Though the high ballerina bun has been given praise since it first appeared in the early 1800s (it was often used to connote a symbol of high social status) there is something to be said about the power of the low bun as well. The high bun may represent power but the low bun is the hairstyle of the modern, highly dynamic, multitasking working woman.
“It’s utilitarian and unfussy, and it allows women to feel a bit freer about putting themselves together,” says Sophie Buhai, a Los Angeles jewelry designer, told Vanity Fair in an article titled “Why the Bun Is the Power Hairstyle of Our Multi-Tasking Age.”
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It gets the hair out of your face but is chic and sophisticated at the same time and maybe not as overt as a high bun which can often look (and feel) painful if it is pulled back to tight. But the low bun exudes comfort, class, and functionality at the same time. It’s the hat trick of hairstyles.
The Meghan Markle Effect
It helps that the low bun, or “messy bun,” is often sported by a woman named Meghan Markle, whom everyone from celebrities to creatures living under rocks wants to emulate.
In the past, the low bun was often associated with schoolmarms and spinsters (pretty much anyone who lived on or near a farm, rode a bike and had a strong distaste for small dogs sported this look), but thanks to the Duchess – and other celebrities like Kate Bosworth, Blake Lively, and Kerry Washington – the low bun is the “it” hairstyle because of its versatility.
Her hair is full of secret (strategies)
What is especially interesting is that part of the appeal of the look is the messiness, which Markle has perfected. It is a contrast to the tightly pulled back high bun, but it still gives off an air of high capability.
Hannah Goldfield wrote in The New York Times in 2017, “If eyeglasses are a quick code for “smart,” the low bun, sometimes known as a chignon, has become the equivalent for “sophisticated” — but unlike, say, the French twist, it offers the added benefit of not making you look like you’ve tried too hard. The low bun looks good on everyone, and it’s also eminently achievable. It works on clean hair and greasy hair, straight hair, and curly hair, long hair and relatively short hair, with a side part or with a part down the middle.
It takes virtually no skill: You simply sweep the hair back at the nape of the neck (is there a body part more poetic or demurely beautiful, both in name and in form?) and use an elastic to twirl it around into a neat whorl. The idea of effortless beauty can seem like wishful thinking at best — but if there’s a single practice that comes close, it’s the low bun.”
The messiness is part of the strategy and is actually a bit of a challenge to those that prefer the high bun or a perfect blowout (which Kate Middleton tends to favor.) Markle’s choice to wear her hair like this has been seen as rebellious and powerful move. Sociologist, image consultant, and personal style guru Dr. Anna Akbari told Elle Magazine, “The way we communicate is a full-spectrum, multi-sensory communication. Bottom line — [Markle is] aware she’s sending signals. I don’t think anything that she’s doing is haphazard.”
Akbari noted that perhaps this is the hairstyle to sport if you were going to interview at a cool, new tech startup. You would go with the high bun or blowout for the law firm.
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