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?)

In addition to being our go-to accessory to keep hair out of our faces, or while trying to cover up our seriously messy and unwashed hair (don’t worry, we’re all in the same boat), headbands are a timeless hair accessory that really pack a practical punch. Now, if you’re thinking “but I can’t wear headbands, they give me headaches,” you’re not alone - but we’ve got just the thing that will stop that thought right in its tracks. Our stretchy twist knot headbands are not only made with style and comfort in mind, but also sustainability. Our headbands are elasticated to stretch or shrink to adjust to your size and are made from light satin fabric derived from 100% recycled plastic bottles. All of this means, not only will you not be left with throbbing headaches, but also, any frizzy hair will be banished by our gentle silky threads. You can also rest easy knowing your kick-ass look did not cost the planet. We have sustainable twist knot headbands designed for any style in mind so take a look and pick your perfect print. The Shima print Miami twist knot headband can bring a bit of glamour to any outfit and our Bloom print is vibrant enough to give Kew Gardens a run for their money.

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 holding a baby pig while wearing bright patterned clothes and a gold headband  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.

Actress Clara Bow in black and white photo with silky scarf striped sleeves and large headbandClara 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.

black and white image of man in black t shirt and woman in white twist knot headband and pearlsCoco 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:

woman in blue long sleeve shirt and red hair wrap flexing arm muscle“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.

 woman sitting outside with white long sleeve shirt pearl earrings and gold headbandGrace Kelly, 1955, Getty Images

black and white image of woman with white headband holding a baby deer

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 of hippie family with stipe shirt and braided hairImage Credit: ATI

image of woman with pink shirt blonde hair and headband across forehead

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. 

woman in daisy print twist knot headband 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?

woman in stripe cloth headband holding cigarette

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 in 80s workout gear with bright red leggings blue leg warmers and red suspenders

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.

woman in bright multicoloured retro print button down shirt and twist knot headband


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.

three women in headbands hugging and smilingClueless, 1995

woman wearing school uniform and bright red headband

Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl 
Image Credit: Hypebae


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