Bad News For Ribbon Haters, The Hair Bow Is Here To Stay

hair bows
The Hair Bow Is Still Going Strong Hearst Owned

Beauty trends are cyclical. Take blue eyeshadow, once a staple of all the Twiggys in the 60's, it's now back with a futuristic flourish at the Ashish, Jil Sander and Pierre Cardin SS24 catwalk shows.

Feathery 70s’ haircuts are having a moment, while French manicures, an Upper East Side signature of the noughties saw a renaissance (albeit with a fresher, more minimalist take), that show no signs of slowing down.

But in the same way that fashion has its perennial favourites (see: ballet flats and little black dresses) beauty has classic looks that will forever be a part of the zeitgeist. Red lipstick is one, and no beauty season is complete without it. Shades and application techniques may differ slightly throughout the years, but everyone from your great-grandmother to Gen-Z niece will have either embraced it themselves or know someone who has. Same goes for a flash of black eyeliner.

Another evergreen trend that’s currently spotted everywhere from your work bestie to Kaia Gerber and J-Lo is the hair bow. Pinterest saw a 162% uptick in searches just this November gone by and predicts ‘bow-stacking’ - the art of wearing multiple bows as part of an outfit - to be one of the 2024’s biggest trends.

Fashion designers and hairstylists seem to agree, as ribbons and bows made waves all throughout 2023 and well into this year, on and off the runway. For its SS24 presentations, Versace, Tanner Fletcher and Vivetta all used ribbons as a talking point. Who could forget Lacy Redway’s barre-braids at Christian Siriano?

hair bow
Christian Siriano SS24Gregory Scaffidi/ - LAUNCHMETRICS SPOTLIGHT

It's no surprise then that the recent couture shows followed suit, this time subverting the hair bow from something that tied closely to the idea of prettiness to a piece that either spoke volumes or simply added a subtle finishing touch.

Giambattista Valli went with crisp black numbers of gargantuan proportions, interwoven with oversized blooming roses while Dior kept it understated with narrow ribbons placed delicately around intricate braided buns. Embracing the more classic side of hair bows, Chanel went with an XXL version placed casually on a low ponytail with easy waves. Parisian chic, at its finest.

‘The hair bow is such a classic accessory because of the simplicity of them,’ says trend forecaster and creative director of John Frieda Salons, Zoë Irwin, whose love for bows once led her to launch a blow-dry session with a focus on denim ribbons crafted from leftover fabric.

For her, placement, size and material play an important part for the end aesthetic. ‘I love the way changing the fabric will change the vibe,’ she says. The cool girls among us will no doubt gravitate towards frayed denims and leather while black grosgrain lends instant polish to your everyday work wear.

‘If you want a more laidback look, opt for a bow that is softer and will fall freely. For a real statement, go for a stiffer bow such as those made from taffeta,’ offers Irwin. The most fashion-forward staffers at ELLE are hardly without an oversized piece while multiple mini ribbons feel especially Gen Z (Hailey Bieber was spotted wearing one on each side last summer).

The placement will change the overall look, too. ‘At the front with a teased updo they feel playful and a little bit sex kitten, but when they are at the back placed lower down the head, it’s more of a Sloaney, duchess vibe,’ says Irwin.

With such versatility, it’s no wonder that famous faces from Brigitte Bardot and Catherine Deneuve to Sarah Jessica Parker, Tessa Thompson and Margot Robbie are all fans of the bow.

hair bow
Margot RobbieJohn Phillips + Getty Images - Getty Images

According to hairstylist Hollie Rose Clark, a simple ribbon is also the ultimate lazy-girl hack. ‘I like simplistic and effortless hair that takes as little time as possible but the humble ribbon can take the look from bad hair day to runway chic in a matter of seconds, whether you wear it with hair up or down,’ she explains.

She counts the black bow as a fail-safe option. Her affinity for bows will soon manifest into a range of bows sometime in 2024, she tells ELLE UK.

Tie it on a third-day ponytail or use a bow barette to accessorise a low bun for an elevated finish. Bows don’t always have to make a statement, either. A simple ribbon at the end of a braid makes for a finishing touch that’s guaranteed to rope in compliments.

To ensure your bow stays in place, it’s helpful to add some grit to your hair by way of hairspray. ‘The thing about bows is that they can slip out of your hair, so you need to create texture for it to sit on. I tend to back comb to almost a matted texture, hairspray into that and then clip on the bow,’ advices Irwin. The extra height will also create a nice silhouette for the overall hairstyle.

Now go forth, and put a bow on it.

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