The scrunchie: hair saviour or inherently evil?

When Bella Hadid is snapped wearing a scrunchie, there’s a ripple effect. Does this mean the oft-maligned hair tie is now actually cool again?
This has divided the Layered Online office. Which side of the debate will you take…?

The case for
Anna Samson, staff writer, Layered Online

On a rainy day in Edinburgh, on my 25th birthday, my best friend handed me a gift bag. I peered inside and yelped, throwing my arms around her and jumping up and down, my feet splashing in the puddles. Nestled in the tissue paper were 10 scrunchies, all different colours – the perfect present.

It was about a year ago that I crossed over to the scrunchie-side. My hair, bleached to within an inch of its life, was so brittle that almost every hair tie would cause a tangled mess that would take most of a bottle of conditioner, a pair of scissors and a few tears to diffuse. Something had to change.

Then one morning I clocked The Cool Girl on my overground train. You know the one, always wearing oversized glasses, the perfect white shirt and a well-cut trench coat combined with trainers that are always the perfect amount of scuffed. Her hair was pulled back in a centre parting, huge hoop earrings and a scrunchie placed at the nape of her neck. It was so effortless and yet so obscenely chic that I fizzed with rage for not coming up with the idea myself – the right amount of new-era Gucci nerdiness combined with a French laissez-faire attitude. I wanted it. I needed it.

And so I bought a three-pack of scrunchies for a fiver from New Look and have never looked back. Why would I? They’re soft and don’t tug or pull or make knots, and they hold styles better than elastics. Plus they’re easier to remove – pull them out, shake your head and you’ll never have that annoying dent. In her famous rant, Carrie Bradshaw didn’t have a clue – aside from the fact that he’s a sensitive writer type who puts the creepy Mr Big to shame – I’m team Berger and the New York scrunchies all the way.

But I haven’t really addressed the elephant in the room – the aesthetics of the scrunchie. Now, I know it’s a universal truth that anything that has been in fashion once will come back around again, in some incarnation or another. But I also know that many things from the ‘80s belong in the ‘80s. So, how to solve this dichotomy? Well, I think scrunchie-prejudice is circumstantial. When combined with a dodgy perm, shoulder pads and a soundtrack that’s more synth than song then yes, it’s so, so wrong. But scrunchies have grown up; every member of my ever-growing scrunchie family is a jewel-toned beauty, made of soft velvet (king of fabrics). With hair piled high into a topknot, they’re the perfect finishing touch – a little flash of colour that puts any sparkly hairband to shame.

And if you’re not convinced yet, may I direct you to @scrunchiesofinstagram. To whomever is the mastermind behind this marvellous collection: let’s be mates. Drinks are on me.

The case against
Amanda Nottage, editor, Layered Online

I loathe Sex & the City; I detest Carrie Bradshaw with the heat of a kajillion burning suns. But in her opinion of scrunchies, I have an ally – sorry Anna. “No woman… would be caught dead at a hip downtown restaurant wearing a scrunchie,” she eye-rolled to that faceless boyfriend that wasn’t Mr Big or the carpenter. Now, seeing the return of the scrunchie on the head of many an Urban Outfitters-clad hipster, and hearing Anna’s impassioned defence, I can see that the initial ironic embrace of this oh-so ugly hair accoutrement has morphed into genuine affection. Even beauty editors at Into the Gloss are writing op-eds about its wonderfulness. Heavy sigh

Yes, I was there the first time, in the late ‘80s, but I despised them even then. My hatred is timeless. And it might look all laissez faire, but I’d wager my vintage Hermes scarf that even Parisienne hipsters balk at La Scrunchie. Scrunchies always seemed lazy, utterly chic-free and woefully unflattering on all (they also smelled – no one ever washed their scrunchies in the ‘80s). They screamed ‘small town bridesmaid’, with a scrunchie cut from the same chintzy cloth to match the dress. Shudder. They hollered ‘bitchy fourth former’, flicking her artfully-permed hair while whispering to friends about what a slut you were.

As a teen, Heathers was one of my favourite movies, a dark comedy about the meanest girls in an American high school (move over, Lindsay – Winona was there first). In it, this innocent-looking scarlet hair tie is a metaphor for power; the girl who wears the scrunchie is the leader of the pack, the most popular girl in school. When one Heather dies, the next Heather takes the scrunchie and assumes her place as Queen Bitch. In short: scrunchies are inherently evil. I’m #TeamVeronica.

There are so many better looking and efficient options to adorn your hair. Hell, just get a Pucci scarf and wrap it around your top knot if you absolutely must have cloth in your hair. But a scrunchie? No, come on. You’re better than that. You deserve nice things, not cheap old tutt – and that’s what a scrunchie looks like, and that’s what it makes YOU look like. It ain’t Gucci – Alessandro Michele is too adoring in his love of all things ‘70s for this shiz.

But let’s get political for a second. Donald Trump is President, and I see a direct correlation. Stay with me here… I’m not saying Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 US election because she spent time as Secretary of State in Obama’s cabinet wearing a scrunchie, but I’m not not saying that either. Perhaps she thought it would give her Heathers alpha bitch power? But people have long memories. You want to be taken seriously if you’re going to win a nation’s trust, not look like Angie Watts chugging a G&T behind the bar of The Vic circa 1987. So the scrunchie = President Trump. You see? Inherently evil

Normally I hate snobbery, but in the case of the scrunchie, hell yes I’m a snob and proud of it. I implore you – think twice about that scrunchie. And you’re on Instagram and Facebook now – the visual evidence will remain with you, and the long-term impact could be devastating. It’s probably why @scrunchiesofinstagram is anonymous…

But let me leave you with this one final thought. How chic do you find JoJo’s Bows? You know, those oversized satin, often bejewelled hair bows sat askew on the heads of many a tween-aged moppet in your local shopping centre. BECAUSE THEY WILL BE THE SCRUNCHIES OF 2042. And I shall laugh from my retirement village…