Anna dyed her hair darker for autumnAnna Mochar

May Week is becoming confined to the distant past, summer days are slipping away, and a new academic year is just around the corner. This means a fresh start: we all stand on the brink of Michaelmas as a (slightly) different person from whom we were a year ago, though this might not be immediately apparent.  It can, therefore, be liberating and empowering to explore the idea of creating a ‘clean slate’ by means of a clean cut: a change in hairstyles before the start of term.

A bob or lob is a fresh yet classic way to radically change your appearance.Anna Mochar

The long vacation is a strange point in the academic year. It is a massive, three-month block of free time, and the distance from Cambridge — both temporal and spatial — that this offers is an invaluable period of time for assessing the past couple months.

It is often only through distancing ourselves from the source of our emotions that we can begin to properly understand them. That sense of displacement during the Christmas vacation might be tied to having grown as a person during Michaelmas. A feeling of disconnect from oneself during Lent Term might be the result of not having had time to process a lost relationship or friendship. The summer is the perfect time to take a step back and allow realisations like this to emerge.

Everyone should take the time to deal with and let go of feelings that might have been ignored for too long. Maybe the past year has been one of great personal growth. Perhaps it has been a difficult time, one that we are glad to leave in the past. Either way, our hair has accompanied and grown with us through various trials and tribulations.

While a change of hairstyle doesn’t change anything immediate about us as people, it is a bid for a fresh start

The accumulating experiences of months or years are symbolically tied to the hair which grows throughout that period. This is why many people cut their hair to openly demonstrate the end of a time of transformation. What is a year at Cambridge, if not that? Dying or cutting hair signals leaving the past behind. By cutting off hair, we’re also discarding the thoughts and experiences which weighed (and perhaps continue to weigh) us down. So while a change of hairstyle doesn’t change anything innate to us as people, it is a bid for a fresh start. The wish to do things better or differently in the upcoming year is reaffirmed through a clean cut with the past.

Going from black to a lighter hair colour doesn’t have to be scary. Consider darker shades closer to caramelAnna Mochar

For long-haired people brave enough to go right in with a haircut, the so-called ‘lob’ or long bob can be a great way to dramatically change up your style, while still being left with a very versatile and workable hair length. This has been a fashionable haircut for years and will continue to work well this season as trends for Autumn/Winter 2018 including loosely structured waves and a more toned-down wet hair look, can easily be experimented with at this hair length.

As an alternative to cutting your hair, a change in colour can be a refreshing way to overhaul your style to fit the upcoming season: light balayage in golden or caramel tones echoes the autumnal glow of Cambridge in October, while adding a reddish or coppery tint to your hair works in line with the season’s colour palette. Going a few shades darker with your hair colour can also be a great way of bringing a new edge to your appearance. You might, for example, be surprised at the way your eye colour suddenly stands out when your face is framed by darker hair and brows.


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Deciding to change something about our appearance is always exciting. It shows that we hold agency over ourselves and are in control of the way others view us to a certain degree. It is important to be aware of this power and how it relates to our sense of self. A style change can be immensely helpful in creating the fresh outlook, and look, needed for when term starts at the beginning of October. And now, in the final days of the vacation, we stand at the best point for braving a radical transformation.

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