At the risk of sounding like I was born yesterday, I’ll say it: When news broke earlier this year that scrunchies were “back,” I didn’t care at all. Depending on your millennial age range, that either sounds about right or, conversely, that I missed out on a major rite of passage.
By the time my cultural consciousness had formed, Carrie Bradshaw had already decreed no self-respecting woman would “be caught dead wearing a scrunchie” unless she was washing her face. So, unbeknownst to me at the time, this played out in my usage of them. My earliest memories of scrunchies were picking up a few ratty drugstore ones to pineapple my hair with at night in middle school. Then in high school, a hairstylist informed me that if an elastic even came close to my hair it would cause curl breakage (he was exaggerating), I switched to spin pins, and that was the end of my scrunchie life. Flash forward to their resurgence—and the surprisingly strong feelings my slightly older colleagues felt about them—this time around, I was curious.
However, given my knowledge of how to style them is admittedly lacking, I found myself wondering something I never thought I would: How do you wear a scrunchie? And more importantly, how do you wear a scrunchie and make it look cool? Without too many recent examples to go by (and very few for curly girls), I ended up going down a K-hole of old hair inspiration.
Digging into scrunchie history, I didn’t actually realize how ubiquitous they were in the ’80s and early ’90s. They were everywhere! I googled “best of” galleries and came across references from all over: award shows (Paula Abdul at the Grammys with a metallic, gold scrunchie is a mood), front and center in films like Heathers and Goldie Hawn’s exceptional classic House Sitter, on Olympians, in class pictures. Unlike 2018’s tepid takes, there were some real looks to consider.
So, with ’80s icons as my role models, I branched out from my usual rotation of two hairstyles (down and curly, or up in a bun) to see what all the fuss—and horrified memories—were about. Here’s how it went.