How to Wear Bows Without Being Like “Ugh”

Four good reasons to save your holiday ribbons

12.21.16

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I am all about a bow. They can turn any box into a happy package, any outfit into a Look. Last year, during December especially, I was all about the hair-meets-choker option. It was the world’s fastest solution to, “Oh shit, a holiday party.” Like tinsel or lipstick, it instantly added an air of festivity and celebration.

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AYR velvet jacket, Cédric Charlier trousers, Pixie Market bow crop top, Brian Atwood pumps

The problem with something semi-novel like a bow, though, is that its magical ability to carry the whole shebang on its own can fade rather quickly. One minute you’re standing before the mirror like, “I rule! This looks awesome!” and the next thing you know you’re like, “Why did I treat my head like a gift at a white elephant exchange?

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Pixie Market sweater, Ralph Lauren cashmere skirt, Forever21 velvet bow barrette, Color Temperature bag

So here’s what you do: Add a bow to your hair. Tie it around a ponytail, use it to clip your tail to your head, wear it over your ears, wear it as a headband. Or, fine, wrap it around your neck. Then make that bow aggressively deliberate — It’s bow time, baby! —  by accentuating it with more bows on your body. Bows on your wrists, bows across your chest, bows across your belly…

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J.Crew jacket and trousers, Sies Marjan fur scarf

The thinking is that if you’re going to do it, go for it. Like plaid. Don’t let anybody forget it!

Of course, you can also fall back on the simplicity of a single hair ribbon.

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Tibi sweater, Sies Marjan skirt, A.W.A.K.E. plaid shirt, Ivy Kirzhner boots

In which case, make your toe-to-neck outfit the focal point and let the bow on top be one of those “Oh, this old thing” things. Your brain is a gift to the world, right? Might as well wrap it up nicely.

Special thanks to our model Ksenia Malyukova. Styled by Amelia Diamond; market and styling assistance by Elizabeth Tamkin; photos by Krista Anna Lewis.

Speaking of gifts, do you know why we give gifts? And you know who would rock the bow? Felicity Jones.

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