TRACKING THE TREND
The one hair accessory we all thought was gone for good is staging an unlikely comeback, says Caroline Leaper
Some fashion trends come back regularly; their life cycle being to peak and die every couple of years, until no one’s sure if the item in question ever went away. That’s when we re-render it “a classic”.
But the Alice band died a proper death. It was over, not to be resurrected, and never again to pinch behind the ears. For more than a decade we’ve happily worn our hair in natural states, or neat buns, or messy up-dos, without embellishment. Neutral clips were permitted, as were those awful mesh doughnuts that were supposed to give a bun extra air-stewardess bounce, but these were supposedly discreet underpinnings; there to act as scaffolding, not decoration.
Then, about a year ago, Simone Rocha put crystal barrettes on the catwalk and Alexa Chung decided that a pearl hair slide or two, embedded in shaggy hair, might look great with jeans. It was only a matter of time before the Alice band managed to stage its comeback, amid other hair accessories returning to the fore.
The Duchess of Cambridge cemented the Alice band’s return by taking the Sloane Ranger look full circle in a plumply cushioned velvet headband last month – exactly the kind Sarah, Duchess of York, and Diana, Princess of Wales, wore in the Eighties.
At a winter wedding, a wide-set band in a rich jewel colour could replace millinery – and what could be more festive at Mass than a glühweincoloured velvet incarnation? Satin looks decadent at this time of the year, or one with crystal embellishments could top off a party outfit. A simple black or navy bar goes with anything, and is a good starting point for anyone keen to ease their way back in.
My styling advice is to go one way or the other; either tone it down with a classic white shirt and jeans, or say sod it and go the full Eighties, in a taffeta blouse and glittery shoes. It is Christmas, after all.
1870S WORN IN WONDERLAND
The concept of holding one’s hair out of the way with a band has been around since Ancient Egyptian times, but the name “Alice band” wasn’t coined until 1871. Lewis Carroll’s novel Through the Looking Glass, illustrated by John Tenniel, showed the lead character, Alice, wearing a blue band in her long blonde hair.
1980S AND 1990S UPTOWN GIRLS
Sarah, Duchess of York, and Diana, Princess of Wales, both made the Alice band a key part of their signature “Sloane Ranger” look in the late Eighties and early Nineties. Across the pond, Hillary Clinton was using the Alice band to tie together her prim
First Lady look.
2018 PRADA’S PASTELS
Miuccia Prada topped almost all of her spring 2019 catwalk looks with an Alice band, meaning that we’ll see a plethora of pastel options come the new year.
BLACK GROSGRAIN ALICE BAND£2.80 (uk.accessorize.com) BRAIDED HEADBAND£237 (jenniferbehr.com) LORIE VELVET HEADBAND £28 (anthropologie.com)SLOANE ARRANGER Diana, Princess of Wales, in 1997, left, and the Duchess of Cambridge, below, sporting Alice bands
GOLD PLATED CRYSTAL HAIRBAND £595, Lelet NY (net-a-porter. com)
FILIGREE VELVET HEADBAND £2.70 (claires. com)