There’s a popular audio going around TikTok instructing users how to dress like a resident of Manhattan’s trendy Lower East Side. “First, you’ll need a maxi skirt. Make it really ugly,” says the voice that’s been layered over thousands of videos. It goes on to instruct adding a tank top or baby tee (“bonus points if it’s actually from the kid’s section”), a pair of loafers or cowboy boots, wraparound sunglasses, and a large tote bag. To finish off the look, users add a pair of pigtail braids, left plain or tied with ribbons.
To be honest, the outfit itself seems like it could belong anywhere, not just on the bodies of edgy downtowners—I’ve seen variations all over the country and on plenty of Euro vacation vlogs—but there’s something about pigtail braids that actually does add a touch of cool to any look. TikTok knows it, countless celebs know it, and I know it.
I can’t pinpoint exactly when or why I started wearing the style. I’m going to blame ’90s nostalgia or the Wednesday effect, but a pair of braids has suddenly become my summer staple. I wear them once a week at the very least—and I don’t even style my hair a lot (save for occasionally tossing it into a claw clip).
Pigtail braiding is a great way to switch up my look, and it couldn’t be simpler to do. They make a great vessel for hair accessories, one of the summer’s biggest trends, and are an easy way to get my hair out of my face in the heat.
I’m not alone in my newfound love for this hairstyle. My TikTok and Instagram feeds are filled with girls wearing pigtail braids, and plenty of celebs have also jumped on board. Olivia Rodrigo has worn pigtail braids on multiple occasions, including her recent single drop event for “Vampire.”
The look is also a favorite of Bella Hadid, which makes total sense as it’s the perfect compliment to her weird girl style. Tessa Thompson is a fan of an XXL version, and Hailey Bieber likes hers loose and paired with a baseball cap. Pigtails have even made it to the runways, adding a girly touch to collections like Sandy Liang and Simone Rocha.
Another reason for their popularity? Double braids manage to level up every single outfit I own. They fit neatly into several of the major trends happening right now—coquette, Y2K, French Girl beauty, prep, sporty—so they always manage to add a little bit of a fashion-y feel to even a basic T-shirt and jeans, especially when paired with a cute bow or headband. Styled loose, they have a carefree, ’60s Brigette Bardot vibe, and slicked back, they feel more Sporty Spice. They have a childhood throwback feel that’s very in line with current trends but somehow also feel put together. Most importantly, they just make me feel cute.
No matter how you wear yours, you’ll need just a few simple essentials to nail the look. A good brush is key. I like Dae’s, which uses a mix of plastic and boar-like bristles perfect for smoothing. Clear elastics are a must for keeping things secure—Goody’s have changed my life—but I’m also a fan of this trick when I don’t have any on hand. If you like a slick look, a good hair gel or hair spray will be your best friend, as will a comb to get a clean part. And finally, some bows or cute hair ties are a fun way to add some personality. I like Scunchi’s, but ribbons, bows, or even strings will do.