When Hillary Rodham Clinton got coiffed by famed New York City stylist Frederic Fekkai last May for an estimated $275 and the President followed suit three days later with a reported $200 clip job by L.A. hair guru Cristophe, most working stiffs were stunned. (The average cost of a shampoo and clip job is $18.60.) Is it really necessary to spend such big bucks? To find out, we sent PEOPLE staffers—unannounced—to salons around the nation. They spent from 75 cents to $275. So Bill, Hill, listen up.
Johnny Dodd, 30 (inset, before), took a number at Denver's EMILY GRIFFITH OPPORTUNITY SCHOOL along with other clients, who, he says, "desperately needed shaves." Total, with tip: $2.75
Diem-Quynh Nguyen, 21, was unimpressed with MACDANIEL'S BEAUTY SCHOOL in Chicago. The student stylist "dropped combs, and her hands were shaking," says Nguyen. Total, with tip: $5.50
At Dallas's PRESTON FOREST BARBERS, Bob Colombe has a Best Haircut certificate signed by client Ross Perot: "Bob, I knew it. You knew it. Now the world knows it." Carlton Stowers, 51 (above), agrees. Total, with tip: $12
"Honey, this is a real 'in' cut," Betty Vanatta at FANTASTIC SAM'S FAMILY STYLING SALON in suburban Detroit told Julie Greenwalt, 55. Greenwalt described it differently: "Uneven." Total, with tip: $17
Champ Clark, 39, visited the President's Little Rock barber, Jim Miles, at the U.S. MALE/FEMALE HAIRSTYLING CENTER. After 20 minutes, he wound up looking like—surprise!—Bill Clinton. Total, with tip: $26
Angie Waters, 42, was tressed up by Tipper Gore's hairdresser, Garland, at NORBERT hair designers in Washington. "He was chatty," she says. "It was a good hair day." Total, with tips: $60
SAMY, Miami's hot hairdresser-to-the-stars (Gloria Estefan is a client), coiffed Greg Aunapu, 33, and threw in a sample of his 24 KT. Gold personal hair-care line. Total (Aunapu didn't tip Samy, the owner): $65
Elizabeth Hartley at San Francisco's VIDAL SASSOON SALON spent an hour and 15 minutes trimming Michael Small's hair. "I don't even need a comb anymore," says Small, 36. Total, with tips: $101.
Boston's MARIO RUSSO politely told Danielle Grise, 28, that the hairdo she had—and the one that she wanted—did not suit the shape of her face. He proceeded to give her one that did. Total, with tip: $120
Before he met CRISTOPHE, Tom Cunneff, 34, was pampered by three assistants and served cappuccino. The price added up when Cristophe persuaded Cunneff to cover his gray for $45. Total, with tips: $228
Lisa Russell, 34, says the two-month wait for Manhattan's FREDERIC FEKKAI was worth it. "I like my hair," she says, "but I could buy my whole wardrobe for that price." Total, with tips: $316