First Lady Hair

When Hillary Clinton showed off an upsweep anchored by a large plastic clip last week, it was a surprising Don’t in a solid career of Dos. View 10 other first ladies with notable hairstyles.

David Karp / AP Photo

David Karp / AP Photo

Hillary Clinton: DON’T.

Most women would agree that hair clips are more utilitarian than decorative, and should generally not be used as an accent or statement piece. Unfortunately, Hillary was at neither the salon nor gym when she appeared with a clear plastic claw holding her hair up last week. The secretary of State is known for being well-coiffed (lest anyone forget the kerfuffle over the thousands she spent during her campaign), so she gets a pass for the clip blip.

Jewel Samad, AFP / Getty Images

Michelle Obama: DO.

As one of the youngest first ladies in history, Michelle has had the freedom to sport styles like ponytails or loose curls, but the tried and true ‘do of choice for women in her position (see: Laura Bush in this slideshow) is a shellacked helmet, which the FLOTUS still wears with ease.

Katy Winn / AP Photo

Chantal Biya: DON’T. Unless you are Biya.

There’s something wonderfully iconoclastic in Biya’s gigantic, expressive mane. The 39-year-old first lady of Cameroon has popularized her “banane” and other flamboyant styles, pairing them with bold clothes (she favors designers like Hermès and Christian Dior) to come up with a complete look that is known in Cameroon as—what else?—“the Chantal Biya.” That said, it’s unlikely the bananes and Biyas will look as fantastic on anyone but Chantal Biya.

Yoshikazu Tsuno, AFP / Getty Images

Miyuki Hatoyama: DO.

Hatoyama’s one Don’t moment appears to have happened long ago—there is a photo of Hatoyama with her husband, former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, which looks like it was snapped in the 1970s, in which her hair is piled atop her head in a maze of ribbony twists and turns. Since then, Hatoyama has worn a sleek, effective bob in the vein of Anna Wintour. She knows what works, and she works it—even if she is a “ space alien,” Hatoyama’s a Do.

Dmitry Astakhov / AP Photo

Svetlana Medvedeva: DON’T (if you’re an F.L.).

President of the Russian Federation Dmitri Medvedev and wife Svetlana Medvedeva are a nice-looking pair, but she’s fond of baroque hairstyles that are more “pageant princess” than “presidential partner.” Perhaps Bush, Obama, and other hair-helmeted first ladies have hardened the public to the idea that soft, loose, and long is politically acceptable (unless you are Carla Bruni: see future slide), but it would be nice to see Medvedeva try a slick, tight updo without all the frou-frou.

Alberto Pizzoli, AFP / Getty Images

Laureen Harper: DO?

Harper’s demure hair gives lie to her strong personality: Until 2006, she chose to use her maiden name, rare for the wife of a prime minister of Canada. Most of the time, Harper (nee Teskey) wears her hair innocuously short and swept aside, which is a Do if you are a PM’s wife.

Freddie Lee/ FOX News Sunday via Getty Images

Laura Bush: DO.

Laura Bush is one of the many political figures to have her haircut costs disclosed; in 2007, she drew surprisingly little ire for a $700 Sally Hershberger cut. But perhaps the cost is worth the benefits: Even if her style seems staid, nary a hair appears misplaced, and she’s never worn a ‘do that is as controversial as her husband’s policies. For faithfully normal first lady hair, Laura Bush is a Do.

Sean Gallup / Getty Images

Carla Bruni: DO.

Les cheveux sont merveilleux! The first madame’s hair is preternaturally perfect, though considering her past as a model and present as a style icon, that’s to be expected. Bruni manages to stay away from Medvedevian prom territory by wearing it sleek and out of her face.

Stock Montage / Getty Images

Martha Washington: DO

The first first lady of the United States was a style maverick in that she knew what to do when her hair was a Don’t: Put on a bonnet and call it a day.

MPI / Getty Images

Helen Taft: DON’T

Helen, a known “Wet,” must not have thought there was anything funny about Prohibition or her husband’s support of it, hence the poker face here. Unfortunately, the only way a first lady can get away with piling all of her hair directly on top of her head a la Helena Bonham Carter, and hold it in place with what appears to be a tiny hat, is to smile.

Barbara Boxer: DO. In Defiance.

Though she is not a first lady, a gallery of politicas and their hair would not be complete without Barbara Boxer and her honorable mention. When Carly Fiorina mocked Boxer’s hair over the summer (during what Fiorina thought was an off-camera moment), the mean-girl moment set off sparks. But what, other than some inspired frosting, is so bad about Boxer’s hair? Nothing.