’re worried about the fade time for the brown hair, have you looked into doing a soap cap? The vitamin C one has worked well for me for a very small amount of fading, and it’s so much easier on your hair than stripping or bleach. Baking soda is a bit harsher, but I sometimes use it to lighten my previous colour if I think it’s dark enough to interfere with the next dye.

    On the what hair dye have you done topic, I’ve alternated between brightly-coloured hair and shaving it all off for the past five years (I’ve been lucky enough to work at places that didn’t care), and this is my first year working for a more conservative organisation. Since it took me a while to find a job, and I had gotten bored with being my natural shade for the job search, I dyed my hair bright yellow and spiked it on days when I had no professional obligations. It made me feel like I was doing what I wanted with my hair, and when I wore it naturally in the context of interview clothes, it read as a more yellow-y blonde. Since being hired, I’ve confirmed that it is fine if I want to dye my hair white (still in the process of doing so since my natural colour is almost black and I’m being very cautious) and that they’ve had employees in my role with unnatural shades of red, but colours like blue and green wouldn’t be appreciated. So sometimes it’s not even a case of natural-looking hair vs. unnatural looking hair, but what colours are sort of present in natural colours.

  23. Jazzy Red*

    I would love to see someone at my work with blue hair! Mine is gray/white/silver because I’m old, but I love seeing the creative things people do with their hair. I’ve always been bold about having my hair cut, permed, or colored because it will always grow out, or I could always wear a hat/headscarf to cover it if I didn’t like it.

    If you think it will have a negative effect at a job interview, then you probably should consider a wig.

  24. JD*

    I had full or partial blue hair for about six years, and it never hindered me from getting a job, including in professional office environments and even a municipal government job. The impact of a less conventional hair colour is different when you are not covered in tattoos, don’t have facial piercings, and don’t wear loud make-up. I’m clean-cut looking and wear professional clothing. My past employers placed more emphasis on my experience and knowledge than my hair colour (which they actually admired because it was different).

    In your case, do you really want to work for a company that doesn’t understand that your blue hair is temporary and for special occasion?

  25. OP*

    Wow. Close to 200 comments already, and I’ve only just had a chance to look at this. I love how it’s kind of devolved into discussions about what is/isn’t appropriate and stories about weird workplaces. And hair. Awesome.

    The reason I hadn’t seen this until just now is that my wedding was yesterday! And yes, my hair is currently a very solid cobalt blue. I appreciate the suggestions about colored hair sprays, clip-ins, temporary dyes etc., but I really wasn’t going to compromise for my wedding day. Maybe I’ll stick a picture on here once I get them. (And as I mentioned, my hair was already pink… well, pink, purple and orange, actually! So it would have taken some work to make it look natural anyway.) I’m going out for a big night with friends in a few minutes, but there are a couple of posts I want to reply to, so I’ll definitely be back.

    Alison, your advice makes a lot of sense. I understand what you mean about your time at a nonprofit – I seem to have that conversation with my super-liberal activist friends constantly. (“You want them to listen to you? Take out your nose ring and put on a suit. No, really.”)

    Unfortunately, I don’t know my industry all that well, even though I’m doing pretty well for myself. I work at a tiny tech company. The workplace itself is very laid-back, but since it’s B2B, we need to be quite professional with our clients. And I’m not a techie. I studied Philosophy, and only finished 2 years ago! I do admin, sales, support – I’m the person at the tech startup who deals with most of the Not-Tech. I really enjoy putting on a professional presentation aside from the hair, and it’s never caused problems yet. (Aside from a couple of very funny “ohmygoshwhat” expressions when clients I’ve been speaking with by phone and email for months finally meet me in person.)

    So I don’t even know if I can judge. I’ve kind of fallen into this industry, I’m doing very well at it, and I want to do everything to pursue it, including going back to natural hair when that is required. (My new husband IS a techie, and enjoys what he does, but I have somehow become the really career-oriented one.) Still, I love playing the Executive Goth, and I don’t want to give that up before I need to. Maybe my limited knowledge of this industry is messing with my ability to judge when that is.

    I guess I should just play it safe. Sigh.

  26. Sandrine*

    Sniff, I posted a comment yesterday and it didn’t go through. It had a link to my blue hair in it.

    Anyways, I’ll just say that the post made be sad because I happen to have blue hair too (did that on a whim a month ago because green hair would make me look like an ugly sea moss blob) . I didn’t think of the consequences whatsoever when I did it because I know my workplace doesn’t care about things like that.

