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:

My team did that! #SHEREADY

A post shared by Tiffany Haddish (@tiffanyhaddish) on

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

Hello Miami☀️

A post shared by Lais Ribeiro (@laisribeiro) on

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. 

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  • elpug

    I didn’t know they’d gone anywhere! Long live the topknot!

    • Agreed 100%

    • Kattigans

      I second this…the bun (top knot or not) will always be in style. I didn’t know it was a fad item albeit I do think it had a fad period. But unlike wedge sneakers, it didn’t move into the realm of passé bygones.

  • Adrianna

    Did they go anywhere….?

  • Anna Impson

    Love a top knot, and day 3 of no washed hair is the sweet spot for the perfect top knot.

  • Marie Rollin

    haha same, read the title and thought : when did they leave and why did I not get the memo?

  • Were they ever really gone?

  • Cristina

    Oh finally, something that makes me feel “with it” cause I never stopped the top knot!

  • Kristina Klaffenboeck

    Meghan Markle wore a top knot a few weeks ago too!

  • Isabela Alves

    But did they ever leave?

  • Dymond Moore

    Top knots are great, I’m just always worried about breakage around the hairline. I love a top knot with bangs because that pretty much eliminates that problem.

  • Caroline

    LONG LIVE <3

  • TinySoprano

    I haven’t just kept wearing topknots individually since the early twenty-teens, but I’ve been wearing the one same topknot for the past…. *mumbles ashamedly*… three days. In my defence, the flyaways definitely look natural after three days.

    • Sugar Bones

      Sometime in the mid aughts I decided that sleeping on an updo then braiding and pinning up whatever fell out overnight was a fabulous idea. I stand by it wholeheartedly.

  • Jennifer Wroblewski

    lol I started top knotting again a few weeks ago and it is awesome!! I even bought a new orange red lipstick. I also am utilizing a zillion bobby pins as my pixie do is only just barely grown out enough for it. I am so happy. So so happy.