We all love a good statement accessory.

Fanny packs have dominated the industry in the past year, and we’ve seen them worn in a million different ways, both in high-end and mainstream fashion.
With a new year upon us, you might be wondering what the next must-have accessory is. All it takes is a glance at the spring-summer fashion runways to find the newest it item: headbands.

Brigitte Bardot in an iconic headband look from the film Contempt, 1963 / directed by Jean-Luc Godard/ Photo: Alamy

Some of the first headbands were worn by the Ancient Greeks. Referred to as wreath laurels, these headpieces were gold and circular, and looked like a crown of leaves or vines. They were often worn by Olympians and winners of various art or poetry competitions (Davina, 2014).

An Olympian is crowned

Lois Chiles as a flapper in a beautiful sequined headband from the 1974 film The Great Gatsby

In the early 1900s, headbands were used for medical purposes in the form of a “headache band.” Leave it to the flappers to take this accessory and make it a statement piece! These ladies added jewels, sequins and feathers to the headpieces and wore them as they danced the Charleston (Davina, 2014).
World War II created a need for a utilitarian use of the headband. Women had to work at factories in harsh conditions; hair was tied back for safety reasons, and the accessory became less flashy (Davina, 2014). As the decade progressed, the head scarf became a statement for feminism and the strength women possessed.

A woman wears her headscarf as she works on a piece of sheet metal in the factory.

Headscarves were mainly part of a work uniform, but they made their way into formal wear as well.

Starlets such as Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn added thick headbands to their outfits for a preppy look in the 1950s. This style was also popular amongst well-groomed ladies from the suburbs (Vega, 2015).

Grace Kelly pairs her headband with a dainty lace dress, 1955, Getty Images

Audrey Hepburn wearing a headband with a bow detail, 1958, Getty Images

Headbands were in their heyday during the 1960s and 70s. Hippies got creative with the trend; they wore silk scarves in funky patterns, wrapped and styled in various ways. Details such as sequins and florals were popular during this time for a show-stopping, free-spirited look (Papadopoulos, 2009).

Goldie Hawn wearing a silky headscarf in the 1960s

Ray Moore in a beaded stretchy headband from the November issue of Vogue in 1969, photographed by Jack Robinson

Bianca Jagger in 1975 rocking a one of a kind headband, Getty Images

Athletes officially made headbands their own during the 80s. Made of terrycloth, sweatbands were a staple in every tennis player’s wardrobe (Schiller, 2013).

John McEnroe in a bright red sweatband during a tennis match in January 1979, Getty Images

During the 90s and into the 2000s, headbands were worn in various ways for numerous occasions. Designers began experimenting with new materials and details that elevated this classic headpiece (Papadopoulos, 2009). Today, the sky’s the limit with this accessory: from plastic to leather, ribbon to wire, crochet to faux fur; sporty and practical or formal and embellished with beads and bows.

Princess Diana in a stunning sapphire and diamond headband, photographed by Tim Graham, Getty Images

Headbands for every event; Paris Hilton on the red carpet in 2008; Getty Images

A bejeweled Simone Rocha headband from the S/S 2019 collection; Photo courtesy of Rebecca Maynes, @rebeccamaynesphoto

Fila sporty-inspired headband, S/S 2019

Whether you’re buying groceries, or hitting the red carpet, headbands are a wardrobe essential for this upcoming season.

You’ll definitely turn heads in this classic accessory!

Written by Lindsay Kalliokoski

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