    The only place I know that cares is Disney, because they need a certain image. Other than that, I’d rather not get the job than “be judged” because of my hair… I mean other than the colour the hairstyle is rather classic :P .

  27. ITPuffNStuff*

    It seems to me the meat of this question is about a priority decision (wedding ceremony v. job interview), not about what a potential interviewer will perceive on the basis of appearance. It’s really up to what the OP feels is most important, and that’s not something anyone else can answer for her (or him? — the question does not state gender explicitly, so this could be a man who enjoys dying his hair).

  28. SimplyTrad*

    As someone who put myself through law school doing HR, I can assure you that blue hair is a bad idea.

    The hiring process at many places works like this: 1. You apply 2. HR briefly glances over your app to see if you have met a) education requirement b) certification requirement c) experience requirement.

    3. If the above three are met an interview is scheduled. When you go in for an interview, you will check in with HR at a desk, the people at this desk will immediately make a snap judgement on your appearance. 4. If you pass this test, you move on and get a real interview, if the person you are checking in with doesnt like how you look then you are given an “interview.” Usually a trainee or intern is set up to “interview” all of the undesirable candidates.

    But lets say that you have the best salon in the nation color your hair the night before, and you walk into the interview looking like a wholesome All-American applicant, you are good right?

    Wrong! HR will stalk you online looking for pictures where you look abnormal, alternative, intoxicated, or not fitting in with mainstream God fearing American society. In addition when your refrences are called, there are 1,000’s of trick question the phone interviewer can ask to see if you are normal and a good fit.

    In all honesty, the reason this is done is to weed out undesirables, not only in looks, but in thought, and reputation as well. So who are the undesirables? People: of low social skills (this includes nerds, forigners, the low class) activists/ rebels, people with problems (psyco, creepy, depressed, addicted, annoying) but the biggest is the low class/ those that dont fit in (alternative types)/ those that might shoot the place up (gangsters, ethnics, the poor.)

    I realize that I just offended about 70% of the people in this country, that is fine because I can assure you that we live in two seperate worlds and that not only do I not need your acceptance, I also do not desire it. —- and this is what blows the minds of many people. You see for the most part, the people in HR have a degree in sociology and probably a masters in public relations. The average American would think that a person in HR would be very liberal in view and accepting, actually the opposite is true.

    People in HR look for indicators to see if you have both social capitol and are a member of at least a certain rung on the class ladder of society. These indicators can be positivly correlated: sorrority membership, debutante, comes from good family, attended prestigous University, church membership, philanthropy, signs of family wealth.

    The indicators can also be nagatively correlated: graduation from high school in the ghetto, membership in radical groups, pictures/ association with alternative/ druggie/ low class culture such as: bikers, music industry, bar scene, punks/ goths/ hippies, too many ethnic/ poor friends, participation in poor people activities.

    Why I write all of this, is that someone reading this board might think “hmmmm maybe it is ok to dye my hair strange colors” but you sed it is not. A picture of you with your hair dyed from 20 years ago could keep you from getting that job. Just remember: good people dont look wierd.

    I always tell my niece (who goes to a little Ivy college) “make sure that you always are dressed your best and only associate with people your sorrority has vetted.”

    This philosophy works well to keep the person still in college on the right track, and it hel

    1. Abby*

      I wouldn’t want to associate with a company culture like that anyway. If I’m filtered out by racist, classist, ableist, xenophobic people like you then it’s not someplace I want to work. But if you’re really a lawyer, you should know that that kind of discrimination against “poor people” and “ethnics” (who says “ethnics” anymore, this isn’t the 1950s…?) is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

      Also, you state that you don’t need anyone else’s acceptance, nor do you desire it. Yet you seem convinced that people desire your acceptance. Let me blow your mind: we don’t want to fit in with you. There are plenty of great companies that don’t do this (I know this for a fact), so why work for one who does?

    2. Cirena*

      I dont know what kinda companies your talking about here because your usually told who will be interviewing you for the position and its kind of a bad look on the hiring company to change at last minute due to someones appearance. I had a phone interview yesterday and they called me in for face to face & I told them I have blue hair and they said its a non-issue because it can be a discrimination case.

  29. Cirena*

    I kinda disagree with this. Im going through the hiring process at a credit union and my blue hair is a non-issue.

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