How to Wear Different Styles of the Ponytail

Updated on June 3, 2017
Natalie Portman's neat chignon echoes an  earlier era
Natalie Portman's neat chignon echoes an earlier era

Retro Inspiration

Audrey Hepburn has long been touted as a role model for style, and her 1950s sleek ponytails, chignons, and topnotches have made a comeback (or so they say in the style section of my morning paper in Australia).

The fashion editor is keen to emphasize that the style reflects not so much a homely schoolgirl or housewife's ponytail as a chic, smooth look, more at home with a tailored suit or slinky dress than a T-shirt and tracksuit pants.

Also popular is the ultra sleek 'Barbie' ponytail with a smoothed down-side fringe and an upward flick at the end of the tail. Looks extra-schmick with a well-groomed Ken by your side as an accessory.

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Indian actress, Aishwarya Ra wearing a perfectly sleek ponytailPenelope Cruz wears an Audrey Hepburn inpired Beehive topnotch
Indian actress, Aishwarya Ra wearing a perfectly sleek ponytail
Indian actress, Aishwarya Ra wearing a perfectly sleek ponytail
Penelope Cruz wears an Audrey Hepburn inpired Beehive topnotch
Penelope Cruz wears an Audrey Hepburn inpired Beehive topnotch

Shiny, Slick, and Sophisticated Ponytails

Ponytails and tight updos generally flatter the female face as they work against gravity, pulling everything upwards. They can also lend a swan-like elegance and well-groomed aura to a woman, as well as enhancing her outfit. A high, sleek ponytail with not much hair escaping looks equally great at a dinner party or at work.

Should you be lacking the length to sport a ponytail or chignon..no problem! There are cheap, easy clip-on hair extensions available to do the job.

Sleek, high ponytails also look great when paired with big, overstated Jackie-O sunglasses and chunky accessories and for added shaboom, try a pert, stiff bow or an exotic flower arrangement if the occasion's right.

The style demands a certain level of shine..a dry ponytail just doesn't cut it, so here's some tips to keep the glare on your hair:

  • When you shampoo make the final rinse as cold as you can stand
  • Rubbing hair in downward strokes with a silk scarf is an age old tip for shiny hair
  • A transparent colour rinse will make your hair shine and emphasize highlights when the light falls upon it
  • Eat well...lots of nuts, fruit and leafy green vegetables
  • Half a cup of vinegar in the rinsing water will increase shine
  • For supershine mash an avocado, a tbs of olive oil and a tsp of baking powder together and leave on the hair for about 15 minutes and rinse out thoroughly
  • Herbal rinses also add extra add shine..rosemary for brunettes and camomile for blondes
  • Leaving your hair a little bit oily by not washing it for a day or so can work well for a ponytail or chignon.

Photo by Katrina Jones from the Goldcoast.com.au website
Photo by Katrina Jones from the Goldcoast.com.au website

Fresh and Cool

If you have a longish fringe, an authentic 1950s look can achieved by pulling everything except the fringe back into a high ponytail.

Using curlings tongs, curl fringe and ends of ponytail, then apply a tiny amount of wax for shine(rubbed between palms first) and pin fringe loosely back into the base of ponytail to create a quiff look. Finish with hairspray.

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Picasso's "Girl With a Ponytail"Picasso's "Portrait of Sylvette"Sylvette David and Picasso in the artist's studio
Picasso's "Girl With a Ponytail"
Picasso's "Girl With a Ponytail"
Picasso's "Portrait of Sylvette"
Picasso's "Portrait of Sylvette"
Sylvette David and Picasso in the artist's studio
Sylvette David and Picasso in the artist's studio

Picasso's Fascination: Girl With a Ponytail

In his later years, Picasso developed an ardent interest in a young woman...Sylvette David, daughter of a prominent art dealer, who became the model for the painting at right...Girl With a Ponytail.

Observer journalist Peter Conrad suggested in an article about the painter that: " the ponytail lifted her face, pulled the skin taut and revealed sculptural planes. Picasso fancied Sylvette because she had a ponytail."

Sylvette herself claimed:

"He was fascinated by that. It was my father's idea; he liked the way ballerinas pulled their hair back. And no one ever had such a high ponytail as mine! Even Brigitte Bardot decided to copy my hair when she saw me on the Croisette in Cannes. Of course, she wasn't naturally blonde, like me!"

Questions & Answers

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      • Jane Bovary profile imageAUTHOR

        Jane Bovary 

        7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

        Ebower, they do look good, I agree. Thanks for commenting!

      • Ebower profile image

        Erin Bower 

        7 years ago from Georgia

        I love the Audrey Hepburn ponytails. It makes me wish I had longer hair, so I could wear this style.

      • Jane Bovary profile imageAUTHOR

        Jane Bovary 

        7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

        What is it with you and Morticia...?!! Haha. Long hair is lovely but then, I like short hair too.

        I thought the Picasso story was interesting. I can imagined him being obsessed with something like a ponytail.

      • Rod Marsden profile image

        Rod Marsden 

        7 years ago from Wollongong, NSW, Australia

        Nice one, Jane.

        I tend to like women with long flowing hair like Morticia Addams but there is a practical side to pony tails. You don't want long, flowing hair that will blind you as it whips around when you are riding a horse. A woman I know who goes riding told me this. Long hair made into a pony tail, however, can be tucked into a riding hat and thus made safe. Then later on there is no problem in turning the pony tail into long, flowing hair.

      • Jane Bovary profile imageAUTHOR

        Jane Bovary 

        7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

        Who doesn't Micky! Thanks.

      • Micky Dee profile image

        Micky Dee 

        7 years ago

        Beautiful! I do love a ponytail! Thank you!

      • Jane Bovary profile imageAUTHOR

        Jane Bovary 

        7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

        Dolores, nice to see you and thanks very much for the comment. Audrey had a kind of timeless, swan-like beauty...I agree.

      • Jane Bovary profile imageAUTHOR

        Jane Bovary 

        7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

        Lol carolina, not into the powdered wigs eh?

        Thanks for reading!

      • Dolores Monet profile image

        Dolores Monet 

        7 years ago from East Coast, United States

        Very original hub! Pony tails can be casual or elegant and nobody did elegance like Audrey!

      • carolina muscle profile image

        carolina muscle 

        7 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

        Audrey was as charming and stylish as one could get.. nice!

        ... as for wearing powdered wigs, ladies, please. :-D

        fun post!!

      • Jane Bovary profile imageAUTHOR

        Jane Bovary 

        7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

        Hahaha...drbj, that would be a sight! It seems to me in previous centuries men used to be a lot more flamboyant. What happened?

        Cheers

      • drbj profile image

        drbj and sherry 

        7 years ago from south Florida

        I guess, Jane, if one waits long enough every hairstyle will return. I'm expecting gentlemen to start wearing powdered wigs any day now.

        Very attractive hub with very attractive pony tails.

      • Jane Bovary profile imageAUTHOR

        Jane Bovary 

        7 years ago from The Fatal Shore

        I hate it when hairdresssers ignore what you say...it's happened to me many a time.

        Yes, Audrey was definitely a style queen. Don't forget clip-on hair extensions! Why wait..?

        Thanks Toby

      • profile image

        Toby Hansen 

        7 years ago

        Ah, Audrey! Elegant and fashionable then and now.

        Thanks for this Hub, Jane. I used to be able to wear my hair in a ponytail until I went to a hairdresser and asked for a medium bob, to allow me to still put my hair in a pony tail. It will be at least another 18 months before I can even contemplate tails.

        If we were in America, I would have her sued her!

        I miss my hair!

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