I have had the chance over the years to work with some most talented stylists in the world. I have seen them turn the cheapest party wig into a work of art for several photoshoots. This leads me to a very powerful question a lot of clients have about wigs – Why should I pay more for a wig? Does it really make that big of a difference?

Let’s do a little flashback first:

Over a 4 year period I worked over 100 shows supporting the stylists creating the looks for the runway with hair extensions and wigs. You wouldn’t believe just how much hair extensions and wigs are used for the models hitting the runway. Almost every model that walks the runway has something in her hair. Not having alternative hair of some kind is the exception and not the rule.

One of the best and most coveted shows to work was (and is) the Betsey Johnson show. It’s a party! DJ spinning, bowls full of M&M’s, and tiny bottles of champagne with straws. Betsey makes these hand drawn posters of her current show theme and they are plastered everywhere. It is a rush to say the least.

This particular year Betsey wanted Peter Gray (you can see his work almost monthly on magazines like Vogue & W) to create a sleek black bob for her models to walk the runway with. What many people don’t know is that even fashion guru’s like Betsey Johnson have a budget! As always, she wanted the look to be uniform throughout the models. This meant that 20+ models had to have the same hairdo!

Obviously, Peter opted to do wigs for the models. Due to budget constraints we had to think outside of the box. Peter opted for an inexpensive wig by Jon Renau called China Doll. It is a “cheapy” party wig. I had seen the photos Betsey had chosen and had some concerns on how Peter was going to create the look with the China Doll wig.


Peter and his team cut and styled each wig with care and precision. He had to use a garment steamer to change the texture of the wig so that it would lay flat. It was a long tedious process to get the China Doll wig to look like the one he is finishing up in the video above.

So, let’s get back to the question of the hour – Why should you pay more for a wig.

I think the first thing you need to figure out why you are wearing a wig and decide is the experience you want to have.

  • Are you wearing this for fun?
  • Are you going to wear this daily?
  • Do you care if people can tell if it is wig?

Inexpensive Wigs: 

  • A less expensive wig (human or synthetic) is going to be more work. You are going to have to style it and keep on top of the look. These wigs have a tendency to tangle and matt.
  • Probably have a little bit of a “wiggy” look.
  • It won’t be as comfortable. The construction of the wig will be bulkier and feel heavy. This is why it feels hot and itchy.
  • It will need to be replaced quicker. These kind of wigs are made for temporary use. They aren’t designed to hold up to daily wear and tear.

Good Quality Wigs:

  • Yes, you will pay more. It doesn’t matter if it is human or synthetic – if you buy a good quality wig is going to be easier to style and take care of.
  • It will look real – like it’s growing from your head.
  • It will be comfy and not feel hot or scratchy. You will forget you are even wearing a wig if it is constructed properly.
  • A good wig will last significantly longer. Depending on why you are wearing a wig you might find more value over time if you put a little more money into a good quality wig.

What one the main things I learned from my time at Fashion Week is – It’s not what you have it’s how you work it. You can do extraordinary things with the most basic ingredients. The fact that Peter Gray turned a cheap party wig into a look worthy of the runway illustrates this.

The bottom line: It’s not always about the price. It’s about the experience. What experience do you want to have? The good news is there is a sweet spot in the pricing of wigs. You don’t have to spend thousands to get a beautiful wig. There are beautiful well made synthetic hair options under $500 bucks! Yes, you will pay more for human hair – however, human hair isn’t for everyone! (and that’s a whole separate article).



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