The Carrousel Club of South Australia

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Shopping for a wig in Adelaide

Posted on 5 August, 2015 at 9:10 Comments comments (3)










Hair style is the final tip-off whether or not a woman really knows herself.


~Hubert de Givenchy, Vogue, July 1985



So you have finally chosen your outfit, spent an age perfecting the make up and have squeezed into those killer high heels - all that effort and yet the woman looking back in the mirror is just not quite there…maybe its time to look at what many consider the single most important element of visual appearance the hair style/ wig.



For me whatever the make up or clothing ,the wig is the moment that I transition and Jessica appears, but this is an area I now feel the need to update, so with the intention of splashing some cash I have taken the opportunity to investigate the options that are available both in terms of quality and choice for the trans community here in Adelaide and share some of my findings on the journey to my new wig purchase.



Choosing a wig is as straight forward or as complex as you want to make it, for many it involves choosing a style of the internet that matches a picture in our mind that we strive to recreate, others are happy to purchase a number of less expensive wigs casting the net to find a style and a look that suits, at a price that allows some to work and some to fail without breaking the bank.



My search parameters are defined by the need to have an additional wig as my current one is showing signs of deterioration, to search for a slightly shorter style that will hopefully modernize my look a little, and to find something that is a higher quality material that will give a more realistic look.



Whilst I am constantly reminded , in the many articles I have read , that price does not guarantee the best look I have accepted in my mind that my new purchase will probably cost anywhere between$400 - 900 if purchased from one of a number of retail outlets in Adelaide,



The choices



So where to start, well firstly I need to consider the material that the wig is made from, do I go for a synthetic fibre that is easy to maintain, holds its style regardless of the weather and allows me to concentrate on the many other areas of feminisation that require time, practise and expertise.




There is no doubt that the synthetic wig is the plug and play option in the wig world, and with a endless array of styles colours and lengths there is no shortage of choice. Synthetic wigs have a definite advantage in terms of weight, will last (dependant on use) for 12-18 months of regular wearing and can give an extremely realistic look , with some styles now having darker coloured roots for added realism.



Synthetic wigs start from as little as $40 but can accelerate to over $800 dependant on the quality of the fibre and the method of manufacture.



The alternative at this stage is the human hair wig , or the hybrid mixed synthetic /human hair options that are now becoming more readily available. The main advantages of the human hair is that it can be styled and indeed coloured as a woman would care and control her own hair.



The human hair wig can , if properly looked after, last for years even with regular use, and has more of a natural bounce giving it a more realistic look.


But for all the advantages a human hair wig can offer it also represents a real challenge to those who are not used to styling their own hair. There is no set/ locked in style so a human hair wig as with your natural hair needs to be styled each time you go out, and therefore represents yet another challenge, to a TG girl who has not had a lifetime of practise, to overcome such issues.



And then of course there is the price , with entry levels for good quality human hair wigs starting at $1000 and rapidly accelerating upwards, this option is only available to those with serious money to spare , and I quickly make a decision that I will concentrate my search on the more affordable, and less needy synthetic market.


To start my investigation I visit two retail outlets in Adelaide to try on the wigs and to assess the various options.



The first visit is to Bonnie Wigs in the Adelaide Arcade, Although they have private fitting rooms and will assist wether presented as male or female, I decided to go as Jessica, and found that, if possible, this is by far the best approach as it leaves nothing to the imagination and ensures you are better place to make a decision.


I have heard varying reports of customer service levels from Bonnie Wigs, ranging from them being blunt and rude through to giving great service, so holding my breath I venture in.



After a short wait I am attended to by a knowledgeable, lady who, although lacking some of the normal graces you might expect, is professional and courteous.


What is quickly understood is that they have an impressive range of colours and styles to cater for most, and once they have established that there is a genuine intention to buy , they are happy to spend the time required to try on as many colours and styles as you wish.



The quality of the wigs appear to be of a mid to higher end and the lady took no time in pointing out how they were clearly a much higher quality compared to the one I was wearing which was in her opinion “cheap and rather nasty”…a thick skin is required for shopping here…!!



In fairness part of her attitude came from her being confident in the knowledge and advise that she was prepared to bestow, and there was no doubt in my mind that she would give an honest , if not withering, appraisal of any wig that did not suit and given the vast array on offer this is actually a needed attribute.



The synthetic wigs themselves felt soft and offered both some styles in lace front ( a fine mesh that gives an amazing ability for the hair to blend in with the scalp giving an indistinguishable hair line should the fringe be blown back by the wind , or put back by the individual using hair accessories.) and the traditional front style cap



These wigs came in at a price point between $350 and $550 and gave me the impression that I would be making a forward progression in my look should I decide to purchase.



The next option for me was to visit “Hairific” a hairdressing salon based in the foyer entrance to the Adelaide hospital.



A warm and friendly smile greeted me from the young hairdressers working there and the manageress, invited me into a small but comfortable room where we could discuss and try on the various wig options.


The range on offer here did not appear to be as extensive as at Bonnie wigs, however there were some clearly defined differences.



Firstly the wigs were definitely at the high end of the synthetic range with the ability to have the wig made to your specification regarding the wig cap style, hair colour and to a degree the length, it is worth mentioning that having made your choice there is a 4-6 weeks wait for your wig to be manufactured.



The wigs are virtually all hand made and allowed the user to choose the amount of “lace effect” normally restricted to the front , but available on the top back and sides on their products , giving the wig a more natural appearance from all angles and allowing a flexibility in how the wig can be styled.



As with Bonnie Wigs the colour options were endless, and although none were available to me on the day they have a new batch of wigs due to arrive with darker roots to give a more realistic look.



High quality and handmade lead to the inevitable outcome of cost and these wigs are eye wateringly expensive for a synthetic product at $800-$900, if money does not dictate the decision or you have recently won the lotto the service and high quality product does make a winning combination.



Interestingly Hairific offers some other options in achieving the best possible look, as qualified hairdressers, they are able and willing to tailor the individual wig to your precise requirements by cutting and shaping to the individuals needs, they are also able to help tease style and accessorize the wigs to give alternative looks be it for fun , or for a formal occasion.



They also claim to have a process that can breath new life into a fading wig by steaming the wig to reduce and delay the onset of fly away ends and wisps. This procedure costs $45 and I have taken the plunge in letting them revitalise my blonde locks, so stay posted for those results….!!



So as a conclusion what have I learnt from my experience and investigations.


Clearly Adelaide offers an abundance of options, there are the entry level options available of the internet, shopping mall concession stands and a few selected shops dotted around, there is the mid range options where you can get a more personalised and assisted support in your decision making, and then there is the high end bespoke wig option supported by professional hairdressers aimed at achieving a truly tailored look.



Choosing your crowning glory is always going to be a personal choice , spending more money can buy quality and professional assistance, but in no way does this guarantee the best look or realism , but it does remove some of the risk associated particularly with internet purchases.



For Jessica, the options are exciting in terms of achieving a fresh and improved look but also overwhelming in terms of choice.



Having narrowed down my options both in terms of colours and styles I think I will be enlisting the help of friends to attend my next fitting before taking the plunge and parting with any hard earned cash.