How to Wear a Wig (And Look Like a Model Doing It)

As lolitas, especially the girls who are sweet lolitas, we’ve amassed a pretty large collective group of wigs in the past few years as they rose to popularity (What is the collective known for wigs? Perhaps a tangle of wigs?) Whether you’re in love with candy colors, unique blends, fades, and splits, or simply soft natural tones, there’s nothing like a wig to instantly transform your appearance. Girls sick of long hair can have bobs to avoid the big chop; girls with cute pixie cuts can play Rapunzel for the day. I myself own plenty of wigs – long, brunette, lilac, curly, wavy, short, you name it. In lolita, wearing wigs is common, among some groups considered almost necessary, if you’re looking for a place to pin all of your hairclips, bows, and kitschy 80s toys. But how do you take the wig – often associated with costumes – from the meetup and runway to the classroom or office?

Some days when I get ready in the morning, my hair is throwing a protest. Won’t be straight, or curly, or sit flat. Rather than fight it, I simply tame it under a wig for the day, ready to negotiate with terrorist hair (and conditioner) later that evening. But how do you wear a wig for school or work? Won’t it be… like, weird?

Not so! There are plenty of ways to make your simple wig look like the best head of hair on the block.

Step I: Prepping the Wig

The first thing about your wig is to make sure you’ve styled it before putting it on. Nothing looks weirder than an unstyled wig plopped on and run with! (Things I wish someone had told me…) Start by gathering your hair under a wig cap, in a dark or light color depending on your wig (light for blondes and pastels, dark for brunettes, blacks, deep reds, etc.).
I find it best to not only pin up my real hair, and put on the wig cap, but also to pin the wig cap in place with snappy clips or whatever your pleasure is. If you have bangs, make sure to sweep them deeply to the side, not just under the front – they’ll stay under better and look less crazy when the wig comes off.

After you have the wig cap on, put on the wig, front to back. Pull the wig down so that the edge of the wig’s ribbing, for lack of  a better word, is where you real hairline is. If you’re concerned the wig may slip, there are usually a pair of elastics that hook together, kind of like on a bra. I usually clip these together for extra security, though they can be uncomfortably tight, so use at your own discretion.

If you are wearing a wig with bangs, get yourself some scissors (I use nail scissors to trim a wig and my real bangs) and start trimming the bangs until they fit your face. I leave mine about eyebrow level, useful if your eyebrows are nowhere near the wig’s color. The front of the wig’s base should be at the same level as your hairline, and the bangs trimmed to fit that position. Even if you’re planning to sweep the bangs to the side, you gotta trim ‘em. Trust me. I went to a meetup once without the bangs trimmed and looked like a doof; wish I knew then what I know now…

If you want to wear this wig often for daily use and don’t trust yourself not to be Edward Scissorhands, get yourself to a salon and ask the stylist to trim it best to suit you. Wigs, layers, the whole nine yards. This will make a huge difference in the way your wig looks.

Step II: Styling Your Wig


The next step is to style your wig. You’ve got it on, now it’s time to work with it. First, if you have a ‘lolita’ wig (meaning it came with ponytail clips), take those off – they look great for lolita, but aren’t very natural looking. Now you’re left with the base wig, either curly or straight. One of the best ways to make a wig look natural is to put it in a simple style – a pair of braids, low pigtails, or a casual ponytail. You can also do unique things with the wig’s bangs – either swept to the side, straight across, pinned back, etc. Add a little hairspray if you’r worried the wig will go haywire.
Most people aren’t used to the idea of wigs doing anything but ‘sit there’ so doing something different with your wig like you would your real hair is a great way to make it look less fake. Check out a lot of the wigs on Gabalnara – they’ve been pre-styled for the photoshoots (there are even a few easy tutorials among the product pages). Here’s one with a small side braid and bow.

 

After you have a simple style, dress it up! I always wear a hair band or hat with a wig. A broad hair band, headband, a soft knit cap, a sun hat as the weather warms up… Anything really! Breaking up the visual appearance of the wig makes it seem more natural and more intentional.If your wig seems too shiny, try adding a little talcum powder with a powderpuff. If it seems too frizzy, a little wig spray can tame stray ends.

