Headband histories: how headbands became a trendsetting accessory
In the quieter days of this most recent lockdown, we found our minds wondering about the history of certain fashion trends. We recently wrote about the history of scrunchies and now we’re back with a second edition: the ever expansive history of headbands - and trust us, this one is a real doozy! By the end of this story we’ll answer the question of what Blair Waldorf and Rosie the Riveter could possibly have in common.
Before we dive in, let’s address the burning question on everyone’s mind:
Where do you find headbands that won’t hurt your head? (Does such a thing even exist?)
What is the (very brief) history of the headband?
What we understand as the headband today has evolved from a long line of headbands that have come before it - from floral wreaths to 70’s style headbands, leading right up to the power accessory for the Blair Waldorfs of the world. Headbands have evolved from their cute schoolgirl days to be a must-have in anyone’s style repertoire. And yes, we’re also looking at you too, men with your long floppy hair - who says you can’t spice up your style? If Harry Styles can rock it while feeding a piglet, so can you.
Harry Styles for Gucci Cruise 2019
Our journey will begin in Ancient Greece where laurel wreaths were gifted to recognize great intellectual achievements or athletic victories during the Olympic games. While these hair adornments were traditionally crafted in gold and may look quite different from headbands these days, we argue their symbol of power still remains relevant.
Much later on, we see headbands making a statement in the 1920’s as they graced the heads of the newly independent modern woman, accentuating the short cropped hairstyle worn by flappers of the time.
Clara Bow in Kid Boots 1926
Twist turban headbands continued as a fashion trend thanks to the effortless and iconic style taste of Coco Chanel in the 1930’s.
Coco Chanel and Serge Lifar 1937
When the 1940’s arrived, the headband as the world understood it up to this point, changed drastically - evolving from purely a fashion accessory to an accessory of utility and necessity. World War II meant more women joining the workforce to support the war effort from home and headscarves became a clear identifier for these women working in weapon and ammunition factories, making it a symbol for female patriotism. A distant cousin of the modern headband, these twisted headscarves helped protect their hair from the heavy machinery by keeping it out of the way. This leads us to perhaps one of the most recognisable pieces of propaganda in history:
“We Can Do It!” produced by Artist J. Howard Miller in 1942
Image credits: National Museum of American History
While this poster was only displayed for 2 weeks at the Westinghouse Electric & Manufacturing Company, it remains an iconic image that inspires the ongoing feminist movement with the red polka dotted headscarf becoming a powerful political and fashion statement.
Post WWII, the headband returned to being a fashion accessory and became popular amongst starlights by creating a prim and proper put together look, ensuring not a single hair fell out of line.
Grace Kelly, 1955, Getty Images
Audrey Hepburn, 1958, Getty Images
After the 1950’s, the evolution of the headband was anybody’s guess. The 60s headband shined during the 1967 social phenomenon, the “Summer of Love,” and hippies from near and far danced in the streets to celebrate free love and live out a form of utopia. This is where we see the paisley and floral headband trends flourish (pun intended).
Image Credit: ATI
Sharon Tate, 1968, Getty Images
These retro prints have inspired a lot of Newt’s and we created the Daisy print twist knot headband specifically to honour the carefree hippie style icons that have come before us.
Newt London Daisy print twist knot headband
The 1970s headband trends whizzed by in a flurry of the glitz and glamour of Studio 54 visitors and the supreme Diana Ross. This time in fashion was recently revived by the TV show “The Serpent” set in the mid-70s. . While we’re glad to see the Serpent’s shocking crimes stay in the past, can you blame us for gushing over Jenna Coleman’s fabulous headband moments? Is it too much to say they’re to die for?
Jenna Coleman, The Serpent
Leaving the glitz and sparkle in the 1970s, this trend brings us to the introduction of the not so glamorous sweatbands. We know you have all been waiting for this moment, so we’ll just jump straight to this photo of Cher in the 80s.
Cher, 1984, Getty Images
We may not have any sweatbands in our Newt range (yet), but we do take inspiration from the bright and bold colours of the 80s that always remind us to not take life too seriously. It’s all about incorporating a bit of fun and energy into our wardrobes; you can’t tell us the bold colours in our Kefi print don’t make you want to get up and shimmy. As with all of our Newt patterns, this Kefi print twist knot headband comes with an ensemble to match: Kefi print band collar shirt, facemask, scrunchie, and snood.
Once our Saturday Night Fever has passed, we enter the more recent history of the headband. This is the moment when the headband’s reputation gets a little dicey and is dominated by the preppy mean girls that we know, and can’t help but, love. However, one thing can be said for these infamous it-girls - their headbands absolutely exude power and greatness. Whether it was Blair Waldorf directing social scandals from the steps of The Met, or Cher Horowitz searching for the perfect boy in highschool, these girls owned who they were.
Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl
It’s clear that the headband has spanned many historical movements and has found itself on the heads of some pretty impressive people. There aren’t many fashion accessories you can say fit snugly in history between feminist revolutionaries and brightly coloured spandex, but the headband does just that. Throughout history it has had a message to share. So where does that leave us in modern times?
How to wear twist knot headbands?
If you haven’t guessed it yet...We absolutely love headbands and the variety they give us for our style. A headband is one fashion accessory that can instantly elevate any look which is why it’s our number one choice for a last minute zoom call. If you’re just rolling out of bed for your morning meeting or your manager randomly messages you with those dreaded words “are you free for a quick chat?” pop on one of our silky twist knot headbands and we guarantee it will not only make you look put together, it will also make you feel put together. We also love wearing our elastic headbands for a country walk to add a pop of colour to those leggings or sweatpants that have been in heavy rotation this year.
As our headbands are elasticated, they will not cause discomfort to your head which means they can be worn for long periods of time and the light satin fabric will prevent any frizzy flyaways at the top of your head. We always want you to feel like our weekend self, so our colourful Newt prints are designed with fun in mind. Take it from us, you deserve to let loose a little!
Don’t forget - All of our patterns come in multiple designs so be sure to complete the look with a matching scrunchie or facemask.