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2 Sep

How the black stretchy headband became a sleuth status

As we witness a redux of yuppie culture and embrace of prepster looks, the black stretchy headband is making its return. Kristen Bateman explores the hair accessory’s cultural history and current role as a stealth wealth symbol

The beaded, crystal-spun maximalist hair accessory is dead. And as a substitute is a recent form of adornment that claims a lot while displaying so little. Meet: the stretch headband. It’s recently been embraced by Bella Hadid, Alexa Demie, Kaia Gerber, Laura Harrier, and each influencer under the sun. Then there was Schiaparelli’s Autumn/Winter 2023 collection, seeped in an aesthetic of extravagant wealth, but toned down with sculptural, minimalistic black and white forms. To top it off, each model wore a stretchy black headband. “The upper you go within the stratosphere of luxury, the more basic it feels,” said the Schiaparelli creative director Daniel Roseberry.

One way or the other, the standard stretch headband has change into the scrunchie or hair grip of our era – totally functional, but additionally something that claims a lot about our current perceptions and aspirations of favor. And with that, the stretchy headband has change into this generation’s sleuth status symbol. In 2023, we’re experiencing what looks like a return of minimalism in addition to an ample embrace of prepster looks and a redux of yuppie culture. From diamond tennis bracelets to normcore logo hats coming back into the zeitgeist, the stretch headband has also found its place. 

But how did we get here? We are able to trace the origins of the standard elastic headband back to the Fifties. “Stretchy headbands began to be worn after elasticated fabrics were first invented within the late Fifties,” says Rachael Gibson, who charts the history of hair on her Instagram account, The Hair Historian. “This tallies with the recognition of more relaxed and teen-led fashion, hairstyles that were less structured, and more lively lifestyles. Your artfully sculpted perm or wave set isn’t prone to get in your face sitting around at home in the identical way that long, loose hair flailing around while you’re out dancing is.”

Fast forward to the Sixties, when Brigitte Bardot defined her messy bedhead hair by layering a large, black elastic headband on top. Wearing little striped tops and tight black pants and an identical cardigan, she was the epitome of the idealised woman within the high-brow art world, surrounded by intellect. Wearing the style within the 1963 French Recent Wave film Contempt, directed by Jean-Luc Godard, she stars because the alienated wife of a author. “The classic Brigitte Bardot wide, black headband is such a fantastic contrast to the massive, blonde, backcombed hair,” says Gibson. “It almost brings it back right down to earth and makes the entire look feel more nonchalant.” It also transforms the trope of the classic blonde – one related to sex kittens and bimbos – into something recent; something cerebral.

But it surely was only within the Eighties when the elastic headband really became a sleuth status symbol. Together with sweatbands, the look became related to elite gym culture. Think: Jane Fonda. “As we move into the 80s, and the concept of fitness and aerobics change into more mainstream, and a sporty headband has the identical visual clues as athleisure would go on to exhibit – you’re someone who keeps fit and are so busy living your sporty lifestyle you’re going straight to brunch in your chic sportswear,” adds Gibson.

“I believe as soon as we begin to associate the plain stretchy headband with ideas of sport and keeping fit within the Eighties it becomes a bit more status-y due to societal connotations of health and wellness. There’s all the time a component of who’s wearing the scarf that feeds into greater ideas about who’s allowed to look which way: society’s prejudices and preformed ideas about beauty dictate whether someone looks like they’ve just jumped out of the shower and rushed out the home with a scarf vs someone who’s doing a stealth wealth look.” 

Enter the yuppie revival we’re experiencing now. Within the early Eighties when it was first defined, it stood for “young urban skilled” and represented an entire generation of individuals wearing power suits, pearls, and work-ready fashion for his or her nine-to-fives; most of all, fashion that conveyed a way of skilled, well-bred, moneyed style. the runway, labels from Yves Saint Laurent to Thom Browne fetishized workwear for Autumn/Winter 2023, so it’s only natural that the elastic headband suits right in. Going to Erewhon for a $15 smoothie in your black elastic headband? That’s today’s twisted influencer version of a yuppie.

Still, the Nineteen Nineties and early 2000s were the last times in history once we saw the black stretch headband in every single place, which is why many individuals associate the stretch headband with the 90s preppy looks of yore. “For me the 90s is peak headband, making a minimal, sleek silhouette or leaning right into a barely preppy sporty aesthetic, like Dionne in Clueless together with her white stretch headband,” adds Gibson. “As we move into the early 2000s, there’s more of a literal sporty influence from Mel C and the solid of Bend It Like Beckham, giving headbands an actual practical use.” Adds the hairstylist Kieron Fowles, “The elastic headband for me in 2023 represents a revival of 90s accessories and fashion. It was worn in every single place and was featured by nearly every iconic lead solid member in popular TV shows or movies of that decade, equivalent to Clueless and Sarah Michelle Gellar in I Know What You Did Last Summer.”

Perhaps probably the most interesting thing about associating this look with stealth wealth is the proven fact that the scarf has long had its own links with class. It’s an adjunct that’s been worn by all genders and a robust signifier of sophistication throughout the ages. Think in regards to the padded Prada headbands from a number of years ago that looked slightly bit like crowns, with their metal-studded embellishments and sequins. At the identical time, when the US and the UK are each in financial crisis it’s interesting that the low-brow, often extremely inexpensive stretch headband that seeks to convey a lot, is so ubiquitous.

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