I was a girl who didn’t really wear bows. My mom, not generally a fan of ultra-feminine things, didn’t encourage me to wear them unless it was maybe for Christmas or a dance recital, and I also rarely wore my hair in a ponytail or bun. I was, in some distant way, a bit envious of the other elementary school girls who wore high ponytails with a big, brightly colored bow fastened right on top. They looked put-together in a way I admired.
You might think bows are generally not worn after age 12, but you would be wrong. Hair bows, both dainty and ‘80s-sized, are back in a big way, from Kate Middleton’s velvet bow to Emilia Wickstead’s exaggerated, super-feminine ones. The bow serves as a playful, nostalgic exclamation mark to the determined high ponytail.
There was a romance that permeated last Spring’s runway shows, from Rodarte’s pastel taffeta tule and rose headpieces to Simone Rocha’s embroidered flowers and veils. The whimsy of the hairpiece, typically embellished with ribbons or feathers or jewels, adds a much-needed touch of old-school glam in a streetwear world.
In her essay for SSENSE, Durga Polashi talks about the return of romance: “With the return of true romance comes, as well, an opportunity to dress a little reckless. To wear what might not make sense or appears immoderate, lacks function, is riotous and affected. How wonderful, how opposite of dull.”
A hair bow, whether a simple velvet ribbon or an outsized grosgrain affair, is simultaneously convenient yet a bit frivolous—it’s perfect. With the right outfit, a bow can be a very grown-up look. Recently, Margot Robbie wore an ‘80s power outfit at the press conference for Mary, Queen of Scots, with a pink jacket from Chanel Spring 2019—and a black bow worn low on her half-ponytail.
Yes, sometimes a hair bow can give off Laura Ashley vibes, but other times, it can be just the hyperbolic accessory an outfit needs to give it a little attitude. Sometimes, those preschool trends stick around—and look even better some twenty-odd years later.