An Ode to Headbands

Anouk Sarfati studies the rise of the headband, tracing its loyalty to our heads from ancient Greece to Gossip Girl.

Do you recall hair doughnuts? That 2012 trend, turned fashion faux pas. And are you an avid user of scrunchies? If the answer to both of these questions is yes then you must have noticed that nowadays, hair decoration is all about headbands. But let’s be real for a second, wearing fun hair accessories somehow always makes you look like you’re back in primary school. So why are headbands a thing? To me, they epitomize a love-hate relationship: while on the one hand, they necessitate numerous trips to the toilet to tame any rebellious strands of hair, they also help you exude a feeling of power and sophistication.  

Historically, the Greeks used to receive hair wreaths for Olympic success – a conformational sign of high achievement. More recently, they have popped up in Gatsby galas, 1970’s freedom festivals, and of course in Jackie Kennedy’s luscious locks.  So, you might wonder, how and why have headbands swooped back into our lives? The rational answer would be that fashion is a cycle and that trends eventually come back. The answer I like to give is much simpler: it’s because they are great. You know that amazing feeling you have when your hands have just been manicured? Well, wearing a headband pretty much feels the same. They are a facial and a blow-dry mixed into one.

Two types of headbands always stand out. The first one, more than easy to spot around campus, is a thin simple loop of elastic material. It generally makes the wearer look like they are about to play a tennis match or apply a much-needed facemask. Any self-respecting edgy girl will style it with Fila sneakers, wide-leg trousers and a fake leopard-printed fur coat from Topshop. The second type is a padded headband, commonly called the ‘Alice band’ as a reference to Lewis Carroll’s Heroin. It is bold to wear, so if you are unsure about how to style it (and are looking to awaken your inner Upper East Side), you can always refer to Gossip Girl’s Queen B: Blair Waldorf.

Like any resurfacing trend, headbands taste of both nostalgia and progress… Will you be rejoining the club? 

By Anouk Sarfati.