trend ender – topknots

As the name Final Fashion suggests, I am obsessed with the end of fashion trends. So I have created Trend Ender as a new irregular feature, meant to identify, illustrate and investigate the origins of current fashion trends, assess when they’re fabulous and when they fail, and attempt to predict their demise. I’m not interested in being the fashion police; Trend Ender isn’t mean like the urban dictionary definition. The idea is to approach this fascinating subject with curiousity, affection and humour.

Trend Ender will also stand alone as a side project, alongside and in conversation with the visual notebook that is my regular tumblr. Have suggestions, corrections? Send me a trend to end. With introductions out of the way, here is the first entry:

Trend: Topknots. This term is used when someone with long hair pulls it all into a bun on the top of their head. Sometimes it’s messy, sometimes it’s smooth and slick, sometimes it’s achieved using backcombing, sometimes it’s even made with an old sock. Because it is so far up on the head, often it needs a few pins at the back of the head to pull in shorter strands from the nape of the neck.

Where it came from: The topknot enjoyed a brief moment at the, er, top, in the 1960s. This glorious, polished and pearled example on actress Tippi Hedron was probably achieved using false hair, common at the time of towering dream-of-Jeannie hair fantasies. Odango, the Japanese version of the high bun, worn by anime characters like Sailor Moon, has likely influenced kids who watched cartoons in the 1990s. (Hat tip Ginevra!) In more realistic recent history, fashion blogging’s fairy godmother Susie Bubble has worn it as a go-to hairstyle ever since her early WAYWT posts on The Fashion Spot. The popularity of her pioneering blog Style Bubble established in 2006 no doubt has something to do with its current ubiquity.

When it works: The topknot is a supremely practical hairstyle for ladies with long locks, especially when you don’t want to deal with hair in hot weather. A topknot takes everything well out of the way and also doesn’t interfere with relaxation – you can lean back on a deck chair without a problem. It looks divine on ballerinas, and of course it’s a Susie signature – she owns it.

When it’s wack: There’s something undeniably lazy about this hairstyle which makes it a little too accessible, and when it’s too messy, rather than looking ‘beachy’ it can look quite dishevelled, as if you just haven’t bothered to wash your hair. It also has the style-blogging backlash working against it. The home base of style blog hate is even named after the hairstyle’s nickname, Shamepuff. If you wear it in 2012 you risk connoting that you are your own online vanity project.

How it will end: At the recent IFB Conference in New York there were countless tweets commenting about how half the room was wearing topknots. If that isn’t the death-knell for a trend, I don’t know what is. It’s not uncommon in East London this summer to see topknots tipping forward over foreheads. When a trend reaches the edges of physical probability, its days are clearly numbered. It will definitively end when the topknot becomes the faceknot.

8 thoughts on “trend ender – topknots”

  1. I think the recent trend started in Japan, or nearby in East Asia. Perhaps one of Susie Bubble’s influences? For an international dimmension to your history, I suggest googling “odango”. Unfortunately, I don’t know more than that…

  2. Ginevra, of course – all of us kids who watched cartoons in the 1990s were definitely influenced by Sailor Moon! Thanks for the heads up, I’ve edited the post with a hat tip for you.

  3. I first encountered the top knot at an all girls school in Winnipeg, in 1993. And I’ve been wearing my hair this way on occasion since. We called it a messy bun back then. Like a couple other “new” trends of the past 10 years- leggings and skinny jeans- can’t it just continue to exist without an end date? Become a normal part of this period in history? I like it. I think it’s pretty, and practical, and has a contradictory fun/serious feel.

  4. Adrienne – I hoped you would comment on this because I thought of you when I wrote it! Like all types of adornment, it will likely continue to exist in various forms, but at the moment, it feels just a tad played out fashion-wise.

  5. welllll, I am enjoying a half braided side ponytail period in my own daily hair because I do feel like a lazy teenager when I do the ol messy bun standby… and the Half-Braid-Side-Pone just feels so much more sophisticated and polished. hahaha…! but one would know looking at any of my previous collections, prior to 2009 obv. that I do in fact enjoy a!

  6. I would like to add that I’ve tried to do a topknot, but couldn’t figure out how as I’m horrible with my hair (or maybe my hair is just too short). So I’m stuck with my boring trend-less low slung ponytail.

    Otherwise, I totally agree. This is way too played out, which is too bad, because it’s great as a hairstyle.

  7. Adrienne – I have been growing my hair out for two years now in the hope of achieving that perfect louche half-braid-side-pone… it’s almost long enough now but I’m worried that by the time I can do it it won’t be so cool anymore =

    Annching – well, according to the last link in the piece a low-angle ponytail is a sign of high intelligence 😉

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