The High Ponytail:
This pony is ideal for exercising. It’s also great for signaling that you don’t give a what. The HP can take many different forms depending on execution — was the head flipped over then fastened upside down, or was the hair gathered in a rush with one skilled swoop? Was a soft-bristled comb employed to get rid of any bumps, or does the ‘do look slightly slept in? High ponies are the maxi dress of their kind: some people can pull off the style and look cool, while others just…cannot.
The Low and Parted Ponytail:
This is the champagne of ponytails: elegant, timeless, goes well with black tie. The woman who wears her hair parted and pulled back at the nape of her neck is making a knowing decision to look put together. Think Dries Van Noten or Calvin Klein.
The Medium-Height Ponytail:
It’s the denim of ponytails — accessible to pretty much everyone. At its best it looks neat and clean a la Olivia Palermo. At its worst, it’s still fine, if not slightly reminiscent of vintage Antonio Banderas. Middle tails can also give the impression that you’re an athlete and/or no nonsense, which can either work in your favor or really throw a person off when choosing teams for an inter-office game of volley ball.
Unless your name is Michelle Tanner and you live in San Francisco with two sisters, a dad, and two uncles with great hair, pigtails are probably bad news. Adult women only wear pigtails when they are trying too hard to look casual.
For instance: you’ve gone on three dates with someone and decide to have a low key night in together. “Let’s just like, stay in and drink wine and order Thai and watch a movie!” You might be tempted to wear pigtails with a sweatpants-outfit that took hours to pick out. You might also be tempted to claim, “These are my old pajamas,” even though you what you actually sleep in is a ripped XXXL t-shirt from your brother’s Bar Mitzvah.
I would advise to just wear jeans, and limit yourself to a single scrunchy.
People who dare to sport the HUHD tend to be wildcards. They are normally interesting. I’d bet that if Gertrude Stein had kept her hair long, she would have worn it half-up, half-down. This style comes with a warning, however, pointed out by my strange friend Amelia: if you’re not careful, or around someone who watched too much WWE in middle school, you could get compared to professional wrestler Shawn Michaels. This is not necessarily a bad thing.
The front-bump-pony is the HUHD’s clubbing cousin. It can be achieved in several ways, from bobby pins and hairspray to the utilization of a gadget sold in infomercials. Anyone who wears a bump is most likely oozing with personality and also, product. Gwen Stefani can pull this off. I, on the other hand, should not even try.
At some point during the 1990s, women started pulling pieces out of their ponytail to frame their faces. The pieces varied in size from severe chunks to thin whisps but were always, always taken from the immediate left and right of one’s center hairline. Sometimes they were treated with a curling iron for coils in front of one’s face. (Sometimes = fancy times.) In their modern iteration, The Antenna have become strategically-pulled whispers of hair from all around the hairline (think J.Crew model), but to those of us born in ’87 they will remain forever burned into our brain as the only thing that made a ponytail feel truly complete.
No-Part, Slicked-Back Pony:
Slicked-back ponytails without a part are a very sensitive subject for me. Growing up, I probably lost my voice 10 times screaming at my mom to “GET THE BUMPS OUT!” A little product and a soft-bristled brush helped, but somehow a bump or two managed to appear. Meanwhile Kelly in math class’s pony was perfect — her mother clearly practiced witchcraft. Otherwise it’s just not possible.
Now show us your ponytail, and tell us what it says.
Illustrations by Charlotte Fassler. Done with head hair? How about facial hair?