Wigs have come a long way since the 1960s, when go-go girls rocked short, colorful, synthetic wigs and a man’s toupee could actually blow off in the street. Wigs have improved so much since then that your neighbor, boss, or even best friend may sport one, unbeknownst to you completely. Doubters, take note: Evidence of the deceiving and wonderful world of wigs lies just beyond the doors of Kimberly Hairpieces & Wigs, at 1429 State Street.
At Kimberley’s, wigs of all styles are displayed-on walls, on shelves, and on tables. Kimberley doesn’t even keep a wig count, there are so many piled up out of sight in the drawers that line her intimate shop. “I just keep ordering them,” she confessed, because she loves them. Why? “They’re so easy,” she said, “just slip one on and you have a completely different look,” which is why Kimberley chose to focus on wigs after graduating from cosmetology school in Los Angeles. Admittedly, they’re nothing if not a quick fix. It literally takes only moments to change styles from a long, straight, blonde, 100 percent human hair wig to a curly, indistinguishably synthetic brunette one.
Kimberley opened her first wig shop in 1970 in Ventura County. Six years ago she came to Santa Barbara, which she’d heard much about from commuting Santa Barbara customers. “I believe in selling quality wigs at lower prices, because then the customers will come back,” said Kimberley. She specializes in hair extensions and customized hair “replacement” (which includes male facial hair). Hair “replacement” is the strategic placing of hair on the scalp or face, kept in place by surgical glue, which allows her customers to shower, brush, and blow dry their hair for up to six weeks without ever having to replace their hairpiece. Services like this make a world of difference to those who don’t have any hair, due to chemotherapy or a body-focused repetitive behavior like trichotillomania, an only recently researched disorder in which one pulls one’s hair out. Losing or pulling one’s hair has a devastating effect on a person, and Kimberley provides great relief to those who lack their own locks.
Surprisingly, though, the majority of Kimberley’s customers already have hair. “They’re working women,” Kimberley explained, who don’t want to take the time to style their own hair each morning. Wigs can be fun, it seems, as Kimberley’s second most common type of customer, little girls who want a cheap ($35) synthetic wig to play with, can attest. Like anything, wigs trend up and down. Apparently, the 1980s and the 1990s were darkish days for wigs, but now they’re back, and, as Kimberley says, “Better than ever.”