We're Re-Entering Our Bouffant Era For Timeless Volume

The bouffant is proof that classic styles find a way to resurface. While it dates back to the 18th century, modern versions of the hairdo were popularized in the 1950s and '60s, when sophistication and glam were the pinnacles of style. Images of neatly coiffed, puffy, rounded hair paired with glamorous gowns and shift dresses have been seared into our collective consciousness. And while culture has moved on from that period, bouffants still symbolize glamour.


Notably, the rise of any trend should be considered within context. Considering the social, cultural, and economic upheaval we've had over the last few years (hello pandemic!), bouffants may offer the comfort of nostalgia and remind us of our strength. The in-your-face volume and allure can be an effective way to exude self-awareness and confidence in the midst of difficult times. But take note, the bouffants we've been seeing of late are not quite your great-grandmother's coifs. They've been updated to fit our cultural context. Here are a few thoughts on how.

Modern bouffants are either exaggerated or less structured

The messages we communicate through our fashion and beauty choices are culturally constructed. So when we see someone with a bouffant, we give it meaning through our experience with it. And because the bouffant is rich with cultural meaning, it can really transform a look. According to a 2010 article in the "Social Sciences Journal," "women use their hair to establish both a group identity and as a form of everyday resistance from social norms established by dominant culture." So when beauty symbols like bouffants have long histories, it is easy to use them to establish a clear identity. Often, however, wearers may reinterpret the style to convey a different, perhaps contrary, message in response to the current cultural context.


For example, in its exaggerated form, modern-day bouffants may be used to convey a hyper-femininity or sexuality that is somewhat ironic, and perhaps an attempt to draw attention to the wearer's desire for freedom from social expectations. Other times, it is presented in a more deconstructed way, perhaps to give a nod to old-school sexuality while also embodying the freedom we have from more restrictive social roles.

Quirky poufs are a fun alternative to the traditional bouffant

While perfectly shaped bouffants may have been the hairstyle of choice for modern girls in the '60s, today's messy bouffants are a fun expression of femininity. Author Trygve B. Broch writes in her book, "The Ponytail," that hair is "how we recreate our own and other's positions in the world." And the quirky pouf reflects modern-day values, such as a willingness to embrace our imperfections. It's just right for those who like to have fun with fashion, strategically break certain fashion rules, or subvert expectations.


The quirky pouf can be worn with one or multiple buns for carefree glamour. When worn casually, such as with jeans or your fave T-shirts, it offers a nod to the past while still maintaining a sense of practicality for our modern lifestyle. When worn with more formal attire, it adds a laisses-fair, bedhead vibe, displaying interest and excitement.

Big accessories play up voluminous hair

Go big or go home is the tagline for those who want to play up their big poufy hair with oversized accessories. Supersized bows and clips add drama to big hair, and are not for those who prefer a more understated look. Hair is a reflection of our identity, and if you choose to add big accessories to your bouffant, make sure the message you are communicating is consistent with how you desire to be viewed. 


According to a 2021 study in "Frontiers in Psychology," those who presented as extroverted (that is, those who get their energy from being with other people) favored an "eclectic," "playful style," with "creative combinations of clothes." And a playful style can certainly be achieved with big hair accessories. If you are more introverted but want to have an extroverted day, wearing these hair accessories with a bouffant style is one way to create socially engaging energy. You can always tone down another part of the outfit to balance out the big hair drama — creative solutions are endless.