Welcome to our column, "Hey, Quick Question," where we investigate seemingly random happenings in the fashion (and beauty) industry. Enjoy!
As far as hairstyles go, pigtails are easily among the most iconic. Immediate associations with the term (for me, at least) include Pippi Longstocking, Angelika Pickles, Cindy Brady, Wendy's (the restaurant), Britney Spears, Dorothy Gale and... Snoop Dogg. But I've never really been of the persuasion that there is any way for an adult human being to wear them without looking like a literal baby (except for you, Snoop Dogg — you've mastered it). And yet, fashion seems to be on a constant mission to convince me otherwise. The latest example comes courtesy of Bella Hadid's new Fendi campaign.
In the images, shot by Karl Lagerfeld, Hadid appears doll-like, an aesthetic that owes largely to the peppy pigtails she's sporting:
Sorry, Karl, but I'm just not feelin' it. For me, pigtails on a grown woman (even a young, 20-year-old grown woman) will always feel off. There's an inherent ick factor in taking something so evocative of literal children – toddlers wear pigtails probably more than anyone else! — and sticking them on a sexy adult model. "30 Rock" speaks to this point with Christin Milioti's "sexy baby," for whom pigtails were a stylistic necessity. Another example? Baby Spice. Almost every Spice Girl wore some form of pigtails at one time or another, but they were Baby's trademark.
In fact, the '90s and early 2000s were a heyday for the adult pigtail. Rachel Green (and really, all of the female "Friends") wore them all the damn time. She gave birth in them! (More baby symbolism!!!!!)
For some trusted advice about whether there's truly a way to make pigtails look less childlike, I turned to hairstylist Matt Fugate, who assured me he definitely believes grown women can pull the style off. "You just have to update them a little," he said. "The placement should be more parallel, so that the tails move down instead of out." So less Pippi Longstocking, more what Jennifer Aniston has going on in the hospital bed photo above. Then Fugate got a little more technical: "The tension has to change, as well, so that the pigtails aren't bound so tightly and close to the head; let them droop or fall out a little bit so they look more 'street' and less 'farmhand.'" Got that? No Mary Ann from "Gilligan's Island" or Elly Mae Clampett vibes. And lastly, when in doubt, rough it up. "Texture is always great, too," says Fugate. So if you really, really want to commit to the look, grab a texture spray and get to work.