5 Surprising Things You Didn’t Know About Hair Bows

hair accessories for women

Bows. We’ve caught glimpses of them on the likes of iconic celebs including Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot, Madonna, and even Lady Gaga. They’ve also captivated us on countless high fashion runways - from Missoni to Vivienne Westwood, Chanel to Gucci, Oscar De La Renta, and beyond. And of course, the sweetest place we've likely seen these pretty little things is gently pressed against the soft heads of our baby girls. But where did bows originate? Have they evolved over time? Did they once hold a different purpose? Read on to learn 5 surprising things you didn’t know about hair bows and their history.

1. Bows Only Became Popular for Baby Girls in the 19th Century

Surprisingly, hair bows only became popular for baby girls in the 19th century. We all know that a baby’s gender isn’t necessarily apparent from birth (hello, bald head!) Well, an influx of women’s magazines of the time brought to light gender-specific clothing and accessories for babies, which included an emphasis on hair bows for baby girls. From then on the undeniable link between bows and femininity endured, and the trend continues to grow in popularity to this very day.

2. They Were Originally Worn by Men

In the late 16th century and early 17th century, hair bows were worn almost exclusively by high society men - and for the most romantic reason ever! You’ve likely heard the expression wearing your heart on your sleeve, but have you ever heard of wearing your heart in your hair? The men of this era used their long locks to express their emotions toward their love interests.

Hair bows were once worn exclusively by men


The lovelock was a hairstyle adorned by men of the time, in which a long strand of hair was pulled to the left side where it was draped over the shoulder (and the heart) and tied at the end with an ornate bow. The hairstyle signaled a man’s devotion to his beloved (swoon!) Some men even wore hair extensions to make their lovelock longer. Chivalry certainly has taken quite the turn hasn’t it? Today’s men show their interest by simply swiping right or double tapping!

3. Hair Bows Used To Reveal a lot About a Girl’s Love Life

Once upon a time, more specifically, in the 1940s, the placement of a girl’s hair bow revealed a lot about her. In fact, where and how she wore her bow declared her marital status. According to an article published in a 1944 issue of LIFE Magazine, if a girl wore a bow on top of her head it revealed that she was single and looking, a bow at the back of her head told the world that she was not interested, a bow worn on the right side indicated that she was in love, and a bow worn on the left said that she was going steady. I can only wonder what my messy, unwashed bun says about me?

hair bows for girls

Hair bow placement: the 1940’s version of updating your Facebook relationship status

4. Bows Were Once Worn to Make a Political Statement

Bantikis, or large white hair bows, were a part of mandated school uniforms in the regions of the Soviet Union (from the 1940s onward). Worn by all young schoolgirls, these bows were symbolic, indicating Soviet Loyalty among youth and meant to encourage gender-determined dress in Soviet Russia. Bantikis were worn with the intent of projecting images of prosperity, progress, and happiness across the Soviet republics. 

5. They Were Banned From Several UK Schools

More recently in 2017, and in complete contrast to Soviet Russia, hair bows were banned from several UK primary schools because they were not part of the school uniform. This was in response to the massive cheer bow craze initiated by YouTuber and Dance Moms star JoJo Siwa, who is renowned for the oversize, colourful bows she always dons in her signature ponytail. The hair accessories have been cited by some schools as “a distraction from lessons,” and thus children were asked to keep them at home, sending many bow-loving moms into a outraged frenzy.

big hair bows

Hair bows were banned from being worn by children at several primary schools in the UK

There you have it! 5 things you likely didn’t know about hair bows and their unique history and evolution. Small accessories are often an afterthought or completely overlooked when putting together an outfit, but it is truly amazing what an accessory as simple as a hair bow could communicate to the world. From a symbol of betrothment to a “love language” used to communicate marital status, a mandatory uniform to an item banned by schools - I mean, one can only wonder what’s in store for the hair bow next…

While we wait and see what the future holds, have a look at our collection of unique hair bows and accessories and make a statement of your own.

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