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10 Sep

Coquette hair: Why ‘girly’ pigtails are all over the

Girlish hair like pigtails, bows and braids are having a resurgence, as people embrace – and challenge – traditional ideas of femininity

Coquette hair is literally all over the place you look. On TikTok and on the streets, people have been sporting bows of all kinds and grungy pigtails of their hair. The trend has been popularised by the ever present #balletcore trend, but even Chanel gave the models in its AW22 couture show big bows (a glance they’ve been touching on for the reason that 90s) while messy pigtails appeared at Dior SS23 with sickly sweet babydoll dresses. It’s also been seen on the red carpet where Elle Fanning, Joey King and Dove Cameron dipped their toes into the aesthetic. And, at the least here in Recent York, you may’t walk down the road without seeing someone in pigtails or bows. Designers like Simone Rocha and Sandy Liang are also shepherding these styles, as they each have a look at fashion through a latest type of female gaze. 

Some argue that these hairstyles signal a reclamation of the hyper-feminine. “I’m at a stage in my life where I dress completely for myself and I don’t really care how I’m perceived,” explains the model Camri Hewie, who celebrates all things pink and recently sculpted bows into her own hair. Though she’s been wearing hairstyles that might be conceived as coquette for years, she’s also noticed an uptick in these sorts of styles: “For therefore long femininity has been looked down upon and seen as frivolous, and now we’re all coming together to embrace those parts of ourselves. We’re dressing in a way our younger selves would appreciate,” she adds.

“There’s something hyper-feminine and delightful about wearing bows in my hair now,” adds the maximalist fashion stylist Sara Camposarcone. “I often match the vibe of the hair, with an outfit of pink, pearls and lace, so I don’t doubt people would perceive me otherwise than if I wore an all-black outfit. But I’m a girly girl at heart and I can’t resist wearing things that make me feel pretty and empowered, while embracing my femininity at the identical time.” Likewise, the artist Taylor Quitara, who adopted pigtails and bows as an element of her on a regular basis style, says: “At first I used to be a bit uneasy about pigtails and bows as they will be perceived as super ‘girly’ and my personal style leans more within the direction of pop-punk with a touch or dark academia, but genuinely, they simply elevated my looks into one other style almost like a dark coquette.”

Interestingly, hair bows have never been as gendered as they’re in 2023. Hair historian Rachael Gibson cites The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s set of Sumerian hair ribbons made of gold from 2600-2500 BC, but additionally says that “most ancient societies would have used fabrics to tie back or decorate the hair – so it’s hard to place a precise date on once we first start seeing them. They were worn so much by men too, with the Lovelock trend within the sixteenth century – and even within the military, where the wig was popular within the 18th century finished off with a bow.”

Nonetheless, Gibson notes that “the hair on either side of the pinnacle version” (what we now know as pigtails) would have been seen as a “children’s hairstyle” throughout most of history. And while some could also be quick to call the look infantilising, in 2023, the reference feels more like a celebration of the nostalgia of embracing girlhood for oneself, greater than the rest. There’ll at all times be men who make comments and take a look at to twist the look into being about something else, but when isn’t that the case?

“I’d say within the Fifties, once we began to see teen fashion evolve into its own thing relatively than simply dressing like a mini-me of your parents, we began to see more fun, youthful styles coming through in beauty,” adds Gibson. “By the Nineteen Sixties women were wearing their hair longer and looser which is once we began seeing those real classic Brigitte Bardot pigtails, then within the Nineteen Seventies it became a part of the hippy look.” She credits the legendary Prada Spring 2010 show as being one of the vital influential comebacks of the style in contemporary fashion: “Guido created those matte, textured bunches which felt like a brilliant grungy version of something that had just been reduced to something very cutesy and Lolita-ish.”

In stark opposition to coquette hair are other trends that conceivably appeal less to ornamentation – just like the clean girl aesthetic and even sad girl make-up. “I feel for some time, being a mainstream ‘cool girl’ meant you’re someone who rejected and even mocked their very own femininity,” explains Antonella, the creator behind the favored coquette subculture fan account Dollclub on TikTok and Instagram. She considers bows, ribbons, pigtails and braids – all intrinsically girly by nature – to be coquette hair. 

“It was popular to say ‘I’m not a basic bitch’ or ‘I’m considered one of the boys’ used mainly in an effort by some women to appeal to men on the expense of oneself; of femininity. I actually have friends who openly say they forced themselves to not like something so simple as the color pink since it felt embarrassing. Nonetheless, there was a recent resurgence in reclaiming femininity, [and] the concept shouldn’t be seen as shameful, silly, or weak. You possibly can like ribbons and bows while being a robust and funky person.”

For Camposarcone, wearing bows can also be about appealing to her inner child and nostalgia: “I do feel more girly wearing bows in my hair, and I feel that comes from my childhood, when my mother would braid my hair with bows once I was a young girl,” she says. Hewie agrees: “I truthfully think that loads of individuals are just attempting to heal their inner child through fashion,” she explains. “I’ve noticed with the prominence of the coquette and balletcore trends that there’s been a surge in adults going back to ballet class. I feel partaking in an activity that falls into those aesthetics could be very healing for a lot of individuals.”

There’s undoubtedly a type of conscious ostentatiousness that comes with wearing a hairstyle that’s more girly, be it pigtails, braids woven with ribbons or an enormous bow. And at a time when loads of high fashion brands are trading maximalism for stark minimalism and stealth wealth, coquette hair seems like the proper insurrection.

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