In Defense Of The Ponytail

Photo: MCV Photo.
If we know you, and we do, you’ve got an elastic band wrapped around your wrist right now. Or, maybe you’ve upgraded to the flat, knotted ribbon that’s supposed to indicate that you know better. Either way, everyone knows why it’s there. To pull your hair back into a DGAF ponytail the first time a strand of hair touches your face.

Great, now you’re comfortable. You know what else is comfortable? Sweatpants.    

Yeah, we said it. Your basic ponytail is the sweatpants of hairstyles. But, not even cool ones, like a banded leather style or harem sweatpants. Just regular Rocky Balboa sweatpants. But, that doesn't mean all ponytails deserve to be dismissed as "lazy." On the contrary, there are plenty of high-fashion, high-impact ways to wear a pony.

Like Rocky, you need motivation. And, we’ve got your inspiration. We’ve gathered the most inventive, beautiful, cool, amazing iterations of the ponytail in recent memory, from ultra-sleek to the effortlessly disheveled. Each look is deceptively simple and extremely un-boring.     

Now, grab a hairbrush and crank up "Eye of the Tiger." You got this.      
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Photo: MCV Photo.
The Sci-Fi Side Pony
When said together, the words side and ponytail beam visions of the Full House girls directly into your mind’s eye. (They were all guilty of wearing one. D.J., Stephanie, and baby Michelle. Gah, even Kimmy Gibbler.) This is not that side ponytail. This is more like what people in the ’90s thought the side ponytail of the future would look like — genetically selected for maximum sexiness, Gattaca style.

You can’t bend space-time, but you can easily brush all of your hair over to the right and secure it at the nape behind one ear. The longer and straighter the ponytail, the more creepily perfect you’ll look, so take an extra few minutes to flat-iron. (For extra credit, add 24-inch extensions, and flat-iron them, too.)
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Photo: MCV Photo.
The Top Not
Don’t get us wrong — we love a good top knot. For the past few years, they've dominated as the go-to alternative to the ubiquitous gym ponytail. (Do top knots and kale have the same publicist?) Now that cauliflower is the new kale, though, it’s time for a new top knot, too. And, what better way to zhuzh up a top knot than to turn it back into a ponytail? But, you know, perched to the side and embellished with a zillion-dollar Prada hairpin.

Pull the hair into a tight, high ponytail at the top center of the head, like Pepper from American Horror Story: Freak Show. Do the thing where you wrap a strand of tail hair around the base to hide your elastic because you’re fancy. Gently tug it over to one side, and attach with a couple of jewel-encrusted clips. Prada, Jennifer Behr, and L. Erickson make great ones. (So does H&M.)
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Photo: MCV Photo.
Ponytail On Sleek
This is the Sheryl Sandberg of ponytails. Or, the Sophia Amoruso of ponytails. It’s tidy but sexy. Restrained but powerful. It’s as sophisticated as it is utilitarian. It can lean in and be a girl boss and, yes, it can totally run that weekly production meeting, thanks for asking.

Did we forget to mention it’s also unbelievably easy? Flat-iron your hair into submission. Pull it back into a tight ponytail secured at the same height as the top of the ear. (Too high can look cheerleader-y.) Wrap a small section of your ponytail around the base to hide the elastic, and secure with a bobby pin. Use a light misting of hairspray to add shine and tamp down any rogue baby hairs at the hairline.
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Photo: MCV Photo.
The Two Scoops Pony
The thing about face-framing layers is that they are always there, framing your face. And, sometimes a girl just wants to wear a low pony without getting hair stuck in her lip gloss. This double ponytail takes care of that problem. Even in a convertible.

The version on the runway at Giles spring '15 show was made with a triangular front part, which is a little too kooky for real life. Instead, just pull the top third of your hair, from temple to temple, into a ponytail with a teeny tiny elastic. Now pull the rest of the hair, plus your ponytail, into another tail and secure that with another elastic. It’s like ponytail Inception.
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Photo: Fernanda Calfat/Getty Images.
The Fishtail Fail
You’ve read all of the how-tos, watched all of the YouTube tutorials, and seen all of the infographics, and you still suck at braiding. Enter this easy braid-tail hybrid that will get you the Pinterest street cred you deserve. Conveniently, you only need to weave for about as long as it takes you to forget which strand of hair you need to grab next before your braid starts unraveling. (Sorry, short-haired girls — your tresses should be shoulder-length or longer or this will look like a sad nub.)

Pull your hair back into a tight ponytail around ear height. Split the tail in half, then pull a strand from the outside edge of the right section and move it to the inside of the left section. Now, take a strand from the outer left side and pull it over to the inside of the right side. Repeat until you have three inches of fishtail or you get frustrated, whichever comes first. Fasten it with another elastic. Give your cat a high five.
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Photo: Laura Cavanaugh/Getty Images.
The Shibari Bondage Pony
Now that Fifty Shades of Grey has made us all BDSM experts, this ponytail reminds us of the ancient art of erotic Japanese rope bondage known in the West as shibari (also known as kinbaku). In kinky circles, the rope master is called the nawashi; on the Clover Canyon runway, it was Bumble and bumble hairstylist Allen Wood, who would totally get a flogging in the Red Room of Pain for the chaotic haphazardness of his ponytail sections. So not Zen.

Divide the hair in two sections (top and bottom, separated at ear level), and pull the bottom half into a tight ponytail. Knot a length of black leather cord, elastic, a skinny ribbon — whatever’s laying around — to the elastic at the base. Gather all the loose hair on top and secure it to the base so it creates a big, fat ponytail. Hit up the tail with salt spray or texturizer to rough it up, then dig around until you find your cord. Wrap it around in messy sections before tying in a knot about an inch from the ends. Pinch little bits of hair out from some of the sections for a messy feel.
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