It’s high time the top knot got a little more respect, which is why we teamed up with stylist Dana Tizzio from the Butterfly Studio Salon in NYC to dream up three fresh, gorgeous new ways to knot your hair.
“The top knot is a great solution to next-day hair, midday summer (read: sweaty) hair, and ‘bed head’ or beach hair when it doesn’t look quite right,” she says. “It appeals to women because it looks put together and takes no time — it’s an instant solution. You don’t need to be a professional to create a top knot, but it will always look chic and work as a look for any outfit, so it’s empowering. You can even use a top knot as a way to set the hair and preserve your style during the day before letting it down – and help keep frizz away while doing so.”
Did that touching top-knot tribute make you want to start styling? Then read on to learn how to do three oh-so-simple knots and see just how versatile this sky-high ‘do can be. Rock out with your knot out, ladies.
The Twist Tie
Smooth and sleek, this twisted knot exudes elegance. “Products are key to getting a more polished look out of your knot,” says Tizzio. “They provide structure and shine to bring out the appearance of the hair — plus, they will help you tame any frizz.” Just be sure to stay away from anything with too much hold, she says, as you want your hair to appear soft, not crunchy and stiff.
To start, brush your hair out with a flat brush. Like every stylist under the sun, Tizzio adores Mason Pearson, but if you don’t have a bajillion dollars to spend on a brush, she says a boar bristle or nylon flat brush is your best bet. Prep the hair with an oil or serum for extra shine — Tizzio likes Kérastase Couture Styling Touche Finale.
Flip your head over and, using the flat brush, gather your hair into a ponytail at the crown of your head and secure with a thick, soft ponytail holder. “The higher your ponytail, the higher the knot,” says Tizzio, so be sure to think about your placement as you are gathering up your strands. If you have trouble getting a bump-free pony, Tizzio says to make sure you are brushing upwards, toward the top/middle crown area. “It’s the direction that helps you achieve the right tension and movement in your hands to get the knot in the right place,” she says.
Next, put a dime-sized amount of pomade or wax, like Shu Uemura Art Of Hair Touch Of Gloss Brilliant Melt-In Balm, in your hands and emulsify it. Then, apply to hair to help smooth down frizz and control those baby hairs around the face. Take your ponytail and twist it down to the ends (Tizzio says the direction you twist doesn’t matter) and secure at the bottom with a small elastic.
Create a knot by holding the middle of the twist (close to the base) with one hand; with your other hand, grab the ponytail at the end and wrap the hair around.
With the hand that is holding the end of the pony, pull the hair through the center of that first wrap-around and tie it into a knot. Tizzio says to be sure you don’t pull the ends all the way through — just make sure they are hidden and laying within the knot.
If you have thick hair, like our lovely model Spencer does, Tizzio says to secure your knot with at least three pins — one in the back and one on each side — making sure to catch both ends of the twisted hair and the hair at the base of your knot as you slide the pins in.
For girls with thin or fine hair, you can use pins as well. Tizzio says you can go pinless and just tuck the ends of the twist under the base of the knot, right into the ponytail holder. Whatever you do, just make sure your knot feels secure and not wobbly.
Finish the look by running your hands in a circular motion to rough up the hair around the face and keep it from being too perfect.
Simple, sleek, and sophisticated — who knew your favorite gym-friendly hairstyle could also look so dressy?
The Braided Tower
This look encompasses two of our favorite things: braids and sky-high hair. Oh, and styles that look super-complicated, but are actually childishly simple.
Flip hair upside down and smooth by brushing it upwards, toward the center of your crown. Apply a serum or oil from the mid-lengths to ends to create a sleek finish. Then, secure into a ponytail at the very top of the head and flip your head back over.
Separate the ponytail into two sections.
Braid each section into thick, three-strand plaits all the way to the end. You don’t want it tight, but it shouldn’t be so loose that pieces are falling out. “Remember, the tighter the braid, the smaller the shape will be,” says Tizzio. If you have shorter or finer hair than our model, Tizzio says to skip the ponytail sectioning and just do one braid.
Secure the ends with a small elastic. For you more advanced braiders, Tizzio says that you can take the ends and braid them into one or two fishtails to add more texture and complexity to the style.
Place one hand at the base of the ponytail. Take the other hand and stack the braids, holding them flat and edge-to-edge.
Wrap the braids around the base of the ponytail, using your hand as a guide to shape and place the top knot.
Hide the ends by tucking them underneath the braids and use a bobby pin (or a few, if your hair is very thick) to secure.
“Don’t be a perfectionist about your knot, because that’s when it appears stiff or plastic,” says Tizzio. “Embrace a more messy, imperfect look — it’s sexy!” She says that if one part of your style is sleek, rough up the other part to balance it out. “Don’t pull too tight or be so literal in styling — unless you’re going for the prima ballerina look,” she advises.
The Sneaky Scarf
This style is so named because there’s a bit of subterfuge going on with your knotting — and because there’s, you know, a scarf. Tizzio says this type of style (a larger knot) is great for girls with unruly hair: “It’s a great way to work with natural volume — the bigger the knot the better — and tame frizz or kinky hair in general when it’s just not workable.”
Comptoir des Cotonniers Orphee Shirt, $180, available at Comptoir des Cotonniers; Gillian Steinhardt Origami Trophy Necklace, $630, and RA Medallion Chest Plate in Sterling Silver with Peruvian Opal, price upon request, both available at Gillian Steinhardt; headband is the stylist’s own.
For this style, Tizzio says it’s best to start with your natural texture. Spray your root area with a texturizing spray (she likesOribe Dry Texturizing Spray) to absorb oil, add volume, and make hair tacky and easier to style. Comb your hair with your fingers, raking it back into a messy ponytail slightly below the crown. This will keep the texture and volume in your hair, preventing it from looking too slick.
Begin to secure your hair into a ponytail using a soft, thick elastic, but on the second or third loop through (depending on your hair thickness and length), do not pull the ends completely through the elastic. You want to leave out about three or four inches of hair (or one to two inches if your hair is shorter or finer).
Take the loose ends and wrap them around the base of the bun you’ve already made, tucking the ends into the bun.
Secure the knot by using a U-shaped pin, catching the base of the bun with the ends you just tucked in and anchoring them to your head. Once secure, Tizzio says you can adjust your knot shape by taking the thin end of a brush or a chopstick and pulling at the areas you want to loosen.
Apply your headscarf, wrapping it around the back of your head and tying it into a knot or a bow slightly above the hairline. We used a scarf that has built-in wires and twisted it into a turban shape — definitely a good option if you’re not the most skilled with scarves or tying. This one was created by Butterfly Studio, so all you NYC-based girls can get your hands on it and a few other patterns by swinging by the salon’s Fifth Avenue location.
Adding accessories to your top knot is a great, easy way to elevate it into the stylish stratosphere, but Tizzio cautions that you need to be thoughtful about the type of accessories you use. “No scrunchies!” she says emphatically. (We thought that was kind of a given for life in general.) “Make sure your accessories are not hanging — you don’t want it to look like an ornament,” she says.
The best way to make an accessory look natural? “Incorporate it subtly in place of what you would use to secure your look,” says Tizzio. For example, she suggests taking a thin, patterned cloth or a skinny silk scarf and wrapping it around your head like a headband. She also says to make sure the accessory you choose corresponds with your outfit — it doesn’t have to be matchy-matchy, but you also don’t want it to clash so much that it looks loud and obnoxious.
Photographed by Amelia Alpaugh;
Makeup by Katie Mellinger;
Modeled by Spencer at Fenton Moon
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