 Step III: Complimenting Your Wig

Consider your overall appearance after you’ve finished styling and accessorizing your wig. When I’ve chosen to wear a huge, full curly wig, I keep my makeup very simple and natural – too over the top and you’ll look like you got the wrong address for a rave. If you’ll be showing your eyebrows, you can consider darkening them a little for a darker wig. 

Keep in mind that you can wear an unnaturally colored wig ‘naturally’ by complimenting it well with the rest of your look. A bright pink wig (styled and accessorized) can look very darling with a more simple coordinate (lolita or not). A simple blonde bob however might appreciate a more outrageous hair accessory or some dramatic eyeliner. Like any coordinate, try to keep your look in balance – perhaps only one or two focal points. Your wig can definitely by a ‘focal point’!

 Step IV: Aftercare for Your Wig

After you’ve removed your wig for the day, give it a gentle shake out and a little finger combing. Make sure you keep your wig on a wig head or stand so it retains it shape. If you aren’t using a wig head, at least wrap it back up in the netting it came with to avoid tangling. Depending on weather conditions and styling product, wash or condition your wig every 8 – 12 wears.

 Don’t Want To Wig Out? 


If you want some of the ease and great look you get through a wig but don’t want to wear the whole deal, there are plenty of options for you! I’m fascinated with half wigs, extensions and pieces right now.  Japanese and Korean companies make plenty of hairpieces as wig alternatives, but they are best if your hair is natural and a fairly common color. If you’re a very light blonde, you might do better looking at American hairpieces. Some of the pieces that are popular include half-wigs (worn just behind your bangs), clip-in bangs, clip-in ponytails/pigtails (also called phony ponies) and faux updos and buns.

Here’s a basic collection of illustrations from wig company Prisila that explain:

 

half cap wig; clip-in bangs, clip-in extensions, and stretch wig ponytail
If you find a half-cap wig you really like (gyaru and himegyaru styles look amazing with those huge bouffanted half-wigs), but it doesn’t match your hair color, you can wear a regular wig and add the half-wig to it for bigger style. I often wear my Prisila half-cap honey blonde over another wig to make it look like one, huge full wig.

 Does it Pass the Natural Test?

Here’s the test. Grab a friend or family member, without telling them you’ve decided to don a wig, and ask if they like your new ‘do. Do they think you really went to the salon? People at school often remark ‘oh, you changed your hair!’ and I simply smile and say, ‘For today.’ You don’t have to tell everyone it’s a wig, but don’t be ashamed or secretive about it either. You’re just fashion-forward after all!

Where to Buy

Here are some of my favorite wig shops! I’ve worn many of these companies’ wigs both with a editorial lolita style and for a casual school or work appropriate lolita style.

Cyperousfull and half wigs *ships overseas*
Prisilabangs, half wigs, rope wigs (basically a long boa of curly hair), scrunchies, volumizers…
Gabalnarafull, half wigs; extensions, scrunchies, bun covers, bangs
Pretty and Cute - a limited selection of wigs and extensions, but cheap and heat-friendly; I just ordered a scrunchie bun from them for $5! *ships overseas*
Yumetenbosometimes a few limited styles of gyaru stretchy wigs or bun covers *ships overseas*
MintyMixA personal favorite for unnaturally colored wigs; my pink and lavender fade wig is wonderful quality, and so ‘natural’ in style if not color that it passed the natural test at school! *ships overseas*
Cosplay Wigs USA – Typically lolita wigs; very full bases. I wore my light brown wig to school last week with wonderful results. *ships overseas*

Don’t be afraid to try something out, to stand apart, and show off your style! Keep on being fashionable!

xoxo,

  • Chocolarisa

    Gabalnara ships internationally:)

  • Erika Pennella

    This was great & so helpful!!! Thx so much!!!<3 Erika Lynn

  • jamie

    this article was very sweet and helpful thanks.

  • pumpkin_spice

    i actually wore a wig to my winter formal recently and wore the same wig for an entire week :) just didn’t feel like doing my hair XD

  • SwagStopper29

    mental case