Confession: I’m bow curious. I’ve fallen for the hair bows worn by Nouvelle Vague-era actresses Catherine Deneuve, Anna Karina, and Brigitte Bardot, but can’t figure out how they managed to turn a perky cheerleader accessory into something stylish and even sex-kittenish. Can a grown woman—who isn’t one of the most beautiful women of all time—really clip a bow in her hair without looking ridiculous?
Recently, I found proof that it’s possible (see: the Spring 2014 Balenciaga and Nina Ricci collections), but I knew that if I wanted to experiment, I’d need professional help. Enter Tommy Buckett of the Serge Normant salon, who created a sixties-inspired style for the Kate Spade Spring 2014 presentation. To avoid one of my major concerns of appearing too juvenile, Buckett ruled out bow-adorned headbands. “You don’t want to look girly or like Alice in Wonderland,” he says. Instead, do as he did at Kate Spade and pull hair up into a topknot, then use Garnier Surfer Hair Power Putty to rough it up and create flyaways. The kiss of death—and fastest way to look like a leftover from Gossip Girl—is not mussing it up a bit. Buckett’s number one rule: “More texture makes it modern.”
If you’re going the topknot route, Buckett suggests playing around with the number of bows: Try one big bow pinned in front of the chignon, or three or five little ones going down the nape of the neck. Another fresh idea is to make a low samurai-style looped ponytail, then tie a satin ribbon in a bow around the base. Finally, if you’re going to try the half-up, half-down look à la Deneuve, avoid her teased, bouncy texture. Buckett’s version: Take a section of hair from one corner of your eye to the other, keep the top part completely flat and straight, and add texture to the bottom with surf spray for a rumpled (but not wavy) finish. The finishing touch: a ribbon where the ponytail holder sits. “The key to the bow,” Buckett says, “is to make it not so pretty.”