FASHION: What's Smart for Spring? : The Look That Gets Old Fast? : Sorority Girls Wear Headbands, but So Does Hillary Clinton

Notice how some of the latest pictures from the campaign trail show Hillary Clinton, wife of presidential hopeful Bill, without her headband? On election night last week in New Hampshire she wore a French twist, not her usual long bob with band. It could be that Clinton has been taking some heat for her velvet attachment lately.

Sure, it keeps her hair off her face and hides the dark roots of her otherwise blond hairdo. But is it worth it if it makes the 44-year-old lawyer look like the world's oldest debutante?

USA Today declared that Clinton's aging-sorority-sister headband would start a disturbing First Lady fashion trend, after Kennedy's pillbox hats, Reagan's red and Bush's pearls.

Trivial? Well, no one ever proved the world of beauty was anything but skin deep.

Los Angeles hairdressers aren't so snippy about Clinton's look, though they have definite ideas about who should and shouldn't wear it.

"It's a little preppy, but it's a nice look," Joseph Kendall of Beverly Hills' Joseph Martin Salon says, hedging. He suggests that Clinton might look better with a tortoise-shell band, instead of her dark color choice. "I'm not keen on blond hair and dark headbands." Generally, women beyond their early 40s should pass on bands, he says, adding that the accessory looks best when the hair is flat, not puffy.

A second opinion in the "who can wear them" debate centers on the age/length ratio. "If your hair is long, you have to be young to wear a headband. An older woman who wants to wear one has to have hair chin length, or shorter, to look chic," says William Escalera, co-owner of Menage a Trois in Los Angeles. He says one of his 40ish clients has the right look: narrow headband, straight bob, Chanel suit.

Santa Monica stylist Ronnie Romoff determines headband eligibility by scrutinizing the forehead: "People with extra-high foreheads who don't employ bangs shouldn't wear headbands. You don't want to expose too much liability."

Older women can wear them, Romoff maintains, if they're as stylish as the "regal and elegant" band-wearing Betty Furness of the "Today" show. As for Clinton, Romoff suggests a softer, freer look. "I'd put more curl into it, shorten it."

And ditch the headband?

"It would be OK to wear it once and a while," he concedes.

Try telling that to headband wearers. Many rarely go without one, buying them in handfuls at places like Flora Designs on Robertson Boulevard or at mall kiosks.

One thing's certain, if Clinton makes the White House, jumping on this bandwagon will be more than just acceptable. It'll be the politically correct thing to do.

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