We’ve hit peak hair accessories in the last few years, and they aren’t slowing down just yet. However, the latest trend is slightly more low-key: thin headbands.
Late 2019 (and the first few months of 2020) were all about big, padded headbands that put Blair Waldorf to shame. From the Prada runway to Instagram, towering silk, pearl-encrusted, and velvet headbands were everywhere. No it-girl’s prairie dress ensemble was complete without a knotted Lele Sadoughi band atop her head.
When the pandemic hit, we swapped our oversized bands for more functional hair accessories—scrunchies to tie up unwashed hair, snap barrettes to hide overgrown bangs (or relive ears from masks) and claw clips perfect from working from home. But a year in (and with an end in sight), we’ve finally struck a balance between fashion and function, and a new crop of headbands has been popping up all over Instagram.
Spotted on singer Phoebe Bridgers and TikTok’er Addison Rae, 2021’s coolest headbands are sleeker and more subtle, thanks to a thinner shape. They still add something special to an outfit, making it feel instantly put-together, but they aren’t quite as bold. A giant headband is a statement—a fabulous one, by the way—while a skinny headband has a bit more of a “who, me?” vibe, and looks equally at home with a pair of track pants or a sundress.
Thin headbands are also in line with the low-key prep that’s been trending in the style sphere. Think college sweatshirts with pleated tennis skirts, layered collars, and tiny cardigans paired with baggy jeans. The style also nods to ‘90s icons like Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and Britney Spears without being too on-the nose, and it’s being embraced by today’s it-girls—Bella Hadid is clearly a fan.
They look at home on a wide range of hair types and styles—sleek and straight, messy waves, natural curls, buns, ponies—plus, they’re functional. Since they have grippy teeth unlike padded headbands, they’re great for pulling your hair out of your face. The best part? While there are some splurgy options, most cost less than $25. Shop some of our favorite thin headbands, below.
Bella Cacciatore is the beauty associate at Glamour. Follow her on Instagram @bellacacciatore_.