Musings on the Topknot

Me last weekend, sporting a topknot.
(Photo: Beth Watson)
Few things can make a girl feel more confident than a high, sleek, sassy topknot. It pairs well with just about everything wardrobe-wise – work clothes, heels, flats, jeans, shorts, sportswear and swimwear – and is professional at the office, practical at the beach.

I've been choosing the topknot a lot this summer, looking for ways on Pinterest and Google images to add more pizzazz as needed.

Over the weekend, I started to wonder where the idea came from to wear topknots. My hunch was somewhere in Asia because of the way it's depicted in art and pop culture. I haven't seen that many mentions of it in Western pop culture.

This morning, I woke up with "I'll Make a Man Out of You," stuck in my head from the Disney movie "Mulan." OK, I thought, time to find out what's what with the topknot so I can get that song out of my head.

From what I saw online, the topknot is of Japanese origin. It's called a chonmage, and the style was designed to help warriors keep their samurai helmets securely on their heads during battle. It eventually morphed into a status symbol for both sexes.

Image from: Hiragana Mama
Just for fun, here's a weird video of some Japanese guys pronouncing the word "chonmage" over and over again. I have no idea why they were doing it, or why the camera is pointing at someone's shirt rather than face, but it's funny.

Back on topic: I wonder how the topknot spread to Western culture in its various current (and past) iterations? At what point did people decide long hair was cool, but not if you wore it hanging loose?

Like, for instance ... this, a kind of extremely messy topknot:

Image of Gibson Girl hairstyle from:
I've always been puzzled by the Gibson Girl hair trend that was in vogue for about 20 years before and after the turn of the 20th century. I get that it was popularized by a male illustrator, and it had something to do with ideals of feminine beauty, but I don't get why it caught on.

To me, it's pretty aesthetically overwhelming.

In 20 years from now, will people be saying that about the hairstyle I'm wearing in the photo above?

Is it possible to achieve a timeless look?

These questions are part of why fashion can tire me out. Things change so quickly, and trends are so culture-dependent and can be restrictive, if you let them.

I can't keep up. So I do my own thing, and I'm learning to be OK with that.

Question for you readers: If you could resurrect any hairstyle from the past and bring it back to trendiness now, what hairstyle would you pick? Feel free to be as silly or as serious as you want, and you can select a style from any culture.

You may also like

No comments: