Oversized Scrunchies Are The Answer To Summer Dressing Decision Fatigue

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ICYMI: Personality hats” have made their way into this season’s fashion zeitgeist — and while I can appreciate the Altuzarra pillbox cap from afar, I’m aware that I would look like an off-duty bellboy if I tried to pull the style off myself. So instead I’d like to offer a more approachable parallel trend, one that happens to go hand-in-hand with a summer-appropriate slick-back: the oversized scrunchie. 

For context, I’ve avoided slicked-back buns because I spent much of my youth in dance class, and the feel of tight rubber bands and the smell of hairspray make me nostalgic in a way that doesn’t make me want to time-travel back to childhood. But my hair was recently so greasy that even the most heavy-duty dry shampoo couldn’t save it (and why wash it, right?). A last-ditch attempt to make it look better had me fastening a random oversized scrunchie from my drawer around a hastily put-together bun before I ran out the door so I wouldn’t be late.  

Despite the huge bumps along the crown of my head and my thin hair amounting to the size of a small baby fist when clumped together, I was stopped not once, not twice, but three times and asked about the scrunchie; this being in a room full of fashionable people who I assume know how to properly blow out their hair. These exchanges changed the trajectory of how I will be accessorizing all summer long

Jumbo scrunchies can embellish the simplest styling (see: white top and blue jeans) but are equally additive to bold looks, without requiring meaningful coordination. Like Allison Bornstein’s wrong-shoe theory, the power of this practical statement is that it looks great when mismatched to the rest of what you’re wearing, and makes for an outfit equation that’s far more interesting. This contrast has the power to elevate, without the prerequisite of meaningful effort. (For proof, see Mandy Lee’s look above, which saw the trend analyst pairing her delicate eyelet scrunchie with chunky rubber clogs, albeit from the Crocs x Simone Rocha collaboration.)

Oversized scrunchies also give explicit permission to lean into summer laziness. They take attention from flyaways and bumps along the crown of your head and the random bits at the back of your scalp that you can’t see without a handheld mirror and extensive arm flexibility. (Use a boar bristle brush and wax stick to tame baby hairs around your forehead, and the rest is irrelevant.) You won’t need to spend the entire day fixating on the single flyway at the center of your bun that refuses to be tamed with tears and total control gel.

These scrunchies make messy low buns look intentional and add dimension to ponies, too (I recommend quickly teasing your hair and adding texture spray for the latter). They can jazz up the end of a classic braid or fishtail and be used for half-up styles, depending on your hair’s thickness; use extra-large ones for half-ups if you have a lot of hair, or slightly smaller ones if yours is thinner, like mine. 

And with many available for around $10, they’re a cheap luxury, practical for both beach trips and nights out. We’re excited to see them everywhere this summer. And paired with a tennis dress? Toss the tartan in your school colors and welcome this as your new warm-weather uniform. 

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