You know those days: one piece of hair sticks out awkwardly; what is supposed to be full on the top or sides lies flat; the curl goes in the wrong direction on one side; your hair just looks like a limp dishrag.
Stylish women understand that our hair is our crowning glory. It’s certainly important to find a good haircut and to keep it up. But some days are just more challenging than others when it comes to having good hair.
So why not do what many very chic French women do on those days: wear a headband! (They call it “Le Headband,” after all.)
The beauty and history of headbands goes back thousands of years. We might consider the laurel wreath a kind of headband, perhaps the first one.
The women’s version – since in ancient Greece wreaths made of laurel leaves were only given to men – was rendered in gold. Maybe the gals got the better end of the deal!
In the early 20th century, a thin version of a headband, lacy and decorated, was actually prescribed for headaches. These were known as “headache bands” because it was thought that the pressure they exert could relieve a headache. But frankly, if you wear any headband that is too tight, you can actually GIVE yourself a headache!
We saw headbands on movie stars around the 1920s, worn in turban-like shapes. Playful women by the seashore wore them with knit swimsuits to keep their short bobs in place. Flappers wore them to keep their hairstyles while they danced wildly.
Coco Chanel made them very popular. They were a simple but eye-catching accessory that matched the chic silhouette of her wide-leg pants, simple turtleneck sweater, and signature pearls.
In the 1960s they became the crown of hippiedom, a band of fabric that kept those long flowing locks off our faces – and out of our food.
Now headbands are experiencing a renaissance because, frankly, they are just so practical. And, they are also quite pretty. Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, might be responsible for this renaissance, as she wears them often both for style and practicality.
You’ll see her wearing thick padded headbands in solid colors, or with braided or pleated fabric, adorned with flowers, pearl-studded, and for more casual wear, tortoise or polka-dot ones of thin plastic. They are a lot easier to manage in daily life than a heavy gold and jewel-encrusted crown.
For us commoners, they will serve similar purposes: they can elevate and accessorize an entire outfit, or they can effectively hide or keep in place wayward hair.
Headbands built onto plastic frames (like this Black Satin Knotted Headband at Claire’s) can be padded or embellished and are best worn with an outfit that has a matching level of formality. (That includes the ones made from textiles like velvets and satin-like fabrics.) Wear them with formal dresses or simple tuxedo-like suits for a very elegant look.
Those in less formal fabrics (Blue Gingham Knotted Bow Headband at Claire’s) are a good match for dressy-casual outfits. You can imagine wearing a gingham or striped one with a summery dress at an outdoor garden or pool party or to a luncheon date. You could also get away with wearing one of these to make your jeans outfits look a bit more upscale.
The very popular stretchy, knotted fabric headbands are meant to be playful and offer more flexibility in terms of style. They work for more casual dresses, jeans, or shorts outfits, for lounging by the pool, or just to bring a little bit of femininity to anything that feels a little stiff or “tough.” Imagine a sweet floral headband worn with a biker jacket.
But pay attention to the other items in the outfit. If you’re not adept at pattern mixing, make sure the color and pattern of the headband doesn’t conflict with the color or pattern in your other garments.
Finally, the simple stretch fabric type of headband, such as what we might wear to the gym or see on Keith Richards at a Stones concert, is the most casual. Still, in the right color it can still look more stylish than a simple sweat-collector.
Here’s to good – and bad – hair days!
What do you do on bad hair days? Do you wear headbands? What are your favorite styles and fabrics? Please share with our community!