Polish Your Bobby Pins: Top Knots Are Back

For almost the entirety of 2011, I looked like I was toting around a hair-wrapped grapefruit on the crown of my head. It was the age of the top knot, and I got sucked in — hard. Or rather, my scalp did. I was obsessed with perfecting the look. I diligently looked up DIY tutorials for how to create the most regally effortless and effortlessly regal top knot bun. On one occasion, I stuck my hair with so many bobby pins I was still pulling them out weeks later.

For the uninitiated, a top knot is a bun, but it’s also more than a bun. It is a bun that sits directly on top of your head, and not a millimeter lower. It is a bun full of secrets otherwise known as bobby pins that assist with the whole “sitting directly on top of your head” thing. It is a bun that looks regal and effortless at the same time, thanks to the stray pieces of hair you will have artfully tugged loose.

I hadn’t thought about top knots for years until Chanel sent a band of grapefruit-adorned models down the runway in Paris last week. I learned my lesson vis-à-vis Chanel’s trendsetting powers after the glitter boot extravaganza of 2017, ergo, I’ve been on top-knot watch ever since.

Soon after, I bookmarked this photo of Margaret Qualley shot for Teen Vogue‘s Young Hollywood feature:

I bookmarked this photo of Tiffany Haddish chilling before the Vanity Fair Oscars after-party:

I bookmarked this photo of Lais Ribeiro incidentally making a very strong case for neon swimsuits in Miami:

I also visited the Instagram of one Susie Bubble, with whom I credit putting top knots on the style blogger map back in the day. All it took was a quick scan to confirm she never stopped wearing them, a revelation I found illuminating. It was clear top knots never went away completely, they just stopped being a novelty.

That’s certainly part of the reason their resurgence at the Chanel show caused such a stir (nearly every website covering the show referenced “top knots” in their headline). The other part is that like, wedge sneakers, novelty sweatshirts, rhinestone statement necklaces and peplum tank tops, top knots are reminiscent of a specific era in fashion — an era in which style bloggers were just starting to make waves in the industry and Instagram was just beginning to explode, inciting a tidal wave of change that would forever impact the way trends disseminate and take root.

Their association with this period of time imbues top knots with a sense of nostalgia, replete with its tell-tale mix of mockery (We wore buns that looked like grapefruits on top of our heads!?) and ironic appeal (Is it just me, or has enough time passed that top knots seem distinctly cool again?).

It’s probably too soon to determine whether top knots are actually making a full comeback, but I’m polishing my bobby pins just in case. All 13,093 of them.

Feature image via Vogue Runway. 

Harling Ross

Harling is a writer and was most recently the Brand Director at Man Repeller.

More from Archive