When Hailey Bieber (née Baldwin) walked the 2019 Met Gala red carpet, it was a moment. The exposed, bronzed and ultra-toned back, the crystal-encrusted Wang “whale tale” and the perfect cat eye all made for an iconic Mrs. Bieber style story. But it was her sleek, high ponytail, flipped out to perfection at the ends and accessorized with an oversized black velvet bow, that really made the look pop.
The hairdo was the work of celebrity hairstylist and Ouai founder, Jen Atkin, of course. I say of course because back in 2017, it appeared as though Atkin was attempting to bring back the flipped out hair trend, something that gained popularity in the ’60s (thanks, Jackie O!) and resurged in the ’90s before becoming the unofficial soccer mom hairstyle (in other words, totally not Bella and Mrs. Bieber-worthy), and by the looks of it, she has succeeded.
How Atkin managed to make flipped out hair cool again may seem like a mystery at first. After all, it’s a far cry from the beachy waves that have been the go-to cool girl hairstyle of choice for the better part of a decade, the long, straight strands that have also had their fair share of popularity (hi, Cher hair!) and the low, messy chignons that Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, favours.
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But Atkin made a brilliant move in using Bieber to showcase an updated version of a somewhat “uncool” trend. The model has enjoyed some major time in the spotlight after her whirlwind engagement to Justin Bieber in 2018 and has quickly become a style star in her own right. When first bringing back the trend in 2017, Atkin used models and Insta-girls Bella Hadid and Camila Coelho—both of whom, like Bieber, have the “Cady Heron” effect (you know, “I saw Cady Herron wearing army pants and flip flops so I bought army pants and flip flops”). Once these influential celebs sport a look—no matter how ridiculous—on the red carpet or on Instagram, it’s sure to spark a new trend and tons of copycats or, in this case, the resurgence of a trend we once thought was long gone.
Since Hailey’s Met moment, the retro flipped hair trend is everywhere in the form of a ponytail or half-up ponytail. Take a quick scroll through the Instagram feeds of other buzzy celebs like Kim Kardashian West, Kylie Jenner and Bella Hadid, along with the feeds of their hairstylists Chris Appleton, Jesus Guerrero and Danielle Priano, and you’ll see many different versions of the retro ponytail flip. Some are entirely slicked back and flip out like Bieber’s Met Gala ’do while others feature a side part, hair wrapped around the base and a ponytail that flips in—a modern-day I Dream of Jeannie look, if you will. The latter, which Priano whipped up on Hadid for the 2019 MTV VMAs is, as the publication Allure notes, very reminiscent of a Bratz doll (you know, those controversial dolls that were released in the early aughts and have since become major beauty inspiration, for better or for worse, in the form of makeup, filters or fillers). It was such a hit that Kylie quickly recreated the style, giving Hadid credit for the “hair inspo.”
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Then there’s the half-up version, with flipped out ends so uniform, you can’t really tell what’s the half-up pony and the rest of the hair. Both Kim and Kylie have tried this version of the 2019 hair flip trend, as has forever queen Jennifer Lopez.
As for the women sporting the hairstyle, we can kind of see why they love it. The sleek front says, “I’m a woman who means business” while the flipped ends say, “I’m still flirty and fun!” And unlike lower ponytails, a high pony looks great in photos and won’t give you flashbacks to those awful middle school pics where you look like you have no hair (or resemble a young colonial boy). Oh, and let’s not forget the “instant Facelift” a high ponytail gives (though the super slicked, super high facelift effect usually comes with a headache).
The lesson here? Every style will at some point make a comeback—especially if influential celebs like the Kardashian-Jenners, Biebers and Hadids are backing them. We’re just hoping the mullet won’t make its return any time soon.
Need further convincing that the retro flip ponytail is the style of the moment? Check out more celebs sporting the look below.
Sophie Turner tried the look with softer, curled ends:
Kim K. slicked everything back:
Ashley Graham pulled a Bella Hadid with a side part and flipped in ends:
Normani looked cuter on a jet ski with the sleek style than we ever thought possible:
Hailey did it again, this time wrapping a thick white band around the base of the pony: